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#1672923 - 05/07/11 07:27 AM Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning.
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
I have a new-to-me piano. It is 7 years old, arrived safe and sound in October, sounded lovely, and gradually started shifting a bit out of tune over the winter. I waited til the heating was turned off (we have no control over the heat in the building). Called the tuner and set the appt.
He came on the 30th of April - 1 week today. He tuned, and it seemed to be ok - but that very afternoon, I noticed some of the notes wobbling - by Sunday many of the notes were not holding true and I called him Monday to ask him to come back.
He did, and he seemed very concerned and willing to be sure I would be content, and pleased with my tuning.

He said I have a very sensitive ear and most people wouldn't notice some of the things I picked up.

After he left, the piano seemed ok for the rest of the day but then again, it started to wobble. I have "wooooAAAAooooo" sounds on many of the notes, and on some - specifically in the bass portion, there is an "echo" after the keys are released. It sounds like the "woowwwoooooo" you hear if you rub a wet finger on the rim of a wine glass. This was NOT present before he worked on the piano. Some of the treble notes sound tinny and they are definitely "clashing" in combinations that I commonly use for my playing. These are pieces that I know really well, and I know what they should sound like.

If I hit the notes quickly, "some" of these problems are not obvious, but if I hit and linger, they are obvious. (note: I'm currently treating a tendonitis issue so pretty much EVERYTHING I'm playing is very slow and lingering on notes!)

We have not had big fluctuations in temperature, it hasn't rained, I don't pound my keys (he hit them a lot harder than I ever have when he did the tuning).

He is supposed to call me today to set up another appointment and I am starting to wonder if I want him to come back.

Surely, in a fairly stable environment, over a period of less than 24 hours! a tuning should hold? This is not a brand new piano, nor is it old, it has been very well maintained.
I know what it sounded like before he touched it - and even though it was slightly out of tune before, it was better than it is now!!!
It actually grates on my ears to play it now.

I know I'm new to piano - but I know what my piano sounded like before, and I know what it sounded like when it was delivered, - surely my expectation that it will sound the way it did before is not unrealistic?

I am also wondering if it is possible that he is doing some damage to my piano?

May I ask your for your opinions?
1. can he damage it?
2. should I have him back? - he is a very nice man, but I don't know if he is a good tuner (in theory he should be, he was recommended to me by the shop where I bought the piano and they are very reputable - but given the state of my piano right now, I have my doubts.)
3. how many times is it reasonable to have him come back ?

I am hugely upset with this - to the point where I don't even want to play the piano, it is making me so unhappy and frustrated... and I have made it a point to play every single day since I started playing!


_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1672975 - 05/07/11 10:16 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
You did not state the name or style of the piano just that it is 7 years old.

Pianos have thousands of parts in them. I've seen Steinway advertise that "if it doesn't have 12,000 some odd parts, then it isn't a Steinway." You'd be surprised at what was there BEFORE the tuning and was still there AFTER the tuning on many pianos. Often times, people expect (I'm not saying you are doing this but, it seems by your description that you might be the way you describe it "the bass has an echo after the keys are released) that a tuning will eliminate all problems and is a cure all when all a tuning does is to adjust pitch and tension on the piano wires and the structure of the piano. Tuning can clean up the piano to the point that problems that were masked before by an out of tune piano, are now more easily heard afterward.

It could very well be the piano was way flat of pitch too in which case, no, it might not hold tuning for all that long.

Lots of things affect a pianos tuning and very quickly at that. Ceiling fans or, any fan for that matters. Heat, central air conditioning. Windows opened after the piano was tuned allowing a breeze to come through, doors opened and closed etc., etc., etc.

It could also be a voicing issue. Most customers do not understand what tuning does verses voicing and so, they think it is a tuning problem when in fact, it could very well be that voicing is what ails ya.. smile Either way, you need to communicate in understandable terms as best you can with your technician what YOU are hearing or what you think you are hearing because we all go by how you describe it before we begin to look at or where the problem might be. For example, when you say "some of the treble notes sound tinny and clashing" describes to me, possibly a voicing issue.

Could it be the tuner? Sure it could! I dare say, there are more lousy tuners in the world than there are good ones. At least that is my experience.

I would be more apt to say that after the piano was tuned, you may have gone over the piano (more or less) with a fine toothed comb checking everything out at which time you noticed some other issues that you did not realize were there before and therefore, the tuner gets blamed...."it wasn't there or it didn't do it before you tuned it." When in fact, it really was there but, you just didn't notice it before. wink

When I am called to tune a piano, I tune it. If time allows, I might also fix a few things depending on what it is but, I will most certainly adjust pedals if they need it along with other smaller issues again, if time allows, but, for the most part, I was called to "tune it" so that is what I plan for with an additional 30 minutes for anything extra that I might encounter that I can do at that given time. Otherwise an estimate is left for future work.

For example; yesterday, I tuned a Story & Clark console that the lady had just acquired from her family. The last tuner had a string break during a pitch raise. Notice, the string broke, he, didn't break "it." However, the idiot, did not fix the string, instead, he took the string out of the piano rather than at least leaving it in for someone else to properly fix which creates an even greater expense for the customer.

