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#1604207 - 01/23/11 10:36 PM How tight should a tuning tip fit?
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
Pardon a rookie question, but -

I have a new Levitan hammer with a #2 Watanabe tip. My project piano is a Schimmel grand. I have noticed that the Watanabe tip needs to nearly touch the string coils before it seats on the pin, and even then it is really not quite "solid" on the pin but has just a little "rocking" action.

So - I am wondering if a) I should get a replacement #2 tip; b) I should get a #1 tip; or c) this is normal and I just need to get used to it.

Thanks for any advice.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1604515 - 01/24/11 11:31 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
kpembrook Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1252
Loc: Michigan
100% personal preference.

The ideal tip would perhaps be "low and tight". In the real world, the options are . . .
"high and tight"
"low and loose"

"Low and loose" happens to be my choice -- using a #3 tip on everything. I have colleagues that use #1 or #2 tips exclusively and know others that have a whole collection of tips they change out before tuning each piano. They all do good work and there is no apparent trend indicating one approach is better than another. So . ..

Back to what I said at the top. You can try your options and determine what is most comfortable for you and your particular tuning technique. In any event, it's nothing to stress over. Good luck!
_________________________
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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#1604819 - 01/24/11 06:43 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
German pianos very often have small sized tuning pins, 6.90 or even 6.75 mm. You need a #1 tip for these.

Some seasoned tuners seem to manage with "one size tip for all" (see above). However, especially for starting out tuning, it's nice to have a good fitting tip. In my opinion, "low and fairly tight" is easy to achieve on most pianos if you have a selection of tips. You would best off to get a number of different tips for different pianos and different tuning pins.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1604964 - 01/24/11 10:25 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
Thanks, Jurgen and Keith, for your thoughts. I never realized how individualized tuning hammers, and tips, not to mention tuning techniques themselves, are.

Sounds to me like the piano technician's tuning hammer is like the writer's pen - needs to fit their hand, and their style - and becomes an extension of the technician when they are experienced.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1605080 - 01/25/11 04:10 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Mark R. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1865
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
I've observed something that puzzles me. I wanted to ask whether the experienced tuners on this board can confirm this:

On my Ibach (6.9 mm pins), there are some pins that are not perfectly square in their tapered shank. I have a Schaff extension lever with a selection of no. 1, no. 2 and thin-walled no. 2 tip. The lever rocks in the one position, but if I take it off the pin, turn it through 45 or 90°, then it fits quite snugly. On other pins, the fit is more or less constant, no matter at which angle I fit the lever on the pin. On some of the "unsquare" pins, I've actually received better results by placing the lever in an unusual position to achieve finer control.

At first I thought the Schaff (Hale) tips were no good, but then I realized that only some pins gave me this sloppy fit.

This is the only piano I've tuned sofar, so I'm not sure whether the (local) factory used inferior pins, or whether this variation in pin squareness is pretty much par for the course?
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1605193 - 01/25/11 09:57 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3036
Loc: Madison, WI USA
My tuning hammer socket fits low and loose. I use this to my advantage as a kind of impact tuning hammer without it being one. I have used this kind of technique for over 30 years.

See this video from PTG where you can watch a few different people tuning unisons. The type and way you use a tuning hammer has to be an individual choice. What works for one person may not for another but in my view, an impact type technique is the most mechanically correct and efficient way to manipulate a tuning pin. That is what George Defebaugh RPT taught at the first PTG Institute I attended in 1979.

I am the last of the tuners you see in this video. You will need a Quicktime player to view it:

http://www.ptg.org/media/tuning.mov
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1605248 - 01/25/11 11:27 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Mark R.]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
.... The lever rocks in the one position, but if I take it off the pin, turn it through 45 or 90°, then it fits quite snugly. .


I don't know how this could be if the tip is truly symmetrical and not "lop-sided".
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1605462 - 01/25/11 04:51 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Supply]
Mark R. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1865
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
.... The lever rocks in the one position, but if I take it off the pin, turn it through 45 or 90°, then it fits quite snugly. .


