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Topic Options
#2116762 - 07/12/13 08:58 PM Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder.
Blues beater Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 133
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
I have three upright pianos all about 100 years old. My tuner/tech friend that I have a very high respect for charitably says they have "character." The Webber has a poor pinblock and doesn't stay in tune that well so I touch it up all too frequently. The Steinway is pretty good but has some false beats and wobbly hammer butts (next project). The Whittier sometimes sounds really good with the new bass strings and hammers I put on but has occasional spells of false beats and ringing. Also, my work on the action and regulation would not exactly meet RPT standards! So despite significant improvements to all three pianos with the help and guidance of my friend and Reiblitz, these are all "beater" pianos on which I beat out the blues.

So the other day I looked up a long lost friend who has a Premier (??) grand in his house. I was thinking, "Wow, this is going to be exciting, playing a better piano than I have touched for some time." I could find nothing wrong with its state of tune -- to be expected because he keeps it maintained. The regulation was 100% consistent, it was neither overly bright or subdued, no notes stuck out voiced differently than the others or with ringing or other inappropriate sounds. In short, I could find absolutely nothing wrong with it except I felt it was lifeless, uninspiring and I could not enjoy playing it! What a pleasure to go home and beat on one of my beaters, after I had almost started to wonder if I was experiencing burnout regards playing the piano in general.

I get pretty concerned every time I see a post on here where somebody is inquiring about buying a piano in another state and wants to know if it is considered a good model and they have never played it. Fine to get a local respected tech to inspect it, but if you don't like playing it, it sucks for your use and it doesn't matter its pedigree or condition. It is for someone else, it is not for you.

Comments welcome. Maybe my tastes and standards are warped?
_________________________
Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, and unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate

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#2116765 - 07/12/13 09:16 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Blues beater]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2180
Loc: Maine
I have a client who plays "Stride" piano; a style that sounds like ragtime and rock to me. He has a nice Steinway upright that has some yowling unisons no matter how I fuss with them. I offered to try changing the wire to get rod of the wolfs, but he likes it just like it is. He insists that it's a REAL piano sound and I don't argue.

I must admit that he gets a lot of music out of that thing, and he obviously enjoys it.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2116777 - 07/12/13 09:58 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Blues beater]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Even though a piano sounds "in tune," it can be without a temperament which suits, and brings life to, the piano. It might be due to an uninspired tuner, rather than a bland piano.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2116794 - 07/12/13 10:59 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Blues beater]
accordeur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1223
Loc: Québec, Canada
A lot of people are not used to hearing clean unisons, they grew up hearing out of tune pianos.They associate the "out of tuneness" as the sound of a piano. It's actually used quite a lot in movies where an old piano happens to be there.

More advanced players realise the importance of unisons, proper regulation, voicing.

Temperament... Look up the french definition of "tempérament"....

Most temperaments used today are within cents of each other, or from theoritical ET.

When I am playing away, improvising and creating, the temperament is the least of my worries, as long as it is close enough, and that the UNISONS and octaves are clean.

I use tunelab all the time, I trust it. I learnt by ear 27 some years ago, so I guess you could call me an hybrid tuner. My ears are like a backup sentinel. As soon as my ears pick up dissonance, I don't look at the etd, I make the compromise.

If a piano is in tune, no matter the temperment, a pianist will be able to say wether they lke it or not.

All the best.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#2116800 - 07/12/13 11:52 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Blues beater Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 133
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Even though a piano sounds "in tune," it can be without a temperament which suits, and brings life to, the piano. It might be due to an uninspired tuner, rather than a bland piano.
My piano were all tuned by an expert, but since then I have been touching them up -- Weber doesn't hold that well, Whittier has replacement bass strings still not quite settled etc. I guarantee subtleties of temperament are way over MY head, but yet I still prefer my pianos to the clean lifeless one I played the other day.
_________________________
Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, and unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate

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#2116993 - 07/13/13 01:25 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Blues beater]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1228
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Blues beater
I have three upright pianos all about 100 years old. My tuner/tech friend that I have a very high respect for charitably says they have "character.
Comments welcome. Maybe my tastes and standards are warped?

