peppe – Alex's Piano Service

Dampp-Chaser Installation in Yamaha HQ100

The Yamaha HQ100 is a so-called “gray-market” upright. A gray market piano is one that’s authentically manufactured by Yamaha, but is not intended for sale in a specific geographic region or country. Instead, it’s sold as “gray market” — a market that exists outside of the official distribution channels and is not authorized by the manufacturer. In this case, the HQ100 is the Japanese version of the Yamaha MX100II, with a few small modifications.

Like all Yamaha Disklavier uprights, Dampp-Chasers cannot be installed inside the cabinet. There isn’t any room. Instead, a backside system is installed between the support posts behind the piano. The back is then ensconced in a light fabric to keep the humidity-controlled air inside.

However, the HQ100 has one significant oddity: There are only two support posts. The double bucket system usually installed just doesn’t fit. So in this case, after communicating with Dampp-Chaser, I opted to install a full-size bucket on the rear of the system. A thin layer of foam or neoprene needs to be pasted to the sound-board side of the bucket, and a full-size baffle needs to be installed, but otherwise the system is installed like a typical back-side system. The dehumidifier brackets did require some bending to get them to fit properly.

For the Velcro, I used two feet of two inch wide Velcro, with the male side backed with a strip of neoprene. The picture is below:

Cadenza in Freeport

As a professional piano tuner, I’ve had the privilege for several years of working at some the most beautiful music venues. Cadenza is nestled right in the heart of Freeport at 5 Depot St, and this venue attracts music lovers who come to enjoy live performances and the beauty of its Yamaha C7 grand piano.

From classical concerts to jazz nights, the musicians who grace its stage are some of the most talented and passionate. The piano itself is a magnificent instrument, and has been a centerpiece of the venue for many years. They take wonderful care of it. I have spent many hours tuning and caring for this beautiful instrument, and its well-loved by the performers who play on it.

Whether you are a music lover or simply appreciate the finer things in life, this venue and its piano are not to be missed. I highly recommend taking the time to visit and experience the magic of live music and the beauty of this magnificent instrument.

Here’s what they have coming up next.

Photo courtesy the Cadenza website and gallery.

Nalbantov Floppy Disk Drive Upgrades

I’ve recently started recommending customers with worn-out floppy disk drives upgrade them to so-called “Floppy Disk Emulators.” There are a couple of these on the market, but it looks like the easiest to use and most reliable is the Nalbantov USB Floppy Disk Emulator. I use these regularly in Yamaha Disklaviers, but they can also be installed in keyboards. I install these quite regularly.

Why Upgrade?

There are several reasons why you might want to replace an old floppy disk drive with a USB floppy disk emulator, including:

  1. Increased reliability: USB floppy disk emulators are more reliable than traditional floppy disk drives, as they have no moving parts and are less susceptible to mechanical failure. Most customers reach out to me after their floppy disk drive has failed.
  2. Compatibility: USB floppy disk emulators are compatible with modern computers, which may not have floppy disk drives built-in or may no longer support floppy disks.
  3. Speed: USB floppy disk emulators transfer data faster than traditional floppy disk drives, making it easier and quicker to transfer large amounts of data.
  4. Convenience: USB floppy disk emulators can be easily connected and disconnected, making it easier to transfer data between different computers or to store data.
  5. Cost-effectiveness: USB floppy disk emulators are often more cost-effective than purchasing a new floppy disk drive or repairing an old one.

I’ve found some floppy disk drives now cost more than the replacement USB emulators, especially if they’ve had minimal use. And hardly anybody knows how to actually repair a floppy drive—that’s a nearly lost art.


After the Nalbantov is installed, you can use a single USB stick to represent up to 1000 floppy disks. Because it’s a floppy disk emulator, the Disklavier actually believes you’re inserting a different floppy disk, so as you switch between virtual “disks” by pressing the arrows, you’ll see the display on the Disklavier behave as though you’ve inserted a new disk. Of course, if you have more than 1000 floppy disks, you can invest in another USB stick, although I haven’t run into this particular situation yet!


Some customers opt to install the Nalbantov unit themselves. Depending on the design, this is quite doable, although I don’t recommend attempting it with most Yamaha MX100II Disklaviers (see below).

With some generations of Disklavier (most notably some MX100II uprights), the floppy disk drives are mounted behind a shaped plastic piece. In these cases, you’ll need to cut away the old plastic facing (a pair of flush-cut nippers is helpful here), install the new drive, and put some kind of buffer around it. I’ve experimented with a few different choices for something functional and attractive. Purchasing neoprene strips is a cheap solution.

