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#1616160 - 02/09/11 01:14 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Mexico City
Yes +/- 0.2 cents.

Current electronic tuners make it possible, they have a resolution of 0.01 cents.

What limits me is not the instrument I use to set the pitch, but the instability of vibrations of the string.

Quote:
Gadzar, I respect your sense of duty, but nobody can hear within .2 cents.


That´s my goal, to tune A4 with such an accuraty that nobody can hear a difference with a 440 hz. reliable source.


BTW, 440.5 vs 440 hz is a very noticeable 1/2 bps! (almost 2 cents). If you tune directly A4 to a 440 hz source you can by all means do a better job! Even without any further testings (F2 or B1)!





Edited by Gadzar (02/09/11 01:22 PM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1616163 - 02/09/11 01:19 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: Gadzar]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4789
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Gadzar:

Exact pitch is not important, properly tempered intervals are.

But shouldn’t the temperament be tuned to the note that all written music is referenced to, rather than some arbitrary international convention that is generally ignored? You know what note that is: C4, good ol’ middle C!
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1616174 - 02/09/11 01:40 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20765
Loc: Oakland
1/2 beat per second is not very noticeable. Even if it were, it depends on the context. There are very few people who could hear the difference between 440 and 440.5 if one were played, and then the other was played a few seconds afterwards. Some time ago a website was linked to on which it tested one's ability to distinguish that sort of difference, and they confirmed that few people can do it, and they were only testing whether one could hear whether one was higher or lower.
_________________________
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#1616236 - 02/09/11 03:14 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Mexico City
The standard is what it is as long as it will be. When it changes then I will change my procedure.

When we talk piano tuning, ACCURATY is a keyword. There are no permissions to be inaccurate on whatever you like!

I don't ignore the standard.

Why am I supposed to ignore it?
Only because you do?
Only because you say that it is generally ignored?
Only because you have the false perception that tuning from C will give a different tuning than tuning from A, even if what you claim to tune is "an exacting ET"?

C4?
Are you sure C4 is used?
In an orchestra, are instruments ever tuned to C4?

You are arguing just for the pleasure of arguing.

And as always, you have the feeling that rules were invented to have the others following them, not for you, you feel you are beyond rules, standards, etc. You can do what you want only because you want.

For me it is different. I earn my life tuning pianos. I get paid to do a job. And I do it. I put the pianos at A 440, I don't argue with my clients if C is a better note than A to set the pitch. I respect the standard.

Standards are always arbitrary, at least for some people. Their function is precisely to make different people (each one with its own unique and different idiosyncrasy) agree with each other.

When you take a measure of whatever dimension, you are forced to use standard units, otherwise you measurings are useless. The standard units are what they are, and you have to use as they were defined, like it or not.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1616244 - 02/09/11 03:27 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Mexico City
BDB,

1/2 bps is indeed very, very noticeable. When you set the pitch of a piano, you never hear first at the fork and then to the note.

You hear both at the same time otherwise there is no beating. 1/2 bps is a beat rate, and to hear a beat there must be two frequences sounding at the same time.

We tuners, tune always hearing two (at least) notes at once, when setting pitch, when tuning unisons, when tuning octaves, when tuning fifths and all other intervals. We never tune hearing at only one single string. Why? Because we tune hearing beat rates not frequences. With only one exception: ETD tuning, where we don´t hear nothing at all, we just see.




Edited by Gadzar (02/09/11 03:34 PM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

Top
#1616284 - 02/09/11 04:27 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20765
Loc: Oakland
Okay, if you think it is noticeable, that is fine.


Edited by Ken Knapp (02/10/11 07:50 AM)
Edit Reason: offensive comment removed.
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#1616318 - 02/09/11 05:19 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: Gadzar]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1540
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Originally Posted By: Gadzar

For my part, when I tune a piano, I put A4 at 440 hz +/- 0.2 cents, and from this single note, which I tune and retune as necessary, I tune the rest of the piano at any of the several temperaments I use to tune pianos, mostly ET, EBVT III, Moore, Broadwood Best, WM III and Young.

For WMIII you may reconsider having A=440. All notes will then be sharper than in ET and C and F will then end up about 10 cents sharp wrt ET. That's why ETD's have an option to tune the unequal temperaments at an A440 such that the average pitch remains the same.

Kees

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#1616357 - 02/09/11 06:29 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
For the Piano Technician Tuning exam the pitch is scored as follows: You get 1 cent for free. This means if your A is 1 cent sharp or flat (as measured by a calibrated ETD) you get 100% score.

After that each your difference of cents is multiplied times 10. For example if your A is 2.6 cents sharp, we subtract 1 to get 1.6 then multiply times 10 to get 16. 16 from 100 is 84, and that would be your score. If you are 3.9 cents off, you subtract a cent to get 2.9 and then multiply by 10 to get 29 which would give you a score of 71 which is a fail. You must score 80% or higher to pass the pitch section.

The A I tuned using C as a reference was 2.4 cents sharp. If it were an exam I'd get 1 cent for free giving me 1.4. Multiplied by 10 and subtracted from 100 would give me a score of 86. So my A would pass the pitch section.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1616372 - 02/09/11 06:46 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
For a piano to be "in tune" according to my way of thinking it has to meet the following criteria. They are also listed by priority. Notice stability and unisons are at the top of the list, exact pitch is at the bottom. If you can meet all this criteria you will have many happy tuning clients happy to pay good money for your services.

1. The unisons must be clean and solid under fff blows to the key.

2. The tuning pins are not left in a twisted or flexed position, and there should not be an excess or lack of tension in the strings between the capo/agraff and the tuning pin.

3. The octaves must be in tune and have at least some amount of stretch in the bass and treble. There is a range of acceptability based on the tastes of the tuner. At least 6:3 octaves in the bass, and 4:1 double octaves in the treble. (personally I go for fairly wide 6:3 in the low bass and a compromise between double and triple octave in the high treble).

4. All the intervals in the temperament should be musically pleasing: no harsh thirds or sixths, or fifths that are too narrow. ET fits this definition, but so do mild well temperaments such as EBVT3.

5. The pitch of the piano should be between A439.5 and A442. This is the range I feel comfortable with. Especially if the A439.5 is during the winter, and the 442 is during the summer or fall.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1616417 - 02/09/11 07:43 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Jeff, sorry, but you've totally lost me now. Pitch doesn't matter on a piano? Oh yes it does.

I just find it peculiar that you, by your own admission, are incredibly picky about your temperament (you described it as "probably to a fault" when we were talking about impact hammers). Why? If pitch doesn't matter because no note is going to stay where you put it, then why get so particular about temperament, RBI's, SBI's, et al?

For that matter, why try being accurate at all?

I tune to 440. When I'm done, I usually have A4 at 440 within 1 cent. Maybe I'm just so used to doing college work. They're super picky about stuff like that.
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DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1616422 - 02/09/11 07:48 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: Gadzar]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
The standard is what it is as long as it will be.


As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, "The standard is the standard!"

Quote:
For me it is different. I earn my life tuning pianos. I get paid to do a job. And I do it. I put the pianos at A 440, I don't argue with my clients if C is a better note than A to set the pitch. I respect the standard.


I agree. Piano owners pay me to tune their piano, not get philosophical.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1616544 - 02/09/11 10:31 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Loren,

Quote:
I agree. Piano owners pay me to tune their piano, not get philosophical.


I very much disagree with this philosophy that you are promoting. smile

Clients SAY they want a piano tuning, but I translate that to mean "I want my piano to be more fun to play". The vast majority of clients don't care about pitch being within 2 or 3 cents of A440. In fact no other instrument can maintain pitch at that level of accuracy: Violin players can't, horn players can't, woodwinds can't etc. It's not about "absolute pitch" it's always about THE MUSIC.

If I come to a piano that is in fairly good tune with itself but at 441.3, I may be able to touch it up in 20-30 minutes. Then I have all that time left over to work on voicing and other matters.

I talked with a prominent piano teacher recently about this. I asked her "would you prefer a perfectly tuned piano with somewhat uneven touch and voicing, or a beautifully regulated and voiced piano that's a little out of tune?" I'm sure you can guess the answer.

My last appointment this afternoon, I spent an hour pitch raising and tuning the piano, 10 minutes adjusting lost motion on keys, 30 minutes shaping hammers, and another 15 minutes adjusting the pedals and vacuuming the interior.

Then I played the piano a little for the owners. They were so pleased. Much more pleased than if I had given them a perfect tuning but had not done the other adjustments.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1616557 - 02/09/11 10:58 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20765
Loc: Oakland
Being at a different pitch is not the same as being out of tune. That said, there comes a point where the piano needs to be pretty close to some standard, or else it will get worse and worse.
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Semipro Tech

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#1616581 - 02/09/11 11:47 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3036
Loc: Madison, WI USA
I was going to put this on "What did you do today?" but since the discussion here has drifted to how important pitch is, I think it is more appropriate here. Out of the usual four pianos, I tuned two today at two different schools, one exclusive private school, the other a public.

The private school had a nice, Kawai RX-1 grand. It was last tuned in August and at that time, I wrote about it being 30 something cents sharp. I did my usual two step process, a pitch correction, then fine tuning. Really, any piano that far off and any piano not anywhere near that far off could use at least three passes which indeed, may have actually made it easier.

The first pitch lowering pass in August was done at standard pitch but the piano rose back to +6 cents at which it was tuned. Today, the same piano measured -32.4 cents!!! I did the very same; first pass at standard pitch which sunk to -6 cents and it was fine tuned there. I also had to ease several sticking keys and decided to "wet lube" the key pins and the damper wires which were "howling" when the damper pedal was depressed.

Apparently, the humid season left these metal surfaces rough. In the dry season, they were abrasive. The treble end of the keybed also knocked, so I had to adjust the studs. The damper pedal also had too much lost motion in it, so I had to adjust it. As usual, dust and debris had collected in only six months, so did pencils and pens in the action cavity. All were cleaned, as usual. I have been taking care of this piano for a few years now. If I had never cleaned it, it would be a frightful mess by now!

The piano teacher saw me as I arrived and said that they had requested funds for a humidity control system but had yet to receive them. I cannot imagine how anyone could have been using this piano for lessons on a daily basis! Whatever I did six months ago could not have lasted more than a month and got worse with each month thereafter. The pitch went from +6 to standard and on down to below -30 cents. The A2-A3 octave had to be heard to be imagined! It was the very same, only oppositely wide then as it was narrow today.

If, in August, I had insisted upon tuning the piano to standard pitch, it would have been yet another 6 cents lower today and the point at which it had reached standard would have only come earlier. The range of pitch, as it is, has been more than 60 cents from sharp to flat. If I had insisted upon tuning the piano today at A-440, by May, it would be well above that. If I had tuned it, as some Europeans seem to prefer to 442 or 443, by next August, it would be around 50 cents sharp! Imagine the stress on the soundboard and bridges!

The Yamaha P-22 (studio vertical) at the public school, on the other hand, had humidity control and had not been tuned in two years. Its wicks surely needed changing but the pitch was only 2 cents flat and was raised to standard. All of the capstans needed adjustment and got it. The Yamaha P-22, not having been tuned in 2 years but with humidity control, took only an hour, including capstan adjustment. The Kawai grand, with no humidity control tuned only six months ago, took more than 90 minutes.

This morning, the 7 AM temperature outside was -8º F. (-22.2º C.). Tomorrow, the predicted 7 o'clock commute time temperature will be -13º F. (-25º C.). Indoor humidity would be 15-20% at best. Whole house or building humidification systems, if they are present at all, back off for these low temperatures. Piano soundboard cracks open widely in response. Pitch plummets.

I often find that people who have the fabulous "April Air" system have set it to 20 or 25% when they saw their windows fogging up during extremely low temperatures but forgot to raise it back after that when the weather moderated. Of course, when their piano goes drastically out of tune, the first thing they say is, "But we have April Air!"

The only implication, of course is that YOUR tuning SLIPPED! They will gladly stand by with their hands on their hips as you re-set each of the tuning pins that you did not tune (in their estimation) carefully enough last time, for free, of course, since they PAID to have the piano tuned only two months ago. They have April Air! They would not need that "water thing" in the piano! Besides, they had heard from the local dealer (who is now out of business) that the "water thing" would void the piano's warranty!

Yet, by the week end, a thaw is predicted here. The "Ground Hog Day" forecast was for an early Spring. We can easily have warm temperatures soon that will cause flooding from melting snows of which huge mounds lie about everywhere at this time.

By May, all of this cold and dry weather will have been forgotten and everyone will be in shorts and sandals with doors and windows wide open. Thunderstorms and high humidity will prevail. That will continue through and into October. Then, the whole process begins over again. Customers will again complain about a piano going markedly out of tune in a short period of time.

Oh, so many times, I have heard the question, "How could a piano go sharp?! I always thought they went flat when they went out of tune!" "Humidity? What does humidity have to do with it? By looking at the piano, it seems that most of it is made of metal. How would humidity have any effect on that?"

What would YOU do under such circumstances? Would you beat your brains out over every last tenth of a cent of pitch when you know that in a week's time, whatever you had beaten your brains out over would surely have been destroyed by then? If not in a week, then how about a month, two, three, or six months? What would you do today if you knew for certain that whatever pitch you tuned the piano to, it would be 30 or more cents sharper or flatter in only a few short months? 30 cents! Not 3 cents, not 0.3 cents, 30 cents! (Or more!)

If you beat your brains out to tune a piano in a concert hall to exactly standard pitch, only to have the house personnel fling open the overhead door for a large shipment in zero degree weather, (Fahrenheit or Celsius, it hardly matters any more), then turn hot stage lights upon the piano which you have so carefully tuned, would that very last tenth of a cent ever really mattered at all? Would 2 cents matter? Would 4 cents matter? Wouldn't all you can do when you can do it really be the answer? Followed by, "See you soon"?

I only speak from many years of experience in this.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1616607 - 02/10/11 12:43 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Mexico City
Maybe my english is not good enough to exactly express my ideas, or maybe there are other bizarre things cashed behind the words posted by some guys here, but almost all the people posting here are piano technicians and know well what I am talking about.

All of us, including BDB, know how to set the pitch of a piano, and in spite of what he said:

Originally Posted By: BDB
1/2 beat per second is not very noticeable. Even if it were, it depends on the context. There are very few people who could hear the difference between 440 and 440.5 if one were played, and then the other was played a few seconds afterwards.


all of us, I insist: including BDB, are able to set the pitch with a better accuraty than 1/2 bps, and if anyone is not able to do so, then, in my opinion, he/she shouldn't be tuning pianos.

The point I am questioning here is the validity of a procedure which uses a C to set the pitch instead of an A which is the standard. That´s all. It is that simple.



Edited by Gadzar (02/10/11 12:47 AM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

Top
#1616644 - 02/10/11 02:52 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Gadzar,

Your English is fine. We get the message: you believe every piano should be tuned to between 440hz plus or minus .2 cents. That's the great thing about working for ourselves. We get to make decisions about how we want to run our businesses. thumb

Originally Posted By: gadzar
all of us, I insist: including BDB, are able to set the pitch with a better accuraty than 1/2 bps, and if anyone is not able to do so, then, in my opinion, he/she shouldn't be tuning pianos.


I'm sure many of us CAN set A to 440hz and get it to within half a bps. Sometimes we choose to, and other times we choose not to. Its a judgement call, and as piano technicians we have to make these kind of decisions on every piano we service.

Why are you so hung up on this idea of a standard? There is no 11th commandment that says "Thou shalt always tune to A440 within .2 cents!" The Piano Technicians Guild is the only organization in North America that has a published standard for piano tuning, and the standard is A440 plus or minus 3 cents.

Your position reinforces a theory that I have had that ETD users focus too much on pitch. High quality aural tuners are more interested in intonation and voicing. Why? Because that's where the $$ and respect is my friend. wink Touch and tone are what the client is interested in. So... when I come to a 15 year-old Samick that is at 442 but reasonably in well tune with itself, I think "this is my chance to really wow the customer". While you're still turning pins, I'm reducing string cuts, needling shoulders, and fitting hammers to strings. cool

I've become addicted to the phrases: "My piano's never sounded so good!" and "My last tuner never did what you're doing". grin They are music to my ears! So go ahead and proclaim from your high horse that you are a superior piano tuner because your A4s are dead on 440 plus or minus .2 cents. As for me, I'm not willing to sacrifice my customers money to such a false god. tiki
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1616696 - 02/10/11 07:37 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: UnrightTooner]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4789
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Jeff, sorry, but you've totally lost me now. Pitch doesn't matter on a piano? Oh yes it does.

…..


Let’s keep what I say in the context it was written:

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Gadzar:

Exact pitch is not important, properly tempered intervals are.

…..


Of course pitch matters, but the exact pitch does not. If the exact pitch mattered there would be a lot more Damppchasers installed, or pianists would sit down at their piano and say “Oh my, I cannot play today. My piano is not at exact pitch!” Or worse yet, acoustical pianos would never have been popular because exact pitch and a harmonious sound are incompatible with inharmonicity.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1616698 - 02/10/11 07:39 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: rysowers]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Ryan, I understand what you are saying. Where I take issue is with the statement that the starting pitch just doesn't matter. It does!
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1616699 - 02/10/11 07:40 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4789
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Gadzar:

No one is telling you what to do or even criticising what you do. However, you certainly are doing this to others.

And yes, I do toss out some odd points to ponder. The technique is called "reductio ad absurdum."
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1616737 - 02/10/11 09:08 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3036
Loc: Madison, WI USA
If I took my tuning fork out and used it right away after being in the car all night in what is even colder than it was predicted, -15º F. (-26.11º C.), it would be closer to 441 than 440.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1616799 - 02/10/11 10:46 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
No problem Bill, starting pitch doesn't matter. Just set a good temp. smile

You're right though. I bring my tools inside every night for that reason, and also to prevent theft. There's always calibrated electronic reference too.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1616823 - 02/10/11 11:13 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: Loren D]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Ryan, I understand what you are saying. Where I take issue is with the statement that the starting pitch just doesn't matter. It does!


Of course starting pitch matters! smile I think the argument is over what an appropriate degree of accuracy is. For some, the level of accuracy is .2 cents. For others, 2 or 3 cents is OK in many circumstances. In some circumstances I'm OK with as much as 8 cents.

It would be NICE if it were practical to leave every piano dead-on 440, but according to my priorities as a technician it doesn't always serve my client the best way possible.

As an aural tuner I think a .2 cent resolution seems like taking things too far because it is beyond what even sensitive musicians can hear. I liken it to framing a house and checking everything with a micrometer. wink

I'll admit, I was more in line with the "440.0 or die!" mentality during my first several years as a technician. As I moved into my second decade and my other skills developed, I found through the experience of servicing pianos for many thousands of clients, that absolute pitch was not as critical as I first thought, and thus it moved to a lower spot on my priority list.


Edited by rysowers (02/10/11 11:15 AM)
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1617009 - 02/10/11 03:15 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: rysowers]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3036
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Originally Posted By: rysowers


It would be NICE if it were practical to leave every piano dead-on 440, but according to my priorities as a technician it doesn't always serve my client the best way possible.

As an aural tuner I think a .2 cent resolution seems like taking things too far because it is beyond what even sensitive musicians can hear. I liken it to framing a house and checking everything with a micrometer. wink


Ryan,

I totally agree with your first paragraph quoted here. When you have conditions as extreme as they are here now, forcing pitch on a piano that can't take is destructive.

I lost a school account many years ago because I went in to a Baldwin Hamilton at this time of year and did what it took to get the piano to pitch. The teacher called me later and said that soon after I left, she heard a loud "pop" and saw a crack in the soundboard that had not been there before. She said, "I think you turned those tuning pins too fast and too hard and now the soundboard is cracked because of it".

I went in with the idea that this piano was used for music instruction and therefore, pitch was the most important thing. But was it, really? There used to be an old tuner around here who was often known to say, "What do you want, music or trouble?" When the air is only 15% Relative Humidity, the soundboard is under extreme stress as it is.

What it takes to raise the pitch of a piano that is 20 to 30 cents flat greatly increases the stress on the soundboard and bridges. There is also and increased risk of breaking strings and even the cast iron plate.

If raising the pitch all the way does not damage the piano now, it may, in fact do it later. A regularly tuned piano that is 30 cents flat now will be 30 cents sharp in six months. This is what can distort strings, crack bridges and cause false beats. The soundboard will again be overly stressed, develop compression ridges and then crack when it dries out again.

The second paragraph makes me think about how silly the notion of "perfect pitch" is. There really is no such thing. Once, when I was singing in the local symphony chorus, we had a piece for which there was no introduction by the orchestra. Both orchestra and chorus started on the first measure and notes of the piece, so the vocalists had no pitch clue. The conductor asked me to use the Korg type device used by the oboist to discreetly play the starting tone just before the beginning of the piece for the benefit of the vocalists.

This was one of those devices that could recognize any pitch and display how flat or sharp the pitch was of standard at any time. The orchestra was professional and sounded good. Yet, what I saw from the Korg was that pitches were virtually never "standard" but swung randomly sharp and flat by as much as 20 cents. They certainly weren't playing in ET!

So, as Ryan says, it is nice to be able to tune the piano exactly to standard pitch when it is a prudent thing to do or a performance requirement but in many other cases, it does not render the best service to the client. Under many circumstances, it is exactly the wrong thing to do!
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1617126 - 02/10/11 06:25 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Mexico City
I've understood the point here. I appreciate the efforts you've made to make things clear to me. I agree with Ryan and Bill that there are more important things than the pitch in the interests of the client and for the sake of the piano.

And yes I can better use my time in working on the tone of the piano if I let it where I found it instead of wasting my time in a pitch raise.

