Piano Society
Free Classical Keyboard Recordings
It is currently Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:18 pm

All times are UTC - 1 hour




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 17 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:46 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:10 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Shenandoah Valley
My mother is giving me a nice Baldwin upright. I was thinking of tuning it myself for several reasons: I live probably 60 miles from the nearest professional piano tuner, my house varies a lot in temperature so it would require frequent tuning, I have a good ear and plenty of free time. I imagine if tuned frequently, it would not take that long.

Does anyone know about how much it costs to move a piano 120 miles and up 12 stairs?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 2012
Location: U.S.A.
Hi differencetone,

I'm a pianist, not a tuner/technician; however, in the past I sometimes tuned my parents' piano, a 1920s Ivers & Pond baby grand as well as a Whitney console belonging to a neighbor. Both were in a sad state such that I could do little harm.

My own piano is a 1984 Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6'3") partially rebuilt. Although I do things like tightening the action, leveling the hammers, putting teflon powder on the knuckles, adjusting the pedal mechanisms, keeping the steel strings free of rust particles, brushing out the hammer grooves, and cleaning the soundboard, I do not tune the piano despite having a very good ear. I do admit to keeping a tuning lever handy which I only use to fix a unison here or there between tunings. But tuning requires training in temperaments, tuning intervals, setting pins, stretching the octaves, etc. etc. Without a solid knowledge of those things, and given that my Baldwin is a high performance grand, I don't want to mess with it. For example, it's easy to widen the drill holes in a pinblock, thus loosening tuning pins, due to poor tuning lever technique. With a short slip into inattentiveness, it's also easy to pull on the wrong string and break it. So there is risk involved.

If your Baldwin upright is an old, beat-up one where you cannot do much more harm, then yes you could probably tune it yourself if you wished to do so. But if it's a Model 6000 Vertical (52") in great shape, I absolutely would not mess with it! You're better off paying the money to maintain it properly, which would then give you years of pleasure in playing it.

I don't know about the moving cost. Visit the Baldwin Piano site, and you'll find the specifications including weight there by clicking on the correct model of upright. Usually two men can move an upright. Given the weight, mileage, steps, and crew size, you should be able to easily obtain three quotations from movers over the phone. If you're in the U.S., and if the move will be interstate, then the rate will be based on weight. If it's intrastate, then it will usually be an hourly rate which is generally better for you. Either way, you'll need to pay a tip as well at the conclusion of the delivery. Also, most larger cities have a moving company that specializes only in pianos. If you have a choice between a regular household mover(s) or a dedicated piano mover, always go with the latter regardless of price, as they are far more proficient at what they do. If you're limited to household movers, then you could go with the lowest or lower estimate. If the piano is in excellent shape, you would be well advised to take the insurance option for actual depreciated value, not insurance based on the number of pounds involved. The former will enable you to cover the cost of a used equivalent replacement piano. The latter will buy you dinner--maybe.
I hope this helps.

David

_________________
"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


Last edited by Rachfan on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:29 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:10 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Shenandoah Valley
It's in good shape. Probably worth 2,000 from what I could find online. Hasn't been tuned in a long time.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:24 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 2012
Location: U.S.A.
Hi differencetone,

If the piano has not been tuned for a long time (perhaps even a matter of years), that's a very strong argument not to attempt tuning it yourself. By now the piano could be a half tone to a full tone flat. That means the pitch will have to cautiously be raised over several visits. Most people correctly deduce that in that process it's possible to break strings. True. But that's not the overriding issue. The major concern is that the sudden and great change in tension (15 to 20 tons worth depending on the model) will crack the soundboard, possibly beyond repair. It's something you need to be keenly aware of. That's why it must be done in stages.

David

_________________
"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:10 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Shenandoah Valley
Thanks, I did not know that. This piano is starting to look more expensive. How important is it that the room stay at a steady temperature where I plan to move it?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
Posts: 1250
Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
differencetone wrote:
Thanks, I did not know that. This piano is starting to look more expensive. How important is it that the room stay at a steady temperature where I plan to move it?

Most important. And also the humidity.

_________________
Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:10 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 2012
Location: U.S.A.
Hi differencetone,

A fairly consistent cool temperature or a fairly consistent warmer temperature is not an enemy of the piano. It's wide and rapid temperature swings that are the villain. Strings, being made of steel wire and copper windings, expand when the room temperature rises (causing the piano to go sharp), or contract when the temperature becomes cooler (causing the pitch to go flat). The time of change between temperatures is when the expanding or contracting takes place. And the wider the variation in the temperatures, the more effect on the strings. A greater frequency of these swings is a related evil. Much will depend on the climate where the piano will be. If it is to be moved only 120 miles, there will be no significant climate change. What might change though is the difference between the piano's present and future home--the interior environment. Basically a piano is "comfortable" if a human being is comfortable there. So if, for example, in a northern winter climate the thermostat had been set on 72 to heat the interior and you drop it to 70, you won't notice much of a change, nor will the piano. But if you drop it to 64, that's a substantial variance. In this example the steel wires will contract. The more frequently strings have to contract/expand and expand/contract, the faster and the more the piano will go out of tune. I live in Maine, so the climate doesn't get much harsher during winter. We maintain a normal temperature of 70, and for the night-time setback, I drop it only to 67.5. That's a relatively small adjustment which doesn't bother the piano (or us) much.

I should also mention that pianos should be kept away from heating elements like a forced hot air floor radiator, a steam or hydonic hot water radiator, electric baseboard radiator, a ceiling A/C diffuser, etc. If the piano gets a direct hit, then the string expansion/contract incidents will multiply with more dramatic consequences. Exposure to a direct heat source can dry out the pinblock causing the tuning pins to slip, cause cracks in the soundboard, or cause soundboard ribs to become loose or detached. Likewise, it should never be exposed to direct sunlight. Direct rays will play havoc with the case finish over time spoiling the outward appearance of the piano. Window treatments such as blinds, shades or curtains can alleviate that danger.

musical-md also mentions humidity. Once again, the piano likes what you like--indoor relative humidity generally within a zone of 45 to 55 degrees. The more your locale is in summer conditions along coastal and other humid regions (not the southwest dessert), the more higher humidity will cause the strings to expand, raising pitch. But often that's OK as the humidity will be fairly stable over time. If, however, you then run the A/C, well, that's frequent changes in the air as it cycles on and off multiple times. In challenging winter climates, indoor humidity levels can drop pretty low. At my home now, it's 28. The lowest I've ever seen it here is 11 degrees indoors. If you have humidification as part of your heating and cooling plant, problem solved as you can regulate it. If not, some people have a "Damp-Chaser" unit installed in or under the piano by a tech which can remediate the problem.

If you're getting the impression that pianos are temperamental... you're right! They are plus they complain a lot!

Bottom line, yes, a steady temperature and humidity level would be ideal, but making an attempt to at least avoid frequent and wide swings will lead to better tuning stability. In the Northeast, the most stable tunings are during winter and summer, due to fairly consistent weather conditions. Spring and autumn are "shoulder" seasons featuring up and down changes in the weather, thus causing tunings to be less stable. Other regions might have their own peculiarities.

David

_________________
"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:10 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Shenandoah Valley
I think I will dream of getting rich and building an addition to my house with climate control and a custom selected grand piano. The climate varies widely where I live even in the winter and summer. The Vienna Imperial piano is looking better to me now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjl9l63g624


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 2012
Location: U.S.A.
Hi differencetone,

I watched the demo video link you left. E-pianos are interesting, but if you were to poll the pianists here, I would bet that the acoustic piano would get the vast majority of votes over any e-piano. Plus they last far longer. I do like your idea of building the addition to your house for a climate-controlled piano studio. I've often thought of that too and would select a Baldwin SD-10 concert grand. We can dream! :lol:

David

_________________
"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:48 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:10 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Shenandoah Valley
I would get C.E.U.S. by Bosendorfer, a modern player piano which records everything you do and faithfully plays it back! This allows you to edit what you did for the perfect performance.

http://www.cunninghampiano.com/ceus/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:18 am
Posts: 97
Location: Toronto
I DO tune my own piano, a hailun 218. 1) I use Verituner and it gives me tunings that I MUCH prefer over the best tuners I have hired; 2) I'm a "handy" sort of person who understands the meaning of NOT torquing pins in a way that will wreck the pinblock; 3) I like the piano to be in tune ALL the time; especially unisons, which no tuner can do quite as precisely as a high end tuning program (Verituner is the only one I like; the others produce results that are hard to listen to).

Tuning stability:

I don't like DamppChaser, although I've used one on a 5 10inch Kawai for years. 1) I've studied it in operation over the under my old Kawai and it's clear that it would ONLY affect the soundboard; NOT the pinblock.

2) I don't like the way it cycles hot and cold, humid and dry. I suppose the average is 43 rh or thereabouts; but I don't like the enormous amounts of heat it kicks out under the piano in summer, and the enormous amount of humidity in winter. In larger grands, certainly the old Kawai, my measurements showed that the edges of the soundboard did not have the same average humdity as the middle, where the damppchaser's humidifier is located. An upright? Yes, the DC would probably be fine, because the board is inside the piano. Not the grand, however.

So you have to use a room humidifier. Right now I'm keeping the Hailun at 42; but I could be talked into 50RH, which would be cheaper on a yearly basis, given the cost of dehumidfying the room in summer.

