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#1586037 - 12/28/10 09:09 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
Each time you do it, you get better. You get better results, and you get better at appreciating the results.
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Semipro Tech

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#1586087 - 12/28/10 11:12 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
The other thing to consider is that there is a big advantage to tuning the same piano over and over. One of the big challenges of being a professional technician is that so many pianos tune differently - some, like many Yamaha pianos, tune very readily, while others can be next to impossible! Its similar to playing piano: I have friends who have pianos that I think are really hard to play and control, yet when they play it, the sound is wonderful! They know every nuance of the instrument and can make it do what they want!

So part of whether tuning your piano is practical partly depends on how easy your piano is to tune. It also depends on how much you enjoy DIY projects. It also depends on your expectations,sensitivities, aptitude, etc.

For me, I found learning to tune at a professional level to be one of the most difficult challenges ever! But I'm not a quick learner. Getting through a whole piano was so exhausting at first. It was a real breakthrough when I could get the process down to 4 hours.

I wish all my clients could pretune the piano for me! Then I could come in and refine it and have time left for voicing and regulating, which I find more satisfying. After all, I'd rather play a well-voiced, well-regulated, but a little out-of-tune piano than a perfectly tuned piano with mediocre touch and tone.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1586089 - 12/28/10 11:14 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
RickG1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/10
Posts: 299
Loc: TX
Because I have to play several pianos between my schools, church and home, I bought a tuning hammer, mutes, and a Seiko tuner. I would NEVER dream of tuning the whole piano but I have used it to clean up some unisons that were annoying. Setting temperament is somthing above my pay grade. I do respect my techs and appreciate that great job they do.
_________________________
Mason-Hamlin "A"
Steinway "B"
Baldwin console

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#1586102 - 12/28/10 11:36 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
itsfreakingmeout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 706
Loc: Manassas, Virginia
of tuning your piano was easy there wouldn't be any professional piano tuners
_________________________
Yeah I've got a Cristofori and love it. What.

if you're thinking about going into that house, don't.

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#1586117 - 12/28/10 11:59 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 774
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
There are a lot of of professional dog washers. Does that mean washing dogs is an arcane art only to passed down by the keepers of the secrets?


All joking aside, I don't think it's easy but I also don't think all the FU&D really helps anyone at all. Arm yourself with some knowledge; maybe try to get some mentoring, go slowly and be ready to accept whatever havok you reap. When the time is right, I'll do my learning on a 70's story and clark console (from my MIL's house) that's not worth paying someone to haul away. Till then, it's good bye $115 and hello sweet sounding piano.

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1586168 - 12/29/10 01:36 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: AJB]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: AJB
.... Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult....

Bad example. Ask any top notch technician/tuner. They will tell you that the unison is the hardest interval to tune properly.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1586299 - 12/29/10 08:55 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Supply]
SCCDoug Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 663
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: AJB
.... Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult....

Bad example. Ask any top notch technician/tuner. They will tell you that the unison is the hardest interval to tune properly.

I'm not saying that is wrong, but I am curious why, as it is not my experience at all. Doing unisons is the first thing most of us amateur tuners try as it is reasonably straightforward to isolate the offending string. I found fixing unisons helped me to develop proper hammer technique and got my ear used to listening for the beats before the more challenging aural requirements of a full tuning.
_________________________
Doug

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

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#1586367 - 12/29/10 11:18 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: SCCDoug]
offnote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/10
Posts: 258
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: SCCDoug
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: AJB
.... Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult....

Bad example. Ask any top notch technician/tuner. They will tell you that the unison is the hardest interval to tune properly.

I'm not saying that is wrong, but I am curious why, as it is not my experience at all. Doing unisons is the first thing most of us amateur tuners try as it is reasonably straightforward to isolate the offending string.


exactly my experience as well.


Anyway think that the main reason people think is so difficult because piano has so many keys. If piano had only one octave nobody would call a tuner to it. Same principles apply here as with eating an elephant, how? piece by piece.

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#1586403 - 12/29/10 12:14 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8068
Loc: Georgia, USA
To me, a truly perfect unison is difficult to achieve and takes the most effort. When tuning any other intervals, there is some wiggle room for subjective analysis of the two notes and how they blend. Tuning the unisons on the same note is not as forgiving. Even though perfection or absolutes are mostly theoretical, you can tell if a note is not clean and pure. That subtle “cats meow” will let you know that the unison is not just right. Also, if the unison is not right, you can hear subtle rings, zings, busses and other unwanted nuances.