Greetings,

Warped is just another way of saying subjective. You may respond more favorably to that which you are used to, but I have to say, you inhabit a world different from mine. Some music sounds better with more active unisons, but the damage those unisons do to music like Debussy or Brahms or Schubert is profound. A lifeless piano? I rarely have heard that term applied to a freshly tuned instrument, but I can see how it would seem like that to ears accustomed to a lot of randomness. Not unlike how the solid ground seems to move after being on a sailboat for three days...

Our life experiences are solely dependent on our perception, and perception depends on our perspective, and our perspective is the only thing that we can change.
Regards,

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#2117002 - 07/13/13 01:43 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Blues beater]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 969
Loc: UK
Tuning may be a nightmare but I wonder if the tone of a wooden frame piano can really be beat. But then I suppose it depends what you're looking for.

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#2117011 - 07/13/13 01:52 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Blues beater]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21826
Loc: Oakland
Premier grands were not very good pianos to begin with, and grands deteriorate faster than uprights because more of their parts are exposed to the open.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2117519 - 07/14/13 02:10 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: BDB]
Blues beater Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 133
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Originally Posted By: BDB
Premier grands were not very good pianos to begin with, and grands deteriorate faster than uprights because more of their parts are exposed to the open.
I had heard that, but could not put my fingers smile on anything specifically wrong with the instrument. Perhaps the soundboard parameters are what made it sound blah...
_________________________
Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, and unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate

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#2117524 - 07/14/13 02:15 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Ed Foote]
Blues beater Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 133
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: Blues beater
I have three upright pianos all about 100 years old. My tuner/tech friend that I have a very high respect for charitably says they have "character.
Comments welcome. Maybe my tastes and standards are warped?

Greetings,

Warped is just another way of saying subjective. You may respond more favorably to that which you are used to, but I have to say, you inhabit a world different from mine. Some music sounds better with more active unisons, but the damage those unisons do to music like Debussy or Brahms or Schubert is profound. A lifeless piano? I rarely have heard that term applied to a freshly tuned instrument, but I can see how it would seem like that to ears accustomed to a lot of randomness. Not unlike how the solid ground seems to move after being on a sailboat for three days...

Our life experiences are solely dependent on our perception, and perception depends on our perspective, and our perspective is the only thing that we can change.
Regards,


Debussy on my Weber would sound pretty awful! On the Steinway, not as bad. I haven't played a piano away from the home for a few years except for some Craiglist items that I chose not to take home and a friend of mine's crappy Baldwin spinet. I think I might go to a piano store or somewhere and see whether a nice Yamaha or whatever sounds "lifeless" to me.
_________________________
Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, and unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate

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#2117609 - 07/14/13 05:31 PM Re: Beauty is in the ear and fingertips of the beholder. [Re: Ed Foote]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: Blues beater
I have three upright pianos all about 100 years old. My tuner/tech friend that I have a very high respect for charitably says they have "character.
Comments welcome. Maybe my tastes and standards are warped?

Greetings,

Warped is just another way of saying subjective. You may respond more favorably to that which you are used to, but I have to say, you inhabit a world different from mine. Some music sounds better with more active unisons, but the damage those unisons do to music like Debussy or Brahms or Schubert is profound. A lifeless piano? I rarely have heard that term applied to a freshly tuned instrument, but I can see how it would seem like that to ears accustomed to a lot of randomness. Not unlike how the solid ground seems to move after being on a sailboat for three days...

Our life experiences are solely dependent on our perception, and perception depends on our perspective, and our perspective is the only thing that we can change.
Regards,


Hello, I can make you listen to some Steinway official recordings of the Steinway collection that sound lifeless to me. (dull)
Some of those records, despite they are officially agreed by Steinway (NY) , are , to my ears.

Suffice to miss the tuning of the attack , to obtain something sounding strange. Apparently some tuners do not.
Regards


Edited by Olek (07/14/13 06:06 PM)
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