I don't know how this could be if the tip is truly symmetrical and not "lop-sided".


Oh dear, point taken...

It seems my initial intuition was right. The tip is indeed not symmetrical.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1613039 - 02/05/11 07:01 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
I started wondering while watching the tuning unisons video. These are the highest level tuners with professional tools. I presume they put in extra effort to get the unisons as good as possible, since they were filmed. I am pretty sure I can hear some slow beating on some of the unisons. I hope I am not imagining them, do you guys hear them too?

If the top professionals are nudging the pin left and right, until it is good enough and the tuner realizes it probably cannot be made sound purer without spending 10 minutes nudging it, so he lets it be and moves on, doesn't it mean we need a better tuning pin system than the one pianos have today? Maybe there could be a metal plate instead of the soundboard, the strings are attached to pins and there are bolts on the pins, so that each whole turn on the bolt stretches the string by the width of one thread of the bolt (around a millimeter), instead of the whole circumference of the pin that a whole turn on the pin stretches the string now (over 2 centimeters).

Something that uses leverage like a mechanical micrometer, so that the accuracy of the strings pitch would be determined by the accuracy of hearing, not by the luck of happening to nudge the pin in just the right place.

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#1613332 - 02/05/11 04:17 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3330
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: partistic
I started wondering while watching the tuning unisons video. These are the highest level tuners with professional tools. I presume they put in extra effort to get the unisons as good as possible, since they were filmed. I am pretty sure I can hear some slow beating on some of the unisons. I hope I am not imagining them, do you guys hear them too?

If the top professionals are nudging the pin left and right, until it is good enough and the tuner realizes it probably cannot be made sound purer without spending 10 minutes nudging it, so he lets it be and moves on, doesn't it mean we need a better tuning pin system than the one pianos have today? Maybe there could be a metal plate instead of the soundboard, the strings are attached to pins and there are bolts on the pins, so that each whole turn on the bolt stretches the string by the width of one thread of the bolt (around a millimeter), instead of the whole circumference of the pin that a whole turn on the pin stretches the string now (over 2 centimeters).

Something that uses leverage like a mechanical micrometer, so that the accuracy of the strings pitch would be determined by the accuracy of hearing, not by the luck of happening to nudge the pin in just the right place.


The way I understand it, a micrometer or machine based pin system wouldn't actually cure the problem. The issue isn't really the mechanism of the pin (although it does have its problems), it's the friction that occurs on the bridge between the speaking and non-speaking portion of the string. The various tuning hammer techniques seem to geared around trying to put the pin in a position where it can equalise as much as possible the tension between the two portions. Dialling up precise pin positions is all good and well, but it wouldn't help the problem of why pianos go out of tune and it might even worsen the problem because it removes the speed and jolting which can help to overcome the friction which binds the string to the bridge - it might even result in more string breakages. I think you would have to redesign the bridge on the piano to even use the idea you are describing - but that might come at too great a cost because you have to have a bridge that transfers the vibrations to the soundboard efficiently.

That's my understanding of it anyway - as an amateur physicist, not a piano technician.

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#1613340 - 02/05/11 04:28 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
There have been a myriad of ideas for bridges and tuning systems over the centuries. One of the most successful was Mason & Hamlin's screw stringer (search the archives). They have a reputation of a high degree of tuning stability. In the end, it was probably a cost issue which ended the production of mechanical tuning systems and today we are left with the 400+ year old system of steel pins in a hardwood block. But guess what? It works.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1613444 - 02/05/11 07:18 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
Dale Fox Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1052
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted By: partistic
I started wondering while watching the tuning unisons video. These are the highest level tuners with professional tools. I presume they put in extra effort to get the unisons as good as possible, since they were filmed. I am pretty sure I can hear some slow beating on some of the unisons. I hope I am not imagining them, do you guys hear them too?