I looked the piano over as I tuned it finding it between 1/4 tone and 1/2 tone flat. I raised it up to pitch and, no other strings broke either by the way. I found sticking keys, very worn hammers, regulation issues, many voicing problems, worn dampers etc. When I was finished tuning, not only did I write all of these things down for my own records "just in case" but I also went over everything with the customer so they understood that there were many things that needed addressing sometime in the future. I gave her an estimate, gave my suggestions on the subject and went on from there to my next job.

Write down all of your issues, think about it and then call your technician with a detailed description of what you do not like. That will allow them to set ample time aside to address some issues and talk about it with you. After he arrives, go over it with him again and see where it proceeds from there.

The pedal echo could be something as simple as a pedal adjustment.

One more thing, most of the time, additional fixes are not usually free either. Some are, depending on the time it takes but, most are not including voicing, hammer filing, regulation repairs and much more. smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1672989 - 05/07/11 10:51 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Thank you for your reply Jerry.
The piano is a Yamaha P112 N.

The tuner said that my piano was not very badly out of tune when he started working on it. I asked him. Maybe he was being polite? I don't know.

I'm not trying to slam him - I think he is a very nice person and he said he was willing to work with me - he said it was my piano and he wanted to get it to sound the way I wanted it to sound. I felt very calm when he was here - but then when he left and within 24 hours it sounds different than when he was here....I'm confused. And very upset and don't know how to evaluate what he does except by what I hear.

I appreciate I may not grasp the complete difference between voicing and tuning, though I do have some idea of what you mean. We did talk about that when he was here the first time and he did a tiny bit of needling on one hammer, and I could hear the difference.

You are right, that yes, I probably have been over the piano with a fine tooth comb. It is possible that some of the issues were there before and I had never noticed them. But not all.

I realize that there are costs if I want more work done - and I don't expect people to work for free.

One of the reasons I am writing here is to get some perspective. He already came back once and didn't charge me - What is reasonable?
I truly feel the piano isn't right and yet I have no way of saying with certainty that he did a poor job.

If it is a voicing issue I would be willing to pay for further work - but I am sure you can understand I'm reluctant to pay more when I feel that the first payment didn't get me what I expected.

I find myself in a situation where I don't have the experience to understand where the line changes from acceptable to unacceptable.

The tuner told me when he came back that it was in the acceptable range and that I had a very sensitive ear -most people wouldn't have notice what I did. My teacher said I had a very sensitive ear too.

I will start writing down notes to go over with him and try to clarify what the root of these issues is.
_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1673011 - 05/07/11 11:36 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Caveat: without actually seeing or hearing your piano or the environment it's in, all I can go on are general ideas.

That said, unisons shouldn't be warbling 24 hours after tuning. As Jerry said, they can and do when a significant change in pitch is made. I alert the customer to that and strongly recommend a retuning at 3 or 6 months, depending on how drastic the change is. From the sound of it, though, the tech said the piano wasn't that far off?
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1673012 - 05/07/11 11:36 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Yamaha's generally tune up very well. They are one of my favorite pianos to tune. If indeed, the piano was not very far off from pitch or out of tune, then no, it should not go out of tune within 24 hours.

If he said it wasn't very badly out, then I guess, it probably wasn't? What bothers me, is that if, there were further issues with your piano that needed addressing, such as voicing, he should have mentioned some of it or at the very least then, on the 2nd visit, explain it in detail to you. Although, we don't always mention them on our first visit. You see, what you like in voicing, could very well be completely different from what I like in voicing and so if I tune your piano and nothing was mentioned about voicing, and I do ask "is everything alright with the piano? No specific things I should be made aware of" and if the customer says, everything is fine, then I leave voicing alone. That is, unless something nasty sticks out. Then, I will either just fix it, if it is a relatively easy fix and not to time consuming, or, I will make mention of it, explaining and showing what needs to be done and then plan another trip to work on it if the customer would like the work done. Obviously, there is no way to know until we see the piano how much time is required. That is why I plan on tuning only (more or less) for the first visit, to get to know the piano first and the client.

It could be too that, 'that tuner' cannot or does not grasp voicing himself. Many tuners do not as it is complex and difficult. It can be very time consuming to get it right.

I would say that if after the 2nd visit, he is unable to satisfy you, then it's time to get another opinion.

Yes, I agree, that it is difficult for you as the consumer to determine if in fact, the tuner is capable or not. Of course, from here, I can only guess as to what the problem might be without seeing the piano.

Many tuners live their lives squeaking by. They are extremely nice people which is meaningless when it comes to knowledge about pianos, when in all reality, they do very lousy work. Their true ability can only be determined by if he can satisfy you (or by another technician) and if the piano really does hold a tune provided the above mentioned things by me are not taking place, ceiling fans turned on after the tuning etc. It could be possible too that the piano has loose tuning pins which will not allow it to hold tune. If this is the case, the tuner should notify you immediately about it.

