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#1969727 - 10/07/12 08:56 AM Tuning advice.
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
I know this could have gone into the tech forum, but i wanted a wider variety of answers.

On Wednesday i'm due to have the first tuning of our new-to-us upright.

It is in fact our first piano as we are just learning. I think its from the 1950's and by a local manufacturer so probably a stencil. I doubt its worth much (we certainly didn't pay much).

Anyway, it is definitely out of tune, but would you just get it tuned, or would you have more extensive action/voicing work done baring in mind that in a year or two we intend to buy ourselves something "better"?

Neither of us are at the stage that we would notice the subtle differences, so would it really be worth spending the money on it or should that extra money go into the pot for the next piano?

All opinions more than welcome.
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

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#1969736 - 10/07/12 09:12 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8474
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Mark,

Ask the tuner what he thinks of the regulation and how much he would charge to touch it up, along with the tuning...

Based on your future goals and ambitions, and your financial situation, I don't think I'd invest too much into the piano for now. However, there is nothing nicer than a well-tuned piano. smile

Good luck!

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

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#1969737 - 10/07/12 09:19 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Mark,

Putting this question with your other threads, it sounds like the piano is in rugged shape. The tuning will certainly help and if it's playable and you can get by with it, add to the savings for a better instrument.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1969766 - 10/07/12 10:42 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1936
Loc: Suffolk, England
If I were you, Mark, I'd do the basics myself. Tightening all the screws and adjusting the capstans will make a big difference and is not too difficult. There are lots of videos on YouTube and Reblitz's book that will show you what to do in advance. Your tuner will point you in the right direction.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1969769 - 10/07/12 10:47 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
Anyway, it is definitely out of tune, but would you just get it tuned, or would you have more extensive action/voicing work done baring in mind that in a year or two we intend to buy ourselves something "better"?


First of all, nobody in here can actually answer that question without seeing the piano. That's like asking if the car is worth driving without the mechanic seeing or test driving it. Maybe? Maybe not... wink

That depends entirely on if the piano is even worth tuning, to begin with. Not to mention how honest the tech is going to be with you about it. Some techs will give poor advice just for the sake of the almighty $$$ in their pocket regardless of the outcome.

I tuned one last week where two techs that were a lot less expensive that I was, told them that the piano could not be brought up to A/440. The customer believed them and so, the piano had been tuned 1/2 tone flat and more for over 25 years. This is very typical of these two 'tooners'. They are cheap and they are lazy and/or afraid of the consequences of possibly having a string break and is also why they charge so much less. "Tune it at whatever pitch we find it and do nothing more to it, ever."

I brought it up to pitch with no problems at all. Not to say that problems could not have happened but, that is not the point. The customer was told something that wasn't true.

When I was done, the piano sounded MUCH better. The tone was improved as well, I tightened up the bench bolts and tightened up some action screws. You wouldn't believe the difference that tiny thing can make.

You will most often get what you pay for in both tuning and a piano purchase.

Quote:
Neither of us are at the stage that we would notice the subtle differences, so would it really be worth spending the money on it or should that extra money go into the pot for the next piano?


Subtle differences? Things like a major regulation and hammer filing are not just subtle differences in most cases. They can be major differences.

No offense, but you are already setting yourself up for failure with that statement. It's kind of like saying, I'm not worth anything better right now...

Are you sure that you are going to want to practice on a piano that very well may play poorly and sound poorly? And play difficult? If that is the case, where the piano will play badly, then you will not be able to get it to do what you need for it TO do...

Is a car with barely any brakes safe to drive? Is a car with wheel bearings ready to go a car you would drive repeatedly? Would you buy it for yourself? Would you let your kids drive it? Or your grand kids? Probably not. Then why buy/play on a piano that might play and sound crappy even after it's tuned?

That is the number one cause of failure in piano practice and for kids and adults, no longer wanting to take lessons. Attempting to play on a piano that is not functioning or sounding as it should.

Again, only the technician that is coming to look at the piano, will be able to give you the real, honest answer to your questions. smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1969935 - 10/07/12 05:20 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


First of all, nobody in here can actually answer that question without seeing the piano. That's like asking if the car is worth driving without the mechanic seeing or test driving it. Maybe? Maybe not... wink

That depends entirely on if the piano is even worth tuning, to begin with. Not to mention how honest the tech is going to be with you about it. Some techs will give poor advice just for the sake of the almighty $$$ in their pocket regardless of the outcome.


Very true.
I was just looking for some general advice which i suppose is very difficult without seeing the piano.

The tech we are going to use has a very good reputation. He tunes for several of the colleges/universities in the area as well as concert venues.
I have not had a tuning done by him before however i did contact him previously on a completely different matter and he was extremely helpful to the point he contacted myself again several days later to offer more info he had initially forgot to impart.
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT





Subtle differences? Things like a major regulation and hammer filing are not just subtle differences in most cases. They can be major differences.

No offense, but you are already setting yourself up for failure with that statement. It's kind of like saying, I'm not worth anything better right now...

Are you sure that you are going to want to practice on a piano that very well may play poorly and sound poorly? And play difficult? If that is the case, where the piano will play badly, then you will not be able to get it to do what you need for it TO do...


Ok, maybe there could be a larger change to the play and sound than i had first thought. I am new to this afterall blush

The only way we could get a piano was to do it very cheap. So although it would not be ideal to practice on a piano which is out of tune, i would rather do that than not at all. We have been for the last few weeks and it certainly has not dampened our enjoyment.

If it can be in tune, im not so bothered about a slightly out action. As has been said already there is no point throwing money at something not worth it.

Thanks for the replies everyone. It will be tuned on Wednesday, so I'll see how it goes from there.

many thanks, Mark
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

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#1970037 - 10/07/12 09:35 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
Good luck, Mark. Hope it all goes well smile

Meantime, you're not alone in approaching this piano thing from the position of least cost. We did the very same and couldn't be happier! We went a step further, though, and ONLY considered freebies - given there are just so many out there. Played loads of 'em til we found one that was actually pretty decent. Spent $200 moving it, another $300 on tech/tune, and it's an absolute cracker. We all adore it, and the entire family plays it daily. We're now on the hunt for a 135cm upright for ourselves, leaving the 115cm for the kids. Probably worth mentioning here that most of my family are professional musicians, and my other half is an accomplished recreational pianist and guitarist. We're no rookies. Well I am, hence the moniker, but still!

In an act of sheer hubris, I'd like to add also that we don't hold with formal tuition, either. Not because we're philosophically opposed, far from it. It's just that our general ethos doesn't allow for paid 'luxuries'. Thankfully, there are enough musicians around us to obviate the need to go down that road. Our kids do their scales etc and enjoy every minute of it. They get corrected when they fall into 'bad habits', and they're learning to read music. Interesting thing is my other half and his sister were 'forced' to go right through the grades, at great expense to their parents, and both dropped it like a tonne of bricks the minute they reached final grade. The sister has never touched a piano since (and it's now 35 years later), and my spouse only picked it up again 2 years ago when we bought a digital for the kids. On the other hand, I have two family members who've never had a single formal lesson in their chosen instruments and both are full time professional (and highly regarded) musos - and have been so all their working lives.

Goes to prove that owning a nice piano and becoming an accomplished pianist is possible on any budget. I'd hate to think that anyone reading these forums was put off the idea of recycling an older piano (if that's all they can afford), and possibly embarking on a wonderful new journey, just because some knowledgeable types poo-pooed the idea and insisted that a high quality, late model piano and formal lessons are the only possible road to a life of music.

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#1970091 - 10/07/12 11:28 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 635
Loc: NY and NC
I think it is very possible to get lucky with a free, or very inexpensive, piano, but it takes looking at dozens to find one good one. If you are willing to do the legwork, I think you can find something cheap that still offers a musical performance after some light work and tuning. But think of things this way: the same is probably true of buying a car. You might find a really old, but cheap, car that runs well after an oil change, new plugs, and a new air filter. But you have to look hard and know cars pretty well. Usually the true cost of buying a car includes all the necessary maintenance. If you can't afford the maintenance, you take the bus. I have gone this route with pianos and cars and can tell you, buying a more expensive, newer, car/piano has been a very satisfying experience. When you're young and poor, you go one way. When you are in better shape, you have the other option. Good luck to the poster no matter which way things go. Enjoy your piano.
_________________________
2004 Mason-Hamlin polished ebony BB.
Working on jazz standards and Chopin nocturnes, preludes, and mazurkas (the easier ones.)

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#1970103 - 10/08/12 12:00 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
with respect, we're neither young nor poor. though once upon a time we were. it was then we bought new things - cars, furniture, instruments etc. now that we're wiser (and richer), we choose to do things differently. the planet is drowning in "stuff" people throw away, and is being murdered further by the relentless manufacturing of more "stuff". I couldnt sleep at night if I didnt do everything in my power to re-use and recycle what's already here. there's enought of it to clothe and house (and piano) humanity ten times over. just sayin smile

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#1970281 - 10/08/12 11:42 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
To Chopinlover49 and tonedefreegan;

My wife and I had wanted one for years. But neither of us know enough about hte to "test" a few.
We got offered a good one a few months back but had no way to move it quick enough.
This one was purchased for the grand total of £50, including delivery. My thoughts being that if its a junker we have lost very little but if its usable it will at least do us a year or two and give us a chance to become at least a little more knowledgable for when we next go hunting.

I'll just have to see what the tech says in a couple of days.
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

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#1970444 - 10/08/12 06:44 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
you did well then! 50 quid delivered is considerably less than ours cost us to get home. we had to pay the professionals $220 to truck it a half hour up the road smirk

as regards knowledge and 'testing', I'm utterly clueless when it comes to pianos in comparison to my loved ones, but I know what I like and don't like. maybe that's all that matters at this stage. for example, I'm fairly sure kawai and yamaha are neck and neck according to the market and expert opinion, but to my ears kawais sound about 589 times better than yamahas. while that's clear evidence of my lack of knowledge, I still wouldn't take a yamaha home unless it was free, tuned, and a U3 or grand. one day, though, I might decide to buy a used kawai K3. anyway, that's just a roundabout way of saying if you like the sound of it, that's probably enough. at least I think so :p

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#1971198 - 10/10/12 07:52 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Well, it seems we didn't do too bad.


The tech was out today (will not mention names as I'm not sure on the rules on that here), he was very polite and an all round gentleman.

He tuned the piano and although i know very little about this it looked like he gave the action a going over too, i saw some adjustments being made.

It now sounds much much better and plays smoother and more even too.

I asked what he thought, as we know little and He said that the piano seems to be in decent condition for its age (other than the few cosmetic knocks it has suffered) and that the action is good for its age.

It was mentioned previously about a badly tuned piano being a big contributor to people loosing interest. I would have continued anyway but i can now understand what was meant.
Im only at the very beginning of Alfred's, but i played a piece i previously struggled with. I believed it to be my technique (or lack of) that was the problem. But perhaps it was partly due to the equipment as this time it seemed to just roll of my fingers effortlessly.

My wife and i had enjoyed our first foray into the world of learning piano before it was tuned, but it is certainly all the sweeter now!
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

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#1971227 - 10/10/12 09:33 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Joy is an in-tune piano! Enjoy your new baby.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1971229 - 10/10/12 09:51 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8474
Loc: Georgia, USA
Congratulations on your "new-to-you", in tune piano! Like Marty said, happiness is playing an in-tune 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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#1971349 - 10/10/12 02:20 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: Rickster]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 347
Loc: UK
Please do tell the make and the height floor to top.

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#1971453 - 10/10/12 05:33 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: Rickster]
Lord Blackmourne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 45
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Congratulations on your "new-to-you", in tune piano! Like Marty said, happiness is playing an in-tune piano!

Rick


there is no absolute right pitch to base your relative tuning on.
But if you meant it should be tuned relativity correct I understand what you mean.

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#1971530 - 10/10/12 08:14 PM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8474
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Lord Blackmourne
there is no absolute right pitch to base your relative tuning on.
But if you meant it should be tuned relativity correct I understand what you mean.

I agree... one person's preception of being in tune is another person's preception of being out of tune. laugh

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

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#1971770 - 10/11/12 11:04 AM Re: Tuning advice. [Re: MonkeyMark]
Glenn Grafton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 190
Loc: Souderton PA
Originally Posted By: MonkeyMark

Anyway, it is definitely out of tune, but would you just get it tuned, or would you have more extensive action/voicing work done baring in mind that in a year or two we intend to buy ourselves something "better"?


I'd suggest that when you have the piano tuner out to tune the piano ask him to check over the piano and come up with a punch list of what the piano needs. In many cases tuning the piano is just the starting point.

Ask the tuner to rank the repairs by priority and cost, factor in your budget, how long you plan to keep the piano and what things really will detract from playing.

If cost is an issue you can tackle some of the needed repairs in stages. For example at the first tuning; cleaning the inside of the piano, adjust the action to remove lost motion, tighten the action parts, repair any sticking keys.


Edited by Glenn Grafton (10/11/12 11:05 AM)
_________________________
Glenn Grafton
Grafton Piano & Organ Co.
Souderton PA
877-GRAFTON (877-472-3866)
Remove "nospam" in email address.
glenn@nospamgraftonpiano.com

Grafton Piano Home Page

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