Piano Matters

I was thirsty for more piano knowledge and enrolled in a piano technology class taught by Alan Day, an excellent rebuilder-technician and teacher.  Soon thereafter, I joined the Piano Technicians Guild, a national organization devoted to developing professional standards for piano technicians  and providing ongoing education.  The PTG is an invaluable resource for every aspect of piano technology.

Fortuitously at the time I became involved there was a new emphasis on rebuilding.  A bright new generation of rebuilders were sharing their knowledge in journal articles and teaching at national and regional conventions.  This exponential growth and sharing of knowledge continues 

apace today.  The state of the art in piano restoration is continuously evolving. 

I find immense satisfaction in the restoration of fine  American pianos.  Each instrument presents a new challenge with new problems to be solved.  Something new is learned with every job and my skills are refined.  I set my own standards and continually raise them.  When a restoration is complete I take delight in knowing that because of the work of my hands, pianists will be making music on that  instrument for many decades to come.

How we evolved  


A Piano Restoration Workshop

​​​​​​​​Piano Matters is owned and operated by Jim Fullmer. We'll let Jim relate his love affair with the piano in his own words:  When I was about eight years old my parents took me to Ravinia, the renowned outdoor classical music venue in Highland Park, Illinois.  The program was Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and an American in Paris.  The pianist was Oscar Levant, a controversial artist of the era playing with the summer CSO.  It was my first exposure to a symphony orchestra and a nine foot Steinway concert piano.  I was awestruck by the power of the orchestra and the mesmerizing sound of the piano.  My mother kept telling me to close my mouth.  By intermission I was begging for piano lessons.  Lessons began and I showed some promise.  My taste in music was eclectic:  Bach, Mozart, Byrd, Gershwin,  Beethoven, and Chopin were equally as interesting to me as Meade Lux Lewis, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Ahmad Jamal, Vince Guaraldi, and others.  A devastating sports injury to the fingers of my right hand put a quick end to my aspirations of a serious classical music career.

After graduating from the University of Illinois I worked in various unfullfilling sales jobs.  For relief from job stress my wife and I bought a big, old Chickering upright piano.  I started playing again every day.  The action on the Chickering was worn out about 50 years before it came to me and keys were constantly malfunctioning.  I took off the front panel and began to fix things.  I was hooked.  I started hanging around piano stores interrogating salespersons about piano construction and quality.  Most piano salesmen, I soon realized, had almost no technical knowledge of pianos.  I knew at that point I wanted to be involved in the piano industry.  With some investors I formed a company--Full Moon Music--to import and distribute a line of Korean pianos. Disappointed with the quality of those instruments I closed the company.  It was obvious to me that older American pianos had much better tone, were built better, and had beautiful mahogany, walnut, and rosewood cabinets.  The path of my piano journey turned to vintage pianos. 

I began to buy and disassemble old grand pianos.  I naively believed I could quickly learn everything about piano technology and restoration in a few months.  I soon 

realized I didn't know much!  The knowlege and skills I needed would undoubtedly require years of dedication, practise, and education.  Fortuitously, I found a knowledgable mentor living a few blocks away. Earl Hamilton had been tuning my upright and we became good friends, frequently going out to jazz clubs.  Earl had worked in several piano factories and rebuilding businesses.  For years he was the go-to tuner for major Chicago jazz venues and Ravinia  He knew it all.   He agreed to share his extensive knowledge of rebuilding with me.  We worked together for over four years rebuilding vintage grands. He provided the firm foundation in piano restoration that proved essential for my professional growth.