Some customers do have much better ears than others! That can be nice and not so nice. You will notice it sooner than most people will. If you heard the pianos tuning like we hear it, you would be tuning it at least a couple of times a week for sure although, I don't tune mine that often! I hate tuning my own piano too! smile

I would be interested in reading what you write down too if you feel like posting them all. I have leave for a few hours in a little while but, I may have time to address them later on today briefly before I have to do other things again. It is one of those weekends for me. Fun and not so fun! smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1673021 - 05/07/11 12:01 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Of course I don't expect concrete answers when you can't hear the piano (though you know I'm tempted to record it smile )

I am doing my best to educate myself but obviously I'm new and it takes time....
Originally Posted By: loren d
unisons shouldn't be warbling 24 hours after tuning.

Well, that's what I thought. Just to clarify though, some of the wobbly notes (lovely technical term wobbly) are in the bass strings with only one cord, therefore, that should not be a question of unisons. If I understand correctly unisons only apply to multi-string notes?

Also, I don't believe a change in pitch was made. I have a limited repertoire but I play my pieces over and over and over. I would know if it had been raised or lowered globally. (I know you can't compare tuning a guitar to the complexity of tuning a piano, but there are inherent similarities and yes, I can tune my guitar).

Originally Posted By: jerry
If he said it wasn't very badly out, then I guess, it probably wasn't?

It was out, but not stunningly. I was still playing it without cringing. Now I cringe.

Originally Posted By: jerry

What bothers me, is that if, there were further issues with your piano that needed addressing, such as voicing, he should have mentioned some of it or at the very least then, on the 2nd visit, explain it in detail to you. Although, we don't always mention them on our first visit. You see, what you like in voicing, could very well be completely different from what I like in voicing and so if I tune your piano and nothing was mentioned about voicing, I may not mention it either assuming that you are satisfied with it.


He said that what he liked in a tuning could be different from what another tuner would like or what I would like - but he didn't say voicing, he said tuning.
BTW - he is Italian, but we were speaking in English 90% of the time. I will allow a small margin for communication issues but I truly don't feel that at any point he didn't understand me or I didn't understand him.

Originally Posted By: jerry

That is why I plan on tuning only (more or less) for the first visit, to get to know the piano first and the client.


That sounds perfectly logical to me, and had we discussed this I wouldn't be upset - but the first and second time he left we were both of the mind that I wouldn't be seeing him for a few months.

Originally Posted By: jerry

I would say that if after the 2nd visit, he is unable to satisfy you, then it's time to get another opinion.


It is now coming up 6pm my time and he hasn't called me. I doubt he will today. That is a further disappointment.
I will call the shop on Monday and explain what has happened and ask them to come out.
Should I be asking them to check for defects? I am at a bit of a loss.
I will also contact the tuner and tell him I don't want him to come back.

I will ask the shop if I have to use a tuner they recommend. - I am under guarantee so maybe I do. In anycase I think I'd like them to look at it before calling in someone else. I'll get my teacher to help me with the call on Monday - she has an excellent relationship with them and she can help me manage it without accidentally giving offense (they don't speak English and while my Italian is very good, I do tend to make a lot of errors when I get emotionally worked up! )

I haven't got a ceiling fan. I do have an AC unit wall mounted, high up (10 ft ceilings) but it hasn't been turned on. Given that the piano held its tune from when it was delivered, I am thinking it should hold now........

Also as you mentioned, if the tuning pins were loose, he should have told me.

I am starting to think that I would indeed like to be able to tune it myself - and I know that many do. For the moment I'm too nervous about it to go there, but I think in the future I'd like to learn.
I was ready to tune before Christmas but for a number of reasons had to put it off til now.

I would be pleased to put my notes down in the post. I'd like to try to use terms that would be understood by professionals rather than trying to write my sound effects - are there some good sites that give straight forward explanations of terms? Or are there sites with sound bites of problems?


Many thanks
_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1673029 - 05/07/11 12:15 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
A "wobbly" bass unichord would be the result of falseness within the string, which no amount of tuning will correct, as opposed to a bichord or trichord with strings slightly out with each other.

It's extremely doubtful that anything the tech did would have caused or heightened that with just tuning, I would say.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1673097 - 05/07/11 02:03 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3336
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: casinitaly

We have not had big fluctuations in temperature, it hasn't rained, I don't pound my keys (he hit them a lot harder than I ever have when he did the tuning).


Just thought I'd mention that this is quite normal. Most tuners strike the keys quite forcefully to help the string settle and equalise the tension in all portions of the string. It helps to stabilise pitch and won't damage anything. Just thought you should know that in case you thought it was a bad sign.

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#1673099 - 05/07/11 02:07 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1056
Loc: PA
Just to add a little to the excellent advice above...

Is the piano located in such a position that the sun hits it for a few hours during the day? Possibly on the back?

Even if the sun does not hit the piano, perhaps a different location in the room will help. Sometimes, pianos can be quite sensitive to things that are not obvious to us. I have seen previously stable pianos become unstable (and vice versa) when moved to a different spot in the same room. Yet, there were no obvious reasons (like being in front of a heating vent, etc.).
If it's not too difficult in your situation, it might be worth a try.

According to weather.com, the weather in Milan is averaging about 80 degrees during the day and around 60 degrees at night. A 20 degree fluctuation could certainly affect the tuning. However, I would expect the piano to come back into tune the next day. That is, if the piano was tuned at 4 PM when it was 80 degrees, it wouldn't be surprising to find the unisons out a little at 6AM when it's 60 degrees. But at 4 PM, the piano should again be very close. However, the tuning might not last as long under these circumstances.

If all else fails, you could try a Dammp-Chaser system.

Good luck!
-Joe


Edited by daniokeeper (05/07/11 02:23 PM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1673118 - 05/07/11 02:28 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: daniokeeper]
Roy Rodgers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 344
Loc: Ranger, Texas
This "wobbling" of the note is when it is played by itself, or when either an octave above is played with it, or other notes played with it?

If a single string in the bass "wobbles" when played alone then Loren is right on. The string has something going on in it, and no amount of "tuning" it will help.

Is it primarily in the bass that this is happening? Or is the rest of the piano doing the same thing?


Edited by Roy Rodgers (05/07/11 02:29 PM)
_________________________
Tuning and repairing pianos since 1981 in Ranger, Tx. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roys-Piano-Service/173273022711505

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#1673124 - 05/07/11 02:35 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: Loren D]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Originally Posted By: Loren D
A "wobbly" bass unichord would be the result of falseness within the string, which no amount of tuning will correct, as opposed to a bichord or trichord with strings slightly out with each other.

It's extremely doubtful that anything the tech did would have caused or heightened that with just tuning, I would say.


Perhaps I haven't used the best term to describe what is happening. I hit the key, the note starts out aaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo For what I'm hearing, I'm fairly certain this is the tuning not holding - because it was my major complaint with A2 after the first time he was here, and he fixed it.

Originally Posted By: ando

Just thought I'd mention that this is quite normal. Most tuners strike the keys quite forcefully to help the string settle and equalise the tension in all portions of the string. It helps to stabilise pitch and won't damage anything. Just thought you should know that in case you thought it was a bad sign.


Thanks, that was kind of you. It did make me a bit edgey to hear him do it, but I didn't actually think it would hurt the piano.

Originally Posted By: daniokeeper


Is the piano located in such a position that the sun hits it for a few hours during the day? Possibly on the back?

It does get a bit of sun in the late afternoon - on the front. I try to keep the shades down, but there really isn't another place it will fit without being a problem for the neighbours on our common wall.

Originally Posted By: dainokeeper

According to weather.com, the weather in Milan is averaging about 80 degrees during the day and around 60 degrees at night. A 20 degree fluctuation could certainly affect the tuning. However, I would expect the piano to come back into tune the next day. That is, if the piano was tuned at 4 PM when it was 80 degrees, it wouldn't be surprising to find the unisons out a little at 6AM when it's 60 degrees. But at 4 PM, the piano should again be very close. However, the tuning might not last as long under these circumstances.


I'm not actually in Milan smile We are close, but it is an agricultural area, there are a lot of farms, we have our own little microclimate.
The temp in the apartment has been pretty steady - there's no way there have been 20 degree fluctuations. I do know what you mean though because in the autumn I did notice the piano floating a bit in and out of tune with the rainy weather. But it did tend to float back to pretty much where it started.

Originally Posted By: roy rogers

This "wobbling" of the note is when it is played by itself, or when either an octave above is played with it, or other notes played with it?

It wobbles alone and with other notes. When I play an octave there is a sort of wa-wa-wa-wa- sound.

Thank you all for your questions, comments and willingness to help out.
I'm really trying to understand what is going on and what to do. Your help is greatly appreciated.

(oh... and btw... he never called me today, it is 8.30 pm my time. I don't take this as a positive sign!)
_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1673193 - 05/07/11 06:01 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
Wa-wa-wa when you play an octave sounds like an out of tune octave to me. A single string doing the same thing would to me indicate a problem with the string or termination (false beats).
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1673248 - 05/07/11 08:28 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Should I be asking them to check for defects? I am at a bit of a loss.
I will also contact the tuner and tell him I don't want him to come back.


Oh, I'm not so sure that I would jump to a conclusion that the piano has defects. From what I've read so far, I tend to lean toward it actually being out of tune and in need of some voicing. But, I am not convinced that it is the tuners fault just yet...

Quote:
It does get a bit of sun in the late afternoon - on the front. I try to keep the shades down, but there really isn't another place it will fit without being a problem for the neighbours on our common wall.


This COULD BE your entire problem. Your original description stated that as the day progressed, the tuning seemed to get worse. Sun, shining on a piano anywhere, will make it go out of tune almost immediately. I have a few clients like that and if the sun is shining on the piano while I am tuning it, it is nearly impossible to keep the piano in tune because of the heat of the direct sun light.

Quote:
(oh... and btw... he never called me today, it is 8.30 pm my time. I don't take this as a positive sign!)


Maybe he took the day off or went away for the weekend? I went on a 3 week vacation last month. When I returned, I had one person rather irate because I hadn't returned any of her calls. It never dawned on her that maybe I was on vacation. smile Probably not the case with this person but, you can always find out Monday by calling the shop where you bought the piano. smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1673281 - 05/07/11 10:54 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1540
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
I'm keeping the piano of my kids school in tune for their end of year concert practices and touched it up twice a week just 15 mins before I pick up the kids. Until they finally managed to keep the blinds closed of the window that would let the morning sun shine on it. I had to befriend the janitor to make that happen.

Since then it's been 100% stable, I still check a couple of times a week. (Nothing but the best for my kids. :))

My 2 cents.

