Bill Faller is one of the last remaining piano tuners in the greater Monadnock Region. Before Willard Jost - a Dublin piano technician who served some 30,000 pianos in his lifetime – passed away in 2019, they were the two go-to technicians in the area.
It all started for Faller some four decades ago, when he was a senior in high school right outside of Philadelphia. Faller took an evening class with the state’s Piano Technicians Guild, where he began his piano technician journey. He was an apprentice to a couple of the technicians in the Guild who generously shared their knowledge and experience with Faller, even encouraging him to eventually start a business of his own. It was during this time in his life where he learned enough to be dangerous, as Faller puts it.
It was also in high school where Faller discovered his love of music; he’s been a huge fan of the wide universe of music (jazz, classical, folk) ever since. And yes - Faller does in fact play the piano.
“I’ve always been an avid listener of all kinds of music, and I have a reasonable enough ear where I can improvise and work out my own arrangements,” Faller explained. “I joke around with my clients that people who don’t play the instrument think I’m really good,” he laughed. “Playing the piano is how I relax.”
Assuming his piano technician experience would serve as more of a side hobby in his earlier years, he brushed the business idea aside: it wasn’t until after he graduated college with an English degree and little desire to work jobs in his field where he changed his tune, so to speak.
“Before I knew it,” Faller said, “it had become a full-time thing.”
The early ears of Faller Piano Services were lean, as Faller put it. As the years wore on, Faller expanded his clientele and built a rather extensive portfolio, filled with patrons who privately owned pianos and public institutional and concert prep work, like Keene State’s College’s piano fleet.
Faller credits his geographical location for the extensive range of clients: his business is based out of his home in Temple, which serves as a perfect middle ground between western NH (Peterborough, Keene) and eastern parts of the state (Milford, Amherst, Bedford, Nashua, Manchester). Faller explained that this area is exceptionally flush with artistic, musically inclined folks, and that we are extremely lucky to have such a concentrated area of musical appreciation.
“It just means I drive around a lot,” Faller laughed.
Faller also credits his booming business to the NH Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild, which has proven to be an excellent source of knowledge and comradery. There are roughly twenty members of this chapter of the Guild, with fifteen or sixteen active technicians around the state. The Guild meets monthly, and there are always technical presentations or conferences (national and regional) available for attendance. Faller has served as President of the NH chapter of the Guild throughout the last couple of decades as needed.
“[The Guild] has been more than anything else my main source of learning over the years, other than learning by doing,” Faller explained.
Faller has managed to evolve his exclusively acoustic piano business into a full service approach – in other words, he does a lot more than merely “tune” the piano. Pianos are rather persnickety machines: the mechanics are easily affected by outside circumstances beyond control, like humidity. New England is known for having particularly humid days, and installing climate control systems to help regulate humidity levels within the piano has been a big source of business for Faller over the years. Faller also touched on the process of “voicing” (or adjusting the density of the felts covering the hammers striking the string to produce a warmer or brighter tone), which has proven crucial to the general maintenance of any piano, as well.
With so many folks cooped up during COVID this year, many have found the time to tune up their forgotten instruments. Faller’s business has been so busy lately, he hired an extremely well trained Marlow-based technician, Mike Puleo. Puleo who has done the lion’s share of the work throughout this pandemic and has proven to be a major help for Faller this past year.
“I’ve had calls from clients I haven’t heard from in years, so I’ve been able to stay as busy as I needed to be,” he explained. “The only problem I’ve had has been trying to ensure a life outside of work!”