As a side note, (both literally and figuratively laugh ) if the hammer to string alignment is not right, you will get the unwanted sizzles, pings, rattles, buzzes and fuzziness on the unison no matter how close they are to equal pitch.

There is nothing that sounds better than a clean, pure unison and achieving that goal is not so easy.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1586406 - 12/29/10 12:23 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Old piano tuner saying:

"Unisons: First to learn, last to master."

Tuning unisons is a lot like target practice. The first trick is to just hit the target! Then with some practice you start getting closer to the bullseye. A professional tuner gets good at hitting the bullseye on every note!

It's not too hard to tune a unison within a 2 cent tolerance. At A4 that would be about half a beat. To a forgiving ear this might even sound tolerable. Tuning within a one cent tolerance is considerably harder. This is the standard for the PTG tuning exam. It may be acceptable to most listeners, but not for discriminating types. Half a cent gets into the area where the unison will start to sound "dead on".

In fact, inconsistencies in piano tone, the ETD, room acoustics, and measuring discrepancies make it very difficult to consistently measure piano strings much under half a cent. I'm speaking from the experience in having participated in administration of dozens of tuning exams.

Accuracy aside, the other equally, if not more important factor is stability of the unisons. Achieving a stable unison is much more challenging than achieving an accurate unison. But again, this is more of an issue for a professional, and less so for a DIYer. The DIY tuner has the luxury of being able to touch up the tuning on their piano every day if they like. A professional needs the unisons to last if they are going to gain a good reputation.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1586459 - 12/29/10 01:36 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Anyway think that the main reason people think is so difficult because piano has so many keys. If piano had only one octave nobody would call a tuner to it. Same principles apply here as with eating an elephant, how? piece by piece.


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.

I remember telling my dad "THERE DAD! Listen to that, it sounds great!!!!" He said, "that's okay Jer, I'll fix it for you..." I thought, HUH? After a lot more ear training I realized, holy smokes! Dad was right! It didn't sound nearly as good as I thought it did. When I told him that, he just laughed and said, yeah, I know, I was just trying to soften the blow for you. We both chuckled...

Unison tuning is the most important aspect of tuning. Octaves can be stretched and are. Whereas to a good technician, unison's must be deadly accurate and very stable.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1586500 - 12/29/10 02:14 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Jerry - surely the point though, or at least a point, is that it only needs to sound good to the player most of the time, as 99% of what we do is solo practice.

Personally I did not find tuning unisons a problem at all. However, I am a guitarist and a violinist. I tune stringed instruments by ear numerous times each day. Minor adjustments to a piano are not so difficult. At least we are not dealing with a wooden peg with just friction grip in a tapered wooden hole. Or stings that are changed monthly (in my case) and will stretch like mad when new and will react wildly to environmental changes.

There is a definite professional skill to tuning a piano really well. I do not have the inclination to spend the time learning to do this perfectly myself. But I can certainly hear perfectly well when two strings are exactly in tune with each other and make the necessary adjustment to fix that. However, the step from that to a a good sounding tempered tuning across 88 notes is more tortuous. My tuner knows how I like it. Takes him about 30 minutes each time he calls. It could easily take me 3 hours to get it only 90% as good - and that would be my limit without spending a lot of time learning to do it better.

But people can learn it if they invest the time. And it is nonsense to suggest that this would take 1,000 tunings. If we are just dealing with one piano, we would get to know it pretty quickly I suspect.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#1586654 - 12/29/10 05:35 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: pianoloverus]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1251
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: AJB
Yep, it's incredibly complex. You get this wrench. You plonk it on the pin, and you give it a bit of a twist.

You also get to shove some rubber between some strings.

You do this really badly 999 times and then "POW" it's there.

Come on. You have managed to do nearly 12,000 posts here. You are apparently a retired maths teacher. You can risk a little twist on a tuning pin one day.

Live a little. Stretch a bit of wire.
If it's so easy why does it take 1000 tunings or four years?


Although I happen to support DIY piano work (hey, if people want to do their own plumbing, restore their own Corvette or learn diamond cutting as a hobby, why shouldn't they have the same freedom to try their hand at piano work?) I disagree with the quoted sentiments as applied to either a DIY or professional. It's equivalent to playing the piano: "Hey, all you have to do is press those little black and white things at the right time and you're doing the same thing as they do in Carnegie Hall!"

NOT!!

If you are going to DIY and you don't realize that there's a learning curve, then you shouldn't be DIY.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1586679 - 12/29/10 06:11 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8068
Loc: Georgia, USA
I know I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to learning to tune a piano, but I have learned a lot in the last three or four years that I have been at it, even if on my own instruments. And, I can see where it would be easier to learn to tune the same piano over and over. I have, however, tuned a couple of different pianos for others (for free).

Speaking of difficulties when it comes to tuning unisons, my recently acquired Yamaha C7 (which has been rebuilt in the last several years) has fairly tight tuning pins. However, I would rather have a tuning pin that is a little too tight than too loose, but even the overly tight pins can present problems while tuning. For example, some of them are a little jumpy… meaning it takes a lot of torque to get the tuning pin to move clockwise, and then it “jumps” too sharp; then, it takes a lot of torque to move the pin counter-clockwise, and it “jumps” too flat… so, it is a series of “creek” (the noise it makes when the pin does move)… jumps too sharp; creek… jumps too flat; creek… jumps too sharp; creek… jumps too flat; creek… jumps too sharp. And, finally, applying pressure to the pin counterclockwise ever so slightly while pounding on the note, it finds its place as a pure unison.

One thing is for sure, the professional piano tuner earns their money! smile

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1586731 - 12/29/10 07:47 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Neil Sundberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 140
Loc: Seattle, Washingon
I sort of hesitate to mention this because I know people have some pretty strong feelings on both sides of this subject. But for a casual mention of my blog on the subject, I thought it might be worth it.

Last year, as I'm sure a few may remember, I started a DIY group on Yahoo for people tuning their own pianos. A while back last Summer I closed it down because it wasn't getting any use. People would join and then never use it.

But recently a fellow named Steve contacted me wondering were it was. So, I said, what the heck, I can easily start another one if you like. So I did .

But this time I think it'll just be more of a casual blog type thing where I and others will just talk about their tuning experiences or their pianos or whatever related to their pianos. And of course, we will still talk about tuning our pianos. I know some will say, well, we can do that here. True, but I kind of like the smaller setting and also the opportunity to post photos or recordings related to tuning there. Or just photos of your piano.

Anyone who joined the old DIY group is welcome to join this one of course, but if you do, it'd be nice if you would contribute some sort of life to it when you do.

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/

I'd rather not get into arguing about the merits of this sort of thing. We could easily just link to the old DIY thread here on PW from last year for that for all my views on the subject. ( and those of Jerry Groot and Rickster also )

Anyway, the group is up and available to join if you like at the above link

Neil

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#1586768 - 12/29/10 08:42 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Scott D Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/02/05
Posts: 6
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
Just for the record, as the owner of the site referenced in the original post, I'd like to thank the OP for the plug, but I want to make it clear that I wasn't the one who made the post. You can see by my post count that I keep a very, very low profile here.

I do appreciate the civil tone of the thread. I have noted that over the years since I first made that web page that the attitude toward DIY tuning has softened a bit, both here and in comments made directly to me at the site.

I try to make it clear in my site what the pitfalls are. It's not a "any slob can do it...here, hold my beer" job. But I also think that it's not so dangerous or difficult that those interested cannot explore the idea...if one is informed and knows his or her limits.

**recedes into the shadows**
_________________________
My Page

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#1586958 - 12/30/10 03:49 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
I just checked out the original post's link again to the DIY tuning site. Here are my biggest complaints:

1) The tuning hammer that is is pictured is a piece of junk. Those $20 student levers are only going to cripple you from the start. Investing in a professional quality lever is a big advantage.

2) It doesn't even mention Tunelab which I believe to be the most practical tuning software for DIYers.

I think Neil's link to his tuning blog has some better information.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1586973 - 12/30/10 04:36 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Scott D]
offnote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/10
Posts: 258
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Scott D
Just for the record, as the owner of the site referenced in the original post, I'd like to thank the OP for the plug, but I want to make it clear that I wasn't the one who made the post.


hey, very nice website! I am heavy believer of doing everything by myself if possible (Leonardo da Vinci style) since standards almost in every field have decreased. From medicine to engineering. I have learned many times if you wanna do something right DIY.

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#1587100 - 12/30/10 09:20 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Jerry - surely the point though, or at least a point, is that it only needs to sound good to the player most of the time, as 99% of what we do is solo practice.


