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#2221719 - 01/28/14 01:04 AM Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Reblitz recommends playing the notes firmly
to equalize string tension and set the strings.

It's very obvious while using an ETD that the
frequency will often vary during the duration of the
note, usually sharper at the beginning.

And I read somewhere else that one should make the
beginning of the note to be in tune. Problem is,
notes with 3 strings will have 3 different ways
in which the frequencies will vary with time, such
that if you make the beginnings of the notes beatless,
the decaying portion of the note is not guaranteed to
be beatless.

Also, if someone plays a pianissimo section, the notes
will not be in perfect tune, because you had made the
beginnings of a hard hammer blow to be in tune.

I suppose all this could be moot, because if it's all within
a few cents, it won't really matter, but the software
makes you very aware of it.

BTW, I just tuned my first baby grand piano, and
it was certainly easier to work the lever then the
uprights I have done.

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#2221796 - 01/28/14 09:01 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hi Paul,

I have not had that experience aurally very often, although I do remember situations where pitch was audibly varying with time. IMO, that problem occurs more with lower quality pianos.

There is a phenomenon called coupling, where the frequencies of the unison strings will change slightly to match each other, even though when measured separately, they are not equal.

Think of two kids on a swing set. Each may have a slightly different length of chain, and hence swing at a slightly different frequency. But if they are close enough in frequency, and the swing set is a little bit loose, i.e. the top bar is moving a bit with the kids, then they will tend to keep swinging in unison, because the movement of the loose bar above is helping to change the frequency slightly so that the two kids' frequencies meet in the middle.

That's the way I think of it, but someone else may have a more precise scientific explanation.

Also, there are these things called PitchLock which are basically staples that "grab" two unisons and encourage more coupling and hence result in cleaner unisons that stay in tune longer.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2221802 - 01/28/14 09:13 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2098
Loc: Maine
I wait for the after-tone and tune that. Tuning the hammer strike sound is like herding cats.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2221806 - 01/28/14 09:18 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Paul678
Reblitz recommends playing the notes firmly
to equalize string tension and set the strings.


BTW, I do not tune that way. I use a soft blow technique with a slow pull. Some people disagree with slow pull, but in my opinion, they do not know how to do it properly, or are actually doing it but think they are using impact. (I actually watched a video of a prominent proponent of impact and saw him definitely using slow pull as the final motion.) I also tune open unisons, which allow for more discovery of drifted unisons before I'm done.

Just to be clear, I will use hard blows and impact tuning when the situation calls for it, on a note by note basis, but I prefer the other method.

The main reason I use a slow pull/soft blow is for health reasons; I don't like the feel or tone when using ear plugs. And hard blows tend to produce pains in my wrist, hand, and shoulder. Also, for me they produce ear fatigue, and are known to produce hearing loss if you tune that way for many years without ear protection. I've had my hearing checked 12 years ago and 2 years ago with no visible depreciation between the two times.

With the open unison/slow pull/soft blow method, I am able to tune six pianos a day, get good stability, and not be tired at all at the end. In fact, I will be tuning pianos at the University of Prince Edward Island next month and I will have to tune about eight a day and I've done it before with no problem.

If you have any specific questions about the method, I would be more than happy to answer them.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2221819 - 01/28/14 09:49 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: David Jenson]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2381
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I wait for the after-tone and tune that. Tuning the hammer strike sound is like herding cats.


Amen...
_________________________
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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#2221843 - 01/28/14 11:13 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: David Jenson]
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I wait for the after-tone and tune that. Tuning the hammer strike sound is like herding cats.


Well, that does make sense because the after-tone
will be heard for a longer, more sustained period of time. The trade off will be that the initial hammer strike will
be too sharp, as well as fast staccato passages, but since these notes happen very quickly, the sharpness may be less noticeable.


Also very soft passages will be in good tune.

Also it would initially be easier to tune each note,
because you could play each note softly at first, and
save the hard blows at the end to set the strings.

Thanks for the tip. I'll try this next time.


Edited by Paul678 (01/28/14 11:14 AM)

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#2221846 - 01/28/14 11:25 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
Originally Posted By: Paul678
Reblitz recommends playing the notes firmly
to equalize string tension and set the strings.


BTW, I do not tune that way. I use a soft blow technique with a slow pull. Some people disagree with slow pull, but in my opinion, they do not know how to do it properly, or are actually doing it but think they are using impact. (I actually watched a video of a prominent proponent of impact and saw him definitely using slow pull as the final motion.) I also tune open unisons, which allow for more discovery of drifted unisons before I'm done.