Kees

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#1673289 - 05/07/11 11:12 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1056
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Quote:

[quote]It does get a bit of sun in the late afternoon - on the front. I try to keep the shades down, but there really isn't another place it will fit without being a problem for the neighbours on our common wall.


This COULD BE your entire problem. Your original description stated that as the day progressed, the tuning seemed to get worse. Sun, shining on a piano anywhere, will make it go out of tune almost immediately. I have a few clients like that and if the sun is shining on the piano while I am tuning it, it is nearly impossible to keep the piano in tune because of the heat of the direct sun light.


Is the piano black?

Edit: Does it feel warm to the touch after a while in the areas where the sun is beating down on it? smile


Edited by daniokeeper (05/07/11 11:19 PM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
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#1673300 - 05/07/11 11:28 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1056
Loc: PA
Hi casinitaly,

I just reread your original post. Quoting from your first paragraph:

He tuned, and it seemed to be ok - but that very afternoon, I noticed some of the notes wobbling...

It sounds like it started going out of tune after the late afternoon sun started hitting it smile
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1673362 - 05/08/11 04:24 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Unequally tempered Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/11
Posts: 149
Loc: UK
Hi!

Thanks for this thread! As I am untuning an instrument in the South of France next week, and Genoa is scheduled soon, I'll know what to expect . . . !

Best wishes

David P
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David Pinnegar, B.Sc., A.R.C.S.
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#1673381 - 05/08/11 06:05 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Thank you gentlemen (I think you are all gents smile )

At the risk of seeming to contradicting myself, I have to clarify about the sun At this time of year the piano doesn't get sun until very late in the afternoon (and I noticed the first changes around 2pm)but at this time of year it doesn't shine directly on the piano either- that happens in the winter. The room is hotter in the afternoon, but we have good air flow. It was far hotter in the house over the winter than it has been these past few weeks - we have no control over the heat.


I DID notice during the autumn and winter that the piano warbled some days but it always seemed to go back to a decent balance in a day or two.
Of course it gradually slid out of tune, which is why I called the technician.

What could happen is reflected light (we have marble floors).
Yes, the piano is black, but no, it doesn't get hot to the touch.

Jerry: About the call - I really am not so presumptuous! Of course the man is entitled to his time off ! I only expected him to call because he said he would. With modern technology even if he had had problems he could have sent a text message to say something.

My observations this morning.
1. In some ways it is sounding better. ??
2. If I play note by note slowly, with octaves and with 3rds 4ths 5ths I can hear that all the E keys sound off - they don't seem to hold the note.
Also the As above and below middle C, B5-F5 are off, they start clean and then "slide" lower a tad in a sort of "waaaarwwwww" This happens on several of the notes in the first bass octave as well.
3. The notes from middle C and going up 2 octaves all sound a bit odd, "tinny" when played slowly.
4. If I play in 8th notes staccato - it pretty much sounds fine. ???

The background sound like rubbing the rim of a crystal glass is much less evident - almost gone. ??

All this makes me think that perhaps this is indeed an issue of voicing and maybe the piano needed to "settle"?? In a way the concept of settling doesn't sound right to me, but I fully admit I don't know much about this.

So, while yesterday I was prepared to not deal with the tuner again, today I'm thinking of the following:

I will contact the tuner on Monday (never on a Sunday, not even a text! )
and tell him I'm confused and not perfectly happy. I need to know if this is voicing or tuning and I will ask if he will come back to help me understand what the issue is, and if there is voicing work to be done, then of course I'll pay for that.

Believe me I don't expect people to do things for free, and I don't want to take advantage of his good nature, but the fact is that my piano sounds "off".

I'm confused about how "out of tune" it is, if it can sound okay for most of the notes, when they are struck lightly and quickly, but not if they are held.

I thank you again for all your comments and insights and suggestions.

I'll report back after I talk to the tuner again.



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Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1673538 - 05/08/11 11:43 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Jerry: About the call - I really am not so presumptuous! Of course the man is entitled to his time off ! I only expected him to call because he said he would. With modern technology even if he had had problems he could have sent a text message to say something.


If he told you he was going to call then yes, he should have called. I agree completely with that.

As far as vacation goes, modern technology or not, if I am on vacation I will never return calls or do business. Otherwise my mind is never off from my work. I would like to add that you may be surprised at how many people are indeed quite presumptuous. And you would be surprised at how much crap we have to put up with because of the expectations and demands by some people that can never be met by anyone no matter how hard the technician tries. I've serviced for people that have gone through 10 different techs and none of them could make that client happy. We drop those clients like a hot potato.

Quote:
My observations this morning.


Quote:
1. In some ways it is sounding better. ??


You ear is rested and not so picky now.

Quote:
2. If I play note by note slowly, with octaves and with 3rds 4ths 5ths I can hear that all the E keys sound off - they don't seem to hold the note.


As I suspected, going through it with a fine toothed comb... Please don't do this. Tuning is only tuning, and nothing else. Adjustment of the tension of the strings. It does not have anything to do with sound fading, tinny notes, sticking keys, touch changes or anything else one can think of.. As for "they don't seem to hold the note." Hold the note? Vague description here, could mean lots of things, the sound is possibly fading quickly or quicker than those around it? Has nothing to do with tuning. Could be a bridge or sound board problem or voicing problem.

Quote:
Also the As above and below middle C, B5-F5 are off, they start clean and then "slide" lower a tad in a sort of "waaaarwwwww" This happens on several of the notes in the first bass octave as well.


As was mentioned, it could also be a "false beating string" which is a string that has it own beat. Read more further down on that.

A piano is sort of, similar to a guitar in that plucking the guitar strings, makes it go out of tune. The harder you pluck them and the longer you pluck them, the sooner the guitar goes out of tune. Same with a piano. The harder a note is played, the strings bend each time a note is played, the longer the piano is played, the sooner the piano goes out of tune. Whether we like this or not, that is what happens when we play the piano.

What is the first thing you hear when you attend a orchestra concert? Tune up. What is the next thing you hear after they take a short break? Tune up. What is the next thing you hear after intermission? Tune up... Things change much more quickly than anyone of us would like for them to change sometimes.

Quote:
3. The notes from middle C and going up 2 octaves all sound a bit odd, "tinny" when played slowly.


Voicing not tuning.

What you are hearing could very well be as has been suggested, false beats and many other things. From a distance, it is pretty much impossible to tell you what it is, all we can do is guess which we have done a pretty good job of doing. Now, it is time for you to listen and I do not mean to be be demeaning but, I see with my experience where this is going with you. wink A. Don't be so picky. It is not a 9' concert grand. wink B. Don't so quick to blame the tuner. I've never had a customer call me yet that was right when they told me their piano was out of tune and that it was my fault. C. If I tune a 9' Steinway grand 8 times in two days for each of the concerts given, we almost always find some notes or octaves here and there that have changed ever so slightly for a variety of reasons most of which are due to lighting and playing. D. On a piano that is a fraction of the cost of a 9' piano, there will be many more oddities and the tuning will more than likely change much sooner as well. There are many things going on in your situation including heat from the sun. It does NOT take much heat to change a tuning. smile

There is not a piano around where "we" as technicians cannot find something that could be changed. Something that is not quite right. Whether that be voicing, even touch, false strings. Almost all pianos have at least a few if not lots of, false beating strings on them. In some cases, there is nothing that we can do to correct it.

Quote:
All this makes me think that perhaps this is indeed an issue of voicing and maybe the piano needed to "settle"?? In a way the concept of settling doesn't sound right to me, but I fully admit I don't know much about this.


Right. smile If the piano has not been there longer than a month before tuning it, it will change tuning quicker too.

So, while yesterday I was prepared to not deal with the tuner again, today I'm thinking of the following:

Quote:
I will contact the tuner on Monday (never on a Sunday, not even a text! )
and tell him I'm confused and not perfectly happy. I need to know if this is voicing or tuning and I will ask if he will come back to help me understand what the issue is, and if there is voicing work to be done, then of course I'll pay for that.


Thank you for that. I hate getting calls on Sunday.

Quote:
Believe me I don't expect people to do things for free, and I don't want to take advantage of his good nature, but the fact is that my piano sounds "off".


As I said, I suspect other things rather than the tuner so, don't blame the tuner until you find out if it is indeed, the tuners fault or not. smile One thing we find very intolerable to hear is that "it did not do it before you tuned it." I know exactly how that piano sounded before I tuned it and I know exactly how it sounded after I tuned it. I've found tinniness coming from curio cabinets clean across the room or nick knacks hanging from the walls and a myriad of other things that were "not the tuners fault." wink

Quote:
I'm confused about how "out of tune" it is, if it can sound okay for most of the notes, when they are struck lightly and quickly, but not if they are held.


Again, my guess is voicing. And again, if after the next visit, you are not satisfied, try another technician but, if the pattern repeats itself time and time again, then it might be time to consider the advice given to you and that there are other things going on here including your expectations that a tuning is a cure all. It is not. smile

_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1673746 - 05/08/11 04:35 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
partistic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 90
If you could record the problematic notes and intervals and post the recording, we could tell you if they are out of tune, or if it is just a voicing problem, although we can't say if the out of tuneness is caused by false beats or just being out of tune unless you also play them one string at a time.

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#1673795 - 05/08/11 05:23 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
I think Jerry did a great job thinking through a lot of possible scenarios for this owner's dissatisfaction with the tuning.

I'll add one more. What if the owner has some degree of hearing impairment, that he is not aware of? As we've heard on other posts here, hearing loss can be subtle, can be unknown to the person themselves, and often is actually accompanied by hyper-sensitivity to some sounds (which, I know, sounds backwards - hard to understand that you can have hearing LOSS and HYPERSENSITIVITY at the same time).

I know this myself because I have hearing loss in my right ear, probably from stupid things done with firecrackers as a teenager. Some piano notes in the treble just irritate the bejeebers out of me, and can sound (to me) like they are out of tune, when it's just my bad ear.

Just a thought.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1673799 - 05/08/11 05:28 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2545
Loc: PA
I can't tell you the many times piano owners will complain about those top notes having "no sound at all," when in fact they are fine. It's a tricky situation to deal with.

That said, though, the OP seems to be listing things that to me would demonstrate an acute sense of hearing rather than an impaired one.
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#1673804 - 05/08/11 05:35 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
I guess this line made me think about my theory:

"The notes from middle C and going up 2 octaves all sound a bit odd, "tinny" when played slowly."

Some of the notes in those octaves play havoc with me, I know.

Again, it's this funny combo of subtle loss coupled with hypersensitivity that can make a person really have some funny distortions of sound. I may well be all wet on this, but thought it needs to be considered.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1673821 - 05/08/11 05:51 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Dear Jerry, and everyone else,
Thanks very much for giving me more feedback.

Originally Posted By: jerry

And you would be surprised at how much crap we have to put up with because of the expectations and demands by some people that can never be met by anyone no matter how hard the technician tries.


No, I wouldn’t be surprised. Believe it or not, I have found the same thing with teaching and translating. smile
I know people can be really unreasonable, and I don't want to be!

I’m trying to learn more here so that I can express my concerns in a logical way that will encourage the tuner to work with me rather than feel I'm being a pain in the neck. I don't expect miracles, but I liked my piano before and now I don't like the sound of (some of ) it, plain and simple.

Jerry, you said that most clients don’t understand the difference between voicing and tuning – and I’d have to say that while I’m starting to get a better idea, it is very true I don’t quite understand why the tuning would have brought out other issues that weren’t obvious to me before. I’m hoping that with more reading and listening (not only to the piano, I mean to knowledgeable people!) I will understand more.

I’m sorry I don’t know better terminology to describe issues. I am and will continue to work on that!
When I use the expression “doesn’t hold the note” I mean that I can hit one key and the note will go daaaaaaaaaaaa. I can hit another and it will go daaaaAAAAAaaaAAaaaaa. If my guitar does this, I tune it.

I am reading up on false beats and other terms that are being used here.

You can tell where this going with me? Do you mean I’m turning into one of those hot potatoes? I hope not. shocked wink

I’m not trying to “blame” the tuner – I’m trying to understand. Yes, my first reaction was “oh my, he touched my piano and now it sounds wrong”…. But I didn’t berate him or say I thought he was incompetent, I asked him to look at it again – and he did make changes.
I came here, to look for information and balance before making rash statements to the tuner.

What I can understand now is that perhaps with the tuning some voicing issues that were not obvious before have come out. I don’t understand how or why that happens, but I do know that it is not as pleasant to play my piano now as it was 10 days ago.

Originally Posted By: jerry

If the piano has not been there longer than a month before tuning it, it will change tuning quicker too.
No, the piano has been there for six months.

Originally Posted By: jerry

Again, my guess is voicing. And again, if after the next visit, you are not satisfied, try another technician but, if the pattern repeats itself time and time again, then it might be time to consider the advice given to you and that there are other things going on here including your expectations that a tuning is a cure all. It is not.


I re-read and the advice given to me was to move my piano (not possible) and to write down all of my issues, think about it and then call the technician with a detailed description of what I do not like - which I’m in the process of doing.

I don’t think I’m expecting a tuning to be a cure-all. I had expectations that after a tuning my piano would sound better (don’t most people have that expectation?) – and it doesn’t – and I don’t understand why. That was a very rude surprise and I’m really upset about it. I’m working hard to find out how to best manage the situation, and to be educated and diplomatic.


Originally Posted By: patristic

If you could record the problematic notes and intervals and post the recording, we could tell you if they are out of tune, or if it is just a voicing problem, although we can't say if the out of tuneness is caused by false beats or just being out of tune unless you also play them one string at a time.

I’ve spent the better part of today trying to clean up a computer virus, and it is way too late to play and record. I could do that tomorrow and see what you think.

Steve, I just saw your post before wrapping this one up…..
I don’t believe I have any hearing problems, though I haven’t had my hearing checked recently. I think I’ll stick with the technical aspects a wee bit longer before I start making medical appointments smile Btw, I’m a “she” not a “he”.

Gentlemen, believe me , I really appreciate your helpfulness and patience. I’m very discouraged because I don’t feel I have a good handle on this situation and I’m not happy with the sound of my piano. I do hope that with next meeting or conversation with the tech I can explain better to him what I’m hearing, and he can explain what is wrong and what/how things are to be fixed.

My expectations are that he will tell me what is a tuning issue and what is a voicing issue, and what needs to be done to fix all the issues so that I have a piano that is a pleasure to play….as it has been in the past.

Again, thanks for bearing with me on all this.
_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1673845 - 05/08/11 06:46 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
Sorry for the gender assumption -

I admire your patience, and the fact that you are learning a lot about voicing vs tuning, etc. Persistence WILL pay off.

I was riding my bike today, and recalling that when I bought it, it wouldn't always shift right. I took it back to the dealer under warranty three times until they finally fixed it correctly. On one of the trips to the shop, they subtly blamed me - suggesting that since I'm a big guy, my larger -than-average mass was distorting the frame of the bike while riding, and that's why it shifts OK when on the technician's bike stand but not OK on the road. I persisted, I read up about shifting problems in Trek bikes, and finally suggested to them that it seemed like a kinked cable. Guess what they found?

