Don Gilmore, a Kansas City mechanical engineer, has invented a self-tuning piano kit that could revolutionize — if not destroy — an industry headquartered in his hometown.
The computerized device, which could sell for as little as $300, could be retrofitted for older pianos, doing much of the job of a piano tuner. On the other hand, the kit would add one more layer of complexity to an instrument that already has thousands of moving parts. Whether that means less work — or more — for members of the Piano Technicians Guild based in Kansas City, Kan., is anybody’s guess.
Gilmore, who works for the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, is both a piano player and an inventor with notebooks full of ideas. The owner of three piano-tuning patents (and two more for a self-playing guitar), Gilmore once belonged to the guild.
Earlier this month Popular Science featured his invention in a multipage spread.
Don Mannino, director of field services for Kawai America, one of the largest piano makers in the world, knows about Gilmore.
“He’s a super-smart fella, and his system works,” Mannino said. If Gilmore has ironed out the wrinkles of earlier versions and kept the device affordable, “it could be huge.”
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