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#636170 - 10/05/08 08:18 PM strobe tuners
jbeemer2 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Alabama
I was thinking about getting a strobe tuner to keep my pianos in tip top tune. Tell me what you think of these and/or recommend a type or a specific brand.
Thanks!
Jennifer

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#636171 - 10/05/08 08:46 PM Re: strobe tuners
Jeff A. Smith, RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/03
Posts: 476
Loc: Angola, Indiana USA
Jennifer,

I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but there's a slight against piano technicians contained in your presumed assumption that, in order to keep your pianos in "tip-top tune," all you have to do is buy a strobe tuner and go to it.

There's a great deal of knowledge and thought behind creating a top-notch tuning, even using an electronic tuning device (ETD); in addition to physical skills that require training and a lot of hands-on experience to master. If your interest is sufficient to undertake all this, best of luck.

BTW: When it comes to tuning pianos, actual "strobe tuners" are pretty archaic equipment by today's standards. In alphabetical order, these are the four units and/or software programs you'd want to research, if serious:

1. Reyburn Cybertuner
2. Sanderson Accu-Tuner
3. TuneLab
4. Verituner

But again, Jennifer, please don't kid yourself into thinking any of these options will create a good tuning for you all by itself.

Jeff
_________________________
Jeff A. Smith
Registered Piano Technician
Indiana, USA

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#636172 - 10/05/08 09:09 PM Re: strobe tuners
Erus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 386
Loc: Mexico
I understand strobes are obsolete. Electronic tuning devices are more accurate and have more useful features.

There are some much cheaper software alternatives recommended by many technicians, for example tunelab http://www.tunelab-world.com/

I don't know how much research you have done but, just in case:

If you are just trying to learn how to tune your own piano, there's WAY more than just attempting to turn the pins to where the machine tells you to.

You could damage your piano if you don't know what you are doing, and for most people it's usually better to just get a qualified technician (who has the knowledge, experience, and the right tools).

There's a lot to know, and it takes lots of practice to even be able to produce mediocre results. It's not as easy as the pros make it look.

If you are serious about learning, get in touch with the nearest PTG chapter to see if you can assist to a few meetings and find a competent technician willing to teach you: http://ptg.org/

Piano technology is *very* interesting, but it's more complex than most people think, and might not be for everybody. As most things, it's easier and cheaper to do things right from the beginning.

Disclaimer: I'm not a technician, just a guy trying to learn.

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#636173 - 10/05/08 09:52 PM Re: strobe tuners
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1664
Loc: Chicagoland
And there's a new player on the block for piano-specific machine:

http://www.piano-stopper.de/html/tunic_onlypure.html

(Software for a pocket pc)

Ron Koval
(I haven't tried it yet, but heard recordings...)
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#636174 - 10/05/08 10:08 PM Re: strobe tuners
Jeff A. Smith, RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/03
Posts: 476
Loc: Angola, Indiana USA
Looks like it's designed to tune Stopper's equal temperament based on pure twelfths, rather than standard ET.

Jeff
_________________________
Jeff A. Smith
Registered Piano Technician
Indiana, USA

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#636175 - 10/06/08 11:00 AM Re: strobe tuners
jbeemer2 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Alabama
Sorry, I intended no disrespect to you. I live pretty far from "civilization" and I just inherited a 10 year old Baldwin (L series 6'3"). It is beautiful mahagony! I have a 25 year old Samick (5'7") which has served me well since college. I am about to have it gone thru- new key tops, action checked, etc. My "new" piano was given to me by my mother-in-law. The only issue with it is that is survived Katrina with water barely touching the bottom of the piano. My M- in-law never had it looked at or tuned after Katrina. When I had it moved on Saturday, the mover is a tech and he did one pass quickly after it was set up. It has REALLY changed everyday since. I know it will have to settle but I couldn't stand to even hear it before he went thru it once. So, that is my long story.

