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#2378095 - 01/25/15 07:27 PM What are the pros for strip muting?
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1626
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
My own development in tuning started with using a mute strip. Then I heard of other older tuners who did not. I heard of open unison tuning. I developed a Double String Unison technique that doesn't use a strip.

Now I don't even keep a mute strip in my kit. (I do still have some that I sell with my beginner tuning course.)

My questions is, what do other tuners think are the benefits of using a mute strip? Is not using a mute strip necessarily a natural evolution for advanced tuning, or are there some tuners who have tried open unison tuning and still feel the benefits of using the mute strip, outweigh those of not using it?


Edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT (01/25/15 07:29 PM)
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#2378098 - 01/25/15 07:34 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
rysowers Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2598
Loc: Olympia, WA
I think the strip mute is really helpful for beginners. It makes it easier to practice temperament tuning and the sound of a strip muted midrange is more clear than listening to open unisons with their more complex sound.
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Pianova Piano Service
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#2378109 - 01/25/15 08:03 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Tim Sullivan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Muskoka, Ontario
The only pro is that you can tweak easily. It's my experience that tuning unisons as you go is more stable.
Strip muting is probably necessary for beginners though. It would be really difficult to learn to tune a temperament without one.
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#2378236 - 01/26/15 08:43 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1626
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hi Tim,

Nice to hear from you. Hope your brother is well. Thanks for the post.

When you say, "the only pro is that you can tweak easily", do you mean with the strip? Yes, that makes sense.

I use double string unison, and while making small changes is incredibly easy to judge, I do need to retune the unison each time.

Mark
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Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2378271 - 01/26/15 10:53 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
SMHaley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 984
Loc: Seattle
Depending upon one's procedure I think it can also allow examination of voicing and tone within a unison. How many of us have heard a unison where perhaps the hammer alignment is barely grazing the 3rd string?
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#2378356 - 01/26/15 02:49 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3922
The advantage to strip mute is ease of fixing errors and I find it saves time over moving mutes, especially when string alignment is poor in spinets, but tuning each unison as you go is more stable, and further, starting from bass and ending up in the high treble is more stable yet, assuming the ETD does a good job.
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#2378386 - 01/26/15 04:01 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
OperaTenor Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2516
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I've always strip muted, mainly because I find it a quicker way to be more precise; I prefer to listen to only two strings at a time when I'm tuning unisons.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2378512 - 01/26/15 11:48 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: OperaTenor]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3366
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I've always strip muted, mainly because I find it a quicker way to be more precise; I prefer to listen to only two strings at a time when I'm tuning unisons.


With this, I totally agree. To me, more than anything else, the use of strips throughout the piano is a great stress reducer. In my opinion, when technicians say that tuning unisons as you go is more stable, it is because one nearly always tries to perform a pitch raise and fine tuning simultaneously.

What I learned from the late George Defebaugh RPT way back in 1979 was that to change the pitch and fine tune simultaneously was not possible. What is possible is to fight with the piano for twice as long as it would take if strip mutes were employed and still never have as accurate results.

I told my apprentice that he would likely be the victim of any number of technicians who would say to him, "I only tune the piano once! I only use a single mute and they stay! But the "only once" turns out to be a desperate and futile effort to control pitch and accuracy that could be achieved with far less stress and in much less time than if strip mutes were deployed.

Strip mutes provide for the technician to "sculpt" a tuning. In the pitch correction phase of the tuning, offsets with an Electronic Tuning Device (ETD) are used to calculate a targeted end pitch. If done aurally, controlled beats are induced between the octaves in anticipation of how much the pitch will drop once the unisons are pulled in.

The pitch correction phase of tuning always goes easily. Often, only about 15 minutes to coarsely adjust the pitch of each string. Depending upon how accurate the pitch correction phase was, the fine tuning could now be done with a single mute if the results of the pitch correction were accurate enough.