If the top professionals are nudging the pin left and right, until it is good enough and the tuner realizes it probably cannot be made sound purer without spending 10 minutes nudging it, so he lets it be and moves on, doesn't it mean we need a better tuning pin system than the one pianos have today? Maybe there could be a metal plate instead of the soundboard, the strings are attached to pins and there are bolts on the pins, so that each whole turn on the bolt stretches the string by the width of one thread of the bolt (around a millimeter), instead of the whole circumference of the pin that a whole turn on the pin stretches the string now (over 2 centimeters).

Something that uses leverage like a mechanical micrometer, so that the accuracy of the strings pitch would be determined by the accuracy of hearing, not by the luck of happening to nudge the pin in just the right place.


You are assuming that it is possible to tune all the beats out of the unison. Faults in wire diameter, bridge pin tightness, string length etc, all add up to make for inconsistencies (in harmonics) that can not be tuned out of the finished product. Sometimes you get as close as you can, or sometimes you just tune the loudest harmonics as beat-less as possible. The tuning system can't fix issues like these.

Back to the original post question, I have several tuning tips on hand. I use whichever one fits better and gives the best feel for my technique.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#1613542 - 02/05/11 09:40 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Originally Posted By: Steve W
Pardon a rookie question, but -

I have a new Levitan hammer with a #2 Watanabe tip. My project piano is a Schimmel grand. I have noticed that the Watanabe tip needs to nearly touch the string coils before it seats on the pin, and even then it is really not quite "solid" on the pin but has just a little "rocking" action.

So - I am wondering if a) I should get a replacement #2 tip; b) I should get a #1 tip; or c) this is normal and I just need to get used to it.

Thanks for any advice.


Hi there,

I use a #3 tip for almost everything except for a couple of pianos (one of them being Schimmel), where I use a #2 or, sometimes even a #1.

The #2 tip is what most hammers are shipped with, but a lot of us - especially those aiming for speed - use #3's whenever possible.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1613757 - 02/06/11 07:52 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
Yes, it probably isn't possible to tune all unisons absolutely perfect. There could be defects in the wire, false beating etc.

Nevertheless, I can clearly see this is how even the best of the best tune the unisons, especially in the treble: they know the unison isn't clean and it can be made better, they nudge the pin, doing their best to move the pin as little as possible, they nudge, nudge, nudge, then oops, it went too far. Back off and try again. Others go over and below the right point repeatedly, hoping they happen to hit the spot where they think - I shouldn't touch it anymore, probably couldn't nudge the pin by a smaller amount.

Isn't this kind of a tuning system inherently flawed for something that needs a high degree of accuracy?

If the problem is in the friction at the bridge pins, it should at least be possible to make unisons beatless during tuning. Because if the friction wont let the speaking and non-speaking parts equalize, but over time they do due to playing and the speaking portion goes flat, they shouldn't play a role during the moment of tuning. Also you could pull the strings pitch higher, overcoming the friction at the bridge pins, increasing tension at the non-speaking part and then dropping back to pitch.

Even if some unisons couldn't be made absolutely pure, it should be possible to reliably find the best spot and determine whether they can in fact be made pure. Right now tuners are nudging around, wondering if they can set the tension more accurately or not, rather than having the possibility to set the string tension very accurately and then listening whether it goes better or not. Basically, you could test your hearing for the best spot, rather than your patience at nudging the pin.

Reading the archives, the tuning systems with leverage indeed did have the reputation of being very stable. There wouldn't be a constantly expanding and contracting pinblock where a small changes in the positions of the pins make a big difference in pitch. Some said they were easy to tune, some said they were hard to tune, some said they didn't have enough practice and weren't used to them. Someone mentioned that a whole turn on the pin increased the pitch by one semitone.

I also wonder how expensive it would be to add a wedge with holes to the mould that they make plates with and add a bunch of threaded pins and bolts. All this instead of gluing the pinblock from many layers of wood, drilling over 200 holes in it, fitting and gluing it in to the piano etc.

