"I have worked with many technicians over the years, and none have come close to Christopher Ris' level of knowledge, expertise and integrity. I own a rebuilt Steinway 'A'
and was considering selling it because it was not my 'dream' piano. I talked to two highly recommended technicians; one said nothing could be done to improve the problems, the other tried twice and failed. As I articulated the problems to Christopher, he seemed to understand precisely what I was after and showed me how he thought it could be accom-plished. . . The difference was astounding. The piano sprang to life. The range of tonal colors was incredible and the action was quick and crisp. Even after I expressed my satisfaction, Christopher continued to work with me, patiently experimenting with a few final adjustments. His work has made my piano an effortless extension of my artistic voice. Many of my students have had Christopher work on their pianos and all have reported that the results have exceeded their expectations."
Singer/songwriter, recording artist,
Author of The Gary Marks Piano Method, San Anselmo, CA
“I immediately was impressed by the beautiful sound (sweet, mellow, long lasting) as I started playing something relatively quiet. As I continued to play and try bigger pieces it
also had plenty of power. I was also impressed by the action and the touch. So many times piano technicians do not understand what to do to make the touch correct and ruin pianos when they work on them. The action was even from note to note and had exactly the right amount of resistance. It was a very easy piano to bring out nuances and interpretation in the music In my fifty plus years of teaching piano and performing experience, it is very rare to find someone as committed to excellence in piano rebuilding as Christopher Ris.”
"As a professional jazz pianist who tours internationally and has recorded over 30 albums,
I am very particular about pianos and their maintenance. Christopher Ris has tuned and maintained my pianos for years. He has an extraordinarily precise ear, tunes impeccably, and is fully expert at everything from minor regulation to full-scale rebuilding. I have found him reliable, congenial, and completely trustworthy. I have referred him to a number of colleagues and friends who have been equally delighted with his work."
Composer and pianist
"After much agonizing, I decided to get rid of my fine grand piano and buy a Steinway. I found a model M being sold by Christopher Ris in San Rafael for a very reasonable price. I expected the piano to be a disaster (given the low price), and Mr. Ris to be a salesman, because that's what you typically find when you go to look for a piano, whether old or new. (If you think car salesman are bad, try looking for a new grand piano).
I showed up at Ris's piano studio early and he had not arrived. He gave me access to the studio to play the piano without his being there, which was very nice and sort of unusual. I took one look around the place and concluded that this was a man who loves and knows his pianos on a level that is reached by few human beings.
I played the M for sale for about thirty seconds before deciding to buy it. Note, please, that this is the second most expensive thing I've ever purchased in my 45 years, after my overpriced and crumbling house in Oakland. The piano, unlike the house, had been restored to near perfection, and Chris, much to his credit, was quick to point out the imperfections. I had my own technician look at the piano and she quickly agreed: the restoration work was phenomenal. I didn't bother haggling over the money because the asking price was very reasonable and it was clear Chris had put a ridiculous number of hours into restoring the 1927 Steinway M to its original glory.
I'd hire him as a technician in a heartbeat. I'd recommend him as a tech in a heartbeat. And I'd buy a piano from him in a heartbeat. If Yelp was scored on a scale of 1-100, I'd give Christopher Ris 100."
Christopher Ris is an incredible piano technician! The first time he met my Yamaha C-5,
he took out the action, called me over, and pointed out many misaligned parts, showing me how and where they should actually be positioned. He had me feel how the strings weren’t level with each other, and he had me feel with my fingernail how deep the grooves in the hammers were. He explained the negative effect that each problem was causing in terms of lack of responsiveness and tonal degradation. He seemed so insightful, he commun-icated with such precision, and I felt so immediately educated that I hired him to do everything that he suggested.
The overall result of everything he did is unbelievable. The tone and responsiveness are far better than I would have believed possible. I had bought this piano six and one half years earlier in almost brand new condition - it had hardly been played. I had always thought of it as an “almost - great” piano, but I now realize that it is a truly beautiful instrument. Prior to Christopher’s work, my main dissatisfaction with the tone was in the upper register as it was somewhat distorted, piercing and inconsistent. Now, it is actually beautifully warm yet bright, clear, clean and so easy to control due to the super even consistency of each note’s tone and responsiveness.
The experience is like having bought a new, far-superior instrument. Christopher initially said it would be as good or better than when it first left the factory, and I am convinced that it is!
It is for all of these reasons, and with great enthusiasm, that I urge you to let Christopher Ris give you a 'new instrument' too!"
Composer, performer, teacher, author
"I am writing to recommend the work of Christopher Ris. I am a performer and teacher
and have owned a Yamaha C-7 for seven years. For the last 3 or 4 years I had been unhappy with certain aspects of voicing and regulation and had had three other highly respected technicians work on it unsatisfactorily. Mr. Ris immediately understood what I was describing, accurately diagnosed the problems and explained clearly to me what he was proposing to do. I am delighted with the sound and with the adjustments to the action and am very pleased to have found a technician with whom I feel I can communicate and work."
Peggy Rodgers Nance
Former President of the Sonoma County Music Teachers' Association, Santa Rosa, CA
" I inherited a Steinway 'A' that was in poor shape . . . One reputable technician advised me that the piano could not be economically rebuilt and that I should sell it. Other technicians offered to rebuild it at a price higher than that bid by Christopher. . . The Steinway is now an outstanding piano. It has given me hours of pleasure. I perform regularly on another Steinway 'A' that has been recently rebuilt, and Christopher's work on my Steinway outclasses the other by far.
If you are looking for piano restoration, maintenance or tuning work, I strongly recommend Christopher Ris. There are many subtle adjustments to action and strings that Christopher does that go beyond ordinary maintenance in order to realize a truly beautiful sound.
Chris genuinely loves bringing old pianos back to their prime , and for my money, no one does a better job."
Prof. Robert Leachman
"I played on Mrs. W's Steinway yesterday along with 25 other music teachers and pianists.
I want to let you know how pleased we all were with it. I played on it about two years ago and I definitely wasn't looking forward to it that much. But the minute the first person started playing I heard that the whole piano was different. So now I have hands on proof of what you do to pianos, the action and tone were beautiful! The other performers felt the same way. It's a beautiful job, Christopher, congratulations!"
Pianist and teacher,
Former president of the Marin Music Teachers’ Association Mill Valley, CA
"To any lucky prospective client of Christopher Ris:
It is my great pleasure to write this letter recommending Christopher’s work.
For eleven years I have owned a Steinway upright, built in 1898. I have loved this piano
with all my heart. It caused me great pain to hear its sound become less and less lovely and more and more harsh. I asked many piano tuners and rebuilders to come to my house to examine the piano and advise me what could be done to bring it back to its most musical self. Half of these gentlemen told me that the piano was “ dead” and I “shouldn’t even give
it away”. The other half told me that they could rebuild it for me at great cost, but that even with all the work, they couldn’t guarantee that it would ever sound the way I wanted it to.
Then I met Christopher. He listened to me describe my problem and told me that he knew he could help me. He arrived at my house with his magic bag and went to work. In a few hours he discovered fixable problems that no one else had even noticed. With care, precision, and tenderness he restored life and music to my fine old instrument.
I highly recommend Christopher and his work. He is a skilled craftsman and a gifted artist."
I want you to know how happy I am with the outcome of your work on the Mason & Hamlin and the Baldwin concert piano. These fine pianos needed some careful, expert work to bring them up to their full potential. I am especially pleased with your work on the actions. Both pianos now “float” under the fingers in a way that is extremely unusual and very special indeed. For the greatly increased expressive possibilities I am very grateful. Thos who play the Baldwin in concert are consistent in their praise of the instrument."
Director, St John’s Episcopal Church Concert Series
"I am happy to include this letter of recommendation in the file of Christopher Ris. He recently worked on our 1902 Model O Steinway, and the tone and action are unbelievably improved. In fact, when my piano group played it for the first time since his work, they were using words like “amazing,” “miraculous,” and “wonderful.”
Over the nearly hundred years of its life, the piano had undergone the rigors of Minnesota weather, some botched restoration, and several inept efforts by other high profile technicians. When Chris arrived for an examination and tuning, he was appalled by what he found, and carefully showed me the areas that he felt needed the most immediate attention. I made it clear that there were budgetary restrictions, and he was very professional in making suggestions within my means.
In fact, “professional” is a term that fits Chris in every respect. He was punctual and thoughtful of my time; he presented a clear and itemized proposal for the work to be undergone and checked it off at each stage; he took a personal interest in the job and was eager to get feedback from me on the improvements as they occurred.
I will be forever grateful to my piano teacher for recommending Chris, and I am certain that anyone who calls on his skill and artistry will be equally pleased."
"Ris Piano delivers high- wire performance in the most nonchalant manner. Christopher Ris, a musician himself, not only tunes pianos, but services, restores, and rebuilds them too. My Mason Hamlin Model A grand was needing tuning every 3 months. It was annoying. Chris fixed that pronto by putting in a DampChaser system. Once a year was all it needed after that. An ample demonstration of him putting customers before his own profit. I suspect this is why there are not more DampChasers installed by other piano tuners. Best of all Chris -- as I hoped of a musician and piano tuner -- actually listens to what you say, thoughtfully addresses questions."
San Rafael, CA
"Dear Mr. B,
When the technician you recommended to prepare the piano for my concert was finished trying to remedy several problems, the piano sounded worse than before. I immediately called my own technician, Christopher Ris, who has worked miracles on pianos for me in the past, and asked if he could do a final tuning of the piano and fix the problematic notes. Chris did substantial work, both tuning and repairs. When he was done the piano sounded much better than it had ever sounded during my practice sessions. He said that with very little money the piano could be made to sound considerably better, and he has my highest recommendation. He made my Yamaha grand, which I was never happy with, sound like
a new piano, and he is a perfectionist."
Pianist, Palo Alto, CA
"Five years ago I purchased a rebuilt Steinway 'A' from a reputable rebuilder in Manhattan. Although rebuilt, the piano did not allow for much artistry when playing. I had two other technicians work on the piano prior to Christopher, neither of whom were able to suggest clear cut and reasonable technical solutions to the problems I was having. Christopher went through the piano with a fine tooth comb. I now have a tremendous level of control when playing; the action allows very fine gradations of dynamic levels and tone quality. Quite frankly, the piano now exceeds the expectations that I had when I bought the instrument."
Pianist and teacher,
San Francisco, CA
Everyone who plays in our family is again back at the piano enjoying it as it once was – hardly believing that this magic change came about. We all recognize and recommend Christopher Ris as a superb and highly skilled piano technician!"
Betty Conner and family
"We are so impressed with the restoration work you did on the Bosendorfer we purchased from you. We spoke with a number of technicians (who knew the piano from the KPFA radio station) who had said that the piano could not be restored. But after playing many American and German Steinways, Mason and Hamlins, Bechsteins, Grotrians, Shiedmeyers, the Yamaha S200 and several new Bosendorfers, we preferred your piano. While others offering new and used pianos generally spoke of the changes that could be made with voicing and action adjustment, you were the only one who on the spot made voicing changes to help us hear some of these variations. We also appreciate your patience and how much you taught us about the piano in the time we spent with you."
Palo Alto, CA
"Thank you for the joy you have brought into our lives . . . I knew from our first meeting that I had found someone I trusted to do a complete interior refurbishment. The Steinway grand has been in our family for four generations . . . Your patience and understanding in dealing with my own concerns as guardian of a family heirloom were very reassuring. I know you approach your work with the sensitivity of a performing musician. It is now hard to tear myself away from the piano! As familiar as I am with the instrument from having learned on it as a child, the new responsiveness of the keys and the wonderful resonance keep me happily at my practicing."
Pianist and teacher
San Rafael, CA
"Hi Ben (manager of Sherman Clay, Seattle),
Just wanted to give you an update on my new Steinway concert grand . As you know it
was a beautiful sounding D when I received it, but I asked Christopher Ris, my technician,
to see if he could address a few issues as well as to put the finishing touches on the action regulation.
Chris did a phenomenal job addressing these issues well beyond my expectations and achieved a balanced tone across the keyboard. Bottom line, the piano sings like I could never have imagined. Also, his work on the action has made the touch so precise that playing softly on any note is a dream."
"In the nearly twenty years that he has been servicing our two Steinway concert grands and our Steinway and Baldwin teaching pianos, Christopher Ris has continually impressed our staff and many visiting artists with his beautiful tunings, consummate technical skills and deep understanding of the subtleties of the instrument. He has transformed every instrument he has worked on and we are grateful to him for this excellent service."
Director, San Domenico School Conservatory, San Anselmo, CA
"There is just not enough I can say to praise the craftsmanship and understanding that Christopher Ris has for pianos. As I watched him work on my Steinway 'B' and learned about the range of tone that is possible, and how important good regulation is, my ears became more sensitive and educated. I now feel that I've found a truly competent technician- but much more, a discerning artist who knows a good instrument is an integral partner to any musician."
Pianist, composer and teacher
San Anselmo, CA