Although I sometimes do a fine tuning with a single mute, the second pass tells me whether or not the first pass was an accurate enough calculation. If, upon the second pass of any section of the piano, I am still raising the pitch of nearly every string, it means that another pitch raise is in order.

I simply do not think in such terms as, "Oh no! I have to do all that again!" I just tell myself that doing another pitch correction will be the easy way out but fighting with every string and every unison would not only be far more stressful but the results would probably not be nearly as accurate as intended.

The kind of strip mute that many technicians use is also a problem. Supply houses sell a felt strip for this purpose. That would last me about one week at best. The felt strip will quickly deteriorate. The recommended material for a strip mute is action cloth.

Three strips of Schaff piano Supply catalog #317G will last me for at least six months tuning 4 pianos a day and strip muting them entirely, each one twice over. That amounts to about 1000 placements of strip mutes before they begin to get worn out. I only need to taper about one foot of the end of one strip for it to fit in the middle section of most pianos.

Strip mute tuning is all about what George Defebaugh called "speed and accuracy". I also use a tuning hammer tip that fits far more loosely than many technicians recommend. Much of the time spent tuning is consumed in the movement of the tuning hammer from one tuning pin to the next.

While I have seen some technician write that they have multiple tuning hammer tips and before starting a tuning, they find the one which fits the tuning pin snugly, I use only a #3 tip on everything. When other technicians have observed me tuning, they are often astounded about how I can quite often tune a string to pitch in a single stroke.

I can move the tuning hammer from one tuning pin to the next in a fraction of a second. If the pitch correction is actually a pitch lowering as it often is in the Summer, I can often "throw" the tuning hammer onto a pin (with a counterclockwise movement) and have it lower the pitch to where I want it in one, quick movement and move on.

In such instances, either raising or lowering the pitch, I do not need to feel the pin move because I know I have moved it and probably without twisting or bending it at all. I have also caused all segments of the string to move as well. That being said, when I work on a piano with very tight tuning pins, I do feel the pin move, even when I apply an impact type movement to the tuning pin.

The strip mute provides for the very rapid removal of the mute from left to right when tuning unisons. One does not need to place a wedge mute for each unison, only give a quick pull and the right side of the unison is exposed. While one can become very quick and adept with wedge mutes, the strip mute is certainly placed and removed more quickly than wedges could ever be.

Only in cases where the strip mute cannot be deployed such as in the instance of the "birdcage" type piano, certain pianos where the plate interferes, certain player pianos and certain two string unison pianos (mini spinets), do I ever employ single wedge mutes. I also use a single wedge mute when touching up a fine tuning on a fine grand.

The strip mute also provides for the very finest of temperament nuances as well as the finest of octave tuning (stretching) compromises. One string compared to another.

Those technicians who aspire to taking the PTG Tuning Exam will do well to work with strip mutes because that is what they will work with at the tuning exam. Once that achievement has been accomplished, if one prefers to use single wedge mutes, fine.

I often read about technicians who say they used to use strip mutes but now they don't any more. It often seems to be implied that strip mutes are for beginners, like training wheels on a bicycle. I disagree with that notion. Those people do not use strip mutes the way I use them and therefore the notion that results will be somehow better with single mutes is only because one tries to use strip mutes in a way that I never would.
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Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2378513 - 01/26/15 11:52 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
OperaTenor Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2516
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Thank you for taking the time to explain all of that, Bill. That covers every bit of my reasoning on it as well, and, coming from you rather than me, it carries more authority. Well said.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2378516 - 01/27/15 12:01 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1747
Loc: Colorado
+1 Bill, et al. Well said! Strip muting helps me a great deal.

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#2378548 - 01/27/15 03:04 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1979
Loc: Mexico City
+1 Bill.

I want to add some points to what you've posted in favor of strip muting.

When I was learning to tune, I used a strip mute for the temperament octave (in fact a M10 from F3 to A4) and two wedge mutes for the remaining notes. I tuned two strings unisons always muting the third string.