Just to be clear, I will use hard blows and impact tuning when the situation calls for it, on a note by note basis, but I prefer the other method.

The main reason I use a slow pull/soft blow is for health reasons; I don't like the feel or tone when using ear plugs. And hard blows tend to produce pains in my wrist, hand, and shoulder. Also, for me they produce ear fatigue, and are known to produce hearing loss if you tune that way for many years without ear protection. I've had my hearing checked 12 years ago and 2 years ago with no visible depreciation between the two times.

With the open unison/slow pull/soft blow method, I am able to tune six pianos a day, get good stability, and not be tired at all at the end. In fact, I will be tuning pianos at the University of Prince Edward Island next month and I will have to tune about eight a day and I've done it before with no problem.

If you have any specific questions about the method, I would be more than happy to answer them.


You mentioned the problem occurs mostly on
lower quality instruments. This was a 60" Baldwin
baby grand, possibly from 1980's or so, that has
horribly irregular tone over the whole range of notes. I have not yet delved into hammer voicing, but the owner may be open to being a guinea pig....we shall see.

I'm sure the open-unison/slow pull/soft blow method
has been covered here before, so if you gave me a link
to a thread that would be good, or perhaps to a video.

I'm interested in any method that will make the arduous
task of tuning a piano easier!



Edited by Paul678 (01/28/14 11:28 AM)

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#2221911 - 01/28/14 02:18 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1484
Loc: Old Hangtown California
I will "tune at the beginning of the hammer blow" when I first approach the piano.
Just a bit of tuning hammer pressure to the flat side combined with a test blow, then listening to what happens tells me quite a bit of what is to be expected. It gives a clue about how the pins were set (if at all) previously.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

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#2221948 - 01/28/14 03:34 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Gene Nelson]
Jon Page Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 273
Loc: Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
The test blow is not supposed to set the string, hammer technique sets the string and pin. The test blow tests for stability, if the test blow knocks it out, you didn't set the pin and string correctly.
_________________________
Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com

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#2221975 - 01/28/14 04:57 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
SMHaley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 624
Loc: Seattle
If all that mattered was the attack that would certainly make life easier with no need for dampers.
_________________________
AA Music Arts 2001, BM 2005
Pipe Organ Builder
Practitioner of piano technology
Church Music Professional
Curator of instruments - Chancel Arts
Baldwin F 1960 (146256)
Zuckermann Flemish Single

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#2222143 - 01/28/14 09:07 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
BenP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 166
Loc: South Jersey
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
IMO, that problem occurs more with lower quality pianos.


I would agree with Mark's assessment. I have experienced the worst pitch decay problems on old uprights, and particularly spinets. It is very noticeable and measurable with an ETD, and I've seen variations as large as 10 cents between the attack and sustain pitch. These are also the pianos on which a fine tuning does little good, and you have to just get it as close as you can. I tend to tune the sustained pitch and not the attack, for some of the reasons that have already been mentioned above.

The bottom line, however, is that you must trust your ear and not the device in these situations.
_________________________
Ben Patterson
Part-time Piano Tech
Rural South Jersey

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#2222189 - 01/28/14 10:36 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: BenP]
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Originally Posted By: BenP
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
IMO, that problem occurs more with lower quality pianos.


I would agree with Mark's assessment. I have experienced the worst pitch decay problems on old uprights, and particularly spinets. It is very noticeable and measurable with an ETD, and I've seen variations as large as 10 cents between the attack and sustain pitch. These are also the pianos on which a fine tuning does little good, and you have to just get it as close as you can. I tend to tune the sustained pitch and not the attack, for some of the reasons that have already been mentioned above.

The bottom line, however, is that you must trust your ear and not the device in these situations.


Yes, the pitch can vary quite a bit.

Agreed you must often ignore the machine...

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#2222847 - 01/29/14 10:26 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Herr Weiss Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 133
Loc: New York, N.Y.
Originally Posted By: Paul678

BTW, I just tuned my first baby grand piano, and
it was certainly easier to work the lever then the
uprights I have done.



Congrats on your first child!! thumb


HW

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#2223167 - 01/30/14 01:35 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
jmw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/10
Posts: 78
Loc: Girard, KS,
I just have to say this- over on Pianotech there is a discussion going about improving efficiency in tuning, and most of the suggestions involve tuning the sound within half a second of attack, so closer to the actual attack.