In that sense, the difference if we take C as the source of pitch instead of A is negligible.

I guess I am too square minded and have not enough experience to correctly prioritize different issues in our job.

I will continue to use A as the starting point. And I will continue to strive for a dead on 440 pitch if I am going to pitch correct a piano, but I will consider if it would be better to let the piano where it is instead of blindly raising or lowering pitch to A 440.

Thank you very much for your time and patience. You have given me a valuable lesson.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1617139 - 02/10/11 06:41 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Next time Jim Brickman comes back around and requests his piano to be tuned to A440, I'll be sure to tell him that's not possible. smile

*edit* I'll also be sure to tell him it doesn't matter, and that he's silly for thinking that it does!


Edited by Loren D (02/10/11 06:42 PM)
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1617144 - 02/10/11 06:45 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Actually, this brings to mind a story of a tech around here. I was to tune a fairly new Yamaha grand at a high school one day, but ended up being really sick and having to cancel. So they called another tech. Soon as he got there, he told them the piano couldn't be tuned to A440 and listed a myriad of reasons, all of which were ridiculous. This was for a concert. The piano needed to be at 440 for *that night*. Nope. Said the best he could do was 443. The music director at the school to this day still jokes about it when he calls me to tune; "Now remember, you CAN'T tune it to 440!"
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1617246 - 02/10/11 09:36 PM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Loren, Gadzar, Bill, Ryan and everybody else participating in this most educating thread - I think this is a great conversation, because it deals with the first choice we have to make, every single time... Where is the piano at, and where should we leave it?

My environmental conditions are very much like those of Bill (yes, -25 C here now too), but there is another thing that makes it even more confusing. "Classical" pitch, where I live, is A4=442 (even A4=443), whereas band/jazz settings often ask for 440.

I never alter the pitch of a customer piano that is being tuned once a twice a year, unless I'm dead sure on how the climate will "finish" my work. I'll tune A4=440 or 442 in the right week of October or April for these customers too, but never in the Summer or Winter.

A 440/442 tuning in early summer will result in 443/446 in August, just as a 440/442 tuning in August will result in 436/438 in December.

The only instruments I try to keep at a reasonably constant pitch are the ones I tune a minimum than 4 times a year. Jazz settings 440, classical work 442.

This week I tuned three instruments to A4=442 for rehearsals and concert, Chamber sinfonietta + piano. The woodwind players over here have their "tessatura pitch" at A=442, so it had to be done. Its -20 C below, rH at 10%, these pianos have to be followed very carefully this Spring, otherwise they might end up (and I kid you not) at a pitch of A4=450+.

The pianos tuned for concert 8+ times a year I always bring to exact pitch. The others not, because pianos do not shift uniformly, as you know. Surprisingly high top wounded strings, first plain wires waaay low. Most of these 1-2-tunings-a-year-customers do not react upon pitch nuances that much, but they cry out if three different sections of the piano are in three different keys simoultaneously smile




Edited by pppat (02/11/11 04:28 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
_________________________
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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#1617343 - 02/11/11 01:03 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: ivorycanary]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2245
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Ken, I saw the offending sentence...glad you removed it, as I did not think it was appropriate either.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we don't have these huge swings in humidity like you have in other parts of the country....thank heavens!! lf anything, in winter, we usually have more humidity than the norm. The piano would benefit from a Damp-chaser, but I don't have the room underneath due to the player systems.

A440 is the norm for me.

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#1617381 - 02/11/11 02:22 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: Grandpianoman]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Darn! I missed the offending sentence! Oh well, maybe next time...

In regards to the Pacific Northwest, I frequently measure indoor humidity throughout the year and find that during the coldest months it usually doesn't dip below 35% and typically runs around 40-45% RH. In the summer when the heat is off it generally climbs up to 65-70% but can jump up higher if we get some warm rains.

Grandpianoman - you say A440 is the norm for you, but how do you know unless you measure it frequently? smile It may be 440.2 when the tuner leaves, but 3 weeks later it might be 440.8 or 439.6. A couple of months later when things warm up it could climb up to 441.3, but after a couple of weeks of cold weather you might find it at 438.8.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1617478 - 02/11/11 07:33 AM Re: 4ths and 5ths, I love 'em [Re: rysowers]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4789
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: rysowers
Darn! I missed the offending sentence! Oh well, maybe next time...


Now it would do no good to go into this all over again. It is best to ignore the edit so that the problem will go away. wink
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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