Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#1977237 - 10/22/12 06:48 PM How to assess a tuning?
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 220
Loc: No. Va.
Hi! I am new to the piano(about three years), but have been a musician for 30 years. I have no problem realizing that a guitar or bass is out of tune, but with a piano? Fuggetaboutit!
Unless it's really bad, I'm probably clueless. This is a problem because I am my church's pianist. It's my responsibility to make sure the piano is kept in decent tune.
If it were my personal instrument, I'd have it tuned twice a year and not worry about it. But being it is the church's I have to justify more than one tuning per year. I would like to be able to sit down at the piano and demonstate why the piano needs tuning more often. I would also like to be able to catch the tuning before it gets really bad, making the tuner's job much more difficult and time consuming.
I play by ear, and have no formal training, so assume that I may not understand some of the musical vernacular used. Can anyone help me to understand how to assess the tuning?
I have done a search, but can't find the info I need. Thanks in advance for any help.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


Top
(ad PTG 568) Win a Year Journal Subscription
PTG 57th Annual Convention - Atlanta
#1977259 - 10/22/12 08:01 PM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1903
Loc: Philadelphia area
Measure the pitch fluctuations and relative humidity fluctuations and present the readings with some literature about piano service and tuning.

Top
#1977276 - 10/22/12 08:48 PM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
You're not expected by tuners anyway, to know the difference because your training is in your field not ours. Just like our training is in our field, not yours. Without properly training as many tuners have done, you won't be able to hear it. But, if you had an ETD, you could check notes on the piano against it just to give you a "general idea" as to where the pitch is now verses where it was when the piano was tuned. Bear in mind however, that what your particular ETD tells you, may not be where the tuner intentionally tuned that note on the piano.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

Top
#1977282 - 10/22/12 09:00 PM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Zeno Wood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 438
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
This is a tricky endeavor. You would like to sit down at the piano and demonstrate that it needs tuning - to whom are you demonstrating? If it's to the people who will authorize the payment for more tunings, this wil be very difficult, as they are probably not musicians, and thus would not be very sensitive to what musicians and tuners would consider out of tune.

A multi-prong approach might work, incorporating what other commenters have already stated, but all together.

- Literature regarding pianos, humidity, manufacturer's recommendations. (the Dampp-Chaser/Piano LifeSaver website has some good material, although it presents one of its units as the answer, not more tunings)
- You could make humidity and temperature recordings over a period of time and present that.
- Combine this with recordings of variation of pitch, using an ETD (you can download Tunelab's trial version, or perhaps even use Audacity)
- When it comes to playing the piano and hoping they have anything less than tin ears, one area that often sounds nice and bad is the bass-tenor break: play octaves that span the break and hopefully they'll howl real loud. Often playing something and making a sour face will help their imaginations.

Good luck!
_________________________
Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College

Top
#1977308 - 10/22/12 10:44 PM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3834
The area of the piano that will change pitch first is from C3 to E4. If checking pitch, this is the area to check. Most churches in your area of the country are going to need two to four tunings a year. You can help the stability of the piano by keeping the church cold in winter (about 50F) unless occupied, and running A/C in summer (much harder to do because of the cost). Get a piano cover and a full DC system, and maintain it. Those things will help keep the piano stable. For longer lasting tunings, tune the piano about 2 weeks after the change of seasons. Changes in season are the big reason pianos go out of tune.

The rest depends on your ear. Some churches wait way too long between tunings, and all I can do is shake my head each time I arrive. On the other hand, one church tunes about every 2 months - The piano has a full DC and piano cover and I move the piano about 2 cents at each tuning. That music director is very picky.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






Top
#1977370 - 10/23/12 12:55 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
SweetMusicLover Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/20/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'm dreadfully new to the forum (in fact this is my first post.) However, I am not new to piano tuning having tuned and rebuilt pianos for over 24 years now. I have a very simple way to help people understand the importance of regular piano tuning. It is as simple as this: when a tuner tunes a piano, he/she must adjust the positions of the strings and the tuning pins. If the piano has been permitted to drift so far off its proper tuning that the tuner will have to move the strings and pins a great distance, this will sabotage the piano's ability to stand nicely in tune.

The more you have to move the strings and pins, the less stable the tuning. It is OK if you cannot hear that the piano is out of tune. The real bottom line is that, if you should let the piano go too long between tunings, you will hear a difference.

When an amatuer can hear that the piano has had a remarkable change during its last tuning, that is definite proof that the lovely new tuning is not going to stay in place well.

Maybe that can help you.

David Rodgers
_________________________
There's always room for improvement.

Top
#1977385 - 10/23/12 01:52 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Mike, you are correct about how a piano is quite different from a guitar or other instruments in regards to it being in and out of tune and the severity of it. There is the additional issue of unisons being out also. I find it much easier to demonstrate an out of tune unison than subtle shifts on the temperament or the clarity of octaves. Tuners often take for granted all the things we learn to hear in the tuning.

An ETD can sometimes help show things being askew. A visual spinner is far more easily recognized to an untrained person than a slow roll on an interval that shouldn't have one.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

Top
#1977390 - 10/23/12 02:08 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7230
Loc: France
I am far from sure that the tuning quality and little drifts can be perceived easily in churches, (anyway the kind of churches we have here with a lot of reverberation)
By an experimented tuner, and some musicians certainly, but for the layman, the piano need to be severly out of tune to be noticed, in those environments.. Or may be when it plays with other instruments ( drums wink ?)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#1977405 - 10/23/12 03:09 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: pianonewb
.... I have no problem realizing that a guitar or bass is out of tune, but with a piano? .... Can anyone help me to understand how to assess the tuning?

It is a specific type of ear training that piano tuners use, which is different from that of musicians.
I suggest the following: the next time the piano tuner comes, ask him/her to demonstrate notes that are badly out of tune and compare those to notes that are in tune. Listen carefully as the tuner sets intervals such as octaves or fifths, and then creates pure unisons. Let them explain what they are doing.

WARNING: Once you can begin to hear the beats in unisons and intervals, you can't go back. You may begin to hear the out-of-tuneness everywhere. This can be very frustrating for some people. Cross that threshold at you peril.....
tiki
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

Top
#1977410 - 10/23/12 03:46 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1067
Loc: PA
Though this won't help you to assess the instrument any better, I do have a suggestion that might help persuade the church to keep the piano tuned more regularly.

You could just ask your current tuner to send the church a reminder card through the mail twice a year. Or, a reminder email.


Edited by daniokeeper (10/23/12 03:48 AM)
Edit Reason: Rewrote first sentence for clarity
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

Top
#1977450 - 10/23/12 07:09 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: Supply]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

Jurgen makes a very good point:

Originally Posted By: Supply
.....

WARNING: Once you can begin to hear the beats in unisons and intervals, you can't go back. You may begin to hear the out-of-tuneness everywhere. This can be very frustrating for some people. Cross that threshold at you peril.....
tiki



Unlike other responders, I think there are some things an ordinary player can listen for, and not be too distracted.

First is unisons. Like a 12 string guitar, the notes are produced by more than one string. Listen to the Beatles "Day Tripper." That 12 string guitar was deliberatly mis-tuned to have a wowowowow in the unisons. If a piano has unisons that sound like that, it needs tuned.

Second is the octaves. The place where they change the most is across the "break." The break is where the bass strings cross over the treble strings. Lift the lid of the piano and look. Find the lowest note above the break and the highest note below the break. Now listen to the octaves, chromatically, above the break and then as they straddle the break. When the humidity changes, the octaves that straddle the break will sound foul compared to the ones above the break. Again, time to get it tuned.

But regardless, get it tuned at least once a year so that the tuning has a chance to be a stable one. David Rodgers explained it well.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

Top
#1977490 - 10/23/12 09:05 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: Supply]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 599
Loc: shirley, MA
Originally Posted By: Supply
WARNING: Once you can begin to hear the beats in unisons and intervals, you can't go back. You may begin to hear the out-of-tuneness everywhere. This can be very frustrating for some people. Cross that threshold at you peril.....
tiki


I hear this a lot, and worried about it seriously before I decided to take piano work as my way to earn a living...but Jurgen, my experience was completely opposite to this.

I played piano for many years before becoming a tech/rebuilder, and I have to say that finally hearing a piano that is really in tune, I mean a piano with a live board, well prepped and dead nuts in tune with all 7 octaves coupled, completely changed how I hear and what I expected to hear when I sit down to play. I really shouldn't say "changed" how I hear, because I had been wanting to hear that sound since I was 15, but the instruments I encountered, with very very few exceptions led be to think that the sound, the sound my 15 yr old ears wanted to hear, was a fiction. As a tech, I'm happy to report that this sound is not a fiction. Not only that, but being a tech, learning to hear way deeper and deeper into the sound has vastly improved the experience of playing for me, and gotten me off of a musical plateau I was stuck on for a number of years.

What happens when pianos sound bad, ie when one lacks the positive feedback provided by a decently tuned/prepped piano, is one replaces the experience of listening to the piano's present actual nasty sound with a psychologically constructed sound.

The fact is that many people, even accomplished pianists who should be, in theory, listening, don't know what a tuned piano sounds like. This because, in many cases they've learned, as I learned previous to my piano work, how to stop listening. This aural dead zone, or forgetting what in tune feels like is inspired by many years of frustrating piano induced discomfort.

To the OP:

The first step to convince your elders to put up for a decently tuned piano, is to get a piano, any piano...it doesn't have to be the church's piano...any piano...dead nuts tuned and voiced, so you can personally can experience the way a beautiful piano FEELS...sound is a feeling...go with that feeling and skip the nitty gritty particulars.

Once you get the sense of how it feels to be in tune...of how you no longer flinch when you play all or certain notes, but rather relish in the tonal sensuality, then, armed with the vision of how you want your church piano to sound, and how you would like your fellow parishioners to experience it, you have the personal authority and emotional ability to insist the elder provide this basic requirement for your services.

I really think you need to convince yourself before you try to convince them, and the way to convince yourself is to reacquaint yourself with the way a piano could sound.

Jim Ialeggio
_________________________
Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA

Top
#1977492 - 10/23/12 09:16 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
wcctuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 111
Loc: Princeton, NJ
Another way to present this-looking at this as a tuner and a church organist and music director. Tune three times a year. First, in September as choir rehearsals start, assuming you use the piano for rehearsals and for performance during the service. Second, between Thanksgiving and Christmas-Christmas is a busy season for church musicians, and most churches present a lot of music during Advent and Christmas. Third time, close to Easter. Again, a time when music programs in the church are busy. Your major events and seasons are covered, and the piano should be close enough for the rest of the year. Your financial chairman might balk at this, but if you want an effective music ministry in your church, the instruments have to be maintained.
_________________________
Dave Forman
Piano Technician, Westminster Choir College of Rider University

Top
#1977538 - 10/23/12 11:05 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 220
Loc: No. Va.
Thanks so much for all of your replies. They are really appreciated.
I have a lot to think of, but you've given me enough information to choose how to go about it.
Jeff Deutschle, your advice on unisons, octaves, and the area of the piano where the "break" is located, is what I was looking for in my original post. There are several musicians in our church. One is a deacon. I'm quite sure I can use this to help him ( and myself)hear what we are talking about.
But there is so much good information in this thread that I feel like I'm about as equipped for this as I can get.
Thank you.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


Top
#1977849 - 10/24/12 04:01 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7230
Loc: France
"the only thing needed for pianos to be sounding bad is to the tuners to do nothing about "

I Hope this sentence will satisfy your Manichaeism wink


Edited by Kamin (10/24/12 08:07 AM)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#1977884 - 10/24/12 07:18 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Weiyan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 746
Loc: Hong Kong
Controlling number of tunings per year doesn't guarantee the piano is in tune, since not all tuners have same tuning quality.

If you can tune guitar aurally, you can hear piano tuning.

First play chromatic scale slowly, if the note have wave or sounds like tremolo, the unison is out of tune.

Play major chords in 3th and 4th octaves, if the colors are not same, the temperament have problem.

Then play a base note with chord at middle range, you can hear consonant. If the base is too hard, octave stress may have problem.

Hold down paddle, play d-d'-s'-d''-m''(root, 8th, 13th, 15th and 17th), you can hear consonant.

Finally, play your favorite song. Play at different piano, you can hear the difference.
_________________________
Fake Book player
Ragtime beginner
http://weiyanwo.wordpress.com

Top
#1981268 - 11/01/12 09:05 AM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 663
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote:
Unless it's really bad, I'm probably clueless. This is a problem because I am my church's pianist. It's my responsibility to make sure the piano is kept in decent tune.
If it were my personal instrument, I'd have it tuned twice a year and not worry about it. But being it is the church's I have to justify more than one tuning per year. I would like to be able to sit down at the piano and demonstate why the piano needs tuning more often. - Mike


This is a problem, even for an experienced tuner. I got tired of having customers tell me over the phone that their piano was "doing okay," so I put together a little article that I could email to them if they wanted to make sure. Amazing how many call backs I would get after sending this information out with the owner saying that they had changed their mind. Anyway, here's the article: "How to Tell if Your Piano is Out of Tune."

Good luck with your responsibilities as church pianist. A lot of work! Best wishes, Chuck Behm
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

Top
#1983579 - 11/06/12 10:13 PM Re: How to assess a tuning? [Re: pianonewb]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Be wary of anybody using using a number accompanied by the word "percent" for how well in tune it is...lol

Here is a piano that is 95% in tune according to the owner...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fdy3cuxkk0
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

Top

Moderator:  Piano World 
What's Hot!!
Our latest Issue is available now...
Piano News - Interesting & Fun Piano Related Newsletter! (free)
-------------------
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
152 registered (accordeur, Al LaPorte, Alex-SapRenovation, 45 invisible), 1905 Guests and 18 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75574 Members
42 Forums
156262 Topics
2294822 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Proper chunking method
by Edtek
07/29/14 03:10 PM
Lamp for Piano
by DancerJ
07/29/14 03:08 PM
Sonatina in G
by Ritzycat
07/29/14 03:06 PM
schulze pollmann upright piano SP-114/p4
by how0425
07/29/14 03:01 PM
Looking for my next piece
by Mallory
07/29/14 02:39 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission