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#2104303 - 06/18/13 10:33 AM Do I trust this tuner?
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 358
I've owned my Yamaha upright for about seven years. It was a used piano, but the first time I had it tuned (a couple of months after buying it), the tuner said he was impressed with the quality of the instrument, and when he looked it up to see when it was built, he was shocked that it was as old as it was (built in the 1980s).

Anyway, I tune it every year. I wish I had the funds to do it twice a year, because I have "perfect pitch" (I've seen threads on that here, and mine is about as complicated as it gets, I guess) and because I teach on this piano. I have moved a few times and always tune it after moving, but not right after. I have hired three or four different tuners over the years because of moving.

Anyway, last August, I had a different guy tune it than I'd been using before. I think the woman who tuned it the previous few years couldn't do it for some reason. Anyway, he seemed like an expert, talking a lot about his schooling back east and how lots of piano tuners aren't all that qualified or well trained.

He recommended a pitch raise, which was a surprise to me. I have never had a tuner recommend that before, and my last tuning was a year before this guy came. Furthermore, I have a good ear, and if it was even half a pitch off, I'd know. And I have a metronome that plays A440, and it's just about right on with my piano. Some of the very low and very high notes get out of tune faster than others, I guess.

Part of me wants to say, "This guy knows more than my other tuners did because he noticed this problem that they didn't," and part of me wonders if he's just trying to get me to do the pitch raise because he'd make more money if I did.

If it were you, would you go with this tuner next time, or go back to my previous (female) tuner? I'm leaning toward the latter. If she recommends a pitch raise too, then I'll know for sure that I need one.

But if she doesn't, I might wonder . . .
_________________________
Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC

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#2104315 - 06/18/13 11:09 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4237
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

A few things to consider;

It is fine to wait a month or so following a move to tune the instrument.

If the pitch was low on your piano, this could have been demonstrated to you by the technician prior to PR and tuning. I make a habit of demonstrating to the client problems associated with the instrument.

A metronome does not determine nor play in pitch; a metronome counts time.

If you feel more comfortable with the former tuner then make that choice.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2104319 - 06/18/13 11:17 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rxd Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1842
Loc: London, England
This tuning is almost a year ago. It sounds as though you trust your former (female) tuner. Try to get her back and put this experience behind you and learn from it. There's no real way for any of us to judge this situation reliably.

By the way, how much is "half a pitch off"? That's a new one on me.

Edit: Dan, modern electronic metronomes do sound a pitch reference note or two and those notes are often adjustable within a limited range.


Edited by rxd (06/18/13 11:37 AM)
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.

"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2104329 - 06/18/13 11:35 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 358
By "half a pitch off," I meant that an A would be halfway to A flat. I don't know the correct way to say that.

I agree. I was just wondering if someone with more expertise would know right off the bat if something sounded fishy. I think I will go with my previous tuner.
_________________________
Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC

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#2104333 - 06/18/13 11:40 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1246
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Brinestone
By "half a pitch off," I meant that an A would be halfway to A flat. I don't know the correct way to say that.


That would be 50 cents flat, a profound degree of flatness.
Regards,

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#2104354 - 06/18/13 12:05 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rxd Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1842
Loc: London, England
There are charlatans around so it behooves every piano owner to learn to use a pitch reference to ascertain the pitch of their piano with a degree of accuracy.

Using terms like half a pitch when you mean a quarter tone may be a clear signal to a practiced con man. Specify flat or sharp, not "off" and you will gain more respect as a musician.

It is not necessary to tune your own piano to know a thing or two about it. There are smartphone apps that will tell you at a glance or an inexpensive guitar tuner for a few dollars will protect you from rogue traders. The dial tone of a landline telephone in the USA is an equal tempered f and a. (If anybody still has one).
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.

"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2104369 - 06/18/13 12:34 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
The chances of your piano going that flat in just a year are extremely slim. Either your previous tuner has been tuning it there, or your new tuner is lying to you. If the old tuner tuned it that flat, you most certainly want to find out why, she may have seen something the new tuner didn't. (Or been too lazy to pull it up, it could go both ways.) Use Google to find a strobe tuner and check to see where the middle of the piano is registering. The outer octaves won't be at "mathematical pitch", so there's no point in trying to check them on a strobe tuner. If the middle is close to pitch, the guy is lying to you.
_________________________
Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2104396 - 06/18/13 01:09 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
That Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/11
Posts: 413
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Ya know, if right off the bat he has to tell you how qualified he is, that raises a big red flag for me. If people ask me I'll be glad to tell them how I was trained but I don't offer that information unless they ask. It sounds to me like he was trying to really really impress you with his knowledge and yes, get more money out of you, because, of course, he's so highly trained and you are so fortunate to have him working on your piano and straightening it out... yes, sarcasm intended.

Also, I have read in other forums posts from tuners that consider 5 cents flat to be a "pitch raise". I consider that untrue. If that were true then pretty much every tuning I did would be a pitch raise. This would exclude concert tunings - I'm just talking about in home tunings.

I agree with you - go back to your other tuner.

You could download the demo version of TuneLab if you wanted to check up on what they're doing. It won't match perfectly but it would give you a good idea of where the pitch is.
_________________________
Scott Kerns
"That Tuning Guy"
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com

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#2104399 - 06/18/13 01:13 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1856
Loc: Conway, AR USA
There are legitimate reasons for tuning a piano flat, even as low as -50 cents. If any of these come into play your tuner should, at the very least, advise you accordingly prior to service. Moreover, a notation to that effect should be placed in the piano advising future tuners not to pitch raise because: _______. (The reality is, some tuners do not examine instruments before they tune.)


Edited by bkw58 (06/18/13 01:15 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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#2104407 - 06/18/13 01:23 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3379
Some thoughts come to mind...

I begin charging for pitch raises if any one section is more than 10 cents from its target. The reason behind this procedure is that significantly changing the tension in a piano causes unstable tuning; pianos that are not close to pitch must be brought to pitch before they can be tuned accurately. For example, an A4 that is 10 cents flat must be tuned 2.8 cents sharp for the pitch to settle at the correct target (440Hz); if this is not done, the pitch will fall below 440Hz as the piano is tuned. For any given note on a piano, one can expect the necessary over-pull to be approximately 10% in the bass, 28% in the middle section, and 36% in the treble.

Unfortunately, having your piano tuned only once a year significantly increases the chance that it will be this far from pitch, particularly if the indoor relative humidity around the piano is poorly controlled. Most piano manufacturers recommend two tunings per year as a minimum, and even more if the piano is brand new, is subjected to strenuous use, and/or the owner is sensitive to tuning.

So what does this mean for you? It's possible that your first tuner "floated" the pitch, meaning that she tuned it to the pitch it was at at the time. This is somewhat controversial, but may be appropriate in some applications. It's also possible that she performed a pitch raise and didn't charge extra for it. It's also possible that she tuned it to A-440 without doing a pitch raise, which is probably the least desirable of the three. Since you have stated that you've moved around a few times, it's plausible that the piano's new environment is less stable than its previous ones, and this is why a pitch raise was needed.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2104413 - 06/18/13 01:33 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: That Guy]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3379
Originally Posted By: That Guy
Ya know, if right off the bat he has to tell you how qualified he is, that raises a big red flag for me.


OTOH, some technicians really do like to brag and talk themselves up.



Originally Posted By: That Guy

Also, I have read in other forums posts from tuners that consider 5 cents flat to be a "pitch raise". I consider that untrue. If that were true then pretty much every tuning I did would be a pitch raise. This would exclude concert tunings - I'm just talking about in home tunings.


Technically, it is. If A4 is 5 cents flat and it is tuned to A440 without a second pass, or without over-pull, it will ultimately settle more than 1 cent flat. On the RPT tuning exam, this would result in penalty points. Does this mean one should charge for a pitch raise at this threshold? No, for the reason you stated.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2104415 - 06/18/13 01:35 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1266
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
With your "perfect pitch", you would have been able to tell if the piano's pitch was off, right? How did the piano sound after the latest person tuned it? Better, worse, or about the same as the previous technician? If you were happy with the previous person, and are somewhat suspicious about the current person, go back to the previous person. When you call her to set up the appointment, come right out and tell her about this other person and the pitch raise. Simply ask her, "Has my piano always been tuned to standard pitch?"
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2104504 - 06/18/13 04:47 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
That Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/11
Posts: 413
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Quote:
Technically, it is.


In my family we have a running joke about "technically speaking" and I use my game show host voice announcing - "It's the let's get technical show with your host _________!)". So I got a chuckle out of your post wink

Yes, technically speaking you are correct. That's why I'm usually overpulling 2-3 cents in the middle and 4-6 cents in the higher range. It usually comes out just fine and even if it doesn't 2-3 cents flat isn't a big deal, especially for a home tuning. But it's not something I charge extra for and therefore not something I would tell the customer about.

I do charge extra for a pitch raise but only if it's about 30 cents flat or more.
_________________________
Scott Kerns
"That Tuning Guy"
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com

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#2104516 - 06/18/13 05:00 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1106
Loc: PA
Is A=440, or something similar, written on your previous invoice?
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#2104619 - 06/18/13 08:08 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: That Guy]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2471
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: That Guy
Ya know, if right off the bat he has to tell you how qualified he is, that raises a big red flag for me. If people ask me I'll be glad to tell them how I was trained but I don't offer that information unless they ask. It sounds to me like he was trying to really really impress you with his knowledge and yes, get more money out of you, because, of course, he's so highly trained and you are so fortunate to have him working on your piano and straightening it out... yes, sarcasm intended.