Then I tried to tune the temperament with two wedge mutes. That implies to tune good enough unisons to be used as reference and test notes. I also began to tune open unisons, tuning the third string to the other two sounding strings. I thought this was an advanced technique.

Some years later I began to strip mute the whole piano, not only for tuning the first string but also for the second string (muting every other unison) and then strip muting the last tuned string to tune the third string.

By tuning this way I can focus my attention into tuning intervals for the first string without worring about tuning unisons. And then focus on unisons without worring about intervals.

I can tune better unisons because I tune one unison and then the next and then the next, focusing on the quality of the current unison compared to the previous one, etc.

This procedure is way more relaxed than tuning unisons as I go. I can tune two or three or even four passes (as needed) in less time because this approach allows me to establish a tuning pace which is not possible when tuning with wedge mutes. I only have to move the tuning hammer from one tuning pin to the next one without moving a wedge mute and without pulling a strip. It is really rythmic and fast.

I've also discovered that unisons must be tuned, like intervals, in two or more passes. And strip muting does just that!




Edited by Gadzar (01/27/15 03:35 AM)
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Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#2378551 - 01/27/15 03:13 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1626
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I tuned for 10 years with a strip mute. Now I don't have one. I can't imagine going back.

But at the same time, I can't imagine tuning single unisons with a single mute. Trying to get that fat rubber wedge into that tiny space between two strings of one note gives me the eebee geebees just thinking about it.

I'm using double string unison and I can't imagine I could be more precise or accurate with a strip mute. I don't have to imagine because I used to use the strip mute and I wasn't. I am on a bit of a mission to educate people on the advantages of this technique. If you haven't tried it, you really can't comment.

The feeling is that of advancing light years ahead of where you are now, because the feedback both in terms of the soundboard, stability, precision, and accuracy is amazing.

And when I hear notes rising in pitch, as others have relayed, I just can't get excited about an ETD's overpull feature. In fact, I don't even over pull on aural pitch raises less than 5 - 6 hz off.

It's not for everyone, but before you knock it, try tuning a few pianos with it. Look for a journal article describing the bisecting beat speed window temperament sequence that I use with it. It's a whole system; double string unison, beat speed windows, NSL analysis with slow pull and impact (also a class in Denver and a journal article I hope), P4 and 8:4 windows, it all works together. Trying to use just one part of the method would seem counter productive to me. I couldn't get the same results.

I was hoping that someone who uses both systems could tell me that the mute strip is the better system and give good reasons. But don't get me wrong - my position is that single string open unison tuning is not a huge advantage over the mute strip, if at all. It wasn't until I stumbled upon double string unison that I threw away the strip. It's double string that gives the best feeling and is the fastest, for me that is.

I'm more than happy to describe more specifics if anyone is interested, but I totally understand that people are into their own thing. I still haven't achieved a high enough level of accuracy with ET for my liking. When I do, I want to try and use some of these accuracy techniques and learn how to tune historical temperaments, but I'm just not there yet. Everyone's on their own journey. That's what's so awesome about this art.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2378561 - 01/27/15 04:09 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1979
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
I'm using double string unison and I can't imagine I could be more precise or accurate with a strip mute. I don't have to imagine because I used to use the strip mute and I wasn't. I am on a bit of a mission to educate people on the advantages of this technique. If you haven't tried it, you really can't comment.


This is really what you want? So be it. No comments.

But then I don't understand why you launched this thread. To my knowledge you are alone in using the DSU technique, so nobody can comment...

Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
The feeling is that of advancing light years ahead of where you are now, because the feedback both in terms of the soundboard, stability, precision, and accuracy is amazing.


But in your own words:

Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
I still haven't achieved a high enough level of accuracy with ET for my liking.


You say one thing and then you seem to say the contrary.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#2378596 - 01/27/15 07:59 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2257
Loc: Maine
+1 on Bill's post. I use strip muting for speed and convenience, but some of the more subtle accuracy reasons were covered in more words than I usually like to write. 'Great post!
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David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2378625 - 01/27/15 09:18 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3366
Loc: Madison, WI USA
I stand by what I said about this topic. It did seem to me that the author was inviting people to say why they prefer the method that they use just so he could say that what he does is better and more advanced. Now, I finally understand what Jeff D. meant by setting up a straw man just so you can knock it down.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2378631 - 01/27/15 09:47 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Gadzar]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1374
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Gadzar

But then I don't understand why you launched this thread. To my knowledge you are alone in using the DSU technique, so nobody can comment...


Not alone by any means. Virgil Smith was one of the people to publicize this approach and there are many people who use some variant of this approach.

For me, as with Mark, it was somewhat of an epiphany when I tried DSU. It's based on demonstrated principles of physics -- not just some quirky piano technician opinion. I'm getting a "locked-in" result in tuning that I never had prior to using this method -- which is going on 10 years or more by now.

I appreciate Mark's approach in starting this thread -- which was to look at his presentation topic from different angles. Makes me want to take his class in Denver . . .
_________________________
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USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2378636 - 01/27/15 10:00 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: OperaTenor]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1890
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Thank you for taking the time to explain all of that, Bill. That covers every bit of my reasoning on it as well, and, coming from you rather than me, it carries more authority. Well said.


Spot on.

*I have used both methods. Both work, but, for me, strip muting was far quicker and accurate. The implication that a proficient tuner is known by the absence of muting materials - strips or otherwise - is specious.


Edited by bkw58 (01/27/15 10:15 AM)
Edit Reason: *addition
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Retired piano technician
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#2378643 - 01/27/15 10:38 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 774
Loc: shirley, MA
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
It did seem to me that the author was inviting people to say why they prefer the method that they use just so he could say that what he does is better and more advanced.

uhhh...If you were following the 4hrz pitch raise thread, you would have seen that Alfredo requested he start this thread...presumably so that ALfredo could explain his preference for strip mutes...Alfredo remains silent...maybe this a good thing or not, but the thread was opened as a request.

We all are to some degree "selling" what we do...ie our ways of thinking, and approaching our preferred style of work. Bill, you are no stranger to this selling aspect, and quite adept at it, as well.

I am currently using a 1st pass strip followed by a Virgil Smith style 2 mute unison approach. 1st pass strip to get quickly within 3-4 cents, then use 2 mutes...work each unison at least twice, doing a mini-pich raise for each unison. I'm getting the cleanest most stable unisons I have achieved.

I am slowing working out how if and how efficient bagging the 1st pass strip might be, in light of the interesting chat, related to this thread on the 4hz pitch raise. Mark's observations regarding the nature of tension distribution vs pin setting effects in a quick pitch raise bear on this strip mute/DSU/open string unison subject.

I expect no universal proclamations to emerge, but the chat help me to visualize and explain my own preferecnes and observations.

Jim Ialeggio
_________________________
Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA

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#2378655 - 01/27/15 11:13 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: bkw58]
OperaTenor Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2516
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: bkw58
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Thank you for taking the time to explain all of that, Bill. That covers every bit of my reasoning on it as well, and, coming from you rather than me, it carries more authority. Well said.


Spot on.

*I have used both methods. Both work, but, for me, strip muting was far quicker and accurate. The implication that a proficient tuner is known by the absence of muting materials - strips or otherwise - is specious.


Exactly. I see a lot of us experienced pros agree that strip muting is both quicker and more accurate, with no stability issues. Since we're in a business where time is money, why not go with the most efficient *and* accurate method?

I tried DSU, and I was really unhappy with the result; I found it to be 'convoluted.' There was way too much back and forth to find the tone center, and I didn't feel it was particularly stable. It goes back to expediency in pin movement; less is better.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2378675 - 01/27/15 11:43 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: kpembrook]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1979
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: Gadzar

But then I don't understand why you launched this thread. To my knowledge you are alone in using the DSU technique, so nobody can comment...


Not alone by any means. Virgil Smith was one of the people to publicize this approach and there are many people who use some variant of this approach.

For me, as with Mark, it was somewhat of an epiphany when I tried DSU. It's based on demonstrated principles of physics -- not just some quirky piano technician opinion. I'm getting a "locked-in" result in tuning that I never had prior to using this method -- which is going on 10 years or more by now.


I did not have the honor of knowing Virgil Smith but I have read his book "New Techniques For Superior Aural Tuning".

And with all due respect, he speaks of some controversial concepts like the "Natural Beat" which I have never heard and the "pitch drop" when sounding two or three strings compared to a single string which I've never confirmed. (As far I know this was investigated by Weinreich with no conclusive results, the pitch may drop, but it can also rise or remain unchanged).


I've heard of many tuners (me included) that tune or used to tune with open unisons. I've heard of tuners who use to crack unisons (which Mark calls shimming) but the only one person I know of who uses the DSU technique to pitch raise and fine tune a piano in a single tuning pass with a single wedge mute is Mark.

And while it is true that tuning with open unisons may present some advantages for fine tuning, IMO it is cumbersome for pitch corrections. And it is not, by any means, the only and better way to tune. Virgil Smith himself and all tuners I know (except Mark) say that a piano can not be fine tuned unless it is already in tune (at pitch). I think I can comment on that, despite Mark's assumptions.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#2378722 - 01/27/15 02:21 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1626
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Awesome posts everyone. Especially the ones that were controversial, aggressive, but polite.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2378725 - 01/27/15 02:26 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
rysowers Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2598
Loc: Olympia, WA
***Warning! Long post ahead***

It is interesting how people's experience varies in regards to their feelings of accuracy using the strip. One difficulty of this topic and discussions like it is that each person's idea of what constitutes an accurate tuning varies tremendously.

When Mark C. says he's still not happy with his accuracy in tuning ET, I don't interpret that to mean his tunings aren't accurate by professional standards. I think it reflects Mark's passion about fine tuning - and that he is still pushing himself to the limits of what is perceptible. I also take it for granted that Bill B. is a fine tuner and has also figured out a system that gets him the results he is after in the most efficient and stable way.

One of the most enlightening aspects of being involved in PTG tuning exams is to see the variety of results that working professionals can perform under fairly ideal circumstances. Some come into the exam room very nervous and humble and then nail it. Others come in strutting their stuff and barely make it, or even bomb. My point is, none of us can tell the quality of another's work unless we have the ability to sit down and analyze their work right after it is completed. In general, it is a rare opportunity.

When someone makes a claim that strip muting is faster and accurate, I have to take it with a grain of salt. I'd have to listen to the results myself before passing judgement.

Like Mark C, I used strip mutes for at least 10 years. Some of you might remember why I switched to using single mutes: The first time was because I had accidentally left my strips at a previous appointment! I had to perform a significant pitch raise and tuning with just rubber mutes for the first time, and I really hated it. But some little light went on in my mind. I remembered the words of Jim Coleman from a beginning tuning video where (as he is strip muting the piano) he says "some day you might only tune with a couple of mutes" (or something along those lines).

Looking back, my main frustration with the strips was that I would tune what I thought was an ideal temperament, but when I pulled in the unisons, I was no longer as happy with my beat progressions. Something drifted or changed. I have seen over and over again that two strings together can produce a slightly different pitch result than one string sounding alone. It doesn't matter whether you call it the Weinreich effect, compound harmonic shift, or tuning gremlins. Tuning unisons as you go, eliminates the problem. And tuning notes using two open strings also helps eliminate the problem.

In strip tuning, one string of the unison is the "master" and the other two notes are the slaves. With the open unison technique, two strings of the unison decide where to be "by committee". Once they agree, the third string seems to have negligible effect on what the other two decided.

Tuning unisons as you go forces you to be pickier about your unisons, since you are trying to use them as reference notes. Since I start in the middle and work my way outwards, I'm constantly referring back to the middle, and have the opportunity to catch any unisons that slip.

Tuning with open unisons also trains your ear to cope with more complexity in the sound. I think of it as the ability to "listen through junk". That's one of the reasons I think people have a hard time giving up the strips. The clarity for temperament tuning is very nice. But it is an illusion because once the unisons are brought to bear a certain amount of harmonic shift is unavoidable. You can either deal with it from the get go (no strip method) or later (as the strip is removed).

For pitch raises I regularly use the "pre-tensioning" technique of quickly bringing one string per note up very sharp in the section. Then, as I progress through the tuning I'm bringing two strings up and one string down which often cancels out any drift. I can pre-tension a section in about 30 seconds. There are a few variations of this technique that I use, and I no longer am intimidated about performing a 1/2 step pitch raise with single mutes only.

The claims that strips are faster and more accurate don't hold up to my experience having used both methods. I have a feeling that those who are dedicated to the strip are more tolerant of their ETs actually being mild WTs. For those who obsess with perfecting ET in their everyday work, the open unison approach is indispensable.



_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2378845 - 01/27/15 06:59 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1100
Loc: Sicily - Italy

Hi Ryan (and All),

It is good to hear many different 'bells'.

Warning! This won't be a long post, as I have to be at work by 7:30am.

I like your incipit, Ryan, when you say "...One difficulty of this topic and discussions like it is that each person's idea of what constitutes an accurate tuning varies tremendously."

In fact, it is not only a question of 'time per se'; as you say, perhaps it should be time-in-accuracy.

In that sense, the whole issue can easly be understood better: let's provide some recordings and demonstrate our points, let's tune 24 notes and unisons, check some intervals and see what we come to, either in a 'given' time or in a 'free' time, along our preferences.

You wrote: ..."The claims that strips are faster and more accurate don't hold up to my experience having used both methods. I have a feeling that those who are dedicated to the strip are more tolerant of their ETs actually being mild WTs. For those who obsess with perfecting ET in their everyday work, the open unison approach is indispensable."

As you say, both "faster" and "more accurate" relate to our idea of what is "accurate"(?); about ETs and 'tolerance', I am not sure...

Where do you get that feeling?

Does your way make you less tolerant of your actual WTs?

No need to say, (edit: if I am given more than 10 minutes) I use a strip and mute from the tenor to the trebles brake. I will post what my experience is, although much of it has already been mentioned by other collegues.

In the mean time, you may try this out: tune three octaves in the mid-range as usual and refine your job (as usual); put the strip down, (edit: check again) and see how happy you are. Please, let me know about your own examination.

Regards, a.c.


Edited by alfredo capurso (01/27/15 07:34 PM)
Edit Reason: details
_________________________
alfredo

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#2378869 - 01/27/15 07:55 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: rysowers]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1374
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: rysowers
Looking back, my main frustration with the strips was that I would tune what I thought was an ideal temperament, but when I pulled in the unisons, I was no longer as happy with my beat progressions. Something drifted or changed. I have seen over and over again that two strings together can produce a slightly different pitch result than one string sounding alone. It doesn't matter whether you call it the Weinreich effect, compound harmonic shift, or tuning gremlins. Tuning unisons as you go, eliminates the problem. And tuning notes using two open strings also helps eliminate the problem.


This was exactly my experience. I had substantial experience and my capabilities were recognized by others (offered National Technical Services Manager with a major piano manufacturer). But I was never happy with my own tunings. I would tune as carefully as I could, pull the temperament strip and it seemed wobbly to me. So, I figured I just wasn't doing it good enough or I needed another pass or . . .
So, I'd put the strip back in and re-do the tuning -- only to find the same wobbliness upon completion.

