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#1950776 - 08/29/12 07:30 AM I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died)
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
When we got our new piano last December I resolved not to be one of those people who leaves it out of tune for months or years at a stretch. Twice a year tunings "Whether it needs it or not" were the plan.

So by June sure enough there were a few chords in the left hand that sounded a little wonky but overall thins were still pretty sweet. Busy time at work, yada, yada. July not too bad.

But by the start of August the sweetness of that second octave above middle-C wasn't all that sweet. From that point it's amazing how quickly the tuning just falls apart. In a matter of a couple weeks it went from Not Quite Right to something else entirely.

There's an arrangement of "Darn That Dream" I've been playing a lot and the climax is Bm7(b5) with a D on top, then a passing E leading to a big old Bb7/Ab chord with the top three notes being Bb, D, F. Great chord, usually.

Last night when I got to that chord I had to let go of the keys like they were hot. Man, it sounds nasty. I told my wife "The piano just took the last train to the coast". She did not catch the reference so I explained "Today's the day the music died".

Luckily, the piano tuner is scheduled for today and he'll get everything sweet again ere the sun sets. But this time, no kidding. EVERY SIX MONTHS!
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

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#1950782 - 08/29/12 07:43 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8077
Loc: Georgia, USA
Interesting story! :-)

Yes, there is nothing quite like a well tuned piano. :-)

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

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#1950783 - 08/29/12 07:43 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4395
Loc: San Jose, CA
A brand-new piano is best tuned four times a year for the first several years. After it stabilizes to its new environment and your playing style, you can pull back to no less than twice a year.

When a maintenance tuning becomes a pitch change tuning, it becomes more time-consuming for the tech and more expensive for you; you are not saving that much money by putting it off.

Your dentist might tell you something very similar.
_________________________
Clef


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#1950798 - 08/29/12 08:23 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Ed Foote Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 984
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
It is common for new pianos to be unstable for the first year, the weather changes will cause all the wood to shift and the metal in the strings takes a while to migrate around the pins and bends.

Once the piano is stable, you will find out how often it needs to be tuned. I have more than several customers that only need tuning once every two years. Modern, stable pianos in good environments. I don't find anything more than a few cents off in the octaves and the unisons stay together. Other pianos need to be tuned every time the season changes. Still others, I tune several times a week,(even though they don't need it, recording sessions cost so much money these days that I represent insurance more than tuning).

After the break-in period, the way a piano goes out of tune also tells you whether it was the skill of the tuner or climate conditions. A tuning that has the octaves stretched out, or compressed is usually that way because the weather changed. It is most noticeable at the bass break, usually the B2-B3 octave will be the worst on a piano with a 26 note bass(the smaller ones), on a larger piano, the F2-F3 octave will show the first weather change. If there are unisons that all go haywire, that is usually a sign of the tuner's technique being faulty, though there are some pianos that react to weather changes by having all the right or left hand strings of the unisons go sharp(or flat). These are not the tuners fault. If you have unisons that are out of tune within a day or two of the tuning, you should call the tuner back.
Regards,

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#1950802 - 08/29/12 08:36 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
Jeff,

I think playing style is a factor. Around the time of my recital in May my teacher had me try to play with more "weight" through my fingers onto the keys. So my playing is louder than it used to be. I was playing real tentative and kind of dainty at first.

PS The dealer did a free tuning after a couple months in our house (it was also tuned before delivery and twice while in showroom inventory). But honestly I could not tell a lot of difference from that early touchup back in Feb/Mar.
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

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#1951112 - 08/29/12 06:42 PM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4395
Loc: San Jose, CA
I'm not about to argue with Ed Foote, who knows far more than I do. My piano is still on the new side--- four or five years old now--- and it could be that it's still got some settling down to do, compared to pianos that have been in the same spot for many years, maybe in a well climate-controlled room. If it's once in two years for them, instead of twice in one year, well, that's what it is.

I can tell a difference with mine, and I like to keep up; I've put in my time playing on out-of-tune old beaters--- and I loved them. But now, I have a new love, and this is different. What else can you do, but take care of it the best you can, and hope it doesn't go south.

Glad you've got your tech coming over, Brent. It's kind of a good sign that the follow-up tuning didn't make a big difference, to your ears. It suggests to me that maybe your new piano was pretty stable right from the start, and was happy in its new home.

My tech does full-service, and not only tunes but also makes those little adjustments to the action and voicing--- which do settle-in according to your playing style. After all, there are pounders and there are your more quiet players... and even people that don't play at all. But he keeps it smooth for me, and sounding its best. I'm going to bet you'll be happy once the music comes alive again. I'd make a side bet that you're also going to be happy your teacher got you to start making the most of your piano's dynamic range, and it's tone color range, now that you have a piano that has them.
_________________________
Clef


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#1951147 - 08/29/12 07:54 PM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8077
Loc: Georgia, USA
Not to stir up a can of worms, or an ongoing controversy, but I have learned to tune and service my own pianos, to my satisfaction, at least. There are several PW members who have learned this skill, and keep their piano tuned as well.

I’ve been doing this for about 6 years now and have gotten pretty decent at tuning (though I still have a long way to go). I have learned a little about voicing and regulation, but have only scratched the surface there.

Early on, I used to keep a tuning hammer in my back pocket and if I heard a wayward unison on my pianos, I’d be quick to tweak it and bring it back to near perfection. If I played my pianos hard, I’d clean up the unisons often. If the weather outside changed drastically and affected the tuning, I’d re-tune it in a hurry.

However, as time goes on, I’ve learned to live with a few slightly twangy unisons or a slight change in pitch due to the weather. I still clean up my twangy unisons regularly, but not every day or even every week. I don’t think I’ve lost my enthusiasm for my pianos or learning to tune and service them, or learning to play. But I have come to realize that I don’t need to walk around with a tuning hammer in my back pocket. smile

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

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#1951193 - 08/29/12 09:36 PM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
piano joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/11
Posts: 807
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By: Brent H
When we got our new piano last December I resolved not to be one of those people who leaves it out of tune for months or years at a stretch. Twice a year tunings "Whether it needs it or not" were the plan.

So by June sure enough there were a few chords in the left hand that sounded a little wonky but overall thins were still pretty sweet. Busy time at work, yada, yada. July not too bad.


L I explained "Today's the day the music died".

Luckily, the piano tuner is scheduled for today and he'll get everything sweet again ere the sun sets. But this time, no kidding. EVERY SIX MONTHS!


If you're really serious about every six months, I suggest you schedule that appt TODAY....otherwise....9 months will go by and you'll say " poop! (or whatever) I need to bring the tuner back!"

smile
_________________________
I don't care too much for money. For money can't buy me love.
-the Beatles




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#1951327 - 08/30/12 03:45 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
backto_study_piano Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 388
Loc: Australia
The further "out" a piano is at tuning, the sooner it will need tuning again. If, instead of 3 months it was 6 mths, you could reasonably expect that it could need doing in less than 3 months next time. When your ear hears "Not Quite Right", that's when the technician needs to be there (if not, the week before).
_________________________
Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#1951427 - 08/30/12 09:25 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4395
Loc: San Jose, CA
"A little sharp in the center, but that's it," he said. This hardly prepared me for how gorgeous the instrument would sound with a fresh tuning.

Excuse me while I wallow.
_________________________
Clef


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#1951442 - 08/30/12 09:55 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I offer all of my clients the "luxury" of me calling them on a regular basis that they prefer. Yearly? Bi-yearly? Monthly? Whatever their needs are. I hire a secretary to do this as I do not have the time myself. It works well for all parties involved most of the time. However, there are limits as to how often I will allow my gal to call people. If they say yes, we would love to be called for a tuning next year, we call. But, only a certain amount of times. The customer must also take some responsibilty and return our calls too or we just move onto the next client who is just as important to us as the last one. After so many times of people not returning our calls, we remove them from the call list completely leaving it totally up to them to remember again.

Consider doing that with your technician. If both parties are responsible it works great. It takes the responsibility of having to remember when that year or whatever, is up. But remember to return our calls too when we leave you a message about it. smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1951465 - 08/30/12 11:13 AM Re: I Put Off Piano Tuning Too Long (akaThe Day The Music Died) [Re: Brent H]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
Had a very nice time playing the newly-in-tune piano last night and this morning. Now the only bad-sounding notes are the ones I play by mistake!

I can't always tell by ear what exactly is the tuning problem but I'm pretty sensitive to "right" or "not right", at least on a decent sounding instrument. I think mine had been "not right" for at least several months because I realize now I'd been going really easy with my pedaling and letting off more often than I really need to. I can get a nice, sustaining flow going now whereas before the tuning that sounding muddled.

Good idea to go ahead and set something up on a schedule. I'll ask about setting that up.
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

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