Also, I have read in other forums posts from tuners that consider 5 cents flat to be a "pitch raise". I consider that untrue. If that were true then pretty much every tuning I did would be a pitch raise. This would exclude concert tunings - I'm just talking about in home tunings.

I agree with you - go back to your other tuner.

You could download the demo version of TuneLab if you wanted to check up on what they're doing. It won't match perfectly but it would give you a good idea of where the pitch is.


I agree with all of this.

Additionally, if you want to get a reasonable indication of pitch, get Cleartune for your smart phone; it has an easy-to-read display that will tell you exactly what the pitch is it's hearing.

And it's only $3.99...
_________________________
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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#2104627 - 06/18/13 08:20 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21944
Loc: Oakland
If someone asks me to substitute for their regular tuner, I will do nothing to poach the client. After all, I may need the favor in return.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2104637 - 06/18/13 09:16 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Glue Collar Worker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/13
Posts: 26
It sounds pretty legitimate to me. I have perfect pitch but can't tell by ear that a piano is flat until it's about 20c flat. That's a fairly major pitch correction. If you're like me in that aspect it's possible that your piano would be pretty significantly flat and you would not know it.

If you can't afford to tune twice a year maybe your old tech was aware of that and was tuning for stability. There's nothing wrong with that. How did your piano hold up since last August?
_________________________
Piano Tuna

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#2104791 - 06/19/13 09:08 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...If you can't afford to tune twice a year..."

I would suggest you save up a little more. Tuning twice a year is not that expensive, and can prevent the more expensive situation of your piano's needing a pitch raise. Besides, a teaching piano takes more wear, and will require more service anyway; this maintenance is an overhead of your business, and it is completely fair to adjust your rates to cover it.

It is also an income tax write-off.

It is also a bare minimum for a working piano.

Your loyalty in sticking with the tech you've trusted over the years is commendable.
_________________________
Clef


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#2104842 - 06/19/13 11:27 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
Many people can't afford to get their pianos tuned twice a year, something many piano technicians forget. If you can only have it tuned once a year, stick with the technician who understands that. Doing a pitch raise on a piano that isn't going to be seen again for a year isn't necessarily a smart decision. As techs it is our responsibility to do our best within budget, not to bleed our clients dry trying to do everything WE want done.
_________________________
Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2104857 - 06/19/13 12:02 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1856
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Samthetech
Many people can't afford to get their pianos tuned twice a year, something many piano technicians forget. If you can only have it tuned once a year, stick with the technician who understands that. Doing a pitch raise on a piano that isn't going to be seen again for a year isn't necessarily a smart decision. As techs it is our responsibility to do our best within budget, not to bleed our clients dry trying to do everything WE want done.


Absolutely. With our own wallet we can be idealistic. With the client's, we must be pragmatic. Present all of the legitimate options - and the consequences of each - then allow the client to choose which one is affordable. If an altogether different choice is presented to us that offends our ethical sensibilities, then we are always at liberty to decline the business.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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#2104865 - 06/19/13 12:23 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2514
Loc: Olympia, WA
The idea that 6 month tunings will help maintain pitch better than yearly tunings is completely inaccurate in my experience - at least in my part of the country.

Almost invariably the pianos I see once a year are in much better tune than the pianos I see after 6 months, especially if the piano was tuned in the middle of summer or winter. After a certain age, if the piano has received regular tuning, time is no longer the main factor in losing pitch. It's almost all humidity related. I tuned a piano a while back that I had not tuned in 10 years and it was still at pitch.

If the goal is to have an nice sounding piano throughout the year, I would first recommend a client invest in a humidity control system for the piano before spending money on twice a year tunings.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2104997 - 06/19/13 06:37 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: rysowers]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: rysowers
The idea that 6 month tunings will help maintain pitch better than yearly tunings is completely inaccurate in my experience - at least in my part of the country.

Almost invariably the pianos I see once a year are in much better tune than the pianos I see after 6 months, especially if the piano was tuned in the middle of summer or winter. After a certain age, if the piano has received regular tuning, time is no longer the main factor in losing pitch. It's almost all humidity related. I tuned a piano a while back that I had not tuned in 10 years and it was still at pitch.

If the goal is to have an nice sounding piano throughout the year, I would first recommend a client invest in a humidity control system for the piano before spending money on twice a year tunings.


As many tunings as necessary for some years, it indeed can inclued 6 months tuning for 2 or 3 years.

it takes more than that to have pianos that do not loosed a few cts each year.

Then the day of the concert a tuning is due, and even one day before , for recordings for instance.
In studios, concert halls, the pianos are seen twice the day, or once.

I will receive a record made with a tuning I did with PR from 439Hz to 442 Hz, and the last was one year ago (and my tunings are stable generally) The pitch moved due to the humidity variations in the (personal) studio.
year ago, the piano did need 2 tunings on 2 days.
Then he stayed "playeable" for long (was not used for recordings in the meantime)









Edited by Olek (06/19/13 06:45 PM)
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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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#2105037 - 06/19/13 08:08 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: rysowers]
Bob Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3900
Originally Posted By: rysowers
The idea that 6 month tunings will help maintain pitch better than yearly tunings is completely inaccurate in my experience - at least in my part of the country.

Almost invariably the pianos I see once a year are in much better tune than the pianos I see after 6 months, especially if the piano was tuned in the middle of summer or winter. After a certain age, if the piano has received regular tuning, time is no longer the main factor in losing pitch. It's almost all humidity related. I tuned a piano a while back that I had not tuned in 10 years and it was still at pitch.

If the goal is to have an nice sounding piano throughout the year, I would first recommend a client invest in a humidity control system for the piano before spending money on twice a year tunings.


Yep, I second that. A Concert grand I service stays within 2 cents year round, even though the church sanctuary RH is all over the map. I have a full DC unit in it, and I'm confident someone fills the tanks when needed. It used to change 10 cents or more. I tune it every two months, so I've been able to track it pretty well since the DC install.

I always tell people to tune the same month every year, so the climate matches each time.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2105052 - 06/19/13 08:34 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Bob]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2471
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: Bob
Originally Posted By: rysowers
The idea that 6 month tunings will help maintain pitch better than yearly tunings is completely inaccurate in my experience - at least in my part of the country.

Almost invariably the pianos I see once a year are in much better tune than the pianos I see after 6 months, especially if the piano was tuned in the middle of summer or winter. After a certain age, if the piano has received regular tuning, time is no longer the main factor in losing pitch. It's almost all humidity related. I tuned a piano a while back that I had not tuned in 10 years and it was still at pitch.

If the goal is to have an nice sounding piano throughout the year, I would first recommend a client invest in a humidity control system for the piano before spending money on twice a year tunings.


Yep, I second that. A Concert grand I service stays within 2 cents year round, even though the church sanctuary RH is all over the map. I have a full DC unit in it, and I'm confident someone fills the tanks when needed. It used to change 10 cents or more. I tune it every two months, so I've been able to track it pretty well since the DC install.

I always tell people to tune the same month every year, so the climate matches each time.


+2
_________________________
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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#2105080 - 06/19/13 09:46 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
I don't about this once a year business. After a week of very heavy 5-6 hours a day practice, some of the unisons on my piano really start to 'brighten', It needs to be tuned at least once a month to keep it tolerable for recital work, and more often (before each performance) as necessary.

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#2105083 - 06/19/13 09:52 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Brinestone,

Your gut is right on this one. Go with you regular female tuner. If a piano hasn't been tuned in 15 or 20 years, it's definitely going to require a major pitch raise. Only an amatuer tuner is going to sell a "pitch raise" to a once a year customer
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2105094 - 06/19/13 10:02 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Gary Fowler]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3379
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Only an amatuer tuner is going to sell a "pitch raise" to a once a year customer


Actually, several technicians in my PTG chapter do this. The amount of time it's been since the last tuning is irrelevant. It's how out of tune it is that matters....
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2105098 - 06/19/13 10:09 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: beethoven986]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
I had a once a year customer today who's piano was 30 cents flat. I also had a first time customer today who's piano had not been tuned in 10 years and her piano was also 30 cents flat. There is no way I would charge my once a year customer for the pitch raise even though I raised it.

It took less than an hour to tune the once a year piano and 90 minutes to tune the 10 year piano even though they were both flat by the same amount.
_________________________
Tuner-Technician



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#2105143 - 06/19/13 11:29 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Jbyron,exactly! Your regular customer gets the best rate. (I am not going to penalize a good customer because humidity got out of hand). Also, when I am familiar with working on the paino, I can get it to pitch quickly
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#2105161 - 06/20/13 12:36 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
Glue Collar Worker Offline
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Registered: 04/06/13
Posts: 26
Originally Posted By: Samthetech
Many people can't afford to get their pianos tuned twice a year, something many piano technicians forget. If you can only have it tuned once a year, stick with the technician who understands that. Doing a pitch raise on a piano that isn't going to be seen again for a year isn't necessarily a smart decision. As techs it is our responsibility to do our best within budget, not to bleed our clients dry trying to do everything WE want done.

Agreed. It's all about the player and what are their needs for the piano.
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#2105224 - 06/20/13 07:06 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: beethoven986]
Loren D Offline
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Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Only an amatuer tuner is going to sell a "pitch raise" to a once a year customer


Actually, several technicians in my PTG chapter do this. The amount of time it's been since the last tuning is irrelevant. It's how out of tune it is that matters....


Tuning the piano below pitch, when it is in sound enough shape to be tuned to pitch, is hardly better than not tuning it at all, in my opinion.
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#2105226 - 06/20/13 07:38 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
rxd Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: Loren D
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Only an amatuer tuner is going to sell a "pitch raise" to a once a year customer


Actually, several technicians in my PTG chapter do this. The amount of time it's been since the last tuning is irrelevant. It's how out of tune it is that matters....


Tuning the piano below pitch, when it is in sound enough shape to be tuned to pitch, is hardly better than not tuning it at all, in my opinion.


Agreed. Particularly since it only takes a few minutes for an experienced tuner to restore the tension on a sturdy piano before tuning it.
I have known many pianos to be still in tune a year after such treatment. It's anybody's guess, of course, where the tuning has been between times.
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#2105227 - 06/20/13 07:50 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Loren D Offline
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Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Exactly, rxd. A pitch correction takes me around 15 minutes. After that, I do another quick run-through, followed by a fine tuning. 90 minutes tops. I schedule for six months later before I leave. Six months later, the piano is not all that far from where I left it, and it's usually an at-pitch clean up.
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#2105235 - 06/20/13 08:21 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Gary Fowler]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Jbyron,exactly! Your regular customer gets the best rate. (I am not going to penalize a good customer because humidity got out of hand). Also, when I am familiar with working on the paino, I can get it to pitch quickly


That does not mean that the piano may have drifted a little more than expected. Only due to humidity fluctuations in my opinion.

At worst that give a second pass in the right hand region (and if things are relaly bad I like to put some tension in all the basses before beginning)

Of course selling a PR on a yearly customer is not very good manners, but the new piano is supposed to receive enough tunings to stop drifting, and that mean a few ones with 6 months delay (and even less, depending of the vigourous ploaying or no, of the amount of stabilisation done at the factory, as you know certainly, etc)

On a new piano, the customer is explained that (it is also often written in the factory guarantee in full letters).
It takes a few years for a customer to begin to be a regular yearly customer anyway.

Once he knows he may need mor etunings with the new instrument, if he choose to wait, the main result is that his tunings will be less precise and less stable for years, whatever the tuner and the quality of the piano. Then we have good surprises too.

I do not trust that a piano is find 2cts from the last pitch unless it was exactly in similar mositure conditions, and the strings are old enough (on a 80 yuears old piuano you even can find the piano at pitch, anyway 2 cts for me is "at pitch" in that case)

Now , if the tuning have been done well enough, a professional (but Jazz pianist) musician as my customer need to be obliged to play with a fixed pitch instrument to realize something is wrong with the tuning. Some are more sensitive indeed.
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#2105241 - 06/20/13 08:27 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
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Loc: France
THe major problem of PR on a valuable instrument is bridge tilt.

So to me this is not "tuning" but "repair".

ALl depends of the context and the quality of the instrument.
If raising it to pitch will developp a large S shape and eventualo crack at the front and back of the bridge, some precautions have to be taken.

Also if on one hand the tone is better because the strings are made more elastic, but on the other hand the downbearing quiality lowers as the pressure of the strings is displaced toard the back of the bridge, some manipulations and precautions have to be taken.

ALso, the PR from note 0 to 88 with unison as you go is what put the most torstionnal effort on bridge and on the ribs.

It is not enough to have a njice ETD that allow to PR fast and accurately, other parameters are in the show.
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#2105281 - 06/20/13 10:40 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rysowers Offline
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Registered: 04/16/07
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Loc: Olympia, WA
One of the problems with our field is this consistent clinging to selling piano tunings instead of pianos service. These are two very different approaches to the work. The client is not paying me for a tuning really, but is paying me for 90-120 minutes of my time. My time is spent doing whatever I feel will inspire the owner to want to play their piano more, period. That is the goal: Musical enjoyment and inspiration.

Sometimes most of my time can be spent tuning if the piano is really out and has stability or rendering issues. Most of the time I try to balance tuning, regulating, voicing, and cleaning. This means that sometimes I may spend 30 minutes or less actually tuning. Recently I came across a piano I had tuned a year ago, and the tuning sounded great!(I've been servicing this piano yearly for at least 5 years.) I spent the entire time deep needling shoulders, filing hammers, and fitting hammers to strings. By the way, this was a Baldwin Acrosonic.
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#2105285 - 06/20/13 10:46 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
Jbyron Offline
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Originally Posted By: Loren D
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Only an amatuer tuner is going to sell a "pitch raise" to a once a year customer


Actually, several technicians in my PTG chapter do this. The amount of time it's been since the last tuning is irrelevant. It's how out of tune it is that matters....


Tuning the piano below pitch, when it is in sound enough shape to be tuned to pitch, is hardly better than not tuning it at all, in my opinion.


They're talking about charging the customer for the pitch raise, not not doing the pitch raise.
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#2105291 - 06/20/13 10:55 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
beethoven986 Online   content
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Posts: 3379
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Only an amatuer tuner is going to sell a "pitch raise" to a once a year customer


Actually, several technicians in my PTG chapter do this. The amount of time it's been since the last tuning is irrelevant. It's how out of tune it is that matters....


Tuning the piano below pitch, when it is in sound enough shape to be tuned to pitch, is hardly better than not tuning it at all, in my opinion.


They're talking about charging the customer for the pitch raise, not not doing the pitch raise.


Quite right.
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#2105300 - 06/20/13 11:17 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rysowers Offline
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It depends on how far below pitch the piano actually is. I will easily accept a piano that is at 438 if I'm tuning it in January, and 442 is fine in August or September. Of course this depends largely on the requirements of the player and the particulars of the situation - if they specifically need the piano at A440 I will make sure to leave it there. However, the average client is better served by appropriately floating the pitch and using the time garnered to service other aspects of the piano.
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#2105320 - 06/20/13 12:03 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
James Carney Offline
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Registered: 07/30/10
Posts: 440
Loc: new york city
Originally Posted By: Brinestone
I've owned my Yamaha upright for about seven years. It was a used piano, but the first time I had it tuned (a couple of months after buying it), the tuner said he was impressed with the quality of the instrument, and when he looked it up to see when it was built, he was shocked that it was as old as it was (built in the 1980s).

Anyway, I tune it every year. I wish I had the funds to do it twice a year, because I have "perfect pitch" (I've seen threads on that here, and mine is about as complicated as it gets, I guess) and because I teach on this piano. I have moved a few times and always tune it after moving, but not right after. I have hired three or four different tuners over the years because of moving.

Anyway, last August, I had a different guy tune it than I'd been using before. I think the woman who tuned it the previous few years couldn't do it for some reason. Anyway, he seemed like an expert, talking a lot about his schooling back east and how lots of piano tuners aren't all that qualified or well trained.

He recommended a pitch raise, which was a surprise to me. I have never had a tuner recommend that before, and my last tuning was a year before this guy came. Furthermore, I have a good ear, and if it was even half a pitch off, I'd know. And I have a metronome that plays A440, and it's just about right on with my piano. Some of the very low and very high notes get out of tune faster than others, I guess.

Part of me wants to say, "This guy knows more than my other tuners did because he noticed this problem that they didn't," and part of me wonders if he's just trying to get me to do the pitch raise because he'd make more money if I did.

If it were you, would you go with this tuner next time, or go back to my previous (female) tuner? I'm leaning toward the latter. If she recommends a pitch raise too, then I'll know for sure that I need one.

But if she doesn't, I might wonder . . .


If the "new" tuner was telling you the truth, he made a huge error by not demonstrating to you - via an electronic tuning device - just how flat the piano was. What a silly mistake on his part - you would have known for sure exactly where the starting pitch was at, and you would not be doubting this a year later. Next time a tuner comes, ask exactly where the pitch is before they start tuning.

The first thing I do in a client home is to check the pitch with the client present. I also document starting and setup pitches on my invoices (and in my smartphone) so both the client and I know the pitch history.

In NYC, pianos can easily go sharp by 20 cents in summer and flat by 20 cents in the winter, and it can happen in a hurry. For my clientele, I draw the line at + or - 12 cents. Anything above or below that needs a pitch correction or the client will get a sub-par tuning. If they don't want to pay for that, I explain how the piano will be less stable if we skip it. Most people understand and don't mind paying the extra fee. I also am happy to "float" the pitch anywhere between 440 and 443, as long as the client understands and approves. In many cases, this is the smartest approach and yields the most stability. I never tune below 440 unless there is a structural or historical reason to do so, because almost all of my clients are working musicians that rehearse, and brass/woodwinds can't play flat. Sharp isn't usually an issue at all - many string players prefer it.

Recording studios and performance venues have much tighter tolerances for my decision on doing a pitch correction at + or - 5 cents. (Usually a recording studio piano will only be off by 2 or 3 cents at most.)

For those tuners who don't charge extra for a pitch raise, you are giving away your time and services, and therefore losing money, which makes no sense whatsoever. It's actually unfair to your other clients who paid the same amount of money but only got a one-pass tuning and no pitch correction!

I see it this way: It's not my fault that the piano is 30 cents flat, so if I'm going to give a client a great, stable, long-lasting tuning, I need to tune the piano twice, and they need to compensate me for tuning the piano twice. Very simple.
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#2105345 - 06/20/13 12:46 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: rysowers]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1856
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: rysowers
It depends on how far below pitch the piano actually is. I will easily accept a piano that is at 438 if I'm tuning it in January, and 442 is fine in August or September. Of course this depends largely on the requirements of the player and the particulars of the situation - if they specifically need the piano at A440 I will make sure to leave it there. However, the average client is better served by appropriately floating the pitch and using the time garnered to service other aspects of the piano.


Amen. With client agreement, seasonal float from 438-42 is good for all concerned. It tends toward better tuning stability: pianist is happier, and tuner's arm can't complain either.


Edited by bkw58 (06/20/13 03:22 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
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#2105380 - 06/20/13 02:35 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Jbyron Offline
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Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
Raising pitch is really not that big of a deal and not a very difficult task.
There was a tuner in town who never raised pitch to A-440. When he left town and we all started following up with his clients we were finding pianos everywhere tuned well, but at A435 and below. He didn't even ask them if they wanted them at pitch so a lot of them didn't know what was happening. A church called him back right before a Christmas concert because the piano was just tuned by him 50 cents flat. He had to go back and retune it. A different tuner comes in and looks like the bad guy because the customer doesn't understand why the piano needs extra tunings to re-stabilize.
I float pitch if the piano is sharp but always pitch raise if it's flat.
Now, if the pitch is going to climb all the way back when the humidity rises again then that is a different story. The piano should have a Dampp-chaser in that case.
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#2105406 - 06/20/13 03:41 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
bkw58 Offline

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Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1856
Loc: Conway, AR USA
This will vary depending upon location. In Arkansas, float from 438-442 makes sense (again, with client approval.) If we PR to A440 in the dead of winter, 6 months later the pitch may be as high as A444-5. Yes, a DC will resolve this if the client is willing to pay for it. Many are not. Raising pitch is easy, true enough. Pulling it down from 445 to 440 is another story. Depending upon the age and condition of the piano allowing pitch to rise that much sharp can cause other problems.
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Retired piano technician
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#2105454 - 06/20/13 06:05 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Loren D Offline
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Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
If it's less than +/- 5 cents, I don't consider it a pitch correction. I consider a pitch correction between 5 and 30 cents a minor pitch correction, and a pitch correction of 30+ cents, I consider it a major pitch correction. I then charge accordingly. Obviously a major pitch correction is more work than a minor one.

I generally don't float the pitch. I like knowing the piano is at the right pitch when I leave rather than hope for it to be roughly there at some uncertain future date.

As for servicing the piano vs. serving the customer; the two are not mutually exclusive.
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#2105491 - 06/20/13 09:51 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
Maximillyan Offline
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Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 1556
Loc: KZ
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
we were finding pianos everywhere tuned well, but at A435 and below. He didn't even ask them if they wanted them at pitch so a lot of them didn't know what was happening.

Maybe this will sound sacrilegious. I understood so that guided this guy. He believed that sharping a pitch then he can break down the string. There are the additional work and the loss of his time. If the piano is old, it will hold pitch temporarily (lost pin). Often a client does not understand how work his piano. If the piano quickly goes float, then the client don't trust of the professional technician. For the lay person the owner piano I think is more important than the stability of intervals and chords and pleasant sounding than the height of each of the keys. So I think that for a vintage piano A = 420 is acceptable. But a technician is a must to say about it the owner of a piano
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#2105497 - 06/20/13 10:10 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Samthetech Offline
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Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
Often, I run into pianos that were received for free, or inherited, or the dreaded "craigslist deal." I'm not going to suggest that my customers spend extra money on these pianos if what they want is a piano, that sounds good with itself, for their children/themselves to practice on. I rarely do pitch raises on such pianos. There's no point in risking all that can go along with a pitch raise (broken strings, etc) if my customer doesn't want or need it. I make sure to tell my customer I'm not tuning it to standard pitch, but there isn't any point in doing a 50c pitch raise on a piano that's 50 years old or a piano that hasn't been tuned in 20 years. When I get to anything built before 1939, I generally assume it wasn't designed to be tuned at A440 anyways.

"In 1939, an international conference[9] recommended that the A above middle C be tuned to 440 Hz, now known as concert pitch. As a technical standard this was taken up by the International Organization for Standardization in 1955 and reaffirmed by them in 1975 as ISO 16. The difference between this and the diapason normal is due to confusion over the temperature at which the French standard should be measured. The initial standard was A = 439 Hz (info), but this was superseded by A = 440 Hz after complaints that 439 Hz was difficult to reproduce in a laboratory because 439 is a prime number.[9]"

Standard pitch is simply a number agreed upon, and any number of major musical groups don't agree with it anyways. For example, the New York Phil Harmonic tunes to A442.

I would much rather have a piano that sounds good with itself, with no broken strings or damage to the pin block, then tune it to a nearly arbitrary number. The amount of stress on a piano frame is phenomenal, there is no point in adding to it because we want to adhere to something that our customer doesn't care about.

My quote is from Wikipedia.
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#2105506 - 06/20/13 10:47 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Loren D Offline
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Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Ugh, Wikipedia again. The Encyclopedia where anyone can change any article at any time, yet people still consider it reliable.

A440 is harddly an arbitrary number. The AFM adopted it in 1917 and I see pianos as early as 1920 with A440 cast on the plates.

Pianos should be at the correct pitch.
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#2105511 - 06/20/13 10:57 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
Jbyron Offline
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Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Ugh, Wikipedia again. The Encyclopedia where anyone can change any article at any time, yet people still consider it reliable.

A440 is harddly an arbitrary number. The AFM adopted it in 1917 and I see pianos as early as 1920 with A440 cast on the plates.

Pianos should be at the correct pitch.


Yes, indeedy. I think not raising a piano to pitch, unless floating a few cents due to extreme humidity variations, is really due to either fear or just plain laziness. Even if the piano is less stable after a pitch raise it is still a worthwhile task in the long run, less work is needed the next time its tuned. It doesn't cost that much
money. If a person cannot afford to care for an acoustic piano properly, they cannot afford an acoustic piano.

I've pitch raised thousands of pianos and the few times that strings have broke during tuning have oddly, not been during a pitch raise. And I've never had a plate break. Knock on wood. I agree, pianos should be tuned to the correct pitch. If I was not a piano tuner and I hired a technician to tune my piano but they tuned it flat, I would be very disappointed with the results and would hire another one to get it right.
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#2105519 - 06/20/13 11:20 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Gerry Johnston Offline
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Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 122
Loc: Haverhill, MA
If a piano is being used for a child taking lessons we do a disservice to the customer by tuning below A440. We would not expect a child to properly learn woodworking if their measuring stick was 11-1/2" rather than 12". I agree that if the piano is only being used occasionally when "Uncle Harry" comes over to play then standard pitch may not be critical. If,however,a piano is so old and in such poor condition that A-440 is not possible, and if a child is taking lessons, I will encourage the customer to replace the piano. If all they can afford is a few hundred dollars maybe they should forget about piano and try guitar instead.
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#2105522 - 06/20/13 11:45 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Morodiene Offline
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Interestingly enough, Verdi had stated that all of his operas should be sung at A=432. It makes a huge difference for singers. I have my Petrof tuned to that, and prefer this. Some orchestras in Europe are way higher than 440. Just because it works to make strings sound brighter doesn't mean it makes the music sound better. I figure a lot of orchestras tuned to a lower pitch in previous centuries and since I play most music from pervious time periods, it sounds better that way.

All that is to say, if a piano is in tune with itself, for most people it shouldn't matter if it's at 440 or not, especially if it's not able to stay there.
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#2105531 - 06/21/13 12:29 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Morodiene]
Maximillyan Offline
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Loc: KZ
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Some orchestras in Europe are way higher than 440.

If a base of a pitch is A=440. It's good and correctly. But main a goal of tuning to made between A4 and A3 there is clean octave. And all intervals have hard correct sound for yours ears and other people.
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#2105534 - 06/21/13 12:42 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Morodiene]
Jbyron Offline
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Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Interestingly enough, Verdi had stated that all of his operas should be sung at A=432. It makes a huge difference for singers. I have my Petrof tuned to that, and prefer this. Some orchestras in Europe are way higher than 440. Just because it works to make strings sound brighter doesn't mean it makes the music sound better. I figure a lot of orchestras tuned to a lower pitch in previous centuries and since I play most music from pervious time periods, it sounds better that way.

All that is to say, if a piano is in tune with itself, for most people it shouldn't matter if it's at 440 or not, especially if it's not able to stay there.


I believe that you are an exception to the rule in that you prefer your piano tuned at a lower pitch for singing purposes, nothing wrong with that. But I disagree with your premise that for most people it shouldn't matter if it is at A440 or not. If I were to ask a hundred piano owners if they would like their pianos tuned at the pitch it was designed for, the pitch most studio recordings are at, the pitch any musician would expect it to be at if they were to play along with their other instrument, etc. I think they would choose A440. The notion that the piano either has to be flat and stable, or set to A440 and unstable, is false. If a piano is unstable at A440 then it was not tuned properly in the past, putting aside humidity issues. Stable and at the right pitch is ideal IMHO.

Personally, I think a piano sounds best at around A442 or even sharper.
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#2105538 - 06/21/13 01:12 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
I agree with BYRON ,

plus pitch is closely related to tone quality , due to the level of string elasticity allowed.

lowering the pitch make a more diffuse pitch impression, as the iH raise

One of the reason it may please the singers wink wink wink

Modern piano are designed for a certain pitch 440-, often 442 Hz, while that light difference may change a little the tone it can be accepted- 438 begin yet to sound flat to me, but a (some)trained musician may go along with it.
For children, , no they need to have their ear and musical memory build with ta good pitch.


Edited by Olek (06/21/13 01:13 AM)
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#2105541 - 06/21/13 01:34 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
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Loc: France
Do someone want another cup of tea ?
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#2105542 - 06/21/13 01:42 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Brinestone
I've owned my Yamaha upright for about seven years. It was a used piano, but the first time I had it tuned (a couple of months after buying it), the tuner said he was impressed with the quality of the instrument, and when he looked it up to see when it was built, he was shocked that it was as old as it was (built in the 1980s).

Anyway, I tune it every year. I wish I had the funds to do it twice a year, because I have "perfect pitch" (I've seen threads on that here, and mine is about as complicated as it gets, I guess) and because I teach on this piano. I have moved a few times and always tune it after moving, but not right after. I have hired three or four different tuners over the years because of moving.

Anyway, last August, I had a different guy tune it than I'd been using before. I think the woman who tuned it the previous few years couldn't do it for some reason. Anyway, he seemed like an expert, talking a lot about his schooling back east and how lots of piano tuners aren't all that qualified or well trained.

He recommended a pitch raise, which was a surprise to me. I have never had a tuner recommend that before, and my last tuning was a year before this guy came. Furthermore, I have a good ear, and if it was even half a pitch off, I'd know. And I have a metronome that plays A440, and it's just about right on with my piano. Some of the very low and very high notes get out of tune faster than others, I guess.

Part of me wants to say, "This guy knows more than my other tuners did because he noticed this problem that they didn't," and part of me wonders if he's just trying to get me to do the pitch raise because he'd make more money if I did.

If it were you, would you go with this tuner next time, or go back to my previous (female) tuner? I'm leaning toward the latter. If she recommends a pitch raise too, then I'll know for sure that I need one.

But if she doesn't, I might wonder . . .


It probably have beenanswered to you, but pianos move in their medium range way more than in basses and treble.
On a stable piano, it may lend to the impression that the top and lower parts are out of tune, while , pitch wise, at last those are the mediums that have changed.

If you have perfect pitch plus a good pitch reference, and the mediums are at an accepteable 440for you no PR should be necessary, but it may happen after a hard season that even a well stabilised piano moves a bit more than expected.

the 80's years is supposed to be not that old for an acoustic piano(hopefully)we are not used to deal with objects that can saty useable for so long, those daus indeed.
But Yamahas sometime retain their qualities for 30-40 years.

Gernerally speaking high end pianos are supposed to keep theirs way longer than that, but really the final result depends also some what of the climate and how much the piano was directly exposed to it.
I often work on 1980 German pianos, some of them are very dynamic sign of a resilient soundboard)
Some of them retained just a good part in the mediums and the soprano region is pleasing but quiet if compared with a more recent piano.
I have seen 1960 pianos of the major brands that where really excellent. WIth time the tone hardens due to the steel of the wire. we change them when the piano is worth it.


I also have some cookies if someone is interested.
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#2105562 - 06/21/13 03:49 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
Maximillyan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jbyron
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Interestingly enough, Verdi had stated that all of his operas should be sung at A=432. It makes a huge difference for singers. I have my Petrof tuned to that, and prefer this. Some orchestras in Europe are way higher than 440. Just because it works to make strings sound brighter doesn't mean it makes the music sound better. I figure a lot of orchestras tuned to a lower pitch in previous centuries and since I play most music from pervious time periods, it sounds better that way.

All that is to say, if a piano is in tune with itself, for most people it shouldn't matter if it's at 440 or not, especially if it's not able to stay there.


Personally, I think a piano sounds best at around A442 or even sharper.

But why A442? If many professional ears of a musicants have a nice aesthetic a enjoyment (joy) when their piano 440
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#2105617 - 06/21/13 08:14 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
Loren D Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jbyron
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Ugh, Wikipedia again. The Encyclopedia where anyone can change any article at any time, yet people still consider it reliable.

A440 is harddly an arbitrary number. The AFM adopted it in 1917 and I see pianos as early as 1920 with A440 cast on the plates.

Pianos should be at the correct pitch.


Yes, indeedy. I think not raising a piano to pitch, unless floating a few cents due to extreme humidity variations, is really due to either fear or just plain laziness. Even if the piano is less stable after a pitch raise it is still a worthwhile task in the long run, less work is needed the next time its tuned. It doesn't cost that much
money. If a person cannot afford to care for an acoustic piano properly, they cannot afford an acoustic piano.

I've pitch raised thousands of pianos and the few times that strings have broke during tuning have oddly, not been during a pitch raise. And I've never had a plate break. Knock on wood. I agree, pianos should be tuned to the correct pitch. If I was not a piano tuner and I hired a technician to tune my piano but they tuned it flat, I would be very disappointed with the results and would hire another one to get it right.


Absolutely! And quite honestly, I seldom have strings break, but the majority happen on non pitch raises.

Usually my pitch raise scenario goes like this:

I walk into a new customer's house and find a piano that hasn't been tuned for decades. Either they just got the piano, or they inherited it, or they bought it off Craigslist for their child to take lessons. It's 100+ or more flat.

First thing I do is check the condition of the strings and pins, making sure there is no rust. Next I check the bridges to make sure there is no splitting or loose pins. 95% of the time, the piano checks out okay on both.

I then demonstrate to the customer with the fork where A should be vs. where it is. If they tell me they don't hear it because they're not musical, then I show them visually with a tuning app.

I explain to them that because the piano has been neglected for so long, it needs a pitch correction in order to be "really" tuned. I caution them up front that they are at a higher risk for strings breaking during the initial process, and that if any would break, it would be an extra charge. I also tell them that bringing it up will cost more than a standard tuning due to the extra work involved. I then ask them if they want me to raise it or tune it where it's at.

Virtually 100% of the time, the response is "I want it done right." I would say 99% of the time I get through without losing a single string. I then explain to the customer that because of the dramatic change in tension, the piano should be expected to drift some, and that it will fully stabilize after the next tuning, which I recommend in 6 months. Usually they schedule it before I leave.

And that's that! Communicate and be fully up front. People who bring service people into their homes want things done the right way. Six months later, I find the piano has drifted but is still light years better than it was six months before. A simple tuning at pitch is usually the end of it. The customer is happy and another piano has joined the ranks of being at pitch.


Edited by Loren D (06/21/13 08:20 AM)
Edit Reason: Fixed a couple of typos!
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#2105618 - 06/21/13 08:19 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
Loren D Offline
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Originally Posted By: Samthetech
I'm not going to suggest that my customers spend extra money on these pianos if what they want is a piano, that sounds good with itself, for their children/themselves to practice on. I rarely do pitch raises on such pianos.


All I can say is, wow.
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#2105643 - 06/21/13 09:11 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
Maximillyan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Samthetech


I would much rather have a piano that sounds good with itself, with no broken strings or damage to the pin block, then tune it to a nearly arbitrary number. The amount of stress on a piano frame is phenomenal, there is no point in adding to it because we want to adhere to something that our customer doesn't care about.

My quote is from Wikipedia.

Thank,Samthetech.I'm think about that as you
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#2105647 - 06/21/13 09:19 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Maximillyan]
Loren D Offline
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Originally Posted By: Maximillyan
Originally Posted By: Samthetech


I would much rather have a piano that sounds good with itself, with no broken strings or damage to the pin block, then tune it to a nearly arbitrary number. The amount of stress on a piano frame is phenomenal, there is no point in adding to it because we want to adhere to something that our customer doesn't care about.

My quote is from Wikipedia.

Thank,Samthetech.I'm think about that as you


Right, because customers don't care if their pianos are in tune or not. ??

Not to mention those young ears being trained on below pitch pianos.

Sorry, I'm just....amazed.
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#2105660 - 06/21/13 09:45 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
Maximillyan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Loren D
Originally Posted By: Maximillyan
Originally Posted By: Samthetech


I would much rather have a piano that sounds good with itself, with no broken strings or damage to the pin block, then tune it to a nearly arbitrary number. The amount of stress on a piano frame is phenomenal, there is no point in adding to it because we want to adhere to something that our customer doesn't care about.

My quote is from Wikipedia.

Thank,Samthetech.I'm think about that as you


Right, because customers don't care if their pianos are in tune or not. ??


Not to mention those young ears being trained on below pitch pianos.

Sorry, I'm just....amazed.

Loren D,I'm afraid I was misunderstood. I always wish that young pianists and their parents understand and demanded that the technician made a tuning only A = 440. We have to explain to the client why you need that. But in some cases, the client insists that the pitch was that as possibility because he does not agree to pay the additional costs if will be injured his piano.
I am for 440
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#2105707 - 06/21/13 11:37 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Loren D Offline
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Max, when I started in the business, I encountered piano after piano that was badly below pitch because the tuner who used to tune kept tuning them where they were. Each year they sunk lower and lower. That first year, nearly every piano was a pitch raise and an education given to the customer who had no idea.

That's not good service. Now if the customer elects, after having been explained to and shown that the piano is below pitch, to leave it there then that's different. But as I said earlier, when the customer is aware, nearly every one of them says "I want it done right."
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#2105728 - 06/21/13 12:25 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rysowers Offline
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I think being an "A440 fanatic" does not serve the client as well as being a little more flexible. I know it feels good to leave a piano dead on 440, but the reality is it can start to drift surprisingly quick. If you raise pitch right after an unusual cold snap your tuning could drift noticeably sharp within a couple of weeks!

Case in point: For many years I serviced Gilmore Award recipient Charlie Albright's Boston grand. One year, after a power outage during the winter, Charlie called me and was distressed about how out of tune the piano sounded. I told him to wait a couple of weeks and check in with me. When he called me 2 weeks later he declared that "It sounds fine now!".

Had I tuned the piano right away, I can guarantee that it would have sounded bad two weeks later.

Every professional technician should have a sense of his area's climate personality and how it generally affects the pianos in his/her clientele. How we approach the issue of pitch should be a reflection of that knowledge and experience. An "A440 or die!" mentality is limiting and in the long run leads to less value for the client. Remember - it's all about the music!

The awesome article about perfect pitch that was recently shared shows that even people with this "gift" can have their ears fooled by a large margin. Orchestras that play without a piano have their pitch drift substantially during a concert. If they start at 440 they don't necessarily end up there!

Tuning, in my book, is a necessary evil. I want to get through it as quickly as possible in order to have time to address other needs of the piano. Floating pitch in some situations can save a substantial amount of time.

99 percent of my clients are not sensitive to subtleties of pitch, but most of them can hear unevenness in the voicing, the noisy pedal, the creaking bench, or the buzzing hinge. They will also appreciate lower friction or correct let-off much more than exact pitch. Also, these improvements last longer than the tuning. This is the best way to build strong relationships with your clients.
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#2105730 - 06/21/13 12:28 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Olek]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Olek
I agree with BYRON ,

plus pitch is closely related to tone quality , due to the level of string elasticity allowed.

lowering the pitch make a more diffuse pitch impression, as the iH raise

One of the reason it may please the singers wink wink wink

Modern piano are designed for a certain pitch 440-, often 442 Hz, while that light difference may change a little the tone it can be accepted- 438 begin yet to sound flat to me, but a (some)trained musician may go along with it.
For children, , no they need to have their ear and musical memory build with ta good pitch.
For classical musicians, one would think the lower pitch preferable, since it was conceived most likely at a lower pitch. Which lower pitch, however, depends. Baroque tuning was often as much as a half step, but even then I'm sure tuning varied. Certainly modern pianos are designed to be tuned at 440 or higher, but it is a choice someone can make if they are informed of it.

For classical singers, the difference is huge, because if the music is sung at A=440 there are different negotiations between the registers they have to make whereas at A=432 they do not, and these composers knew how to write for the voice. They wouldn't have them switch to accommodate covering or making these negotiations in a fast run, for example. Also, it gives the voice a darker, richer sound.

Here's a video demonstrating the difference in how the music of Verdi sounds using two pianos tuned to A=432 and A=440, respectively. In the first example he is able to sing the fioritura open, without covering for the high note. The 2nd example he has to cover the high note, and the sound is much brighter and less depth to the sound:



Sorry, I know this is way OT, but it is something to consider with the whole tuning/pitch raise issue. And something I'm quite passionate about smile .
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#2105735 - 06/21/13 12:35 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
BDB Online   content
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On the other hand, I once had a soprano complain that low pitch could be difficult for her. Each human voice is an instrument, different from every other voice, and not all voices are suitable for every piece of music, even within their register.
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#2105745 - 06/21/13 12:59 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
rxd Online   happy
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The Henry Wood Proms were funded by Robert Newman (singer and impressario) and his Harley St. Throat doctor in 1895 on condition that the pitch was lowered from 457 down to 439/440. It required a whole new set of wind instruments. I wonder what Verdi sounded like before those days.

440 or thereabouts has gradually become deeply entrenched internationally since just before those days. Even if an opera company were to adopt a lower pitch, it would still require new wind instruments for half the orchestra and their substitute players. Where are the philanthropists of today?.


Edited by rxd (06/21/13 01:32 PM)
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#2105752 - 06/21/13 01:14 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: BDB]
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Originally Posted By: BDB
...and not all voices are suitable for every piece of music, even within their register.


Florence Foster Jenkins, anyone? sick
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#2105772 - 06/21/13 01:37 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: BDB]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
On the other hand, I once had a soprano complain that low pitch could be difficult for her. Each human voice is an instrument, different from every other voice, and not all voices are suitable for every piece of music, even within their register.
Sounds like a technical issue for this soprano. At any rate, I don't understand why you bring this up. Nothing in my post suggested that all voices are suitable for all music, so not sure where that came from.

All I was doing was presenting information in favor of selecting a lower tuning for a piano as more "authentic" to music of previous eras where the instruments were generally tuned lower. Of course, modern pianos are not designed for lower than A=440 usually, but it is not impossible or unstable if done correctly. My Petrof has been at A=432 for the past year and is stable.

It is always a choice up to the personal preferences of the client if they wish a lower tuning or not.
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#2105775 - 06/21/13 01:39 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: rxd]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: rxd
The Henry Wood Proms were funded by Robert Newman (singer and impressario) and his Harley St. Throat doctor in 1895 on condition that the pitch was lowered from 457 down to 439/440. It required a whole new set of wind instruments. I wonder what Verdi sounded like before those days.

440 or thereabouts has gradually become deeply entrenched internationally since just before those days. Even if an opera company were to adopt a lower pitch, it would still require new wind instruments for half the orchestra and their substitute players. Where are the philanthropists of today?.
It wouldn't require that much. I'm not a tuner, but 440 down to 432 is about 1/3 of a step, so not even a half step. Instruments have the ability to change this tuning, which is why you hear Baroque concerts done at Baroque tuning.
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#2105777 - 06/21/13 01:44 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Olek]
Jbyron Offline
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Originally Posted By: Olek
I agree with BYRON ,

plus pitch is closely related to tone quality , due to the level of string elasticity allowed.

lowering the pitch make a more diffuse pitch impression, as the iH raise

One of the reason it may please the singers wink wink wink

Modern piano are designed for a certain pitch 440-, often 442 Hz, while that light difference may change a little the tone it can be accepted- 438 begin yet to sound flat to me, but a (some)trained musician may go along with it.
For children, , no they need to have their ear and musical memory build with ta good pitch.


I agree, a piano's tone really comes to life at around A-440 or higher. This would not be preferable to a singer who desires their voice predominant.
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#2105778 - 06/21/13 01:49 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: rysowers]
Jbyron Offline
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Originally Posted By: rysowers
I think being an "A440 fanatic" does not serve the client as well as being a little more flexible. I know it feels good to leave a piano dead on 440, but the reality is it can start to drift surprisingly quick. If you raise pitch right after an unusual cold snap your tuning could drift noticeably sharp within a couple of weeks!

Case in point: For many years I serviced Gilmore Award recipient Charlie Albright's Boston grand. One year, after a power outage during the winter, Charlie called me and was distressed about how out of tune the piano sounded. I told him to wait a couple of weeks and check in with me. When he called me 2 weeks later he declared that "It sounds fine now!".

Had I tuned the piano right away, I can guarantee that it would have sounded bad two weeks later.

Every professional technician should have a sense of his area's climate personality and how it generally affects the pianos in his/her clientele. How we approach the issue of pitch should be a reflection of that knowledge and experience. An "A440 or die!" mentality is limiting and in the long run leads to less value for the client. Remember - it's all about the music!

The awesome article about perfect pitch that was recently shared shows that even people with this "gift" can have their ears fooled by a large margin. Orchestras that play without a piano have their pitch drift substantially during a concert. If they start at 440 they don't necessarily end up there!

Tuning, in my book, is a necessary evil. I want to get through it as quickly as possible in order to have time to address other needs of the piano. Floating pitch in some situations can save a substantial amount of time.

99 percent of my clients are not sensitive to subtleties of pitch, but most of them can hear unevenness in the voicing, the noisy pedal, the creaking bench, or the buzzing hinge. They will also appreciate lower friction or correct let-off much more than exact pitch. Also, these improvements last longer than the tuning. This is the best way to build strong relationships with your clients.



"A-440 fanatic?" Sounds a little judgmental to me.

The other improvements you mention are a given for any piano service. There's no reason to believe that these can't be taken care along with tuning the piano to, or very near the pitch of A-440.
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#2105783 - 06/21/13 01:59 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Morodiene]
Jbyron Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

It is always a choice up to the personal preferences of the client if they wish a lower tuning or not.


Very true. I'd be more than happy to tune a piano at the client's preferred pitch if requested but I've only had one such a request in the last ten years and that was someone who preferred A-435 because that is what they were used to and comfortable with.
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#2105800 - 06/21/13 02:31 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Morodiene]
rxd Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: rxd
The Henry Wood Proms were funded by Robert Newman (singer and impressario) and his Harley St. Throat doctor in 1895 on condition that the pitch was lowered from 457 down to 439/440. It required a whole new set of wind instruments. I wonder what Verdi sounded like before those days.

440 or thereabouts has gradually become deeply entrenched internationally since just before those days. Even if an opera company were to adopt a lower pitch, it would still require new wind instruments for half the orchestra and their substitute players. Where are the philanthropists of today?.
It wouldn't require that much. I'm not a tuner, but 440 down to 432 is about 1/3 of a step, so not even a half step. Instruments have the ability to change this tuning, which is why you hear Baroque concerts done at Baroque tuning.


Baroque players use an entirely different set of instruments, (even the string instruments) built to ancient designs to stand at 415hz., as I'm sure as you must have already known. I'm not going to derail this thread more by explaining the intonation problems inherent in changing the pitch of any wind instrument to the extent of 8 Hz. Most of the subscribers here have the general musical knowledge and already understand the issues anyway or could look them up.
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#2105819 - 06/21/13 03:14 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
bkw58 Offline

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Registered: 03/14/09
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With respect to setting the pitch, among piano techs there are as many differences of opinion as there are differences in climate .

It makes perfect sense.

No one knows more about the climatic environment under which one tunes; no one knows more about other relevant factors such as piano placement in relation to heat and air registers, windows, room humidifiers, dehumidifiers, sunlight exposure, frequency of use, et al.; no one knows more about the particulars of the piano being tuned and the needs of the owner, than the technician who provides the service.

Let every tech be fully persuaded in his/her own mind.



Edited by bkw58 (06/21/13 03:27 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
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#2105825 - 06/21/13 03:25 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Samthetech Offline
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Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
Maybe I'm tuning with the wrong customers or in the wrong part of the country, but more than half of my customers can barely afford the lessons AND the piano. I tune for a lot of older folks, a lot of college students, a lot of young families. They have better places to be putting the money than in my pocket. I've never had anybody complain about the piano being too low. Most people couldn't tell without a reference, anyways. And a good tuner can make a piano sing no matter where they set it. As long as you set the correct temperament (and of course it is different if the piano is low) the piano will sound great. It doesn't matter if I like it or not, or if you guys like it or not, my JOB is to give the best possible service within budget.

As for all those "poor kids" who are playing on a piano that isn't at concert pitch... Does that mean that kids playing the clarinet or the saxophone are doomed? Because the clarinet and the saxophone aren't a concert pitch instrument, either.
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#2105836 - 06/21/13 03:58 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
Samthetech Offline
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Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Max, when I started in the business, I encountered piano after piano that was badly below pitch because the tuner who used to tune kept tuning them where they were. Each year they sunk lower and lower.


I will agree with this. If you tune a piano below pitch, that doesn't mean you should tune it an even lower pitch the next time you tune it. You have to put some tension back on the strings with a tuning. With once a year tunings, that's actually most of the job.
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#2105840 - 06/21/13 04:08 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
Olek Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jbyron
Originally Posted By: Olek
I agree with BYRON ,

plus pitch is closely related to tone quality , due to the level of string elasticity allowed.

lowering the pitch make a more diffuse pitch impression, as the iH raise

One of the reason it may please the singers wink wink wink

Modern piano are designed for a certain pitch 440-, often 442 Hz, while that light difference may change a little the tone it can be accepted- 438 begin yet to sound flat to me, but a (some)trained musician may go along with it.
For children, , no they need to have their ear and musical memory build with ta good pitch.


I agree, a piano's tone really comes to life at around A-440 or higher. This would not be preferable to a singer who desires their voice predominant.


Very possible indeed, as liking tuning without stretch and even with closed or "reduced" octaves. (more comfortable, for the voice probably)

I was thinking that if the goal is to have a piano tuned at 432, the best thing to do is re scale it so the strings have their normal elasticity and the piano tone is not dull and unfocused.
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#2105846 - 06/21/13 04:16 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Samthetech
Originally Posted By: Loren D
Max, when I started in the business, I encountered piano after piano that was badly below pitch because the tuner who used to tune kept tuning them where they were. Each year they sunk lower and lower.


I will agree with this. If you tune a piano below pitch, that doesn't mean you should tune it an even lower pitch the next time you tune it. You have to put some tension back on the strings with a tuning. With once a year tunings, that's actually most of the job.


If it is too much trouble, use an ETD in PR mode, and refine the tuning at the end of the job. I am not in favor of ETD but they can help to put pianos back to pitch quickly (with some risks for the soundboard)

I tune "normal" tunings in PR mode, in the end, as I use a method to obtain the CHAS tuning, most often.

This method oblige you to ascertain the level of motion the soundboard is having, then PR can be done more easily.
It happens that the piano stay reasonably well for a long time (old strings , happy to be put back where they where tune some day) It also happens that the piano is really out of tune a few months later, even weeks.You cannot know beforehand.

But to have some quality back, a minimum pitch is necessary. The result generally surprise the customer as their old piano seem to come back to life, it was generally not expected.
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#2105865 - 06/21/13 04:46 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
There was a local technician from a store (since retired, won't mention name, doesn't matter anyway) that started tuning a clients brand new Schimmel piano at A432 from the get go. He became the customer's regular tuner. Every six months the piano was tuned to A432 for six years. Out of a desire to be perceived as a stable tuner rather than putting the interest of the customer first he didn't bother with pitch raising. Unbenounced to the owner this tuner was actually causing the piano more harm than good by acting selfishly or lazily, in my opinion. After six years as the player became a teenager and started having friends over with guitars and keyboards and other instruments they had to go through an expensive series of tunings to re stabilize the piano because it had become so set at A432 from regular bi-annual tunings. They couldn't understand why this great 'Steinway trained' technician would do that. They were not happy about it, the piano was very expensive and took a long time re stabilize.




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#2105873 - 06/21/13 05:09 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
Loren D Offline
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Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Samthetech
Maybe I'm tuning with the wrong customers or in the wrong part of the country, but more than half of my customers can barely afford the lessons AND the piano. I tune for a lot of older folks, a lot of college students, a lot of young families. They have better places to be putting the money than in my pocket. I've never had anybody complain about the piano being too low. Most people couldn't tell without a reference, anyways. And a good tuner can make a piano sing no matter where they set it. As long as you set the correct temperament (and of course it is different if the piano is low) the piano will sound great. It doesn't matter if I like it or not, or if you guys like it or not, my JOB is to give the best possible service within budget.

As for all those "poor kids" who are playing on a piano that isn't at concert pitch... Does that mean that kids playing the clarinet or the saxophone are doomed? Because the clarinet and the saxophone aren't a concert pitch instrument, either.


Not sure how you're figuring that. A clarinet is a Bb instrument, so it's transposed. So C on a clarinet is Bb on a piano. The music is transposed and as long as the piano is at the correct pitch, they'll be in tune with each other.

If the piano is 10 cents flat, there's a very noticeable clash. But back to the point, a clarinet is designed to be at a standard pitch so it can play with other instruments that are also standard pitched. Yes, a clarinetist can adjust up or down slightly by adjusting the mouthpiece, but not much.

Suffice to say that when I tune for an orchestra or music recital, if I don't leave that piano at 440 there are going to be a lot of unhappy musicians.

As for budgeting; I also understand that family budgets are often tight. I don't and never have made it a practice to sell services the customer doesn't need. But your attitude seems to be that you'll be glad to charge less in exchange for tuning the piano at a non-standard pitch since "most people can't tell without a reference, anyways."

If that works for you, that's fine, but I'd much rather educate the customer and provide them with the highest level of service I'm able. My fees are reasonable and the customers appreciate that I take the time to inform them of the where the piano is and the importance of it needing to be at the right pitch.

Do some of them still elect to tune low rather than pay for a pitch raise? Sure, now and then. But at least they're aware. But I've never thought to myself "Ah, they'll never be able to tell, so...." and just tuned it low hoping no one ever notices. In the end the decision is theirs, but like I said, 99% of the time they want it done right and are willing to pay a reasonable fee to get it there.

If I had someone servicing my tractor, I wouldn't be able to tell whether or not they put in a new spark plug. I hope that wouldn't be a reason for them not to put one in, especially if the tractor (and my lawn cutting experience) would benefit from a new one. I am paying them to look out for my tractor, after all.

We have different philosophies, I guess.
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#2105875 - 06/21/13 05:11 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Jbyron


"A-440 fanatic?" Sounds a little judgmental to me.

The other improvements you mention are a given for any piano service. There's no reason to believe that these can't be taken care along with tuning the piano to, or very near the pitch of A-440.


+1.
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#2105876 - 06/21/13 05:14 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1856
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
There was a local technician from a store (since retired, won't mention name, doesn't matter anyway) that started tuning a clients brand new Schimmel piano at A432 from the get go. He became the customer's regular tuner. Every six months the piano was tuned to A432 for six years. Out of a desire to be perceived as a stable tuner rather than putting the interest of the customer first he didn't bother with pitch raising. Unbenounced to the owner this tuner was actually causing the piano more harm than good by acting selfishly or lazily, in my opinion. After six years as the player became a teenager and started having friends over with guitars and keyboards and other instruments they had to go through an expensive series of tunings to re stabilize the piano because it had become so set at A432 from regular bi-annual tunings. They couldn't understand why this great 'Steinway trained' technician would do that. They were not happy about it, the piano was very expensive and took a long time re stabilize.



Sad.

There is no more important time in the life of a piano than when it's new. Lots of tunings - keep 'em well-sharp during "stretch time" and it'll be a winner. Back in the day, no one knew this better than Baldwin/Trumann. Almost without exception, Hamiltons, Acrosonics, 6000s, etc were shipped at 443-5.
These instruments became the really good ones.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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#2105881 - 06/21/13 05:26 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Morodiene]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: rxd
The Henry Wood Proms were funded by Robert Newman (singer and impressario) and his Harley St. Throat doctor in 1895 on condition that the pitch was lowered from 457 down to 439/440. It required a whole new set of wind instruments. I wonder what Verdi sounded like before those days.

440 or thereabouts has gradually become deeply entrenched internationally since just before those days. Even if an opera company were to adopt a lower pitch, it would still require new wind instruments for half the orchestra and their substitute players. Where are the philanthropists of today?.
It wouldn't require that much. I'm not a tuner, but 440 down to 432 is about 1/3 of a step, so not even a half step. Instruments have the ability to change this tuning, which is why you hear Baroque concerts done at Baroque tuning.


I told you what I think of tuning under pitch, but it is possible that your Petrof accept more than some other pianos (Shimmels, for instance)to be tuned low, as those are pianos with low iH , the little raise in iH is probably not disturbing tone wise. (the basses - and the little stretched low mediums plain wires-must loose something but the treble could tone correctly)

But the resistance to seasonal change must be lower, due to the loss in elasticity.


Edited by Olek (06/21/13 05:30 PM)
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#2105959 - 06/21/13 08:44 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Eric Gloo]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 358
Whoa! I've been super busy and not at the computer much for the past couple of days, and I come back to three pages of replies. There's a lot I want to respond to, but I don't have time for everything right now. I'll start with this:

Originally Posted By: Eric Gloo
With your "perfect pitch", you would have been able to tell if the piano's pitch was off, right? How did the piano sound after the latest person tuned it? Better, worse, or about the same as the previous technician? If you were happy with the previous person, and are somewhat suspicious about the current person, go back to the previous person. When you call her to set up the appointment, come right out and tell her about this other person and the pitch raise. Simply ask her, "Has my piano always been tuned to standard pitch?"


Yes. I did use scare quotes because I'm not sure how to classify what I have. I can identify notes played on the piano 100% of the time without thinking and have been able to from the time I was five years old. I can identify notes sung or played on other instruments 75% of the time, but if the note is more than 30 cents sharp or flat, my accuracy goes way down; I can tell the general vicinity of the note but often not whatever the pitch is closest to.

I can sing, for instance, middle C and get it right most of the time, but not all the time, and that bothers me. If my piano goes out of tune slowly, I tend not to be bothered too much. I hate playing on pianos that are badly out of tune, though, and it seems that most people's are. I can tell immediately that my piano sounds amazing after being tuned, even if I didn't notice much that it was out of tune. I can tune my flute if given a reference pitch with a fair amount of ease.

All that is to say, yes, I can tell to some extent that both tuners have done a good job. But I'm not sure I'd be able to tell if the previous tuner had, say, tuned the entire piano 10 cents flat.

I will ask her next time she comes.

(Also, thanks to everyone for letting me know the correct terminology to use.)
_________________________
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#2105969 - 06/21/13 09:11 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: rysowers]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 358
Originally Posted By: rysowers
The idea that 6 month tunings will help maintain pitch better than yearly tunings is completely inaccurate in my experience - at least in my part of the country.

Almost invariably the pianos I see once a year are in much better tune than the pianos I see after 6 months, especially if the piano was tuned in the middle of summer or winter. After a certain age, if the piano has received regular tuning, time is no longer the main factor in losing pitch. It's almost all humidity related. I tuned a piano a while back that I had not tuned in 10 years and it was still at pitch.

If the goal is to have an nice sounding piano throughout the year, I would first recommend a client invest in a humidity control system for the piano before spending money on twice a year tunings.


That's really interesting. Which is better for a piano: a humid environment or a dry one? (I live in a very dry environment.)
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#2105987 - 06/21/13 09:55 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Samthetech]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 358
Originally Posted By: Samthetech
Maybe I'm tuning with the wrong customers or in the wrong part of the country, but more than half of my customers can barely afford the lessons AND the piano. I tune for a lot of older folks, a lot of college students, a lot of young families. They have better places to be putting the money than in my pocket. I've never had anybody complain about the piano being too low. Most people couldn't tell without a reference, anyways. And a good tuner can make a piano sing no matter where they set it. As long as you set the correct temperament (and of course it is different if the piano is low) the piano will sound great. It doesn't matter if I like it or not, or if you guys like it or not, my JOB is to give the best possible service within budget.

As for all those "poor kids" who are playing on a piano that isn't at concert pitch... Does that mean that kids playing the clarinet or the saxophone are doomed? Because the clarinet and the saxophone aren't a concert pitch instrument, either.


You know, I can respect this. I can also respect the "purists." There are lots of different pianists out there with different needs and different budgets, and I like that there are different types of tuners out there to meet those different needs.
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#2106031 - 06/22/13 12:47 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
[quote=Loren
But at least they're aware. But I've never thought to myself "Ah, they'll never be able to tell, so...." and just tuned it low hoping no one ever notices. [/quote]

I do make sure to inform my client. My argument is merely that refusing to tune a piano low isn't fair to my clients when there are other options. I wish people would read my entire response before trying to argue against it, as I've said that already. And Bb clarinet is a "note low" compared to concert pitch, so if somebody is only playing a Bb clarinet, then what they think is a G is actually an A. That was my point with, if I tune a piano low, the kids aren't going to suffer because of it anymore than a clarinet player suffers hearing C and thinking Bb! I would never tune a piano below pitch if they are going to be playing a concert instrument with it, but otherwise people often don't care.
_________________________
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#2106036 - 06/22/13 01:08 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
I think if someone is just getting started out and gaining experience they should just pitch raise the piano anyway and collect their tuning fee if the piano owner can't afford it. The more pianos you pitch raise the better you get at it and you'll no longer be intimidated by them.
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#2106039 - 06/22/13 01:12 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3379
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
I think if someone is just getting started out and gaining experience they should just pitch raise the piano anyway and collect their tuning fee if the piano owner can't afford it. The more pianos you pitch raise the better you get at it and you'll no longer be intimidated by them.


At the same time, then that trains piano owners to think that it is included in the rate, or questions when some more experienced tuner mentions it down the road. I was taught to charge what a professional would charge.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#2106042 - 06/22/13 01:18 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: beethoven986]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
In the beginning it's not unusual to work a little harder for a little less, it usually pays off down the road cumulatively. A lot of times they won't know how much you raised the pitch so why not just do it right? I really doubt that it would cause problems down the road for other tuners.
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#2106046 - 06/22/13 01:22 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Jbyron]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3379
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
In the beginning it's not unusual to work a little harder for a little less, it usually pays off down the road cumulatively. A lot of times they won't know how much you raised the pitch so why not just do it right? I really doubt that it would cause problems down the road for other tuners.


Perhaps. I suppose there's no way to ever know for sure. Generally, though, I think technicians undercharge. Unfortunately, many don't have the leverage to charge correctly.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#2106078 - 06/22/13 03:44 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Loren D]
Maximillyan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 1556
Loc: KZ
Originally Posted By: Loren D
That's not good service.

Loren D, I'm agree with you. I'm think that imposible so. Each year a piano sunk lower and lower
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#2106111 - 06/22/13 08:14 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: beethoven986]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1856
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
In the beginning it's not unusual to work a little harder for a little less, it usually pays off down the road cumulatively. A lot of times they won't know how much you raised the pitch so why not just do it right? I really doubt that it would cause problems down the road for other tuners.


Perhaps. I suppose there's no way to ever know for sure. Generally, though, I think technicians undercharge. Unfortunately, many don't have the leverage to charge correctly.


Interesting observation. And correct, I think. Cannot speak to any area of the country other than my own. I long suspected that here technicians undercharged for decades because dealers did their best to keep it that way. Reason: profits. Example: In 1985 one major dealer was paying $25 for a floor tuning and $30 for a pitch raise. In 2012, he was paying the same. This had a ripple effect - impacting service pricing at most (but not all) other dealers as well as on the retail level. For some 15 or more years retail tuning was stuck at $45. Retail pricing began to disconnect from the cycle in the 1990s due to attrition and better trained techs, I think.
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#2106931 - 06/23/13 08:03 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
rxd,

As always, the customer is "always right". I once had a lady tell me she wanted her piano tuned to the Key of G. All you can do is shake your head and make the customer know that you are trying to please them
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Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2106960 - 06/23/13 09:12 PM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Gary Fowler]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3999
Loc: Rockford, IL
Gary,

Do you mean, "nod your head and make the customer know..."? grin
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#2107033 - 06/24/13 02:25 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Cinnamonbear]
rxd Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1842
Loc: London, England
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Gary,

Do you mean, "nod your head and make the customer know..."? grin


......And habitually pepper your conversation with "as you know" & instead of "yes, but..." use "certainly, and...." you can say almost the exact opposite if you validate what they just said.

Amazing how many find it habitually necessary to say "no....."
or otherwise negate what has gone before. even if they agree, before voicing their own opinion.


Edited by rxd (06/24/13 05:05 AM)
_________________________
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"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

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#2107546 - 06/25/13 12:08 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Any tuner worth his/her salt can do a minor pitch raise with 10 or 15 minutes extra work. It borders on LAZY to feel you have to charge a regular customer for a "pitch raise".
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Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2107553 - 06/25/13 12:20 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Gary Fowler]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3379
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Any tuner worth his/her salt can do a minor pitch raise with 10 or 15 minutes extra work. It borders on LAZY to feel you have to charge a regular customer for a "pitch raise".


Define minor.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#2107555 - 06/25/13 12:27 AM Re: Do I trust this tuner? [Re: Brinestone]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 526
Loc: USA
If it's a regular yearly customer then it shouldn't be more than 30 cents flat, and even though flat, the pins should have remained equally set making it much easier to crank it back up to pitch.

I know there are people that charge for a pitch correction as minor as 5 cents. In that case you might as well just raise your regular rate to that of tuning plus pitch raise.
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