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#2014704 - 01/15/13 12:50 AM A week old tuning
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1248
Loc: Québec, Canada
An example of a piano tuning after one week of heavy playing.

Cheap pair of condensers about 30 inches from the strings.

Pramberger JP-185. About 18 years old, pin block will need CA in a few years.

A friends of mine's piano. His son singing all vocals with a 58.

I did the recording, and thought the tuning was good enough. It goes to show how recording a piano is difficult.

The upper tenor sounds like it needs voicing, and it does, but really not as much as it sounds in the recording.

Just thought I would ask your opinions.

Of course some unisons are off after a week, I should of touched them up before recording. This recording was for fun, but after listening I want to hit myself over the head for not having touched it up.

I would love to tune a piano in a recording studio, and come back everyday to touch it up, and get paid for it!!!


Edited by accordeur (01/15/13 01:19 AM)
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician


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#2015534 - 01/16/13 03:00 PM Re: A week old tuning [Re: accordeur]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Hi Jean,

the tuning sounds good! Of the swaying unisons, only C5 comes across as a bit sour. Luckily, it's not used much smile I'm not familiar with Prambergers, but I'd guess it's close to the break?

Anyways, the tuning stability seems good if it stays pretty much in the pocket for a week! What kind of weather do you have in Quebec? I'd guess it's as much of a challenge for a tech as what we have here, 3° F as of now.

There's no substitute for high-quality mics, but here are a couple of suggestions:

From the recording and what you write (mic position rougly 30" away from the strings), I suspect the lid might be interfering somewhat? Budget cardioid mics have a rather nasty off-axis sound - that is, any reflections hitting the mic from the side or from behind are going to sound less desirable. This is due to the cancellation properties of a cardioid mic. Sound off-axis are let in through "a back door" (holes in the side), and thus ideally hits the diaphragm at the same time from the front and the rear -> no sound.

Keeping this cancellation uniform across the frequency spectrum is hard, not to say impossible, to control. Higher frequencies are more delicate than lower frequencies, because of the shorter wavelengths requiring more precision. As a result, some frequencies are boosted while some are attenuated, creating more of a "comb filter" than an actual cancellation. The more expensive mics have less of a comb filter, because of the great care in build and materials. DPA MMC4011 would be one of the best, somewhat of an industry standard.

A closer mic placement OR mics placed further away are usually giving you a better end result. If you go close, that would be roughly 10". Difference in amplitude between the strings residing close to the mics and the ones further away is an issue, but it is not as troublesome as one might be led to believe. The body of the sound comes from the soundboard, not from the strings themselves (a fact that you as a piano tech no doubt are well aware of).

If you go further away, a good choice might be a stereo mic pair mounted to one of the broadcast standards (NOS and ORTF come to mind, in a subjective order of preference) about 30" from the piano, at half of the pianos length, pointing towards the lid hinge closest to the piano player. Another nice spot is approximately 15" above the piano player's head, pointing down towards the strings. I personally like that placement, because it's the way I'm accustomed to hearing the piano, and it also gives a L/R sensation of the bass/treble. This is for solo piano. If there are other things recorded at the same time (as I believe is the case here), a close mic placement might be the best choice.

At last, just out of curiosity, I have to ask if you might remember what color the lead vocal mic was? It sounds like a SM Beta 58 (silvery blue), but it might also be a classic SM 58 (dark grey), if presence was boosted in the mix.

Aah, I get nostalgic... my first nerdy passion (sound engineering)... smile
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

#2015584 - 01/16/13 03:55 PM Re: A week old tuning [Re: accordeur]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1248
Loc: Québec, Canada
Thanks for the response Patrick,

The weather here varies quite a lot, from 30 Celsius in summer to -30 C in winter. The piano was last tuned December 20th and the recording was done on the 28th. At that time the temp was in the -15 to -20 celsius. (I'm not familiar with farenheit).

Thanks for the suggestions about mic placement. I will experiment some more.

I use logic pro for recording with a Mackie Onyx mixer with british pre-amps. All the EQs are flat, with only reverb on the voice. And you guessed right the vocal mic is a classic SM58. The piano mics are a pair of Behringer C-2 condenser.

I've listened again a few times and, like I said before, I should of touched up the unisons in the C5 region. And yes that's in the region of the upper break. This piano player, although he is not banging on that song, really beats the heck out of the piano. It's amazing how much recording a piano will make the smallest discrepancy in tuning to really stand out.

I intend to record this guy again, and you can be sure that I will tune the piano just prior the recording.

Thanks again.

Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician


#2015643 - 01/16/13 05:16 PM Re: A week old tuning [Re: accordeur]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Hi Jean,

Over all the tuning sounded pretty good. Yes, there were a few notes here and there that were off including some unison's but over all, it sounded fine. Thanks for posting it.
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan

We love to play BF2.

#2015654 - 01/16/13 05:26 PM Re: A week old tuning [Re: accordeur]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1248
Loc: Québec, Canada
Thanks Jerry,

I just thought I would post a week old tuning on a piano played by a real banger, and also to show how recordings are difficult to judge as far as tone is concerned, but not tuning.

If anything, recording a piano will even help a tuner improve his tunings, because the "out of tuneness" really stands out.

I will try to make another recording of the piano freshly tuned, with the same mic placement, just for the sake of comparison.

About the piano needing CA soon. This is a Pramberger by Young Chang, and I have noticed that their pinblocks from those years were drilled just a bit on the loose side. They felt perfectly fine when new, but are now starting to feel a bit loose. They are still structually sound, but CA works magic with them. Perfect candidates for CA. I have done a few already, and the improvement was phenomenal and long lasting.

Thanks again,

Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician



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