I would love to learn about the technical aspects of the piano- I am fascinated by it. I have my Master's in Piano performance and if my girls want to eat, they will take lessons and practice. They actually love it too. We just kid about that. But we needed the 2nd piano for concertos and other fun stuff like that!~

I really do wish I could find the time to take classes (they aren't offered in my area anyway). There is one man that might be willing to teach me. The different "tunings" fascinate me too. There is not a lot of info on them on the internet that I could find. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks

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#636176 - 10/06/08 12:59 PM Re: strobe tuners
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#636177 - 10/06/08 06:21 PM Re: strobe tuners
Jeff A. Smith, RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/03
Posts: 476
Loc: Angola, Indiana USA
Jennifer,

The Baldwin L is one of my favorite pianos! I really hope you are able to get yours back into shape. I'd be thrilled to have one.

I wonder if by mentioning different "tunings" you were actually referring to different temperaments. There are historical temperaments, such as those now thought to have been used by Bach and most other famous composers, other than those of the modern era. There are also temperaments of recent origin, including some created by people on this forum. These alternative temperaments all share the characteristic of semitones that aren't equally spaced, thus imparting true key color -- something lacking in today's standard, equal temperament. By the sound of it, you're probably somewhat familiar with this area.

If you want to research unequal temperaments, there's a website by a fellow named Jason Kanter called "Rollingball," or something like that. I'm sure someone here can provide you with the link, or a search will easily bring it up for you.

One great thing about the ETDs I mentioned above is they have numerous unequal temperaments programmed right into them, so it's fairly easy to try out different alternatives.

If you have a hard time finding a mentor in piano technology, consider the Randy Potter correspondence course. It's not cheap, but it's pretty comprehensive and highly regarded. Most other correspondence courses are incomplete and include information that's either out of date or downright wrong. If you ever actually get to the point of tuning your own pianos, you won't want to be totally in the dark about other aspects of service.

Another option, while you're kind of pondering things, would be to just get Arthur Reblitz's book on piano tuning and repair. It's kind of the standard general reference many of us started out with, and was just revised not long ago. It'd be fun reading for you, at the very least.

Good luck,

Jeff
_________________________
Jeff A. Smith
Registered Piano Technician
Indiana, USA

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#636178 - 10/09/08 05:01 AM Re: strobe tuners
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1243
Loc: London
Just to add that there have been some interesting discussions of temperaments on this forum. You should be able to find them using the search feature.

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#636179 - 10/11/08 11:45 PM Re: strobe tuners
RPD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 961
Loc: Kalamazoo Michigan
Everything that has been said above to encourage you to take a formal approach is right on..

But, I've used a strobe tuner for 25 years in the field...Peterson strobes work wonderfully but yes, there are more advanced methods...and more expensive...

If you're really going to learn the fine art of piano tuning, a used Peterson strobe would be a good reference point while you learn to set bearings in a piano...and, find a mentor and take his/her advice...you'll end up, in the end, with a SAT or Verituner or something...RPD
_________________________
MPT(Master Piano Technicians of America)
Member AMICA (Automated Musical Instruments Collector's Association)
(Subscriber PTG Journal)
Piano-Tuner-Rebuilder/Musician www.actionpianoservice.com

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#636180 - 10/12/08 02:47 PM Re: strobe tuners
jbeemer2 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Alabama
Thank you so much for all your info! Of course you are right- temperaments. Sorry. I will get the book first, then look into the Randy Potter course. I can't wait! Thanks
J

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#636181 - 10/12/08 09:18 PM Re: strobe tuners
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3206
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by jbeemer2:
Thank you so much for all your info! Of course you are right- temperaments. J [/b]
It is almost sacrilege to mention digital pianos on this forum. But this is the one area where they really do excel - you can experiment with temperament changes easily and reversibly. That way those of you who can hear the difference can have your tuner adjust your acoustic piano, and those who can't won't waste the money.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#636182 - 10/15/08 10:23 PM Re: strobe tuners
jbeemer2 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Alabama
I have a Roland digital piano. How do you change the temperament on them? Now I'm really curious!

