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#2212081 - 01/10/14 11:04 AM Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune?
Peanuts Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 68
Loc: Singapore
I usually practice on an digital. On a few occasions, when I demo on my students' pianos and they sounded strange( like the notes are not harmonized). My students would ask me if I could tell that the piano had just been tuned recently. Their pianos seem to sound better before tuning. The same happen with my acoustic. Is there an explanation for that?

Thanks.


Edited by Peanuts (01/10/14 11:06 AM)
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#2212108 - 01/10/14 11:56 AM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Peanuts]
SMHaley Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 1131
Loc: Seattle
One can speculate many things... With out hearing what it is you are hearing first hand, it can only remain speculation.
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#2212224 - 01/10/14 02:30 PM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Peanuts]
pinkfloydhomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 433
The closest experience for me is when I have spent several hours tuning my own piano (I am still learning, so I am not so fast yet...), I become kind of ... tone blind? Everything sounds harsh and out of tune. Even when everything seems to check out. Then when I return to play it the next day, it sounds wonderful(ish, it's still just a crappy tuner tuning a crappy piano).
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#2212677 - 01/11/14 07:58 AM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Peanuts]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2449
Loc: Maine
Some of what you are hearing may be filed under "The Difference Between Digital and Real". There is a lot more going on in an acoustic piano. The difference can be compared to watching a light bulb or watching a bonfire. I have yet to hear a digital match the color and character of a well tuned acoustic piano. (That's "well" as in "good", not "well" as in "reverse".) wink
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#2212781 - 01/11/14 11:36 AM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Peanuts]
That Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/11
Posts: 469
Loc: Lincoln, NE
That's not surprising to me at all. If it's a spinet piano there's no way it will sound as perfect as a digital. This is assuming that it was a good tuning to begin with.
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#2213379 - 01/12/14 01:08 PM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Peanuts]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3572
Loc: Madison, WI USA
The Original Poster was very specific about what he said: "notes not harmonized". Notice the location: Singapore. I can well imagine that Electronic Tuning Devices (ETD)'s may not be so commonly used there. I can also imagine that same 4ths & 5ths sequence that has been discussed in other topics here recently and what most often happens when it is used: a temperament that is not what is intended at all but goes unrecognized for how bad it really is.

Of course, the temperament is not the only problem but it starts there. What I see happening is mass produced pianos, not very well made that are very far off pitch but tuners who try to effect a tuning by coming to them and turning each tuning pin one time. The result is that the piano sounds worse after "tuning" than it did before, just like the Original Poster says.

What goes on as far as piano tuning in Singapore is not likely to compare very well to Western Europe or North America. Of course, I have seen that here too, what I would describe not as a piano tuning but the piano's out of tune state simply having been re-arranged and not a particular improvement.

The piano and piano music as we think of it has not long been part of Asian culture but they are surely very interested in it. There are thousands of pianos being cranked out of factories, each one being made for as low cost as possible and far greater number of individuals and families desiring to have one than there is now in Europe and North America. The result is we have better pianos here and they are far better serviced than they probably are for the most part in countries like Singapore, Southeast Asia or China.

An electronic keyboard (as I prefer to call them) is not a piano. Admittedly, it often serves as a substitute for a piano but it can give the user the wrong impression of what a real piano and a really good piano should sound like and experience in other ways when playing.

There are no longer any spinet pianos being made and there haven't been for about 40 years, so being a spinet piano is not the problem. However, I can well imagine a great many short scaled console pianos that would never make their way to European or North American markets that do not hold pitch every well and have other issues. People are often reluctant to spend money on piano service and those who perform those services may often not be very well trained. Harsh climatic conditions may also be a problem but may not be as bad for pianos as they actually are in most of North America.

The solution is more and better piano service by more highly skilled technicians.
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Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2213411 - 01/12/14 02:02 PM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Peanuts]
That Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/11
Posts: 469
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Wow! Thanks for all the good info Bill.
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Scott Kerns
"That Tuning Guy"
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com

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#2214491 - 01/14/14 10:41 AM Re: Why does newly tuned piano often sounds out-of-tune? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
Peanuts Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 68
Loc: Singapore
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
What I see happening is mass produced pianos, not very well made that are very far off pitch but tuners who try to effect a tuning by coming to them and turning each tuning pin one time. The result is that the piano sounds worse after "tuning" than it did before, just like the Original Poster says.

Thanks Bill! thumb I think that may be the answer. I do not realise that very-far-off-pitch pianos will stay that way permanently.

Many people here hire technicians from a multi-branch budget piano manufacturer, after purchasing their over-priced piano during a sale. The technicians rely on tuning equipments, rather than their ears.
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