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#1613761 - 02/06/11 08:21 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3330
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: partistic

If the problem is in the friction at the bridge pins, it should at least be possible to make unisons beatless during tuning. Because if the friction wont let the speaking and non-speaking parts equalize, but over time they do due to playing and the speaking portion goes flat, they shouldn't play a role during the moment of tuning.

Yes, you can get them to be beatless, but it's not as simple as that. They are trying to compensate for the fact that the strings and pins will settle back a little bit. If it was just a matter of getting them beatless, that's all they would do. But if you do that, the tuning won't last for even 10 minutes of playing. I've been experimenting with these things on my piano and have tried it various ways. I have found that the most stable tuning happens when you do a steady pull of the hammer, not too slow that friction can grab, I go just slightly past where I hear the perfect unison, then I tap the hammer back a tiny amount to set it and take the torsion off the pin. This tuning method lasts for many weeks or even months. When I just pulled up the pitch and then stopped, the tuning didn't last for even 10 minutes of playing.

I haven't tried the "impact" method yet, but I suspect it would work very well.

Quote:
Also you could pull the strings pitch higher, overcoming the friction at the bridge pins, increasing tension at the non-speaking part and then dropping back to pitch.


That is what tuners often do, the problem is that dropping the string back to pitch is still a guess. You can't actually measure the tension on both portions to equalise them. The usual way to equalise the tensions is to hit the key very strongly to overcome the binding friction. It's all in the "feel" of the tuner. They get an idea of how much friction there is and how far to overpull - or they use the "impact" method of tuning which involves short sharp blows to the hammer to jolt the string to it's correct pitch and overcome the friction. If done properly this tends to equalise the tensions automatically. In the end, the tensions will never be exactly equal, but the friction actually will hold things steady enough to keep tuning stable for a while.

I agree that the tuning system of the piano is not ideal but they obviously settled on this system from attrition - it was the best compromise between functionality and expense. I'm sure there would be many great alternatives, but would they raise the cost of a piano too much. Even on an expensive piano it could be more trouble than it's worth. Plus, tuners have come to learn how to use the existing system very effectively.

I suspect it is more of an engineering feat than you might first think. First, we are talking about strings under enormous tension - that would necessitate bolts and threads of extreme hardness (expensive). The mechanism would be much larger than the pinblock design and would change the design and layout of the piano somewhat (expensive retooling, possibly displeasing aesthetically). So it's quite a challenge. I would love it if they could come up with a simple reliable tuning system though, no doubt about that. I just don't see it happening.

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#1614558 - 02/07/11 12:04 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: ando]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
I found this picture in the Piano World archives:



In addition to the geared pins it has a birdcage system, but that is another story.

I should point out again that reading around here and there such tuning systems really did have a reputation of being very stable for a long time.

From the picture they seem rather simple in design and I would think they shouldn't be much more expensive than a pinblock system. Just add a wedge with holes to the plate and the threaded pins shouldn't be that expensive compared to a pinblock. No more hassling with loose pinblocks, drilling hundreds of holes to replace it etc.

This system would also remove the current problem that even top lever tuners are struggling with today, you can't move the pins by such a small amount that you would like to. No more nudging until you run out of patience.

I would really like to tune a piano with a similar tuning pin system, before I start preaching to the world of their superiority. But I wish these systems would spread and get more popular, cause they do seem a lot better.

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#1614563 - 02/07/11 12:14 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20748
Loc: Oakland
The problems with screw stringers are the amount of space they take, attaching the strings, and keeping the screws from turning. Those are expensive problems to deal with, particularly since tuning pins are standardized and screw stringing never was.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1614569 - 02/07/11 12:24 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4182
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
There have been better systems than the metal tuning pin in the wooden block or the screw stringer.

In the former, it is a rather crude arrangement; a metal pin in a wooden block with tensions applied; although one cannot see it with the naked eye, from season to season the tuning pin angle changes very slightly; the tension tugs the pins towards the hitch pin so to speak when the climate dries out.

In the screw stringer, in addition to what BDB states, there is the problem of broken screw teeth I believe…replacements are a problem.

Here is another type of piano tuning pin set up; these are similar to guitar machine heads. This instrument has been tuned twice in 20 years…never runs out of tune……thousands of these were made in the 1880’s…………

https://picasaweb.google.com/silverwoodpianos/RareBrinsmeadSonsGrandPiano#


Edited by Silverwood Pianos (02/08/11 12:11 PM)
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1614986 - 02/07/11 10:08 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: partistic
....From the picture they seem rather simple in design and I would think they shouldn't be much more expensive than a pinblock system. Just add a wedge with holes to the plate and the threaded pins shouldn't be that expensive compared to a pinblock. No more hassling with loose pinblocks, drilling hundreds of holes to replace it etc.....

Like so many things, it looks entirely simple and easy to the outsider. The devil is in the details.

Don't you think if it worked better, and was no more expensive to produce such a system, that it would have established itself as the industry standard????
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1615048 - 02/07/11 11:17 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Supply]
Jim Moy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 292
Loc: Fort Collins - Loveland, CO
Originally Posted By: Supply
Don't you think if it worked better, and was no more expensive to produce such a system, that it would have established itself as the industry standard????

More likely a bunch of cranky tuners refused to tune it...
_________________________
Jim Moy, RPT
Moy Piano Service, LLC
Fort Collins and Loveland, Colorado
http://www.moypiano.com

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#1615248 - 02/08/11 10:15 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
I don't know why such a system isn't the industry standard. To me, sticking a metal pin to a tight wooden hole and then nudging it until your patience runs out hoping it will go to the right place and stay there is a ridiculous engineering idea for something that needs such high degree of accuracy and stability.

To stop the bolts from turning, you could add a plate with square holes and make the bolts square shaped from one end as well, allowing them to slide up and down without being able to turn. To avoid ruining the threads like in a screw stringer, don't put the threads in the holes but add a nut, which you can change if necessary. These are just a couple of ideas off the top of my head, I'm sure engineers can solve them better.

It is amazing that a piano with the threaded bolt tunings system holds tune very well and only needs two tunings in 20 years.

Is there any piano company left making pianos with these systems? If I ever were to buy a new piano, I would like to support these tuning systems.

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#1615290 - 02/08/11 11:33 AM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4789
Loc: Bradford County, PA
I think the idea of a metal pin driven into a wooden plank is great. Since the art of fine tuning requires the ability to perceive the movement of the string across the necessary friction points separately from true movement (not just flexing) of the pin, the present system developed (in spite of the attempt of misguided improvements) and will continue to be used.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1615315 - 02/08/11 12:18 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4182
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
My mistake I just corrected; I stated metal tuning pin in a plate and should have written metal tuning pin in a wooden block.

In the Brinsmead example the nuts do not turn by themselves; there is a brass washer that locates on the frame; the nuts are on both sides of that frame. It is the threads on the stem that move the stem forward and back. This has the effect of “geared tuning” like the machine heads of a guitar rather than the usual tuning pin in a wooden plank which is similar to the violin peg arrangement.

Part of the difficulty in tuning a piano constructed with the tuning pin in the wooden plank is the manipulation of the pin and setting it correctly. With “geared tuning” this is eliminated, tuning the Brinsmead is effortless; two fingers on the T handle.

Most of these instruments were built in the period of 1880-1882. Here is some history on the maker and the “top tuner” upright and some other interesting inventions in diagrams…..

http://www.piano-tuners.org/history/brinsmead.html

Originally Posted By: Jim Moy

More likely a bunch of cranky tuners refused to tune it...


This is exactly what I received as a response from the inquiry I made in Britain. Many technicians of the day refused to work on these instruments. The other main reason is the expense of build. A tuning pin in a wooden plank is much cheaper….and subject to more repairs and thus more consumerism……..what a surprise…..even back then……

The Brinsmead here has a value of 20-90£. Thousands of these remain in Britain from what I have been told.

_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1615392 - 02/08/11 02:21 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
kpembrook Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1252
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: partistic

I should point out again that reading around here and there such tuning systems really did have a reputation of being very stable for a long time.

Yes, indeed. Most "brilliant ideas" that people come up with have been tried.

From the picture they seem rather simple in design and I would think they shouldn't be much more expensive than a pinblock system.

Doesn't matter how it "seems". This is an example of suggestions coming from someone with a lack of awareness of basic engineering and manufacturing processes. The process of machining a screw and thread arrangement will always be significantly technically more demanding and higher cost than banging a pin into a hole in the wood.

This system would also remove the current problem that even top lever tuners are struggling with today, you can't move the pins by such a small amount that you would like to. No more nudging until you run out of patience.


Um, not a struggle for me. And . . .
The threaded approach also had its difficulties as well. It is impossible to reliably lower pitch -- you always have to bring it up from below and stop "right on". No minor adjustments allowed. Has to do with something called "lash".

It would be great to just turn a knob and have perfect micro-adjustment of string tension. I would certainly welcome it. So far, there are no serious contenders to the tuning pin/pinblock that have any promise of providing improvement.
_________________________
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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#1615393 - 02/08/11 02:22 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: UnrightTooner]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
I think the idea of a metal pin driven into a wooden plank is great. Since the art of fine tuning requires the ability to perceive the movement of the string across the necessary friction points separately from true movement (not just flexing) of the pin, the present system developed (in spite of the attempt of misguided improvements) and will continue to be used.


Don't you think that the current bottleneck in tuning accuracy is in the inability to move the pin by a small enough amount?

You are right that if you move it too little, the pin just flexes a little and doesn't actually move, if you try to move it, it tends to go too much and doesn't want to go to the right spot, especially when tuning unisons higher up. There just isn't enough fine control.

kpembrook, could you please explain that something called "lash"?

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#1615396 - 02/08/11 02:38 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4789
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Tuning stability is much more important than tuning accuracy. You cannot tune a piano accurately if the notes are changing as you tune them. A balance between pinblock torque and rendering friction with an appropriate hammer technique is what makes a stable and accurate tuning possible.

But let’s imagine we have a system that can position a pin with molecular accuracy. How are the speaking and nonspeaking parts going to be given equal tension? That is the problem with all these geared or threaded or whatever systems. It leaves the parts at unequal tensions.

And who says that the pin has to be at exactly the right position for the pitch to be at exactly the right frequency? It does not. What is necessary is that the rendering friction is high enough to keep any residual tension differences between the speaking and non-speaking parts from rendering, especially when the environment changes!
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1615416 - 02/08/11 03:19 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: UnrightTooner]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner

And who says that the pin has to be at exactly the right position for the pitch to be at exactly the right frequency? It does not. What is necessary is that the rendering friction is high enough to keep any residual tension differences between the speaking and non-speaking parts from rendering, especially when the environment changes!


Yes, and one more funny thing... the string vibrates differently although at the exact same base frequency - depending on the stress on the pin, and on the fight between the speaking and non-speaking parts. That is, although the fundamental is at the same pitch, the partials can sound at different pitch (the iH varies) and/or different amplitude.

Why is this so? I am sure that everybody tuning unisons by ear has experienced this phenomenon. It's part of the piano sound, and gives the tuner different options of sound, even in the unisons.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1615426 - 02/08/11 03:36 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3330
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: partistic


Don't you think that the current bottleneck in tuning accuracy is in the inability to move the pin by a small enough amount?

You are right that if you move it too little, the pin just flexes a little and doesn't actually move, if you try to move it, it tends to go too much and doesn't want to go to the right spot, especially when tuning unisons higher up. There just isn't enough fine control.


