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#1978263 - 10/24/12 11:12 PM Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 641
I have just recently taken delivery of a used Mason-Hamlin BB grand, about 7 or 8 years old. It will be ready for its first in-home tuning soon and voicing is an option, too. What do technicians feel is the best wait period before a tuning? A voicing? If the piano feels pretty close to what I want, is there a danger in voicing now and then needing to do it again someday? Can it be overdone? Do you have any other advice to make this first experience with a new-to-me technician a success and help set up a good, long-term relationship? I want to take the best possible care of my new piano and respect the knowledge and experience of piano technicians so I don't want to mess up this important appointment. Also, this piano has a damp-chaser system pre-installed and I will be having the system checked over and started up by the technician. Any suggestions about this are also welcome. Thanks.

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#1978270 - 10/24/12 11:37 PM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3367
Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
What do technicians feel is the best wait period before a tuning?


Waiting much over a week is overdoing it IMO.

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
A voicing?


Doesn't matter. But, the piano should be properly regulated, have the strings leveled, and tuned, first.


Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
If the piano feels pretty close to what I want, is there a danger in voicing now and then needing to do it again someday?


Voicing is a periodic need, and the frequency it is needed depends on how picky you are, and how much you use it.


Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
Can it be overdone?


Yes, but unlikely with an experienced voicer, and there are ways to reverse over voicing. Regardless, communication is key.


Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
Do you have any other advice to make this first experience with a new-to-me technician a success and help set up a good, long-term relationship?


Yes. Be as clear as possible when describing what you want.

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
Also, this piano has a damp-chaser system pre-installed and I will be having the system checked over and started up by the technician.


Make sure you don't let it run dry.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1978275 - 10/24/12 11:50 PM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2464
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
If the hammers are significantly grooved, I'd resurface them before voicing.

At the risk of starting a debate, I'd give the piano more time to acclimate. I think three or four weeks is reasonable.

An anecdotal case in point: One of my customers who lives close to the coast bought a 2007 Petrof IV that had lived its life up to that point in the desert. When it was first delivered, it was ~15 cents flat across the board. I came back a month later for its first tuning, and 2/3 of the scale was 2-3 cents sharp. All from absorbing moisture.
_________________________
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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#1978277 - 10/24/12 11:51 PM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2464
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
BTW, is this the piano from Cunningham?
_________________________
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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#1978313 - 10/25/12 02:11 AM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
"voicing" is covering for a lot of operations, and is only part of the overall refinement on a piano.

if done on a misregulated piano, can be overdone to correct harshness created by lack of finesse in regulation.

I suggest you first learn to know your technician and vice versa.

he may listen to you playing before proposing something.

piano can be in good condition, just a little disturbrd by the moving, or had no maintenance course followed, so giving advice is not easy... but a piano should be fairly stable at this age...

I suggest you dont have a lot done immediately unless it sound crystal clear it is necessary and why. The explanations and samples/demonstration are to come from the technician, in my opinion.

did he follow the instrument beforethen ? I would wait and learn yo know my piano , have it made absolutely even first, wh
ich mean regulation tweaks and lubes, plus evening of actuaal tone, then if something have to be done, may be it is first due to the room acoustics.. All this may be clear

a typical maintenance visit will be one day to 1 and a half, depending of the hammer wear and tuning quality.

i would wait to be sure I talk of the same thing with the technician, particularely if he is new to me (hoping he does not have to travel from far to come by)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#1978364 - 10/25/12 05:38 AM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
wayne walker Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 515
Loc: Windsor,Nova Scotia Canada
Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I have just recently taken delivery of a used Mason-Hamlin BB grand, about 7 or 8 years old. It will be ready for its first in-home tuning soon and voicing is an option, too. What do technicians feel is the best wait period before a tuning? A voicing? If the piano feels pretty close to what I want, is there a danger in voicing now and then needing to do it again someday? Can it be overdone? Do you have any other advice to make this first experience with a new-to-me technician a success and help set up a good, long-term relationship? I want to take the best possible care of my new piano and respect the knowledge and experience of piano technicians so I don't want to mess up this important appointment. Also, this piano has a damp-chaser system pre-installed and I will be having the system checked over and started up by the technician. Any suggestions about this are also welcome. Thanks.


If the Dampp-Chaser hasn't been started yet, I would get the unit filled and plug in. You should wait about 4 weeks after the Dampp-Chaser has been operating before you have the piano tune
_________________________
Wayne Walker
Walker's Piano Service
http://www.walkerpiano.ca/

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#1978372 - 10/25/12 07:02 AM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
James Carney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/10
Posts: 440
Loc: new york city
Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I have just recently taken delivery of a used Mason-Hamlin BB grand, about 7 or 8 years old. It will be ready for its first in-home tuning soon and voicing is an option, too. What do technicians feel is the best wait period before a tuning? A voicing? If the piano feels pretty close to what I want, is there a danger in voicing now and then needing to do it again someday? Can it be overdone? Do you have any other advice to make this first experience with a new-to-me technician a success and help set up a good, long-term relationship? I want to take the best possible care of my new piano and respect the knowledge and experience of piano technicians so I don't want to mess up this important appointment. Also, this piano has a damp-chaser system pre-installed and I will be having the system checked over and started up by the technician. Any suggestions about this are also welcome. Thanks.


I think this is a fantastic post and you are asking great questions!

Make sure the tech installs new humidifier pads in the DC, and be aware that turning on the DC will affect the tuning. Dampp-Chaser recommends waiting three weeks after installation before tuning. But there is nothing wrong with getting a tuning right away, as long as you are prepared to retune a month from now. In some ways its not a bad idea to do two tunings 3-4 weeks apart; that way, the second tuning has the chance to be ultra stable if the tech has good technique.

Pianos that are 7-8 years old invariably will benefit from "touch-up" work to the regulation and voicing. Depending on the use the piano received, this might mean reshaping hammers and spending a day or two optimizing the regulation. If the previous use was very light, and the piano was set up correctly to begin with, it might only take several hours to get it into good shape.

Think of voicing as a part of the regulation process, and vice versa. It doesn't make sense to stick needles in hammers when flanges are loose, letoff is 1/4" away, hammers are misaligned from strings, etc. Those things need to be optimized first to maximize the potential of the instrument.

I often voice hammers on the first visit with a piano, but I make sure that the basics are taken care of before doing so. I can't overstate how often the tone of a piano can be improved dramatically by simply correcting the regulation and tightening up the action screws. You can also read the post on "hammer center pinning effect on tone", and you can mention that to your tech as well. They may well be aware of this, but it might be a new concept they don't know about. You asked if the voicing can be overdone. Yes, it can, but someone who is talented and experienced will almost never do something irreversible to the hammers.

Ask lots of questions to your new tech and observe the responses. My favorite clients are those who are interested in learning as much as they can about the piano and its care/maintenance. Hopefully this new tech was referred by another pianist who has been very happy with the work and tunings done by the tech. It's truly a word-of-mouth business and great techs who have integrity and honesty will stay busy.
_________________________
Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
www.jamescarney.net
http://jamescarneypianotuning.wordpress.com/

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#1978399 - 10/25/12 08:55 AM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: OperaTenor]
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 641
Yes, this is the piano I bought from Cunningham's. It is wonderful. The middle and upper register went a little sharp after delivery (it sat overnight on a trailer and it was cold that night, and the cabinet actually was sweating when they were unwrapping it and putting the legs on, plus a long trip from Philly) but I know pianos can shift up or down as they adjust to a new setting so I don't want to rush into the first tuning until it settles a little. Just not sure how long I should wait. It is very playable right now, so I am not in a hurry especially.

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#1978401 - 10/25/12 09:04 AM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 641
Answers to a few of the questions asked above: Cunningham's had just finished regulating and tuning the piano when I bought it. Rich is going to recommend a tuner/tech from my area since I am new there and know no one. The damp-chaser was in the piano and had been used before so I know it might need some things done by a tech before I fill it and plug it in. It sounds like it might be the first thing to do, then wait a bit for a tuning? Or tune it when he does the work with the damp-chaser and then tune again in a few weeks or months? I just want to do what's best for the piano and foster a stable situation for tuning if possible.

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#1978622 - 10/25/12 06:46 PM Re: Tech advice on first tuning and voicing of piano [Re: Chopinlover49]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19640
Loc: New York City
I would wait to do any significant voicing. Maybe the only exception would be if a few notes clearly and obviously need something to make them match the rest of the piano or have severe total problems. I think you have to get used to the sound of the piano as is before you can be sure about any changes. If you eventually decide on having it voiced, I would ask the tech to voice a few of the notes and see how you like the result and then discuss things further. And have him make changes gradually(assuming the piano is reasonable close to what you like...which I assume it is since you bought it!).

Don't worry about doing something wrong during the first tech visit. About the only think you could do wrong is not paying him or being rude. There are no bad questions and no good tech should expect you to be expert on anything. But do talk to him a little before or after he tunes the piano.

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