I have a 3D model in STL format of a floppy bezel that’s sized to fit around a Nalbantov. You can 3D print this yourself, or I can mail you one. I adhere it to the replacement Nalbantov with a little bit of hot glue, and then slide the whole assembly in.

For backing up your current Disklavier floppy disks to a format that can be stored on your USB stick, see my article on Backing up Disklavier Floppy Disks. They can then be moved onto a virtual “disk” with Nalbantov’s proprietary tool.

Digital Keyboard FAQs

One or more keys play at full volume even though I’m hardly pressing them!

Keyboards use very sensitive contacts to determine how fast your pressing the key (or the velocity). A keyboard with dirty contacts (such as the one pictured below) will misjudge velocity, and will cause the key to play at incorrect or, often, persistently loud volume. In the case of the picture below, that wood chip would cause a perpetually quiet key—if it moved to the depression directly above it, then it would cause a perpetually loud key. Cleaning is sometimes an effective option.

They can also simply wear out. If you play your keyboard for hours a day, the rubber itself will eventually degrade, as will the graphite pads on the button. In that case, they’ll need to be completely replaced, which is typically possible for keyboards that are less than ten years old, but becomes progressively more difficult with age. Replacement is usually the best option.

In desperate times, if contacts just aren’t available, you can swap contact strips from the ends of the keyboards to replace keys you play more often. There are products like Oak Tree Vintage’s Key Contact Repair Kit, but I view these as an absolute last resort. Direct rubber contact strip repair is usually a desperate measure.

Here are some typical keyboard contacts from a Yamaha Clavinova. There appears to be some kind of wood shaving in one of the contacts (toward the center of the image). This will cause misfiring.

One or more keys don’t play at all.

A common cause of silent keys are bad or damaged rubber key contacts. See above. They should be cleaned or replaced.

Another common cause of silent keys is a damaged or corroded key contact printed circuit board (PCB). These PCBs are, for late-model keyboards, typically available—particularly for Yamaha and Roland. They can also sometimes be repaired: In the case of the image below, some cleanup and a wire jumper fixed the problem.

If there’s sufficient corrosion on the contact circuit board, it will need replacement. In this case, I was able to add a wire jumper to bring life back to this particular board, and then coat the area to prevent further corrosion.

My keyboard doesn’t turn on!

There are many common reasons for this. The most common, in order, are damaged power cords or adapters, a blown fuses, a damaged power inlet (see below), or a damaged power switch. It can also be a sign of an electronics failure somewhere else in the keyboard.

Start by replacing the cord. That’s something fairly inexpensive you can do yourself. Try to find a direct manufacturer replacement. If you need any assistance in this, you can contact me or you can reach out to a local piano store. In the case of a power cord with an adapter, both the voltage and the polarity have to be correct.

Somebody broke off the power inlet on the back of the keyboard.

This is common problem. Nearly every pedal inlet for nearly every keyboard is available. I replace them quite often, particularly in schools where the cord might get forcefully pushed or pulled! Depending on the way that it was broken, there might be some collateral damage. For instance, a Roland I repaired recently had the fuse assembly ripped off when the power inlet, acting as a battering ram, scraped the electronics off the rest of the inlet circuit board. However, there’s nothing particularly complicated on there, and their story ends happily!

I’ve got a Yamaha Clavinova and some of the keys are sticking.

This is a very common problem in Yamaha Clavinovas from the earl 2000s. Unfortunately, the tails of the keys would crack, resulting in sluggish behavior. Then they would fully break, causing a sticking key. More than once, I’ve gotten a call after a rowdy child will walk up to the keyboard and spontaneously break a dozen or so keys—it’s not their fault! These keys can be replaced.

I typically don’t recommend doing them one-by-one unless you’re going to be replacing them yourself. It’s much better to replace the entire keyboard assembly or to replace all the keys. This is an expensive repair, but it’s much less expensive than a brand new Clavinova, and if the rest of the electronics are in good shape it’s worth considering.

I’ve got a Roland RD-xxx and one or more keys are staying down. They seem loose.

Roland RD keyboards from the 2000s and earlier used plastic hammers that crack and break. Unfortunately, Roland no longer manufactures these hammers. If you have such a keyboard, you’re at the mercy of used parts dealers and eBay. I maintain a small stockpile for customers, but this condition is usually terminal.

This is a very distressing situation for me, so if you have any further information that might assist in fabricating these or are aware of a stockpile of these, please contact me. At the moment, single replacements sell up to $100 on eBay.

Cracking Roland hammers. All of these are splitting, both horizontally and vertically around the encased lead weight. They are, unfortunately, irreplaceable.

I’ve got a Yamaha and it makes a clacking sound when I let go of or hit a key.

Yamaha Clavinovas and portable keyboards have a strike felt and a rest felt. In nearly all cases, rest felts will wear out within a decade. This causes keys will make a clacking sound when released. With heavier use, strike felts can also wear out. Both felts are relatively easy to replace. Both lead to a noisy keyboard.

This is a worn out hammer strike felt on a Yamaha Clavinova. (It had, in fact, already peeled off when I opened the keyboard and was resting on the hammers.) The keyboard rest felt is toward the bottom of the keyboard assembly. It’s the piece the metal hammers are resting on.

Disklavier Floppy Disk Backups, eSEQ and MIDI Formats

Some of my customers choose to upgrade their older Disklavier’s floppy drive to a Nalbantov USB drive, and want to know how to copy songs from their old Disklavier floppy disks so they can put them on USB. Some of them just want to be able to backup their disks so they can make new ones later. And some are interested in writing altogether new songs to their floppies so they can finally listen to something new!

This post is intended to help you read from, write to, or replace Yamaha Disklavier floppy disks.

If you want your floppy disks files saved on a more modern media, you can also mail your floppy disks to me (please reach out to me at se*****@al************.com or through my Contact page).

If you’re adding new music to a floppy disk and have an older Disklaviers (including the popular MX100B), you’ll need to make sure the files are in Yamaha’s proprietary eSEQ format. Using the tools below, you can convert MIDI files to eSEQ so that it will speak your Disklavier’s native language!

Obtaining eSEQ Files from your Disks

Original Yamaha floppy disks are the best source of these files. However, floppy disks often don’t age well, and are very susceptible to sunlight and magnetic fields. (This is one more reason to back them up!)

Disklavier floppy disks cannot be natively read by your computer, which makes them difficult to backup. They use a very primitive form of copy protection.

There are several tools that will allow you to read them: I use the Player Piano Floppy Backup Utility 1.4, created by Mark Fontana. It’s freeware, but he requests donations. You can download it from him, or you can download ppfbu_v1.4_setup.exe from my MEGA drive. It can read and save directly in eSEQ format, even if the disk it’s reading from is in MIDI. It appears to run acceptably on Mac / Linux using emulators.

There are other tools out there. Most notably, there was a Hack-a-Day project by Tom Nardi that uses a Python script to copy the data off the floppies. His tool is available on GitHub.

The Player Piano Floppy Backup Utility v1.4

Obtaining even More eSEQ Files from the Internet

In addition to the originals you might have, you can sometimes find these on eBay or at local music stores. Older disks on eBay are seldom tested, so there’s some risk of receiving junk disks.

There are several large online repositories in both eSEQ and MIDI formats. Some of these are of dubious legality. One legitimate resource is, which is also quite a large repository. I have a copy of their entire database on my MEGA drive. (I worry a lot about these older resources disappearing!)

Converting MIDI files to eSEQ

If you want to use MIDI files with your older Disklavier, you can, but you have to convert them to eSEQ first. There’s software to do this conversion. You can either get it from or you can download the whole DKVUTILS suite from my MEGA drive.

Once you download DKVUTILS.ZIP from my site or theirs, you’ll need to extract it. The program that converts MIDI files to eSEQ files is MID2ESEQ.EXE. This program runs only on Windows, and does not seem to run with emulators. Reach out to me and I can assist with conversion.

Using MID2ESEQ, just drag and drop MIDI files into the window.

You can also source files from Yamaha’s website, although this is the most expensive option. Many of their MIDI files have multiple instruments (or even limited piano), and are more designed for their keyboards and other MIDI devices. However, they do have an entire category of Piano Solos, and these are what you’ll want to search for when selecting files. When you download these, you get their associated MIDI files, which are comfortably sized for floppy disk purposes.

MIDI files that have only one track are called Type 0 files. MIDI files with multiple parts are Type 1. Sometimes, the piano will be spread between two tracks. In that case, you’ll find the resulting eSEQ has only half the notes it should. You can convert Type 1 to Type 0 files using the tool gn1to0.exe that’s also stored on my MEGA drive. This is a slightly cumbersome tool, but will either run on Windows or on Linux/Mac using Wine.

Using conversion software to merge all the MIDI tracks.

Nord Electro 3 Fuse Replacement and Voltage Change

In 2022, I had a customer ask me how to change the voltage on his Nord Electro 3 from North American to European. I made this brief write-up to help him.

This also includes how to replace the Electro 3’s fuse. If you’re a world traveler, this might be worth printing out and keeping in your bag—perhaps along with an extra fuse!

Piano Teachers

This is a (nearly) comprehensive list of local piano teachers here in Southern Maine. This list includes both teachers who work with you in-person, and also those who use remote teaching tools.

Teachers who can travel to your home are marked with a black star (★), and teachers who can work with you remotely are marked with a white star (☆).

If you have any submissions or updates, please contact su*********@pi***********.me.

I am honored to be able to offer what I believe to be the most comprehensive list of piano teachers in the state, and will respond quickly to any updates you have for me. Some of these piano teachers are difficult to find elsewhere, and all are excellent.

Teacher City
Arthur Melendy
(207) 376-3376
Email | Facebook
Christina Morrill
(207) 831-5531
Midcoast School of Music ☆
(207) 837-2955
Amy Irish
(207) 449-0093
Midtown Music
(207) 282-0254
Ann Hartzler
(207) 837-3416
Eric Peppe ☆
(207) 400-6011
Carrie Clement
(207) 236-4353
Email | Facebook
Claire Helene Bevan
(617) 319-1291
Email | Facebook
Christine Kissack
(207) 780-5265
Jacqui Savage ☆
(207) 232-9893
Dr. Gulimini Mahamuti
Gorham School of Music
(207) 839-3900
Email | Facebook
Peggy Gates
(207) 839-6141
Rhee Michelle
Email | Facebook
Kim Bean
(207) 615-3104
Sara Sturdivant ★☆
(978) 382-3687
Email | Facebook
Haverhill, MA
River Tree Arts
(207) 967-9120
Email | Facebook
Barbara Fraser
(207) 793-2103
Marc P. Mailhot ★☆
(207) 420-7683
Andrea Rosenberg
(207) 409-0750
Peaks Island
Kathryn Miller ☆
(207) 487-5405
Email | Facebook
Erica Ball ☆
Michael Beling ☆
(207) 939-7969
Music with Mona ★☆
(207) 295-5658
Nell Britton ☆
(207) 408-5197
Amy Hunter ★☆
(207) 370-8826
Phyllis Leeke ☆
(207) 773-2523
Email | Facebook
Liz Manduca
(207) 773-7012
Maine Academy of Modern Music ☆
(207) 899-3433
Maine Music Lessons ☆
(207) 200-4296
Carol Starbird ★
(207) 409-4841
Mesa Schubeck
(207) 266-6621
Alice Peterson ☆
(207) 210-4214
Joy Tremont ★
(207) 837-1875
Eve Sawyer
(207) 773-8741
Patricia Jalbert
(207) 934-1218
Dale Churchill
Midcoast School of Music ☆
(207) 837-2955
KMH Music
(207) 764-3651
Email | Facebook
Midcoast Music Academy ☆
(207) 701-7410
Abigail Nash ☆
(207) 355-1535
Alyssa Hawkins ☆
Email | Facebook
Irina Malayev
(207) 615-3854
Fiddlehead Scarborough
(207) 730-3798
Nell Britton ☆
(207) 408-5197
S. Portland
Ron Johnson ★
(207) 799-3706
S. Portland
Sarah Pearce ☆
(207) 460-0128
S. Portland
Kim Jamison
(207) 206-6468
Email | Facebook
Joel Pierce ☆
(207) 370-8266
Email | Facebook
Jennifer Day
(207) 590-7910
W. Baldwin
Barbara Fraser
(207) 793-2103
W. Newfield
Christina Misner Rao ☆
Wayne / Winthrop
317 Main St
(207) 846-9559
Marlene Wagner ★
(734) 645-4129
Email | Facebook
T Will Huval ★
(207) 361-1069
Lori Gundlah
(207) 363-5046 Email

This list is open to all piano teachers who operate in Maine. Just write to su*********@pi***********.me. Entries are free.

Please consider donating to support this list.

Thank you for using this list!


These recommendations are based on the excited reviews my customers give me. This list is under continuous construction, and please reach out to me if you would like to add your favorite resource! See my contact page.

Piano teachers 

If you’re looking for a piano teacher, check out my Piano Lessons page for a list of teachers in Maine. I do my very best to maintain a comprehensive list!

