By Kathryn Reed, Staff Writer
Whidbey Daily Weekly News
Vol.1, Issue 6, March 24, 2016
Dean Petrich of Freeland loves a good piano. Truth be told, he loves just about any piano, as demonstrated by the number of instruments he has amassed on his property, all carefully stored in sheds and canvas tents. But he’s willing to share.
Petrich has about 80 pianos he would love to give away to anyone who would like one, before he is forced to dismantle them.
“That last windstorm knocked down three of my tents and the rain got to about 24 pianos,” he said. “It completely destroyed some really nice ones.”
Petrich is a much sought-after piano technician, more commonly referred to as a piano tuner. He is also well-known on the south end of Whidbey Island as Deano the Clown. He is entertaining, energetic and creative and also saddened by what is happening in the piano industry. He said people today are more likely to get rid of a piano than to buy one.
“I get a call every other day from someone in Seattle wanting me to haul one away,” he said. “For every 20 pianos I bring in, maybe one goes out.”
The problem, Petrich believes, is that like pretty much everything else, people have gone electric.
“People don’t play pianos anymore, they have electronic keyboards,” he said. “So here you have all these people who have inherited a piano from a family member, but they don’t play them, or the piano is in terrible shape. We’re a throw-away society. People don’t want them anymore.”
He compared his collection of pianos with another of his collections.
“I made the same mistake with cameras that use film,” Petrich said. “I collected a lot of really nice film cameras, but then they all went digital. The same thing is happening with pianos.”
Petrich’s search for homes for his pianos is not limited to those that can still be played. He is also willing to give the instruments to artists who can use their imaginations and turn a piano into sculptures, art or other furniture pieces.
“The more creative the better,” he said. “Some pianos aren’t worth fixing, but they could be used to make a neat bar, a desk, a bookshelf, a little closet, a vanity.”
The situation is bittersweet for a man who built a career on tuning and repairing pianos. He still gets plenty of work on and off the island, but it’s the end of an era in a way.
“There’s so much work that goes into building and repairing a piano,” Petrich said. “And today there are very few technicians who know how to tune and repair them. Pianos stores are closing left and right.”
Today Petrich could be described as a renaissance man out of step with the times. Rather than putting his beloved instruments back together, he finds himself tearing them apart.
“Piano keys make good kindling,” he said. “But sound boards can be used for guitars and piano legs make nice supports for shelves.”
He still hopes to spread some enjoyment – either to those who want to play the piano or to those who can use them creatively. Anyone interested in acquiring a piano for either of those purposes can contact Petrich at (206) 324-5055 or on line at http://www.petrichspianoshop.com.
Freeland piano technician Dean Petrich, also known as Deano the Clown, shows off one of the many fun features on his property last fall. Petrich is trying to give away dozens of pianos to interested parties.
Dean Petrich shows off one of many pianos stored on his property in Freeland that he hopes to give away to good homes.