SO -- keep asking questions, keep a journal with specific observations of which notes, what sound, when, etc., and keep politely but persistently working with a tech, and you should get your piano to a satisfying sound.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1673864 - 05/08/11 06:59 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Jerry, you said that most clients don’t understand the difference between voicing and tuning – and I’d have to say that while I’m starting to get a better idea, it is very true I don’t quite understand why the tuning would have brought out other issues that weren’t obvious to me before. I’m hoping that with more reading and listening (not only to the piano, I mean to knowledgeable people!) I will understand more.


Here is a good description of the difference between tuning and voicing and some other things.

here is the article on it.

Quote:
What I can understand now is that perhaps with the tuning some voicing issues that were not obvious before have come out.


You got it! smile

Quote:
I don’t understand how or why that happens, but I do know that it is not as pleasant to play my piano now as it was 10 days ago.


When a piano is out of tune, it tends to mask other issues, sometimes even noises like buzzing or sometimes slight rattling. When the piano tuning is pure, or in tune, now there is no longer anything like warbling or waaa waa's, out of tune that could possibly mask any other outstanding issues. It's just how it is with the silly instrument. However, most GOOD technicians will point out issues or problems especially if the customer mentions they are not satisfied. The last thing any tuner should want is an unsatisfied customer.

Open up the piano and look at the pianos hammers. Click here to see it. As the picture says, it is a properly shaped hammer.

Click here to see a badly worn hammer. Even a slightly worn hammer will produce variations in tone.

I did say that it can also be the tuner. It could also be a lack of skills and or tuning pin setting ability as well. Do I know this for sure? Nope. I haven't a clue from my computer. smile


_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1673948 - 05/08/11 09:36 PM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
Quote:
When I use the expression “doesn’t hold the note” I mean that I can hit one key and the note will go daaaaaaaaaaaa. I can hit another and it will go daaaaAAAAAaaaAAaaaaa. If my guitar does this, I tune it.


This jumps out at me as a description of one of two things. Either, an out of tune unison, or a false beat in one of the strings.
In the deep bass notes where there is only one string, you described a similar problem. This is certainly a false beat, if you hear it in isolation when no other notes are played.
The higher notes with more than one string, it is difficult to tell, without muting different strings, the difference between an out of tune unison and a false beat. Perhaps your tuner would be able to show you certain strings that have false beats, which will certainly set your mind at ease that his tuning is not to blame. There are certain things that can be done to try and eliminate these problems, but they don't work in all cases. Hopefully he will be able to try some of them and experiment, and improve them somewhat. Sometimes a light tap on the bridge pin is all it needs...

If the tuner doesn't seem confident in addressing these issues, or the voicing problems in the upper octave, then perhaps you will need to hire someone else. Its a shame to pay out so much unexpectedly on this piano as before you were happy with it, but sometimes it takes the contrast between really bad sounding tuning and good tuning to bring out all the other flaws in a piano! You can't see spots and bruises on a face if it is covered in dirt!

Good luck smile
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Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#1674100 - 05/09/11 02:18 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Steve, smile No worries! I just thought I'd clarify.
Good illustrative story about the bike - I had a similar situation with my electrician! We had our home re-wired and then had the power go off left right and centre even when nothing was running. He kept insisting my fridge was defective and I said I was sure it was a short circuit - 250 euro later, after almost having a fire and no power for over 24 hours AND a new electrician, guess what? But of course I couldn't have been right, I'm just a girl what do I know eh?

I like your suggestion about keeping a journal - that will also let me see any patterns about alterations during the day, and with changes of temperature. I'm really wondering what August is going to do to my poor piano, it gets stinking hot in our apartment! (Yes, I have AC, but we don't run it all the time)I'll have to find a happy balance.

Phil, thanks for the further details and clarifications - every bit of info helps me get a better grasp of what is going on.

Jerry - thanks very much for the links!
I have looked at my hammers (and the tech did too) - they are in very good condition. I haven't had time to read the whole article - I've got to get rolling out the door, but I will certainly check it out as soon as I'm back. I will probably even wait til I've read it all before calling the tech back.

Thanks again to all. I'm appreciative of the time you are taking to explain these things to me.
_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1674160 - 05/09/11 06:44 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4665
Loc: Italy
Update: the tuner called me this morning and said that he himself had contacted the shop.

He felt that having come out twice he saw no point in his returning and he's handing me over to the owner.
The owner has a lot more experience than my tech (he said this himself). I know my tech has been tuning for about 5 years.

He said this happens, and no offense taken - he understands I'm not happy and he figures the other fellow will be better at helping me understand what is what.

I was careful to say I wasn't trying to put his ability in doubt, but that I truly don't understand and I'm also need something done to the piano - I don't know what, but something.

We might be able to organize for the owner to come on Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, I will do my "homework" wit hthe links provided.

I'll get back to you and let you know what happens.

(right...I know you are just dying to hear the end of the saga eh? )


cheers,
_________________________
Interested in MOYD? Check out the RULES!
XVIII-XXXIII
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1674198 - 05/09/11 07:57 AM Re: Piano doesn't seem to be holding the tuning. [Re: casinitaly]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
If the other tuner really wants to learn, he'll tag along with the shop owner for nothing just to do just that. thumb I did that sort of thing for years with my dad and others. It was fun too. smile Possibly a great learning opportunity for him there.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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Fazioli "factory tour" video.
by R_B
Yesterday at 10:27 PM
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