You need to re-read the friction explanation that Upright Tooner gave. I tried to bring it up to you but you have conveniently completely ignored it. You are singly focussed on the precision of the pin adjustment but you must consider the bridge-friction side of things. It's significant enough to render micrometer-like pin-adjustments rather questionable.

One of the advantages of the pinblock system is that you can move the string quickly to overcome the friction at the bridge. With a fine micrometer-type pin, the movement would be very slow and unless you have a zero friction bridge design to go with it, the friction can be too much to get the string moving. (look up "limiting" or "static" friction on wiki) That would be more likely to break a string.

By all means, postulate on a better tuning system - but consider all elements of the problem or it's all moot. I'm not even a piano tech, but I have a physics background and the reason the piano settled on its current design is justifiable to me.

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#1615455 - 02/08/11 04:47 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: Steve W]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
ando, Yes, the friction at the termination points probably wont let micrometer-like differences in pin adjustments immediately transfer to the speaking portion. I haven't tested it, but I'm guessing it wont. Do you agree that the limiting factor with regular tuning pins in setting the string tension is not being able to move the pin accurately enough? Look at the video where professionals tune the unisons. They are nudging, doing their best to move it the smallest amount they can, going over, under, etc, until they let it be. If we get to the point where the bottleneck isn't the accuracy of moving the pin, but rather that the friction wont let the small adjustments carry on to the speaking section, we are already at much higher accuracy in setting the string's tension.

UnrightTooner, you are implying that it is easier to set the tension of the non-speaking section of the string using regular tuning pins than with geared tuning pins. Are you saying you can feel them with such high accuracy? With regular pins right now we can't even set the tension of two speaking sections with the accuracy we would want...

If there is some inequality in the speaking and non-speaking sections that test blows won't get rid of, how is it easier to get rid of using regular tuning pins than threaded pins?

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#1615466 - 02/08/11 05:07 PM Re: How tight should a tuning tip fit? [Re: partistic]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3330
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: partistic
ando, Yes, the friction at the termination points probably wont let micrometer-like differences in pin adjustments immediately transfer to the speaking portion. I haven't tested it, but I'm guessing it wont. Do you agree that the limiting factor with regular tuning pins in setting the string tension is not being able to move the pin accurately enough? Look at the video where professionals tune the unisons. They are nudging, doing their best to move it the smallest amount they can, going over, under, etc, until they let it be. If we get to the point where the bottleneck isn't the accuracy of moving the pin, but rather that the friction wont let the small adjustments carry on to the speaking section, we are already at much higher accuracy in setting the string's tension.


Re bolded question: No, I don't agree. The nudging movements aren't so much because the pin is jumping around from position to position, they are to overcome the friction aspect and help the tension to equalise between the speaking and non-speaking portions. (although there are sticky pin-blocks out there) Now, granted, the pin-block system is not perfect (wear and pin torsion being the chief problems), but it has an advantage over slow adjustment systems in that it can do "fast pulls" or nudges/impacts to overcome static friction. I don't know whether you have tuned a piano yourself, but a decent pin-block is not as imprecise as you make out. My piano pin-block is quite accurate, not jumpy at all. The only difficult aspect is the friction aspect, not the pin-turning precision. Same for other pianos I've tuned. Maybe on very old pianos, it becomes significant.

So, what I'm suggesting is that you have misplaced the blame for the "jumpiness" on the pin-block, but I'm suggesting it's the friction that is the cause of that. Of course, to the uninitiated, it will feel for all the world like the problem is in the pin. You can't distinguish it by feel. It's something you have to theoretically understand and adjust your technique accordingly.

I think to use the system you are proposing, you would have to have some sort of roller saddle bridge system - similar to what some guitars use. Trouble is, I'm not sure if it would transmit vibration to the soundboard efficiently enough. It might result in unacceptable energy loss. I'd have to look into that a bit further.

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