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#1977970 - 10/24/12 11:24 AM Hearing "Saturation?"
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
For lack of a better term, I find there are times when I'm tuning pianos in rapid succession, when everything begins to sound awful, like I'm hearing every little beat from every interval all at once. I found I have to step back and take an aural break at that point before going on.

I've had many opportunities to go back at another time and hear my work, and then it sounds just fine, so I know it's me, and *not* something I did badly.

Anyone else experience that?
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1977979 - 10/24/12 11:39 AM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4908
Loc: Bradford County, PA
It happens to me all the time. I have never tuned a piano that I was completely satisfied with. If it doesn't happen by the mid-treble, it certainly does in the low bass. It is a super-critical attitude and is what makes me tune as perfect as possible. I have no idea how someone could tune UT aurally. It would be like purposely running a car into the ditch.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1977982 - 10/24/12 11:43 AM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
That's because your ears are becoming tired. Over time, they are listening and discerning and need a break. When your ears get to that point, nothing sounds right yet, if you give them a break say, return tomorrow and listen to what you did today, you'll be amazed at how well the piano actually sounds. This is because your ears are now rested again.

If you spend about an hour on the tuning, things should be fine but, if you go over it and over it and over it and over it again and again trying to make everything perfect which is impossible to do, you will encounter this on every single piano. You have to learn when to say "stop." Moving onto the next piano. smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1977991 - 10/24/12 12:05 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I'm glad to 'hear' I'm not alone in this. smile

I wondered if it had to do with my tinnitus.




Edited by OperaTenor (10/24/12 12:07 PM)
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1977994 - 10/24/12 12:09 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: UnrightTooner]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
I have no idea how someone could tun UT aurally.


I assume the tuner who can successfully do that has amazing aural discipline and can stick to counting beats.

What I can't wrap my head around would be the ability to do *that* repeatedly.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1978001 - 10/24/12 12:31 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
No, it does not Jim. It is a natural thing that all tuners will experience when our ears are over worked. smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1978003 - 10/24/12 12:34 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21285
Loc: Oakland
I think my ears get better the more pianos I tune.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1978007 - 10/24/12 12:40 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
With experience, yes. but not when you tune 6 pianos in a row with no breaks and not if you spend 3 hours in a row on one piano. wink
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1978013 - 10/24/12 12:49 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
You're not alone, with the tinnitus either.
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#1978027 - 10/24/12 01:23 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
I find it helps to make sure you're properly hydrated and fed at all times. A heavy day of tuning will always result in ear fatigue, but this helps stave that off as long as possible. It is your brain getting tired that produces it - simultaneously processing and analysing the information is hard work, and after a while it can't offer you the analysis you need quick enough. Brain needs food, water and rest to function properly.

Taking a break and listening to some music, or playing a piece on the piano, helps as well. Gives the analytical tuning part of your brain a rest and the hearing part something to help it relax.
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#1978033 - 10/24/12 01:26 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4908
Loc: Bradford County, PA
I have some tinnitus in one ear. But I never, ever notice any ringing while tuning. I am too intent on listening to the piano.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1978034 - 10/24/12 01:26 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


The human ear is a muscle group; similar to any other muscle group it is subject to overuse and fatigue.

Take a break and try again. As I am getting on in years this is why I don’t like to tune every day but do other kinds of work in the shop setting, also to mix it up a bit. There were times when coming back from school board work that I just did not want to “hear anything” at all….tired of hearing generally….

Being a tuning machine day after day gets a bit wearing, for me anyways. I like the variety the shop brings to the equation.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1978039 - 10/24/12 01:31 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4908
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Dan:

You have said this before and I doubt it is true. The ear is a sensory organ. What muscles are you talking about?
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1978042 - 10/24/12 01:38 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

There are two muscle groups in the ear; Tensor Tympani and the Stapedius.

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

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#1978047 - 10/24/12 02:00 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4908
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Thanks, Dan. I stand corrected. There are muscles in the inner ear. Of course that does not mean that the saturation we are talking about is due to muscle fatigue.

For me it is a mental, not a physical thing. The closest thing I can relate it to is looking for coins on the ground. It draws your mental focus. Every tramped upon wad of gum looks like something that needs to be picked up. (Some of you might be able to relate if your spending money ever came from what you could find.)
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1978056 - 10/24/12 02:35 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

I am of the opinion that two things are happening there; the ear muscle fatigue and the mental deterioration of concentration.

Because I worked for a half dozen school districts I have a lot of administrators as clients, both active and retired. I learned from one of the specialists it has been noted in the education systems that the human brain will begin to wander after 20-22 minutes on any given subject.

Now I did not believe this at first. When I held a tech seminar last year I cut the classes down to 20 minutes from 40. After 20 minutes I had them move onto something else.

When the reports and photo sets were filed by the attending student technicians I discovered they retained far more of the materials and noted far more enlightened observations in those reports when comparing them to previous seminars.

Could have been just a coincidence, as the study is completely unscientific and too small of a sample to be significant, unless repeated with identical results on other students. Could also be I am getting better at presenting the materials for improved comprehension.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1978068 - 10/24/12 02:54 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19227
Loc: New York City
I haven't tuned a single note, but the mental fatigue part seems reasonable. When I was heavily into teaching tennis I would attend tha National Tennis Teachers Conferences. These were filled with great teachers who I admired, but I found it difficult to listen to more than two one hour lectures in a row.

The funny thing is how many school administrations expect teenagers to be able to go to class after class with no break except for five minutes to walk to the next room.

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#1978085 - 10/24/12 03:46 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: Phil D]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Maybe some effective short meditation breaks would work at unfatiguing the brain. It works in other facets of stress/fatigue.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#1978149 - 10/24/12 05:44 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1901
Loc: Philadelphia area
I agree that experience more mental fatigue (or just plane boredom) than physical fatigue. It is not easy to maintain the level of focus needed for fine tuning for more than a few hours per day.

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#1978173 - 10/24/12 06:58 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Thanks for the comments, guys. Knowing the commonality of this relieves a lot of frustration.

I had accepted it as part of the job, but didn't know there were others in the boat, or just how big the boat was.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1978174 - 10/24/12 06:59 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: BoseEric]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: BoseEric
You're not alone, with the tinnitus either.


You mean I'm not the only deaf piano tuner??? laugh

If I hadn't mentioned it before, mine's drug-induced, a side-effect of the antibiotic gentamicin. If a doctor ever wants to give it to you, to switch to a different med.

My ears have been ringing continuously since 1992.




Edited by OperaTenor (10/24/12 07:01 PM)
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1978599 - 10/25/12 05:21 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1621
Loc: Chicagoland
Jim, hope you are still following this..

Two specific ideas:

1. Earplugs - high quality, musicians' type - like the ones found at www.etymotic.com I tried the custom ones first, but like the cheaper ones better! I have small ear canals, so I use the blue ones. Earplugs are to tuning as a good pair of sunglasses are to driving in the full sun... They help reduce the overload of information, while allowing us to focus on what is needed.

1. ETD Yeah, I know... this is a tough one for a lot of folks. Blah dee blah dee blah about all the pros and cons... Using one allows the tech to "live in the unison" for a bulk of the time, or even all of the time if you gain control of the best software. Reduces a bunch of listening strain.

By using these two suggestions, the limiting factor for bulk tuning becomes more physical, which can be helped by stretching or some yoga between pianos. Of course, staying focused remains a challenge, as always!

18 is my max for one day at the college, only because I had to stop to meet up people for dinner. I'm sure I could have cranked out some more. (The next day, I wasn't worth much - I quit after 9!) That was over 10 years ago, not sure I could do that again...

Ron Koval
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#1978664 - 10/25/12 09:36 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I find ear plugs just make the ringing louder.

There aren't enough hours in one day, given my other responsibilities for me to even think about tuning that many pianos. :hair:

I'm still wrapping my brain around Tunelab...
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1978681 - 10/25/12 10:15 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: UnrightTooner]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Dan:

You have said this before and I doubt it is true. The ear is a sensory organ. What muscles are you talking about?


He's right. The ER doctor told me this when I had Bell's Palsy. Closing the shower door sounded to my right ear like someone fired an M16 from a foot away. He explained that muscles in the ear are paralyzed and not responding the way they normally would.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1978694 - 10/25/12 11:03 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1621
Loc: Chicagoland
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I find ear plugs just make the ringing louder.



Yup, but when you are at the piano, can you focus on the notes through the ringing? As I concentrate and move the notes, the ringing becomes just background to ignore. Kindof like working with false beats; while you move the string notice what changes - focus on that and not the stuff that doesn't change....

Mine might be much less than yours - constant blend of notes up around 14k or so - most bothersome when I'm somewhere quiet.

Ron Koval
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#1978715 - 10/26/12 12:24 AM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I'll give it a try.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1978785 - 10/26/12 06:08 AM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Mark R. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1937
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Jim,

I differentiate between hyperacusis and tinnitus. As you might know, hyperacusis is hypersensitivity to sounds while tinnitus is non-real noise generated and/or perceived inside the ear/brain.

When my hyperacusis was bad, last year, I found that piano playing and tuning was one of the worst forms of sound to endure, and that it lead to premature "saturation". So I started using musician's earplugs. This gave my hyperacusis a bit of a break - but as you say, at the expense of increased tinnitus. The plugs definitely cut out a significant part of high frequencies, and my impression is that the brain starts "hunting" for them by turning up its "gain" even more. Hence the tinnitus becomes worse.

Initially, I wore the plugs very often, even while driving and going to the shops, but after having made the above connection with increased tinnitus, I now try to avoid the plugs whenever possible. I only ever wear them when I know that I'll be exposed to high sound levels for prolonged periods, e.g. tuning.

BTW, my tinnitus is a broad-band "white hiss" of about 12-15 kHz.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

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

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#1978901 - 10/26/12 01:15 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
I have the ringing also but have learned to ignore it when tuning. A pink noise machine at night helps deal with it when things are normally quiet. One study I read about tinnitus indicated 84 percent to 92 percent of those with tinnitus also have hyperinsulinemia, a sugar metabolism disorder. A diet similar to what diabetics use can help a lot. It has worked for me and the ringing is just faint background now....in the past it used to be like a siren blaring.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#1979071 - 10/26/12 07:57 PM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I've heard that also. Mine's drug-induced; it was a side-effect of an antibiotic I was given in 1992.

Until a few years ago, I was sure I'd never tune another piano, until Ron Koval taught me the method I use now. I know for a fact I'm twice the tuner I was before.

I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude.

smile
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1979254 - 10/27/12 11:01 AM Re: Hearing "Saturation?" [Re: OperaTenor]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2417
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
The wikipedia article on Auditory Fatigue gives good information about this issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_fatigue
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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