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#2085646 - 05/20/13 09:12 AM Learning to tune my own unisons
Steve Peterson Offline

Bronze Level Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 122
Loc: Texas
I recently bought a wonderful Baldwin Concert Grand. My technician spent about 15 hours regulating, tuning, and voicing, it, and it sounds really good...except...

I have three notes where the unisons have slipped. They don't necessarily sound out of tune, but they are very bright and metallic stand out. Due to how even the piano felt right after his last work, I tend to think it's slipped unisons. They drive me crazy, and I have a hard time not focusing on these notes when I play.

So....I'm thinking about learning to touch up unisons on my piano. I have no desire to learn how to tune an entire piano. I haven't the time to learn to do it well enough for my standards. I have a good ear, and I have spent decades tuning cellos and basses and listening for the beats. My roommate has an old out-of-tune spinet I could practice on, so I wouldn't have to learn on my baby.

I have two questions: 1. Would you think this is feasible? Can I, with relatively little training, learn to tune unisons in reasonable manner.

2. I know there's significant technique involved in working the pin with the hammer to lock the pins in place. Because of this, I want to do it right. I'm considering asking my tech to teach me. Would you as a tech be willing to teach an interested student? If so, how much of his time would I need to learn enough to understand the basics?

Thanks,

Steve


Edited by Steve Peterson (05/20/13 07:02 PM)
_________________________
Cello, Piano, Electic Bass

1967 Baldwin SD-10 - My Baby!

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#2085669 - 05/20/13 10:20 AM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
What you are hearing may be a voicing problem, not tuning. That can change very quickly after work is done on a piano.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2085739 - 05/20/13 12:32 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
I agree with BDB that what you're describing may not be a slipped unison. It's really easy to test though: assuming the notes are trichords, stop one string with something handy (but not your finger which would leave possibly corrosive materials behind) and strike the key. Do you hear beats? Try the same test, stopping each of the three strings. If you hear no beats, the unison is in tune.

I've adjusted unisons and octaves for years. Your tech will probably be happy to show you how and to recommend the simple tools you need (a tuning hammer and a few rubber wedges).

Good luck,

Andy

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#2085747 - 05/20/13 12:56 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 794
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I have taught hundreds of students to tune pianos. Tuning a few slipped unisons using proper hammer technique is not that difficult with proper equipment and expert guidance. Especially if you have an older piano to learn on.

Have you called your tech about this problem? If it were me, I'd drop by and touch them up for you. Especially after the extent of work that was done.

Good luck.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2085881 - 05/20/13 04:37 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: AndyJ]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: AndyJ
I've adjusted unisons and octaves for years....

I probably should have added that my octaves (at least until I bought TuneLab for Android recently) were not necessarily the same as what a tuner would produce. I just tuned them to be beatless, therefore didn't include whatever stretch would have been appropriate. Since I never adjusted more than a few notes, and only when they were way off, the result was always less bad than what I began with. :-)

Andy

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#2085920 - 05/20/13 05:47 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
Herr Weiss Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 103
Loc: New York, N.Y.
Is there a way to correct the title of this thread so we can avoid confusion?

-H.W.

PS- Jerry Groot would have loved it, that's for sure.


-H.W.


Edited by Herr Weiss (05/20/13 05:53 PM)

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#2085923 - 05/20/13 05:50 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 794
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
That is basically how stretch is produced. Clean octaves have minimal beating at the higher partials. "No stretch" is defined as no beating at the 2:1 partial which leaves more beating at the higher partials, beating that is obvious to hear. (That is actually not completely correct since the 2nd partial is still stretched, but I hope you get the idea.)

When you use Tunelab to tune your octaves, do you hear some difference in the sound of the "beatless" octaves you tune by ear, and the octaves tunelab tells you are better? (What's better than beatless?)

Granted some beating of the octave is acceptable if you are trying for less beating at the larger intervals like 12th and triple octaves, especially in the very high treble, but this thread is about basic tuning, so we should keep it at that.

(Sorry Andy, I thought I was answering Steve's post but only just realized it was you who commented on Tunelab and the octaves. I'll leave it as it is. Just wanted you to know.)


Edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT (05/20/13 05:58 PM)
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2085928 - 05/20/13 05:59 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 794
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
BTW Andy, was Tunelab for Android less expensive than Tunelab for iPhone?
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2085932 - 05/20/13 06:03 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
That is basically how stretch is produced. Clean octaves have minimal beating at the higher partials. "No stretch" is defined as no beating at the 2:1 partial which leaves more beating at the higher partials, beating that is obvious to hear.

When you use Tunelab to tune your octaves, do you hear some difference in the sound of the "beatless" octaves you tune by ear, and the octaves tunelab tells you are better? (What's better than beatless?)

Granted some beating of the octave is acceptable if you are trying for less beating at the larger intervals like 12th and triple octaves, especially in the very high treble, but this thread is about basic tuning, so we should keep it at that.

That makes sense, now that I think about it. I haven't actually tested Tunelab octaves vs aural octaves. I'll be sure to do so next time.

I have to confess that I've only done one tuning with Tunelab so far. My piano is more than ready for the next one; I just haven't summoned up the gumption to dive into it. I know this is going to get easier with practice but the first one took a REALLY long time. Granted I was using the evaluation version with its 2-minute delays and now own the software, but I have to try some different hammer techniques -- and I'm reminded now that I meant to order a better hammer, too. My back hurt for two days after the last tuning and I'd rather not repeat that!

I've been planning to get some pointers from my tech but haven't been able to schedule the time.

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#2085935 - 05/20/13 06:06 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
BTW Andy, was Tunelab for Android less expensive than Tunelab for iPhone?

It's $300 on all platforms.

Andy

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#2085948 - 05/20/13 06:41 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 794
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Re: hammers and technique. There is a simple technique that I have developed, that is independent of the type of hammer and produces stable tunings on most pianos. It uses Tunelab, or equivalent, and various hammer angles/approaches to find the best one for that piano. It is also the slow pull technique I have posted about, which is less stressful on the shoulder, arm, and wrist than a jerking motion. I will try to find time to post the procedure in the future.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2085952 - 05/20/13 06:52 PM Re: Learning to turn my own unisons [Re: Steve Peterson]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Hi Mark,

Thanks, I'll be looking forward to reading your message. My one tuning turned out quite well, I think, and lasted pretty well too, so maybe my technique wasn't too bad.

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