Piano Tuning

Discuss all aspects of the piano and other keyboard instruments.

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Re: Piano Tuning

Postby Kristinaolga » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:24 am

timmyotoole wrote:Performing a DIY piano tuning is a risky thing to do, especially if you have a vintage piano. There are also, however, many pianos that have been "rebuilt", or "restored" by professed rebuilders or parties who:

a) Didn’t know what they were doing,
b) Cut corners, or otherwise tried to get by with the bare minimum in order to save a few bucks,
c) Used substandard parts or materials, or
d) "Customized" or altered the piano in experimental and untested ways.

Piano tuning is more than tightening or adjusting the strings of the piano, it's about making the piano sound harmonious and return it to its proper pitch. Generally it should be done every six months to a year.

You can read more about it at http://www.steinway-piano.com

I agree with you, timmyotoole...

Before I ventured to tune my Fortepiano, I watched a piano-tuner many times
and I made sure I don’t make any mistakes which could be harmful to my instrument,
because tuning has to be handled in a very, very sensitive way...

We also need to be aware of the instrument's original pitch...

You are absolutely right, DIY-piano-tuning can be a risky business,
and there is much more to it than just tightening or adjusting the strings...

I usually tune my Fortepiano whenever any dramatic changes in the weather/temperature
can be heard in the instrument and I only tune my instrument when I feel it does need tuning...

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Re: Piano Tuning

Postby techneut » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:37 pm

Kristinaolga wrote:and I only tune my instrument when I feel it does need tuning...

Makes sense :lol:
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
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Re: Piano Tuning

Postby johnlewisgrant » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:41 am

Used to think the idea of tuning you own precious, all-important-mode-of-personal-expression was VERY SCARY....

But I came around...... Here's why...

1. I like my unisons in PERFECT condition ALL the time

2. I DON'T like what some (not all) tuners do to my piano

3. The advent of really FANTASTIC tuning programs (you got it... computer-tuning... shock... horror!)

4. Not putting the HURT on your piano means... in the first instance... not "flag-polling" the tuning pins..... That's absolutely critical...*it'll wreck that old pinblock!!!....but guess what? Most tuners DO NOT pay much attention to this issue! I'm not even sure that many of them pay much attention to "setting the pin," which means, torquing the pin so that it doesn't rebound-back out of tune in no time flat!

S0???/ What to do????

OK... DON'T try to learn the art of tuning from scratch, unless you've got a LOT of time...

Don't just try using ANY old piano tuning program... there are lots of free ones... but they don't "stretch" accurately.

There's only ONE answer.... it's expensive to start with (initial outlay is), but better (sorry to say) than 99 per cent of the tuners out there... "Verituner": it calculates the precise and proper relation of every note on your particular instrument to every OTHER note. The temperament octave is provided with perfect targets (not inharmonicity constants based on an arbitrary theoretical curve, but ACTUAL constants based on every other note on your piano); and if you have time, you can measure every note on your instrument with this beautiful program and come up with a FANTASTIC tuning for your individual piano.

Now tuning your piano AGAINST the targets provided by the program is another matter. You must have a REALLY good tuning hammer (*I'm partial to the new hammers which jolt the pin, and make flagpolling impossible). And you need to get used to difficult strings that do not (on many instruments) tune up easily.,.. But that's the fun part, in my view.

Here, as elsewhere at this site, is the Hailun 218, tuned by ME!!! using Verituner.... and the unisons have settled a bit... I can do a little better than this .... but still.... pretty phenom!


By way of edit, here's a little Scarlatti, recorded using Beyer Ribbons:


Anything by Scarlatti will be revealing of various difficult-to-tune intervals on the piano, because the music really wants a non-standard, non-equal temperament tuning, which I do not use with Verituner. Although it will do them, of course.


Last edited by johnlewisgrant on Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Piano Tuning

Postby musical-md » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:01 pm

Sounds very nice. Not just the tuning but the playing too! A movement from one of the Partitas I presume?
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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne

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Re: Piano Tuning

Postby johnlewisgrant » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:29 pm

musical-md wrote:Sounds very nice. Not just the tuning but the playing too! A movement from one of the Partitas I presume?

Just a very quick, and avowedly unthoughtful rendition of the C major prelude, WTC book 2.

Why this piece? Because it is dense in and around C3, which is very, very revealing of microphones and microphone placement where pianos are concerned.

I'm in the throes of purchasing recording equipment; therefore, I'm trying out many different types of microphone and putting them to what I think is a pretty demanding test. Chopin Nocturnes, for example, make almost any mic sound OK to REALLY GOOD. Not demanding at all, I'm afraid. So I'm sticking to unforgiving, one might even say, "unpleasing" material to put various rented mics to the test.

Eventually, I'll purchase something.

It's a hard road .... but I think I'm getting somewhere.

This particular recording uses the Beyerdynamic M160 Ribbon mics, which are mainly used "in the business" as overhead mics for drums, not really for pianos! But they are unequivocally better, in the present instance, than the more expensive AKG 414 XLMs. The 414s are great multipurpose mics, but I have concluded that they do not record classical piano (mic always well outside the instrument) particularly well.

The small diaphram condensor mics, like the AKG 541s (I think I got that right) seem to work very, very well; although they sound quite different from the Beyers I used here (along with "Garageband!!!", but any wav editing program will do.... I think they're all the same where this sort of simple 2 channel live recording is concerned. Garageband just happens to be on the little Macbook I'm using).

Interesting journey. I am learning a little about mics and recording, but it is taking time!


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