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#636183 - 10/17/08 08:53 AM Re: strobe tuners
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3206
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by jbeemer2:
I have a Roland digital piano. How do you change the temperament on them? Now I'm really curious! [/b]
I'm not an expert on Rolands. Or anything else, for that matter.
I've read the manual on some recent Yamahas and they seem to have temperaments built in, you select from the menu (and specify the key, I think).

I have an ancient Yamaha P500, long discontinued, and I have to do temperaments by using the micro-adjust feature, note by note. It isn't worth the extra effort, although I would only have to do it once and save it as a "performance." It is well described in the manual. I do plan to tune a small section of this piano in ET chromatic quarter steps (instead of half steps) for a singing exercise.

If you use your digital piano as MIDI out to play a software emulation, I think most of them have temperaments built in. I use mine on a couple of software organ emulations (Miditizer and Hauptwerk) and both programs have multiple temperaments available. I'd guess this is the easiest way to experiment with temperaments.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#636184 - 10/17/08 09:16 AM Re: strobe tuners
athomik Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 299
Loc: England
Many top end Yamaha keyboards (Tyros, Clavinova, etc) can be set to different temperaments. The first Yamaha keyboard with this function was the DX7 IIFD from 1987. It had 11 preset temperaments and would also allow you to design your own setup(fractional scaling).
_________________________
Adrian Thomas
Service Engineer - Hybrid Pianos & Strings

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#1168342 - 03/25/09 01:13 AM Re: strobe tuners [Re: Erus]
renenkel Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/08/08
Posts: 15
Loc: Canada
I came across an interesting tool that seems (at least, at the first blush of an amateur) to be a lot easier to learn to use than the traditional tuning hammer. It uses a worm gear reducer to allow you to turn the tuning pins with great precision. Here's a video showing its use http://www.tedknowlton.com/resume/video.htm

I understand that a significant consideration in using a tuning hammer is that a special technique must be used to make sure the tuning is stable. That is, that it will not easily drift when the piano is played. How is this done? I wonder how the worm-gear drive device in the video would fare in this aspect?

Robert

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#1169029 - 03/26/09 07:17 AM Re: strobe tuners [Re: renenkel]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4943
Loc: Bradford County, PA
jbeemer2:

For the most "bang for the buck" consider having your tuner teach you to touch up the just the unisons, which should be done by ear anyway. This may be all you really need between regular tunings, and will give you time to decide if you really want to buy an ETD or perhaps tune by ear, rather than just touch up the piano yourself.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1169897 - 03/27/09 04:48 PM Re: strobe tuners [Re: renenkel]
Casalborgone Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 1046
Loc: San Francisco Area
An interesting device that seems to work to a limited extent. It wouldn't be practical for most people I think. There are good reasons for professional tuners' use of standard-type and far simpler tuning tools (of which there are a variety of designs). These reasons include:

1. Speed. The worm-drive device is really slow. Slow to move from tuning pin to tuning pin. Slow to turn the pin.

2. Feel. Standard tuning hammers allow the tuner to feel the movement of the tuning pin and thus to judge whether the pin is "set."

3. Setting the pin. Standard tuning hammers allow all sorts of movements of the pin in order to insure that the string stays where it should.

4. Adaptability to different piano designs. The worm-gear might work on several different grand piano makes and sizes, but probably not on all. It won't work on an upright piano.

The inventor apparently had trouble learning to use a standard piano tuning hammer. Most people who want to learn to tune will be able to use standard tools, with a little help from an experienced tuner.




Originally Posted By: renenkel
I came across an interesting tool that seems (at least, at the first blush of an amateur) to be a lot easier to learn to use than the traditional tuning hammer. It uses a worm gear reducer to allow you to turn the tuning pins with great precision. Here's a video showing its use http://www.tedknowlton.com/resume/video.htm

I understand that a significant consideration in using a tuning hammer is that a special technique must be used to make sure the tuning is stable. That is, that it will not easily drift when the piano is played. How is this done? I wonder how the worm-gear drive device in the video would fare in this aspect?

Robert


Edited by Casalborgone (03/27/09 04:51 PM)
_________________________
Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.

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