I don't know which one is right or IF one is right or wrong, but, once again, we have highly skilled and successful technicians advocating the opposite thing!
_________________________
Music teacher and beginning Tuner

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#2223309 - 01/30/14 08:01 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: jmw]
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Originally Posted By: jmw
I just have to say this- over on Pianotech there is a discussion going about improving efficiency in tuning, and most of the suggestions involve tuning the sound within half a second of attack, so closer to the actual attack.

I don't know which one is right or IF one is right or wrong, but, once again, we have highly skilled and successful technicians advocating the opposite thing!



Well, just one look at the other threads here, and you can
see even the pros disagree quite often.

I'm going to try tuning to the settled pitch next time. Should be easier....

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#2223414 - 01/31/14 12:37 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: David Jenson]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2373
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I wait for the after-tone and tune that. Tuning the hammer strike sound is like herding cats.


I do the same. In fact, I notice on my ETD (RCT) that if a string is checked, the software consistantly does its listening about a second or so after the initial attack. Even though a sustained note might eventually roll flat, quite often I see them blip sharp, stabilize for a bit and then roll flat.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2223460 - 01/31/14 04:01 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Emmery]
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Originally Posted By: Emmery
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I wait for the after-tone and tune that. Tuning the hammer strike sound is like herding cats.


I do the same. In fact, I notice on my ETD (RCT) that if a string is checked, the software consistantly does its listening about a second or so after the initial attack. Even though a sustained note might eventually roll flat, quite often I see them blip sharp, stabilize for a bit and then roll flat.


Yes, some notes do pretty crazy pitch swings,
and not always sharp to flat. If you have all three
stings acting in different ways, then you can see
why it's often best to tune unisons by ear.

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#2223788 - 01/31/14 06:21 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
It's not either or. It's both. Ideally, the attack has to be still and the tail also still (still=no movement).
Listen for a slight blip a millisecond after the attack, rather like an immediate reaction to the attack, a slight swelling in the tone only lasting another millisecond -
- and eliminate it.

Stillness in the tail usually follows. If not, feel free to adjust it without letting that blip back in. If you acheive that, the unison will sound as one string.

Yes, it can feel like herding cats as was said above, but the rewards to the pianist are great. Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.

In this answer, I thought, that's easy for me to say, what about the average piano, so I tuned three notes of a mildly false 40" uprite. A's4,3&5. It took me a lot longer (my upright tuning skills are rusty) but it is possible. Tune octaves the same way from completed unisons so that all six strings have no blip and a clean tail. Octaves behave like unisons in this respect. You can check thirds and tenths and seventeenths and in practice, they will all line up if you get it right, even on most of a forty inch piano.
_________________________
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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#2224010 - 02/01/14 05:37 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: rxd]
Maximillyan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 1526
Loc: KZ
Originally Posted By: rxd
Stillness in the tail usually follows. If not, feel free to adjust it without letting that blip back in. If you acheive that, the unison will sound as one string.

Yes, it can feel like herding cats as was said above, but the rewards to the pianist are great. Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.

First Max's test for two upright piano. The piano ladies is happy but Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.
What are yours verdict this temperament,rxd?
http://youtu.be/Kf1wlEnUntQ
_________________________
A=440
http://www.donguluk.ucoz.ru/

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#2224137 - 02/01/14 11:38 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Maximillyan]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Originally Posted By: Maximillyan
Originally Posted By: rxd
Stillness in the tail usually follows. If not, feel free to adjust it without letting that blip back in. If you acheive that, the unison will sound as one string.

Yes, it can feel like herding cats as was said above, but the rewards to the pianist are great. Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.

First Max's test for two upright piano. The piano ladies is happy but Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.
What are yours verdict this temperament,rxd?
http://youtu.be/Kf1wlEnUntQ


Tuning two pianos together is not the easiest thing.
Are you ready to do some of what we are talking about?

Pick a note near middle C that is the loudest and use mutes or wedges so that you only hear one string as it is struck by the hammer. It is important that you sound notes with the action of the piano and not pluck them because all the strings of a unison have to begin at the same moment. Plucking cannot give you that. Hear how "still" that one string sounds. No waves, no beats. remember that sound. Play it and listen to the full length of the note several times and memorise the sound.

Now, place the wedge or mute so that two strings sound together

It is important that they are struck by the hammer because we want them to begin together. That's important to the tone quality of the piano and is the reason I asked you to pick the loudest note.

Now tune the second string to the first so that they sound like the single string that you listened to many times and memorised. Go back to one string if you need to refresh your memory.

It should sound exactly the same except a slightly fuller sound.

When the string is close to that sound, only make very small adjustments until the two strings sound like the one string. You have already read how to leave the string and pin so that it will stay there.

When you have the two strings sounding still, play all three strings and adjust the third string is that you still have that stillness that the one string sounded like.

Practice this many times on different notes and then tune one string of the note an octave higher. Sounding the three strings of the first note you tuned and one string of its higher octave all together so that four strings are sounding together. Go back and make careful corrections if necessary. listen for that same single string sound. Then tune the second and third strings of the higher octave in the same way. Test your work at every stage sounding five strings together, then six. We want to hear absolute stillness on each not and the same stillness when both notes are sounding.

This is basic to all tuning. Stay with it.
_________________________
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.



Top
#2224192 - 02/01/14 01:39 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: rxd]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2373
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: rxd
It's not either or. It's both. Ideally, the attack has to be still and the tail also still (still=no movement).
Listen for a slight blip a millisecond after the attack, rather like an immediate reaction to the attack, a slight swelling in the tone only lasting another millisecond -
- and eliminate it.

Stillness in the tail usually follows. If not, feel free to adjust it without letting that blip back in. If you acheive that, the unison will sound as one string.

Yes, it can feel like herding cats as was said above, but the rewards to the pianist are great. Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.

In this answer, I thought, that's easy for me to say, what about the average piano, so I tuned three notes of a mildly false 40" uprite. A's4,3&5. It took me a lot longer (my upright tuning skills are rusty) but it is possible. Tune octaves the same way from completed unisons so that all six strings have no blip and a clean tail. Octaves behave like unisons in this respect. You can check thirds and tenths and seventeenths and in practice, they will all line up if you get it right, even on most of a forty inch piano.


Unfortuantely, when tuning by ear, for absolute precision and confirmation, one requires a listening window thats related, and at least as large as the wave's period . The initial attack or a "millisecond" has no relevance here IMHO. Tuning voodoo. A human cannot even distinguish two click sounds 1 ms apart, let alone make an assessment about in-tuneness of a fundamental or partials on struck note. Not enough time to hear what we need to hear for this by isolating the attack and millisecond(s) that follow.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

Top
#2224235 - 02/01/14 03:22 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Sorry, Emery, I accept this. Thank you for pointing it out so politely. I meant it in a colloquial way. I forgot that this is an international forum and likely to be taken literally. Even ordinary words seem to be garnering some extra meanings.

I hope I did't give the impression that I can judge a unison purely by the attack, I can't. I have to listen to the tail of every note and interval to satisfy myself that it is the sound they want.

Thanks for giving me the impetus to correct myself.
_________________________
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.



Top
#2224286 - 02/01/14 04:50 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Thomas Dowell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/09
Posts: 122
Loc: Twin Lakes, WI
I would advocate more for tuning closer to the impact of the hammer. Maybe not AT the impact, but only for half a second more.

For unisons, you can hear two strings diverging very quickly if you train your ears on, what was described to me as, the strings' "meow", the whine of two strings not quite in tune with each other. Coupling will cause them to "lock together" if you wait much longer, giving a false impression of in-tune. Of course, double check once in a while that the sustain is in tune as well.

For intervals, I try to listen to an equal number of beats per interval. I try to judge how long it takes for the beats to happen. For slow beating, like 4ths, I play the interval long enough to hear 1 beat, and then move one. I guess I tend to view beat speeds as "4 beats/X seconds" or "1 beat/X seconds" vs. "X beats/second".

If that makes sense... smile
_________________________
Thomas Dowell, R.P.T.
Dowell Piano
www.dowellpiano.com

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#2224439 - 02/02/14 12:16 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: rxd]
Maximillyan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 1526
Loc: KZ
Originally Posted By: rxd
Originally Posted By: Maximillyan
Originally Posted By: rxd
Stillness in the tail usually follows. If not, feel free to adjust it without letting that blip back in. If you acheive that, the unison will sound as one string.

Yes, it can feel like herding cats as was said above, but the rewards to the pianist are great. Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.

First Max's test for two upright piano. The piano ladies is happy but Tuner satisfaction is possibly more.
What are yours verdict this temperament,rxd?
http://youtu.be/Kf1wlEnUntQ


Tuning two pianos together is not the easiest thing.
Are you ready to do some of what we are talking about?

Pick a note near middle C that is the loudest and use mutes or wedges so that you only hear one string as it is struck by the hammer. It is important that you sound notes with the action of the piano and not pluck them because all the strings of a unison have to begin at the same moment. Plucking cannot give you that. Hear how "still" that one string sounds. No waves, no beats. remember that sound. Play it and listen to the full length of the note several times and memorise the sound.

Now, place the wedge or mute so that two strings sound together

It is important that they are struck by the hammer because we want them to begin together. That's important to the tone quality of the piano and is the reason I asked you to pick the loudest note.

Now tune the second string to the first so that they sound like the single string that you listened to many times and memorised. Go back to one string if you need to refresh your memory.

It should sound exactly the same except a slightly fuller sound.

When the string is close to that sound, only make very small adjustments until the two strings sound like the one string. You have already read how to leave the string and pin so that it will stay there.

When you have the two strings sounding still, play all three strings and adjust the third string is that you still have that stillness that the one string sounded like.

Practice this many times on different notes and then tune one string of the note an octave higher. Sounding the three strings of the first note you tuned and one string of its higher octave all together so that four strings are sounding together. Go back and make careful corrections if necessary. listen for that same single string sound. Then tune the second and third strings of the higher octave in the same way. Test your work at every stage sounding five strings together, then six. We want to hear absolute stillness on each not and the same stillness when both notes are sounding.

This is basic to all tuning. Stay with it.


Thank,rxd.I shall make a test your advises.
Regards,Max
_________________________
A=440
http://www.donguluk.ucoz.ru/

Top
#2232119 - 02/15/14 03:14 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: rxd]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2373
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: rxd
Sorry, Emery, I accept this. Thank you for pointing it out so politely. I meant it in a colloquial way. I forgot that this is an international forum and likely to be taken literally. Even ordinary words seem to be garnering some extra meanings.

I hope I did't give the impression that I can judge a unison purely by the attack, I can't. I have to listen to the tail of every note and interval to satisfy myself that it is the sound they want.

Thanks for giving me the impetus to correct myself.


NP rxd....I do understand what you are implying in the less literal sense. There is a whole sound there which needs to be looked at from attack to full decay. I do believe however that the subtle differences (for both ETD and aural tuners)on where a target pitch ends up on lesser quality pianos has a lot to do with the bias they have towards what part of the sounds duration they are focusing on.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2232293 - 02/15/14 10:26 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1969
Loc: Philadelphia area
Tune and voice starting from the attack envelope = even quality across entire piano.

Technicians have to listen to the entire sound. What benefit is there in ignoring an entire segment of the sound production?

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#2232304 - 02/15/14 10:42 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Dave B]
Paul678 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 569
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Tune and voice starting from the attack envelope = even quality across entire piano.

Technicians have to listen to the entire sound. What benefit is there in ignoring an entire segment of the sound production?


Well, there you go. That's also the advice I read, but
as you see in the above posts, not everyone agrees with
tuning at the attack portion of the note.

The last piano I tuned, I tried the opposite
advice, and tuned to the pitch after the note has
settled a bit, and it was a bit easier. But with
three strings that all settle in different ways, you
can only really tune them by ear once you get one
string in tune. In my opinion, you can only really
hear if a unison is beatless after the pitches have
settled down a bit.

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#2232345 - 02/16/14 12:06 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Emmery]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Originally Posted By: Emmery
Originally Posted By: rxd
Sorry, Emery, I accept this. Thank you for pointing it out so politely. I meant it in a colloquial way. I forgot that this is an international forum and likely to be taken literally. Even ordinary words seem to be garnering some extra meanings.

I hope I did't give the impression that I can judge a unison purely by the attack, I can't. I have to listen to the tail of every note and interval to satisfy myself that it is the sound they want.

Thanks for giving me the impetus to correct myself.


NP rxd....I do understand what you are implying in the less literal sense. There is a whole sound there which needs to be looked at from attack to full decay. I do believe however that the subtle differences (for both ETD and aural tuners)on where a target pitch ends up on lesser quality pianos has a lot to do with the bias they have towards what part of the sounds duration they are focusing on.


Since we never know, in recordings of contemporary music or filmscores (or even Schubert "trout" which has many passages in octaves in the piano part), when any single exposed octave will be required, we have to make them all as clean as possible. same goes for fifths.

