Close-up of PHS Steinway Grand Piano

This Steinway Grand Piano is located in the PHS Choir Room but is moved into the auditorium for choir concerts.

PHS Artifact: Steinway Grand Piano

Posted May 22, 2017

NOTE: In honor of the 50th anniversary of Plymouth Comprehensive High School this year, we’re sharing images of objects in and around the school. If you know more about these artifacts, please contact Jamie Piontkowski at jpiontkowski@plymouth.k12.wi.us or 892-5068.

The Steinway Grand Piano in the PHS Choir Room was built in 1977 and acquired some years after that by Plymouth High School. About a decade ago it was extensively restored and returned to its original grandeur.

Bob Grosshuesch of Bob’s Piano Service had been tuning the piano since about 2000, but increasingly found it difficult to keep in tune. He recommended having it restored by Michael Drost of Three Rivers Piano Service, who had been his instructor at UW-River Falls and was a nationally recognized expert.

In fact, Mr. Drost was one of the few authorized by Steinway to do restoration work on its pianos – otherwise PHS would have had to have shipped the instrument to the Steinway factory in New York.

“He was very well regarded,” Mr. Grossheusch said of his mentor, who has since passed away. “He was keynote speaker for 20 years at national conferences. You got the best there is.”

Mr. Drost, his son Brian, and technician Scott Ludden worked on the piano from the fall of 2006 until the summer of 2007. During that time, they totally disassembled the instrument and rebuilt much of its inner workings.

PHS paid $19,361 for the restoration, saving about $5,500 by having only part of the exterior refinished.
Mr. Grosshuesch estimates that the piano is worth about $65,000 now; for comparison, a new 7-foot Steinway Grand would cost about $95,000.

Pianos usually only need one rebuild, so if the piano is treated well it should last a lifetime, he said. He tunes it at the start of each school year and before major concerts.

“It was a nightmare to tune, structurally all screwed up,” he remembered. “It’s a joy to tune now. It’s a terrific instrument.”

The next chance to appreciate the piano is at the PHS Spring Choral Concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 22 in the PHS Auditorium.

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Learn about additional Plymouth High School artifacts.