Once I started using the method I'd learned from Virgil, my tunings were "locked-in" without that wobbliness.

It made sense to me because I had already been aware of the Scientific American article that dealt with the issue of string coupling. The phenomenon exists -- it's not a matter of opinion or debate. It can be demonstrated and observed easily on any piano 6' or over. This was as practical way to deal with that issue. If you aren't dealing with the string coupling issue, then it's not dealt with and will do whatever it's going to do.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2378932 - 01/27/15 10:42 PM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1626
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The whole idea of what is an accurate ET and can we get it has also been alluding me. Since I started tuning, I know I've gotten better. I must have, right? Then why do I feel like I am getting worse?

During my research I have been tuning using a beat speed window temperament sequence. If you are happy with the assumptions like G3B3 = F3D4 and F3G#3 = G#3F4 for pure 6:3 temperament octaves A3A4 and F3F4, then my sequence is rock solid. The math is there. There no doubting it. Using this system means your notes will be bang on the first time you set them, provided there is no drift, which is minimized by open unison and double string unison, and provided that your ability to hear small beat speed differences is good, which my research has shown is a piece of cake; everyone who took my test got 3% or better for 5bps.

However, during this research period, I have been recording my sequences at every step of the way. Each step involves setting one interval exactly between two others. Intervals get used multiple times, and each time I have measured them.

The result is that I get a map of each interval's beat speed at different times during the procedure.

The result? I don't want to say, but I will. Some intervals were off the map. Not just dropping, as some would expect, but rising, then falling, then rising again. And yet, most were very steady.

The reasons? I can only postulate:
1) Error in measurements. Frequencies, and hence beat speeds can vary during sustain, so where I measured the waveform could affect the answer. I need to do some calculations to determine the average error possible.

2) After that, I don't know. Slippage? Why up and down, only on some, not others? Board/bridge movement? Again, why the uneven swings.

I have posted the results of my first analysis on the following google docs website. I hope you find it interesting. It also plainly shows my bisecting beat speed window temperament sequence for pure 4:2/6:3 temperament octaves.

Note the following:
Most intervals are fairly constant except C#4F4 and B3D#4, which are completely squirrelly.

Since analyzing my tunings in this way, I am convinced my ability to hear small beat speed differences, and hence my ability to fix some of those errors you see in that temperament, early on, when they are obvious, has improved. I am measuring more recent temperaments now to see if they have improved.

Here's the link:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AJySQjhpBNDI93robX6m_H1jqOpOOUrG2ss3m8JDK1g/edit?usp=sharing

BTW, there is no way I could tweak the small changes needed to correct these speed ratios without DSU and NSL analysis. As someone said, I would just be wiggling around all over the place.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2378962 - 01/28/15 12:38 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1374
Loc: Michigan
What were you using to measure the frequencies? Not, I hope, an ETD . . .
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2378972 - 01/28/15 01:26 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
rXd Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1895
The unison is a most important aspect of tuning. I can't understand relegating all of them to a position of almost an afterthought, one last chore to be completed long after the clean breezes of freshness have departed and immediately before leaving the piano.

As a human, I am fallible. I much prefer to have to constantly recheck each and every unison (among other intervals) as I use them as reference notes to tune other notes. I can leave a tuning knowing, not guessing nor assuming that I have done the best I can do in the time given.

I find myself sometimes altering a perfectly still unison when I use it to tune a note a couple of octaves away. Whether there was a miniscule amount of drift or whether I want to change or because I am listening to it differently from the perspective of my ears being focused higher or lower than they were when I originally tuned it is of no consequence, the point is that I spotted a possible improvement among the notes most used. An interval can be given a whole different complexion with an otherwise unnoticeable change made in one of the unisons.

We usually never listen to a unison as closely as when we try to tune another note from it. Certainly not after removing the strip and assuming we infallibly tuned unisons that will stay there.

I am not a control freak but I do like to have as much control over my tunings as possible, even when not much is riding on my skills.

The experienced gained from examination of unisons this closely is cumulative and I find it a lifetimes study in itself. So much depends on good unisons. There is a difference whether a perfectly still unison will start to beat after it has become inaudible and further, whether it would have beat one second or three seconds after it has become inaudible. This kind of attention makes a big difference in sustain and consequently tone colour.

To spot these subtleties would take rechecking the whole tuning in its entirety after a strip has been taken out and making the changes that will certainly become apparent. I have all the time a tuning takes to scrutinise each unison on this way. It takes no longer (unless I make an occasional alteration), since I have to use them anyway in tuning other notes.

In less demanding circumstances, (yes, it could be said I am putting the demands on myself) I have often put in a strip and found the piano to be almost perfectly in tune with the centre strings only and I can refine it and just put in unisons and leave.
I don't do that now because this whole dimension with the unisons remains an open fascination to me and is one of the things that is still keeping me interested and tuning long after my retirement age. Constantly learning and gaining experience.

Putting in the finest of unisons separately is one thing but how do those unisons interact with each other in the finished result? No unison, however beautiful can be heard as a separate entity from the rest of the 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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#2378991 - 01/28/15 02:47 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
OperaTenor Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2516
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Tuning good unisons is the focal point of my work. I tune for the "sweet spot" in the fundamental. I theorized that it has a narrower band of tolerance than the conventional method of listening for the highest possible coinciding partial, because in order for the tambre of the fundamental to change, the complete harmonic progression has to be in alignment. Having been unable to find anything authoritative to back up my theory, I ran it by Randy Potter and Bill Schull. Randy proceeded to diagram how my conclusion was correct; that when the fundamental changes, it is because all of the harmonics are synched, including those we can't hear for whatever reason.

So, I feel that I tune exceptionally clean unisons, and the feedback I get from my customers confirms it.

And I do it with a mute strip.


Edited by OperaTenor (01/28/15 02:48 AM)
_________________________
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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#2379005 - 01/28/15 04:19 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
pinkfloydhomer Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 397
I don't want to get sucked into this debate on either side. But I just want to say that it is very easy, even for me as an amateur, to observe with TuneLab that I can

1) tune one string spot on
2) then tune the second string to the first as a clean unison
3) mute the first string and measure only the second string with TuneLab and observe that it too is spot on
4) remove the mute and observe that the combination of the two strings is flat according to TuneLab

Weinreich effect or not, it is easy to demonstrate. It doesn't happen always on every pair (or triplet) of strings, and on some pairs it gets more flat than on others. But it is a very real and easily demonstrated effect.
_________________________
Piano: Nordiska 120CA upright from 2004.

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#2379013 - 01/28/15 05:05 AM Re: What are the pros for strip muting? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1979
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: pinkfloydhomer
I don't want to get sucked into this debate on either side. But I just want to say that it is very easy, even for me as an amateur, to observe with TuneLab that I can

1) tune one string spot on
2) then tune the second string to the first as a clean unison
3) mute the first string and measure only the second string with TuneLab and observe that it too is spot on
4) remove the mute and observe that the combination of the two strings is flat according to TuneLab

Weinreich effect or not, it is easy to demonstrate. It doesn't happen always on every pair (or triplet) of strings, and on some pairs it gets more flat than on others. But it is a very real and easily demonstrated effect.



More flat? Not always!

The fact is, confirmed by Weinreich himself, that this phenomenom is not consistent. In some cases the two strings have a higher frequency, in some cases a lower frequency and in some cases they have the same frequency than the one string alone. It can't be predicted. And it can't be quantified. This phenomenom is due to the coupling effect between two strings that when sounded alone vibrate at near but not exactly the same frequency. And when sounded together they couple with each other and vibrate in unison. The frequency of this unison may be higher or lower than the frequency of one string alone depending on the tuning of the second string.

You can read the Weinreich document here:

Gabriel Weinreich: Mistuned Strings
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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