Well, I suppose this might be true but, only to an extent. Here's why. Ears vary tremendously. I've heard DYI'ers tuning posted here. While some are well, acceptable, others are just down right nasty sounding yet, to them, it sounded great otherwise they would not have posted it. No offense to anyone but, it is a point to be made.

My point is that everybody's ear varies so much, that one player will tell me, that their piano sounds great! And, this is before I have even began tuning it. I then often times find the piano 1/2 tone flat and horribly out of tune. The next person tells me it's only a little bit out, only a few notes here and there and I find the whole thing out and many of the octaves sounding nasty. While the next person could be 100 % correct! It may sound pretty darned good. However, most of the time, it doesn't. It just sounds good to them. Which leads me to my concerns about it.

I guess my biggest concern is that these being the cases, many pianos many never then be properly tuned because they will sound acceptable to the player and could wind up being tuned all over creation and back again.

Another concern becomes how often will the rest of the piano receive proper attention such as regulation, action flange screws being tightened and stuff like that. Yes, it is your own piano, do as you like but, looking at the long haul.....
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1587163 - 12/30/10 11:40 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: kpembrook]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
Originally Posted By: kpembrook

If you are going to DIY and you don't realize that there's a learning curve, then you shouldn't be DIY.
I think this is the most important requirement for successful DIY anything. Accept that you don't actually know what you're doing yet and proceed accordingly.
_________________________
I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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#1587189 - 12/30/10 12:33 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8068
Loc: Georgia, USA
This thread has been very interesting, and has not had the bitter, controversial and argumentative posts I expected it would. Perhaps attitudes here on this subject have changed just a little, or perhaps most members here are in a good mood due to the holidays. smile

I am, however, very interested in learning piano technology, even if only for my own benefit. I've actually learned quite a bit in the last few years, both by reading and study and trial and error. And, a few of the real techs here have been very helpful to me and provided me with some “distance mentoring” if you will. I’ve learned enough to see and understand their side of the equation on this subject.

For example, I worked as an HVACR service technician for several years and I saw from my own experience that some of the service calls I had where the homeowner tried to fix their unit themselves, many times that made my job harder or even more dangerous. I know that might not be the best comparison here, but it is somewhat of a correlation.

On the other hand, the way I see it, when it comes to pianos, if I screw something up, then I can call a real piano tech! I doubt very much that I could ruin something to the point of ruining an entire piano (and since there is no electricity or gas connected to it, it shouldn’t be really hazardous or dangerous grin). So, most anything I do to my pianos is not lethal.

I’ve actually done some major voicing and regulation, as well as tuning. The regulation part is not too bad… just measuring tolerances at various places and turning adjustment screws, though it can be really meticulous and time consuming. The voicing, however, now that is a real challenge! I’ve actually had some good success with voicing, such as filing and reshaping hammers, string leveling, hammer to string alignment, and softening the hammers by needling or other means. I’ve learned to take it slow because it is harder to “undo” the voicing than other things like regulation. I know I’ve still got a lot to learn, though. But, I know when my piano sounds its best!

As far as knowing or not knowing anything about what we are doing, we can only learn by vigorous and comprehensive study and doing it in real life.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1587272 - 12/30/10 02:42 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Neil Sundberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 140
Loc: Seattle, Washingon
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.



Jerry, I recall you saying something much like this last year when I started my DIY piano tuning thread. I think, sure, a beginning tuner, especially when tuning by ear, is not going to hear what is going on nearly as well as a trained tuner is going to hear. There is obviously a lot to hear there like beats, beat speeds, the actual resulting quality of the sound. So, it's all about sound. Over the years, yes, a trained tuner will have a high level of skill in knowing what it should sound like and how to put that skill to use.

What I hope you are not saying is that a musician does not know or can not know what it "should" sound like or what he or she wants it to sound like. Yes, a tuner can help some piano owners with this since maybe they are not attuned yet to what a quality sound is. What I wonder though is : isn't it simply a matter of a pleasing sound? If it's in tune, it sounds good and feels good.

I have played piano for about 40 years. When I play a piano, I instantly know whether it is in tune or not and if the sound pleases me or not. When piano buyers, most of us, go out to buy a piano we hopefully are considering how it sounds. We are far more likely to buy the one that sounds best to us, so as buyers, we know sound, do we not?