JG

Here's a bit of the C major prelude on the Hailun tuned with the Verituner. Shows how Verituner handles the all-important temperament octave. Make that the WTC Book 2 C Major Prelude!!

http://www.box.com/s/hlgr617go9vs4grujczg

A second recording with a very different set of mics

http://www.box.com/s/ctsg3mjrl5c6ebmg788v

JG


Last edited by johnlewisgrant on Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:45 am, edited 4 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:58 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:18 am
Posts: 97
Location: Toronto
differencetone wrote:
I would get C.E.U.S. by Bosendorfer, a modern player piano which records everything you do and faithfully plays it back! This allows you to edit what you did for the perfect performance.

http://www.cunninghampiano.com/ceus/


Hmmmm.... where have I heard THAT before???? :wink:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:43 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:09 pm
Posts: 367
Location: Athens, Greece
I tune my pianos myself too. i have been doing that for the past five years but I also had to bring a professional tuner at least once a year to keep things straight because it was easy to lose bearings after successive tunings. I have been struggling with stretching which I think I never managed to get right.

But all this changed for me recently when I tried a few of the electronic piano tuners. These are very special in two key points. First, they calculate stretching themselves. Each individual instrument needs its own stretching and these tuners can shape it based on random notes you hit on the keyboard. Second, they can 'hear' every note of the piano, not only middle octaves like traditional generic tuning devices. And they come with advanced visual aids specific to the piano tuning needs.

I have done several tunings with the software version of one of them on my iPhone (I can share the software's name if the admins permit it). I am extremely satisfied by the results and by the time it takes. I have two Boesendorfers, a small grand rather new and an older bigger. They both tune excellently. I only called the professional tuner before Christmas for my old upright Gaveau which belonged to my mother and it's now 80 years old and I'm afraid to touch it myself.

I am a big supporter of the idea that pianists should learn how to tune their own pianos themselves. The new electronic tuners are a big step forward. I have not only saved money from and hassle but most importantly I can tune my piano whenever I like, like freshening it up before a recording session.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:44 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9638
Location: Netherlands
wiser_guy wrote:
I have done several tunings with the software version of one of them on my iPhone (I can share the software's name if the admins permit it). I am extremely satisfied by the results and by the time it takes.

Why would we not permit that ? Do share, of course.

wiser_guy wrote:
I have two Boesendorfers, a small grand rather new and an older bigger. They both tune excellently. I only called the professional tuner before Christmas for my old upright Gaveau which belonged to my mother and it's now 80 years old and I'm afraid to touch it myself.
Two Bosendorfers and a Gaveau, why not... Seems like all is hunky dory in Greece.

_________________
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:25 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:09 pm
Posts: 367
Location: Athens, Greece
I use TuneLab for iOS (on an iPhone). I think its inharmonicity measurement is fantastic leading to a very accurate stretch. It takes me around 3 - 3.5 hours for a full tuning which will be better once I get some more experience with the high octaves. Not that TuneLab fails to manage these but because high octaves need small, very precise movements with the tuning lever. I don't know how it compares with Verituner that John mentioned earlier but I guess Verituner is in the same league if not better. It's also more expensive. At the time I bought TubeLab it was the only one available for the iPhone.

techneut wrote:
Seems like all is hunky dory in Greece.

Well, it used to be... Who knows, maybe not so far from now I may have to sell them for a pittance.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:44 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
Posts: 1250
Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
wiser_guy wrote:
I use TuneLab for iOS (on an iPhone).
Very interesting. I may look into this more. Thanks for the info.

_________________
Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Anyone Tune Their Own Piano?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:10 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:18 am
Posts: 97
Location: Toronto
TL is great. I used it for years. VT (Verituner) takes TL to the next level: TL produces an idealized, smoothed curve. VT measures IH for EVERY note and calculates a non-idealized, non-smoothed, "jagged" curve, which, contrary to what one might think intuitively, is a much better approximation of the best targets for each note of your piano. VT WILL sound better, as in "more natural," than TL. Indeed, it will sound MUCH more natural than TL.

However, if you have my experience, you will find that TL--even with its idealized (ie artificially smooth) curve, will not get much changed by a professional tuner. I ran that experiment 3 times with TL. I did a TL tuning of my Kawai 500 grand, then had a trained and vetted tuner go over it afterwards. I watched the tuner like a hawk. He didn't make many changes. That's because TL already provides the stretch; and often that is closer (sorry to say) than many tuners will have time to do using their ears.

VT, with careful--let's say fastidious--IH measurements will produce spectacular tunings; the kind of tunings that will make a good piano sound out of this world. The first thing you'll notice is RESONANCE, beyong anything you may have heard before. The second thing you'll notice is that many difficult intervals sound much, much better, or more "musical". Rolling thirds, which in equal temperament are not easy to take, will be predictable in their dissonance.

In this instance, you really do get what you pay for! VT is pricey. But I (personally) like what I get.


JG


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 17 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 1 hour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group