Santa Maria Sun / Music
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 12
The piano whispererMeet Jim Enos, your friendly neighborhood piano tuner and technician
BY JOE PAYNE
Of all the four-legged beasts that need taming, there are none quite as formidable as the piano. Boasting 220 strings under 200 pounds of pressure—each of which responds to environmental pressures such as heat and humidity—the piano is a living, breathing instrument. When the slightest thing goes wrong with one of these complex creatures, you can always call an experienced and skilled technician or tuner like local Jim Enos to tune, tweak, or tame your piano.
Enos, a true local boy, was born and raised in Santa Maria; he graduated from Santa Maria High School in 1957. Even by the time he was 18, he was using skills acquired after several years of piano lessons to perform locally. He attended Fresno State University and gigged in the surrounding area with his band The Crescendos. Upon returning to Santa Maria and turning 21, he started performing full time, including on the local nightclub circuit.
Enos can perform brilliantly in several styles. He has a penchant for Latin styles and interprets standards beautifully. Now, at 72, he still performs locally. Recent gigs included a performance at the Santa Maria Inn celebrating the Clark Center’s 10th anniversary, a fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Community Action Network, and a fundraiser for the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society at the Elks Lodge.
Although he’s always been a performer, Enos reached a point where he didn’t want to have to rely solely on performance.
“I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life playing in a night club; that can be hard,” he said, “so I talked to my piano tuner and he agreed to take me on as an apprentice.”
Apprenticeship is how many piano tuners get experience before they begin tuning solo. The guiding hand of a professional is of priceless importance in a field that deals with such a complex machine. Tuning, Enos explained, involves using pieces of felt to mute adjacent strings while each string in turn is tweaked into place. Many tuners use an electronic tuning machine; Enos uses one, but originally learned to tune by ear.
“It took four years to go from tuning took all day down to an hour,” he said. “Even today, if I do it and concentrate and not chat, I will be done in an hour.”
Jim started tuning professionally in 1969 and hasn’t stopped since. It took him nearly 17 years, he said, before he could fully rely on the work without performing supplementing his income. But over the years, as he built up a steady clientele, he could perform less, which is what he planned for.
“It’s not a glamorous thing that people aspire to be,” he said, “but one thing is that nobody makes you retire, and you work for yourself.”
Enos is not just an accomplished tuner, but is also a piano technician. As a technician he can fix most anything that goes wrong with a piano. From a sticky key to regulating the action of the keyboard, he’s got it covered.
“If I repaired any other instrument, they would bring it to me, but I go where the piano is,” he said. “I don’t like working in an office or a cubicle, and that’s why it never gets old—because you are always moving around to a different place.”
He also has his own business buying and selling pianos. At any time, Enos may have a piano or two in his possession that he’s looking to sell, and he can probably find a good home for a piano someone’s looking to get rid of. He recently sold a piano to the Santa Maria Town Center, with help from Jerry Coelho of Coelho’s Academy of Music. The piano is a true antique; it was built in 1908 and is in wonderful condition, he said.
But more than the piano, Enos loves living in the Santa Maria Valley with his family.
The two contribute as part of the Allan Hancock College Foundation in the way of the Tony V. and Laura A. Enos Memorial Fund, in honor of Enos’ parents, granted to both a musician and a visual artist attending Allan Hancock College. I was the grateful and proud recipient of the musical award this year, which was in honor of Enos’ father; the visual award was in honor of his mother, who was an artist. Jim and Eldora Enos also award players in the Allan Hancock College Concert Band for their hard work in instrumental music.
“I really do love the valley; it is our home, and I would rather not live somewhere else,” Jim said. “It’s been good to my family for a century. We have thrived here.”
Local rock and roll group Candy Jam performs live in concert June 2 from 9 p.m. to closing at the Village Office, Vandenberg Village. More info: 757-8126.
The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment including country music by the Lucky Nines in concert June 1 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” with Jim Townsend is June 2 at 3 p.m. The J.D. Bernal Band performs live country music June 2 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Calendar Editor Joe Payne at email@example.com.