Customers regularly ask me for local piano teachers. If you are a local piano teacher, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to talk to you. If you have an excellent piano teacher that isn’t on my list, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

This list can also be found at

Piano moving

There are two well-established piano movers here in Maine: The Piano Mover’s of Maine and Starbird Piano, both of which are based in Portland. Both, in my experience, are willing to travel pretty far.

Pricing for piano moving is quite variable, and you should have the following information ready: The location the piano is moving from and to; The number of steps at both locations; The size of the piano (length for a grand or height for an upright).

If you need an especially long distance move between states, reach out to Piano Movers Inc. They service all of New England, and come highly recommended as they’re the movers used by Londonderry Piano in New Hampshire.

Please see my Piano Moving FAQs for more information.

Piano age

The first place I recommend is The Bluebook of Pianos Piano Age directory. It’s free, and they have the most common makes (like Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Yamaha, and Steinway); however, many of the smaller manufacturers are missing.

I can look up the piano age in the Pierce Piano Atlas if I have the serial number and make. For that, you can contact me directly. Email me at se*****@al************.com or use the Contact page. I’m always happy to provide this service.

Piano accessories

Dampp-Chaser Pads and Treatment can be purchased on Amazon (pads and treatment), they can be purchased at Starbird Piano in Portland, or you can ask me to bring them to your next tuning! Pads are free for regular customers, and my treatment prices are lower than Amazon’s.

Looking for a piano light? There are quite a few on the market, but I have had customers repeatedly recommend the Lumiens Music Stand Light. The light clips on top of your music rack whether on a grand piano or an upright, but it’s also capable of standing upright on its own if you don’t have a suitable place to clip it.

Are you interested in tools for cleaning under the strings of your grand piano? Spurlock Tool’s “Squeegie Type” Soundboard Cleaner is a very professional tool costing about $80, but will give you excellent and reliable results. You’ll have to purchase it through a dealer (such as myself). Email me at se*****@al************.com or use the Contact page.

Soundboard steels are the most inexpensive option ($5 plus the cost of a microfiber cloth), but they are a very labor-intensive option and will generally require removing the lid of the piano.

Read more on my Cleaning FAQs.

Piano sales

Starbird Piano in Portland is a Yamaha dealership, and is the only piano store in Southern Maine. They sell pianos on consignment. They use their own, in-house movers.

Londonderry Piano in Salem, NH is a Kawai dealership, but also sell pianos on consignment. They sell pianos all over Maine, and coordinate shipping through Piano Mover’s Inc, and have worked with the Piano Movers of Maine in-state. In addition to dealing Yamahas, they are the premier Kawai dealership in the northeast, and also deal Charles Walter and Boston uprights.

M Steinert & Sons in Boston is our nearest Steinway and Boston dealership. They also use Piano Mover’s Inc, and ship to Maine regularly. They have an outstanding reputation throughout the country.

Cunningham Piano is located in Philadelphia, but it’s home to some of the best piano rebuilders in the country, and a number of my customers have pianos purchased or rebuilt by them. They orchestrate shipping to and from Maine through a variety of movers.

Homeschooling Groups

I’ve worked with a number of members of Homeschoolers of Maine, who can help with events, group classes, curriculum, and the technical/legal aspects of homeschooling your kids.

Dampp-Chaser Long-Term Humidifier Supply

During the winter months, many clients leave the state of Maine. Their piano is left in Maine, which means there’s nobody to fill the Dampp-Chaser! This is a solution.

My best estimate is that this system can supply a Dampp-Chaser with sufficient water for three months during the winter, or perhaps longer. Normally, they have to be filled once a week!

There is no pump or water pressure: The two containers are self-leveling using nothing but physics. This means that, in effect, the interior tank has nearly the entire capacity of the external tank. The lack of electronic components remediates risk of severe failures. The external tank I use is the Barker 10-gallon tote.

Although not necessary for operation, an Arduino micro-controller is installed to monitor the water level and send updates using cellular data. This gives us confidence everything is working as it should, even during long absences. This is in development, although the source code I’m currently using is below. At present, I’m using the Botletics SIM7000 shield and an Arduino Uno Rev3. I connect using Telnyx.

The setup outside of a piano, with the Barker tote and the Dampp-Chaser universal tank connected by a hose. The universal tank will sit inside the piano, and the Barker tote will be outside.
This is the monitoring website for the above unit.

Source code for the Arduino monitor: