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#2046373 - 03/11/13 07:38 AM Modern improvements to the Piano
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
I have these ideas from time to time. Moneymaking ones. Like Hydraulic powered golf clubs (which would get you barred from the golf club) or, rotating outdoor clothes dryers (someone beat me to it) So, I Proudly Present to you good people - A Blueprint for a Maintenance Free Piano!

It is 2013. Pianos have moving parts. Cars have moving parts which require no maintenance save oil changes and minor adjustments over a prolonged mileage.

So firstly - we have the Electrically Operated String Tuner. Yes, you`d need a few. But they would perform minute movement neceassary to tighten up any string that had slipped out of tune. A rachet could maintain the string effectively; the tuning device would operate according to the information it had concerning the string. You wouldn`t know it was happening; you would know that it NEVER went out of tune. And if, after a time, the rate of tuning increased, it could indicate the need to restring. AND - get this - they could be set for any temperament instantly! How good`s that?

The keys and hammer mechanisms associated with striking the strings, well, I can see no reason why modern materials and bearings which could be used should ever need adjustment; this could surely be designed into any piano that ever existed.

These are just two suggestions easily designable yet to my knowledge, not. You could also have hammer felts which were synthetic, and repairable by filling in the slots which the strings generate over time with the proprietary filler made for the job. And of course, there could be various grades available to give your piano the sound most appealing to you.

All this good stuff coming your way guys! Who`s gonna make a fortune? You can use my ideas anytime you like . . .

Or you can laugh, shake your heads.. .and continue paying heavily . . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

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#2046388 - 03/11/13 08:51 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Eric Gloo Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1176
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
The self-tuning piano already exists.
_________________________
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Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2046394 - 03/11/13 09:13 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
concertina Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Canada
Tell us more, Eric...

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#2046403 - 03/11/13 09:44 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3323
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I recall reading about a self tuning piano that worked by sending a small electric current through all strings. The current through the strings could be varied which caused a slight thermal expansion or contraction which lowered or raised the pitch. A computer was in charged of sensing and altering the current level through the strings. The piano still needed to be rough tuned by a human, the computer took care of the fine-tuning. That might be what Eric is referring to.

Peter: I get what you are saying, but I think you also underestimate the amount of precision necessary for what you are talking about. Getting machines that involve ratchets and gears to move so incrementally like a good tuner is not an easy task. Of course it could be done - but I think it's prohibitively expensive to do. Piano companies are busy trying to remain profitable so spending maybe $10-20 million on such an exacting engineering project would be beyond most piano companies, with the possible exception of giants like Samick and Pearl River.

Regarding the action parts: I think that's already happening WNG and Kawai both make carbon fiber actions that have great stability and durability. Things like felt bushings will always be wearable items because they have to endure significant friction but they also have cushioning functions. No machine is totally maintenance free though. Steingraeber is building pianos with carbon fiber soundboards. There is some interesting stuff happening out there.

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#2046409 - 03/11/13 10:05 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4182
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


here is some reading about Don Gilmore's invention.

Self tuning piano search results
_________________________
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2046429 - 03/11/13 11:04 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1457
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Gilmore's electrically heated strings seem clever, until you consider that the heat used to flatten the at room temp sharp strings, will continue to warm the plate above ambient conditions, and this makes the strings sharp again, and thus the strings will require ever more heat to keep them from climbing sharp by the expanding plate. I predict that after many hours of operation the self-tuning boundaries would be reached and the piano would go back out of tune.

WN&G parts have the potential to work "forever" except for the cushioning parts.

Sheep's wool hammers have a very advantageous non-linear elasticity that is responsible for much of the dynamic tone color variability of a fine piano. I know of no artificial materials equal to the task.

Selfish plug here; I have a patent application in for my "Fully Tempered Duplex Scale" and you can link to a just published article about it in the March 2013 PTG journal over in the Tech Forum under the topic Fully Tempered Duplex Scale.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2046437 - 03/11/13 11:21 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
PianistInJapan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/13
Posts: 32
Loc: Japan
Gilmore's electrically heated strings may save you some dollars on the tuner, but the electricity bill will certainly explode. Imagine how many amperes you'll have to drive through more than 200 wires to heat them up...
_________________________
Kawai RX-2
Kawai PN390 digital

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#2046480 - 03/11/13 01:57 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Eric Gloo]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
"The self-tuning piano already exists."

I`m gutted! frown
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2046487 - 03/11/13 02:05 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
shaolin95 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 474
Originally Posted By: peterws
"The self-tuning piano already exists."

I`m gutted! frown


Allow me to quote South Park... "Simpsons did it!" laugh

In all honesty, call me a romantic but the whole technician coming home thing reminds me of old times doctors visits. smile


Edited by shaolin95 (03/11/13 04:31 PM)
_________________________
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#2046547 - 03/11/13 04:00 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
All great ideas, Peter, but until they
make a piano that plays by itself, concider
me bored. yawn
_________________________
http://DulceLabs.com
Sound, Video, Design

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#2046568 - 03/11/13 05:02 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Scott Hamlin]
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10337
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: Plinky88
All great ideas, Peter, but until they
make a piano that plays by itself, concider
me bored. yawn


www.pianodisc.com
_________________________
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Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

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Since 1937.

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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2046582 - 03/11/13 05:33 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Steve Cohen]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
That pianodisc is more difficult to rig up than any o` my suggestions . . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2046606 - 03/11/13 06:11 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Steve Cohen]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Plinky88
All great ideas, Peter, but until they
make a piano that plays by itself, concider
me bored. yawn


www.pianodisc.com


I guess I need to remember
to turn on the "sarcasm" tags. laugh
_________________________
http://DulceLabs.com
Sound, Video, Design

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#2046626 - 03/11/13 06:48 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Scott Hamlin]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
Come on, man! This is not boring. I`ve worked out how to do it . . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2046629 - 03/11/13 06:56 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3323
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Gilmore's electrically heated strings seem clever, until you consider that the heat used to flatten the at room temp sharp strings, will continue to warm the plate above ambient conditions, and this makes the strings sharp again, and thus the strings will require ever more heat to keep them from climbing sharp by the expanding plate. I predict that after many hours of operation the self-tuning boundaries would be reached and the piano would go back out of tune.


Cast iron has one of the lower thermal expansion coefficients amongst common metals - less than metals used in strings. I think you'd find the system would stabilise relatively quickly. There is far greater mass in the plate than the strings, the currents through the strings are small, and the plate is able to dissipate heat too. Thermal contact between the strings and the plate is not very direct. That means very inefficient heat transfer. I would expect the plate is able to dissipate heat just as fast as it absorbs it. Keep in mind, the piano is supposed to be tuned by a human to a fairly accurate degree, the tiny currents are only to prevent unisons drifting out and minor pitch changes.

In short, I think it works. Not that many people would go for the whole box and dice.

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#2046641 - 03/11/13 07:17 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore
Cat electrocuted by self tuning piano...film at 11...

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#2046656 - 03/11/13 07:57 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Mark...]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Cat electrocuted by self tuning piano...film at 11...


_________________________
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Sound, Video, Design

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#2046683 - 03/11/13 09:42 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1457
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Ando,
Cast iron and high-carbon steel (piano wire) have almost identical thermal co-efficients of expansion. Of course the strings can change temp more rapidly than the casting, over time the heat added to the strings will warm the plate. Gilmore has the strings electrically isolated from the plate-not thermally isolated. If I remember correctly the upper temp he can raise the strings to is around 105F. So if the ambient temp reaches 85F that doesn't leave much room to lower the strings with heat. Granted 85F is a little hot to be playing a piano but it does get done. The plate takes a long time to change temp-but it does over time given a steady input of thermal gradient. Slow temp changes will not change the pitch of a piano because plate and strings react with the same dimensional change.



Self-tuning pianos are an exercise in futility given all the physical and musical constraints.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2046688 - 03/11/13 09:46 PM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
ahhsmurf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Banned
The self-tuning piano already exists.

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#2046797 - 03/12/13 02:37 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: ahhsmurf]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1795
Loc: Suffolk, England
Electronic transducers that drive the soundboard directly would be an interesting advance.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2046800 - 03/12/13 02:50 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Withindale]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
"The self-tuning piano already exists."

(I know, I`ve already got one. Keep yer voice down man, they might hear ya)
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2046805 - 03/12/13 03:01 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
"So if the ambient temp reaches 85F that doesn't leave much room to lower the strings with heat. Granted 85F is a little hot to be playing a piano but it does get done.

Rooms may well reach that temp in certain lands. This seems like a good idea needing a bit of a push . . bugger the cat
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2046840 - 03/12/13 07:32 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1693
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Ando,
Cast iron and high-carbon steel (piano wire) have almost identical thermal co-efficients of expansion. Of course the strings can change temp more rapidly than the casting, over time the heat added to the strings will warm the plate. Gilmore has the strings electrically isolated from the plate-not thermally isolated. If I remember correctly the upper temp he can raise the strings to is around 105F. So if the ambient temp reaches 85F that doesn't leave much room to lower the strings with heat. Granted 85F is a little hot to be playing a piano but it does get done. The plate takes a long time to change temp-but it does over time given a steady input of thermal gradient. Slow temp changes will not change the pitch of a piano because plate and strings react with the same dimensional change.



Self-tuning pianos are an exercise in futility given all the physical and musical constraints.


I believe Ando is correct. There is no reason to assume the plate's temperature rise will equal the strings' temperature rise, and many reasons to believe it won't. The strings are above the plate, so convection currents will carry most of the heat from the strings away from the plate. As Ando pointed out, the plate has a very large surface area from which to radiate and convect heat. I bet you'd find that Gilmore's device would raise plate temp a few tenths of a degree, or maybe a degree at the most.

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#2046841 - 03/12/13 07:34 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
backto_study_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 388
Loc: Australia
It was 85 here today - 6 weeks ago, we had days more like 95 max most days for a couple of weeks, 70 at night - how would that fluctuation affect things. In central Australia, temps around 110 daytime, 85-90 at night would be a real problem - but there aren't a real lot of pianos out there.
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Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#2046847 - 03/12/13 08:04 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: backto_study_piano]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
Originally Posted By: backto_study_piano
It was 85 here today - 6 weeks ago, we had days more like 95 max most days for a couple of weeks, 70 at night - how would that fluctuation affect things. In central Australia, temps around 110 daytime, 85-90 at night would be a real problem - but there aren't a real lot of pianos out there.



"It's not the heat, it's the humidity!" *discuss*
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http://DulceLabs.com
Sound, Video, Design

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#2046851 - 03/12/13 08:22 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Mark...]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Cat electrocuted by self tuning piano...film at 11...


smile
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website

mp3\wav files

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#2046855 - 03/12/13 08:24 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
Hey Peter... I think the self-tuning
piano has already been invented. grin
_________________________
http://DulceLabs.com
Sound, Video, Design

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#2046862 - 03/12/13 08:49 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: Scott Hamlin]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3118
Loc: Northern England.
I`ll sing y`a song that`ll get on yer nerves get on yer nerves get on yer nerves I`ll sing y`a song that`ll get on yer nerves get on yer nerves get on yer nerves I`ll sing y`a song that`ll get on yer nerves get on yer nerves get on yer nerves
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2046864 - 03/12/13 08:51 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Introducing the new KitchenAide und Sohne G-220v with Radiant String Technology.

Grill steaks while you play some hot Tangos!
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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2046915 - 03/12/13 10:50 AM Re: Modern improvements to the Piano [Re: peterws]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
I would love to have my piano in tune all the time. As a part time tuner, I tune mine myself, but I would still love to not have to do it.

Mr. Gilmore has been working on this a long time and I expect he has addressed all of the issues folks are coming up with.

From time to time he has been on this forum answering questions. I don't know how to contact him but maybe someone does. I would like to know what the status of his project is.
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