GREENPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Douglas Gregg is no ordinary doctor.
He performs surgeries not on people but on upright and grand pianos as the Classic Piano Doc.
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Gregg began rebuilding and restoring antiques at the age of 12. He worked construction in a variety of trades before becoming a doctor of veterinary medicine and earning a PhD in pathology.
After retiring from working with animals decades ago, he switched to musical instruments.
“It’s the doctoring of the piano. It’s the diagnosis and the treatment,” he said. “It’s almost as complicated as medicine but not quite.”
He says that there are roughly 2,000 moving parts in a piano that need adjustment.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize how much goes on under the hood,” he said.
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He repairs, restores, and sells pianos from the 1910s, ’20s, and ’30s, which he believes to be the best pianos ever made. For the rebuilt, like-new pianos, he charges one-quarter to one-third of the price of a new one.
“The oldest one I did was an 1884 nine-foot Steinway grand,” he said.
Although he sources only high-quality pianos, they often need a lot of work.
“The pianos I tend to get are ones that other technicians have given up on,” he said.
He once rebuilt a custom-made Steinway that had been charred in a house fire.
“I literally winched it out of the ashes,” he said.
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In addition to spending days in his workshop, Gregg makes house calls, tuning pianos for everyone from beginners to professionals.
“I take care of almost all the concert pianos on the North and South Fork,” he said. “I put in custom-made hammers, custom-made strings to make them sound even bigger than they are and sweeter sounding.”
For him, each piano is a new puzzle.
“Sometimes, the diagnostics are very hard. I’ve had some real challenges,” he said. “Mostly, I’ve been able to solve them, but I’ve lost sleep over a few.”
He credits his success to both his medical training and general disposition.
“It takes a perfectionist mentality, which I have,” he said. “If everything is perfect, the piano really sings.”
Classic Piano Doc
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