So, my point is, musicians know sound as well as tuners do. After all, when it sounds bad, that is when we either tune it or call a guy like you.

But yes, I get that there is knowing what sounds good and then there is knowing how to put that to use in tuning a piano. But if a person is willing to pay the price, Electonic Tuning Devises (ETDs) are out there that can do that for you.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/

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#1587316 - 12/30/10 03:32 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Neil Sundberg]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19096
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Neil Sundberg
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.

Jerry, I recall you saying something much like this last year when I started my DIY piano tuning thread. I think, sure, a beginning tuner, especially when tuning by ear, is not going to hear what is going on nearly as well as a trained tuner is going to hear. There is obviously a lot to hear there like beats, beat speeds, the actual resulting quality of the sound. So, it's all about sound. Over the years, yes, a trained tuner will have a high level of skill in knowing what it should sound like and how to put that skill to use.

What I hope you are not saying is that a musician does not know or can not know what it "should" sound like or what he or she wants it to sound like. Yes, a tuner can help some piano owners with this since maybe they are not attuned yet to what a quality sound is. What I wonder though is : isn't it simply a matter of a pleasing sound? If it's in tune, it sounds good and feels good.

I have played piano for about 40 years. When I play a piano, I instantly know whether it is in tune or not and if the sound pleases me or not. When piano buyers, most of us, go out to buy a piano we hopefully are considering how it sounds. We are far more likely to buy the one that sounds best to us, so as buyers, we know sound, do we not?

So, my point is, musicians know sound as well as tuners do. After all, when it sounds bad, that is when we either tune it or call a guy like you.

But yes, I get that there is knowing what sounds good and then there is knowing how to put that to use in tuning a piano. But if a person is willing to pay the price, Electonic Tuning Devises (ETDs) are out there that can do that for you.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/
I think many of your assumptions are not generally true. I think what sounds "good"(what could be more vague than that?} to one person could sound terrible to another no matter how much experience playing the piano they've had. Many people post their playing on Youtube and most think it's good although often it's not so good. I'd guess many trained piano techs have more experience tuning pianos during their training than DIY have in a lifetime of tuning.

"Musician" can mean many different things to different people. Some have much better ears than others. Years spent playing the piano don't guarantee adept hearing. If they did, I'd have extremely good hearing!

"Pleasing sound" doesn't make much sense to me because it's not a black or white issue...it's matter of degree. Same for "in tune".

I never wait until my piano sounds bad to have it tuned. My BB is so stable that my tech said I could have it tuned only once/year, but I just have it tuned twice a year on a regular basis.

None of this is meant to imply you may not be capable of tuning of your piano well.

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#1587322 - 12/30/10 03:44 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
You're right, I did but, it seems it is being addressed again with other people so, here we are again Neil. smile

What I would say, is that a musicians training is not in tuning. Any more than being a trained tuner makes us a musician. One field is completely opposite the other.

After all of these years tuning, I am still surprised at the amount of times people ask me; "do you play the piano?" Yes I do. "I would assume that you must be able to play the piano in order to tune it." So, reverse that instead. Should I have to be able to tune the piano in order to play it? Of course not. smile

Many concert artists want a certain sound, or, the piano voiced a certain way. That is right Neil. The problem is that many technicians cannot do what is necessary to accommodate their preference for their performances.

One of the things I encounter perhaps most often, is that piano players get voicing, mixed up with tuning. If the voicing is not even, a lot of people think tuning will make it all better but, it will not. Just as they think tuning will fix a sticking key so, it is always advisable to mention ahead of time that "this note doesn't sound pleasing to me." So that I can then get them to address this in more detail to figure out just exactly what it is they are looking for.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

Top
#1587357 - 12/30/10 04:19 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: pianoloverus]
Neil Sundberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 140
Loc: Seattle, Washingon
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Neil Sundberg
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.

Jerry, I recall you saying something much like this last year when I started my DIY piano tuning thread. I think, sure, a beginning tuner, especially when tuning by ear, is not going to hear what is going on nearly as well as a trained tuner is going to hear. There is obviously a lot to hear there like beats, beat speeds, the actual resulting quality of the sound. So, it's all about sound. Over the years, yes, a trained tuner will have a high level of skill in knowing what it should sound like and how to put that skill to use.

What I hope you are not saying is that a musician does not know or can not know what it "should" sound like or what he or she wants it to sound like. Yes, a tuner can help some piano owners with this since maybe they are not attuned yet to what a quality sound is. What I wonder though is : isn't it simply a matter of a pleasing sound? If it's in tune, it sounds good and feels good.

I have played piano for about 40 years. When I play a piano, I instantly know whether it is in tune or not and if the sound pleases me or not. When piano buyers, most of us, go out to buy a piano we hopefully are considering how it sounds. We are far more likely to buy the one that sounds best to us, so as buyers, we know sound, do we not?

So, my point is, musicians know sound as well as tuners do. After all, when it sounds bad, that is when we either tune it or call a guy like you.

But yes, I get that there is knowing what sounds good and then there is knowing how to put that to use in tuning a piano. But if a person is willing to pay the price, Electonic Tuning Devises (ETDs) are out there that can do that for you.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/
I think many of your assumptions are not generally true. I think what sounds "good"(what could be more vague than that?} to one person could sound terrible to another no matter how much experience playing the piano they've had. Many people post their playing on Youtube and most think it's good although often it's not so good. I'd guess many trained piano techs have more experience tuning pianos during their training than DIY have in a lifetime of tuning.

"Musician" can mean many different things to different people. Some have much better ears than others. Years spent playing the piano don't guarantee adept hearing. If they did, I'd have extremely good hearing!

"Pleasing sound" doesn't make much sense to me because it's not a black or white issue...it's matter of degree. Same for "in tune".

I never wait until my piano sounds bad to have it tuned. My BB is so stable that my tech said I could have it tuned only once/year, but I just have it tuned twice a year on a regular basis.

None of this is meant to imply you may not be capable of tuning of your piano well.


What I would say to both you and Jerry, is that a big part of a successful pro tuners job would be to tune pianos for recording studios and orchestras where tuning obviously has quite a stringent level of sound quality and indeed actual frequency so that it matches the other musicians.

But unless a DIY tuner is proposing to tune his own piano for the sake of the above, I don't see the need to apply such a high level of standard to one's own tuning of his own piano. Speaking for myself at least, my ear is working just fine for the purpose of deciding what is working sound quality wise. Like I said before, I know what I like to hear from the piano I am playing.

This has nothing to do with assumptions in my view. I am making no assumption when I am deciding what my ear likes.

I think the confusion in these discussions is often born of the differences between pro and amateur tuning. The above is just one example of that.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/diypianotunings/

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#1587370 - 12/30/10 04:31 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot
One of the things I encounter perhaps most often, is that piano players get voicing, mixed up with tuning. If the voicing is not even, a lot of people think tuning will make it all better but, it will not. Just as they think tuning will fix a sticking key so, it is always advisable to mention ahead of time that "this note doesn't sound pleasing to me." So that I can then get them to address this in more detail to figure out just exactly what it is they are looking for.


So true Jerry! People will sometimes hear a "harsh" note as being "sharp", or uneven voicing as something being off in the tuning. That's why I believe tuning and voicing go hand in hand. Not nearly enough piano tuners do voicing as part of regular service. There have been numerous pianos that I have encountered that I have been hired to "tune" that had tunings that were reasonably good, but terrible voicing. If I had just tuned it, they probably wouldn't have noticed a difference. But spending an hour on the voicing can transform some of these pianos and make for happy clients and (best of all) referrals!
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1587568 - 12/30/10 11:22 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
I've been lurking on this thread for a while but will jump in here. I'm the "Steve" that Neil S referred to am happy to be a "charter member" of his new DIY tuning blog.

From the discourse on this thread, and some others, it seems to me that one factor we haven't touched on is that there are different levels of commitment from one DIY'er to another. Some of us are actually very committed to trying to do a great job of learning to tune our own pianos, even at the expense of the time it takes us away from other activities (like playing the piano!). Yes, we are "amateurs," but it's good to remember that the word "amateur" means "one who loves." Some of us amateurs really do "love" to learn, and dig in deeply. Now, when I say this, I don't mean to imply in any way that I will achieve nearly the depth of understanding or skill that a pro will. However, I do intend to do my very best in learning to aurally tune my piano, to be careful to be nice to my pinblock, to develop my hammer technique, etc. As an example of another clearly devoted "amateur," look at Rickster's comments. I bet his piano, despite his not being a pro, is well regulated! I bet he really took his time to get the adjustments right. Obviously, what he, and I, and other amateurs, lack is the incredible wealth of experience that the pros have, so when we run into something that's unexpected or not by the book, we won't have 500 or 5000 other repairs to draw from. (However, we can collectively learn from each others' experience!)