Expectations are high. Very high.
Fortunately, the top halfs of modern pianos actually lend themselves easily to this and anybody faced with having all fifths and octaves clean sounding will have observed how the way the inharmonicity does some amazing things to come to our aid without resorting to stretching. In fact, over stretching results in audibly wide fifths. Have a real listen sometime.

As I have said in another thread, the treble of a piano is sharp enough without further sharpening. Sure it can "sound" flat if we obsess about it and subscribe to the article of religion that states that a tuning must be stretched. As I also pointed out some weeks ago and got pilloried for, some pianos sound sharper than others in the treble when tuned to the same nominal pitch but this is only by direct comparison. A piano on its own doesn't. Except maybe to someone who tunes the same make and model of piano day in and day out.

This stretching is only something tuners obsess about. I fell into the stretching trap when I joined the guild. When I moved to LA I was quickly absorbed into the studio scene. My colleagues politely and conversationally told me I really don't have to stretch. Apparently I hadn't been infected too bad or they wouldn't have accepted me in the first place.

It goes without saying that in order to have clean sounding octaves and fifths, the basics have to be impeccable. A little hint, my colleagues all tune middle C to E with what sounds to me more like 9-9.5 rather than above ten and the M thirds going up from there are carefully graduated while retaining clean fifths and octaves. Those below this are also graduated. Not impossible. The piano will help you. Don't forget we're pacing up and down the same cell of ET minimal stretch. Sooner or later you know intimately every little thing about that one situation. Then you find out that it works with all pianos with only a few minor concessions.

We all of us tune from completed unisons as we go. It makes a bigger difference than anybody might think. The slight beat of a single string against a complete unison an octave or fifth below can sound perfectly clear when the unison is put in. This is difficult to judge when tuning with a strip.

An old victorian booklet I saw years ago described down an octave from middle C, up a fifth up a fifth down an octave, repeated up to C# then start again a semitones higher. The only other instruction was that all octaves as "sharp as the ear will take" and all fifths as flat as the ear..... Nothing more was said except that organs were tuned similarly but up an octave. The rest of the text was about vellum hinges and the like. A late Victorian text by Edgar Brinsmead didn't go into much more detail. Tuning was no more involved than fixing a vellum hinge and deserved just as many words. . Of course a diligent apprentice can take these meagre instructions and by sheer repetition gradually improve. They might even notice the thirds and sixths and use them however they can.
_________________________
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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#2232951 - 02/17/14 06:23 AM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Chris Warren Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 50
Thanks to Paul678 for raising this one.

I've been tearing my limited remaining hair follicles out over these idiosynchracies lately. Using Tunelab on some strings I can set each string and then find the resulting 3 string unison is showing flat - presumably this "coupling" phenomenon. The worry is that my piano is not old (3yr old RX3).

Some strings also show a marked blip for 0.5 second after the attack, and then a distinct flattening tail. Often I can see this is corrected by better setting of the pin - but sometimes not.

I've lately happened upon what seems a very effective testing regimen that often shows up problems even when I'm happy that I've set up the foundation octave and checked subsequent octaves with Tunelab or by ear. I noticed that playing a particular passage from Chopin's 2nd Scherzo always really highlighted these problems. The key element of this is simultaneously playing an octave (mf) in each hand, but an octave + minor 3rd apart i.e. LH: playing Bb2/3, RH: playing Db5/6... and then moving an octave down or up by semitones. I'm not listening for beats, but more for an even attractive tone. I've then got to work out which the offending note is, but at least it's taking me one step closer!



Edited by Chris Warren (02/17/14 06:24 AM)

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#2233201 - 02/17/14 02:19 PM Re: Tuning at the Beginning of the Hammer blow [Re: Paul678]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Paul678
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I wait for the after-tone and tune that. Tuning the hammer strike sound is like herding cats.


Well, that does make sense because the after-tone
will be heard for a longer, more sustained period of time. The trade off will be that the initial hammer strike will
be too sharp, as well as fast staccato passages, but since these notes happen very quickly, the sharpness may be less noticeable.


Also very soft passages will be in good tune.

Also it would initially be easier to tune each note,
because you could play each note softly at first, and
save the hard blows at the end to set the strings.

Thanks for the tip. I'll try this next time.


There is another approach advocated by some advanced tuners. They tune the attack of the note for these reasons:

-Quicker tuning time
-Matching more higher partials = better unisons, the closer the strings are matched.

FWIW. Look up Issac Oleg's posts, or drop huim a PM.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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