So - one other thought. This forum (Piano World, I mean) is clearly the best piano discussion forum on the 'net. From even casually browsing other sites, it's clear that some "amateurs" really don't "love" their pianos. I've seen recommendations of using a guitar tuner (the $20 Korg model) to tune one's piano! No reference to learning beat rates, or using a proper ETD. No discussion of proper hammer technique. That's bad tuning. I think those of us on this forum, at least most of us, are pretty well self-selected to be serious about this, and we probably represent less than 5% of all piano owners.

Just my random thoughts.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1587585 - 12/31/10 12:25 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8068
Loc: Georgia, USA
A very well written and coherent post there, Steve. And, thanks for the honorable mention of me and my DIY piano tech skills. I would actually be a little scared to do to someone else’s piano what I have done to mine. I figure if I make a mistake on my own piano, I can either correct it myself or call a pro. Fortunately, I have not made any major mistakes, though I did over voice a hammer with rubbing alcohol once. It was a real learning experience too. I didn’t ruin the hammer, but I did come close. I also made a rookie mistake recently when I replaced some of the bass strings on my vintage Yamaha C7; I handled the new strings with my bare hands and now they have tarnished finger prints on the shinny new copper where I touched them while installing them. I got in a hurry and didn’t think about that. The actual string replacement went well and they sure do sound good!

I will say that I have learned a lot about pianos here on PW. And, I think you are right, this is the best piano related site on the internet. I’m proud to be a member here and I spend way too much time logged in to the forums. But it is my favorite past time. I have learned a lot from the real piano techs here and I always try to show them respect and appreciation for their help. There are a couple of them in particular that have been very helpful to me with support and information. I have also purchased some piano related things from the PW store to help support this site. I’ve also given a donation to Piano World. That is how much I appreciate this forum.

Fact is, if some of these real techs here didn’t live so far away, I’d be willing to pay them to come to my home and show me some things about piano technology, like how to stab the hammers with the voicing needles without stabbing my fingers! grin There is a lot to learn about piano technology, weather we are a DIYer or a pro. One thing is for sure, we can indeed learn from each other.

Take care,

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1587679 - 12/31/10 08:40 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
My desire to learn to tune and maintain my piano is what caused me to learn many years ago. I can't STAND to play an out of tune piano and I could not afford to have a tuner come in every month or two to touch it up so I learned. Difficult but not as hard as I thought. I am still improving and my tunings please me greatly. It's irrelevant to me whether it would please some unknown tuner. It's pretty apparent that not everyone is necessarily pleased with all 'pro' tunings, hence things like 'Grand Obsession' where the author was searching for a specific sound and was not getting it from the 'pros'.

It's similar in many ways to home maintenance and renovation. My first attempts were crude at best but after years of learning and improving, my results are as good as most 'pros'. They have to learn too by the way.

Many pros give examples of horror stories or make fun of attempts they've seen but they forget that they never see the most successful ones because we rarely need them and they never see their results, so their view is distorted. I've seen some amazingly poor work done by 'pros' over the years too.

It's a fun and satisfing thing to do and a worthwhile goal in spite of the negative attitudes of some.

I supported computer networks for many years and many of my colleagues made fun of and ridiculed beginners at that too. I never understood that either and did what I could to offer my help and expertise to help them get up to speed. I never felt threatened by them and encouraged them whenever I could.

I applaud anyone trying to learn something new, it seems like a good thing to me. I don't get it.


Edited by Roger Ransom (12/31/10 08:42 AM)
_________________________
Laugh More
Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

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#1587932 - 12/31/10 04:05 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Many pros give examples of horror stories or make fun of attempts they've seen but they forget that they never see the most successful ones because we rarely need them and they never see their results, so their view is distorted. I've seen some amazingly poor work done by 'pros' over the years too.


You want to see a horror story? You should have heard MY first piano tuning! While I thought it sounded "perfectly in tune" my dad told me in my later years, that it sounded like crap... grin ha

Those "pros" to whom you refer, Roger, are not pros. Pros do good work. Hacks and dishonest people do poor work. They are "tooners" that have no business being in this business in the first place. We follow up after these idiots all the time. smile

Happy New Year you all!
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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