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#2437636 - 07/01/15 09:57 PM New Tuner, Old Pianos.
Hemloch Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 7
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
After studying one year full time, I passed my exams, qualifying as a piano tuner and technician (apprenticeships in this discipline don't seem really viable these days and are not easy to get). We tuned brand new Yamaha grands and uprights, one piano each morning, and did regulation in the afternoon with workshop on Friday afternoons. Our tunings were from A438 up to A440 and next day up to 442 then back down etc. After several weeks, the strings would stretch out and the tunings would become more stable. We did this throughout the year.

Now, one year on from completion of schooling and out in the world of home pianos, my business is 95% old, older and oldest pianos in all kinds of condition and most often in woeful tuning states. In school, with near perfect conditions and states of tuning, I produced good tunings in under 2 hours. Now, I can’t do that perhaps because I don’t get a job every day or even every week as yet and so am under-practiced; and perhaps because the pianos bear little relation to the Yamahas of school - They're more often noisy, very old pianos that haven’t been tuned for years.
My tunings are often taking more than 3 hours and, although my customers are very happy with the result, I AM not happy with being in their house for that long. Even with pianos I don’t consider as needing pitchraising, I spend far too much time trying to focus through noisy strings to bring unisons together and often the strings drop out and so need a second pass. I’m quite particular (in school I was known as the tortoise tuner!) but I want to improve my time. I'm stressing out a fair bit about it. One thing people say to me is that the customers aren’t expecting a silk purse from a sow’s ear – just get it done and don’t stress so much about how perfect it is - but I can’t seem to go with that very well. I wonder how professional tuners who tune more than one piano a day approach the older, noisy, poorly maintained pianos. I’m wide open to feedback from more experienced tuners.

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#2437641 - 07/01/15 10:05 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22603
Loc: Oakland
Speed comes with practice and experience. You are better off focusing on doing the job as well as you can at this point of your career.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2437649 - 07/01/15 10:22 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Musicdude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/15
Posts: 32
Originally Posted By Hemloch
After studying one year full time, I passed my exams, qualifying as a piano tuner and technician (apprenticeships in this discipline don't seem really viable these days and are not easy to get). We tuned brand new Yamaha grands and uprights, one piano each morning, and did regulation in the afternoon with workshop on Friday afternoons. Our tunings were from A438 up to A440 and next day up to 442 then back down etc. After several weeks, the strings would stretch out and the tunings would become more stable. We did this throughout the year.

Now, one year on from completion of schooling and out in the world of home pianos, my business is 95% old, older and oldest pianos in all kinds of condition and most often in woeful tuning states. In school, with near perfect conditions and states of tuning, I produced good tunings in under 2 hours. Now, I can’t do that perhaps because I don’t get a job every day or even every week as yet and so am under-practiced; and perhaps because the pianos bear little relation to the Yamahas of school - They're more often noisy, very old pianos that haven’t been tuned for years.
My tunings are often taking more than 3 hours and, although my customers are very happy with the result, I AM not happy with being in their house for that long. Even with pianos I don’t consider as needing pitchraising, I spend far too much time trying to focus through noisy strings to bring unisons together and often the strings drop out and so need a second pass. I’m quite particular (in school I was known as the tortoise tuner!) but I want to improve my time. I'm stressing out a fair bit about it. One thing people say to me is that the customers aren’t expecting a silk purse from a sow’s ear – just get it done and don’t stress so much about how perfect it is - but I can’t seem to go with that very well. I wonder how professional tuners who tune more than one piano a day approach the older, noisy, poorly maintained pianos. I’m wide open to feedback from more experienced tuners.


Don't worry about how long a tuning takes you.

How solid your unisons are, and how stable and lasting the tuning turns out, is more important.

That being said, you will sometimes have to put your sense of
perfection to the side, if you want to stay sane in this
business!

And with experience, your tuning speed will improve.

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#2437657 - 07/01/15 10:46 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1974
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
How are you achieving stabilty?

Most texts and schools advocate that tuners must put the hammer at 12:00 only and must not bend the pin, ever. This approach makes it almost impossible to achieve superior stability and also takes a very long time to achieve a pitch goal.

In order to achieve superior stability, minute and precise pitch changes, and fast tunings, I have to use hammer angles other than 12:00 and I will bend the pin. Some techs may say that is just wrong but they do not know how I am using this technique.

IMHO, texts and instructors that do not teach how to use lever angle and bending to achieve superior stability, pitch precision, and speed, are missing out on a very powerful technique.

What technique for stability were you taught?


Edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT (07/01/15 10:47 PM)
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2437670 - 07/01/15 11:45 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: BDB]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2393
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By BDB
Speed comes with practice and experience. You are better off focusing on doing the job as well as you can at this point of your career.

'Agree. Just keep at it. The speed will come.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2437677 - 07/02/15 12:11 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Hemloch Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 7
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
BDB and MusicDude thank you for your encouragement.

Mark, thanks for your reply. We were taught must-not-bend-the-pin so I've not explored the technique. My hammer angle ranges from 11 o-clock to 1 o-clock in uprights as I tune with both hands; R hand down to the bass, L had up to the top; between 9am and 3pm for grands depending on hand used. I did well in stability exam and seem to continue to manage good stability. For piano in a reasonable tuning state I take the string down to slightly flat of target (if not already flat) then up past the target point (to where the beats sound something like an F3-A3 interval in a tuned temperament) and settle it back down to very near target and then strike it home with a firm hammer blow (my teacher once told me not to strike so hard so's to avoid breaking keys. I now strike less hard).

My main stress concern is time taken and whether I expect too much of my tunings of old, noisy strings in pianos that are not in a trim condition. I know everybody will have different attitudes to their work however I do wonder if other tuners, for sake of time, aim for an 'acceptable' level of work in pianos where they judge the customer would be hard pressed to pick a less-than-perfect unison given the state the piano was in prior to being tuned; not an attitude I have yet adopted. Currently, I would rarely schedule more than one tune a day to ensure I will complete the job.

My time seems to get soaked up with listening through the jungle of extraneous noise produced by old or poor quality strings in octave and unison tuning. I'm now wondering how perfect I should expect my octaves and unisons to be in the case of such noisy strings. Taken together with the usual challenges of tight or v soft pins etc, the time most often gets away from me.

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#2437678 - 07/02/15 12:26 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Hemloch Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 7
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks David.

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#2437680 - 07/02/15 12:40 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22603
Loc: Oakland
Your ability to pick out the proper things to listen to will also improve.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2437689 - 07/02/15 01:55 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
David Boyce Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 492
Loc: Scotland
There was some discussion previously on the pianotech google group, about not listening too far into the decay of the wave envelope for each note. Could that be a factor? Especially in these older, inferior pianos?

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#2437724 - 07/02/15 05:46 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Olek Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 8026
Loc: France
hello, you may need to learn to obtain the same settling without the strong blow and use it only when you feel it necessary, mostly a sa proof that the pin is locked and that strings have settled

As a result you will tune while you listen, not being obliged to listen twice.

on neglected pianos I sell a prep job; at some point the piano is considered not tunable if that job is not done

cleaning strings, tapping them, pitch raising, secure the action and plate screws, etc

on pianos with too soft pins, I often need to push on the levre to have some control on the pin motion and deformation

You can (may) use earplugs if what you ear is aggressive to your ears. then you better focus on what happens energy wise it is quieter and easier to hear strings coupling.

purity is very low on old strings, but if the sound enveloppe is normal with a power peak and some thickness all extra noises and zingles stay discrete.

Good luck with your work

You may also try to find an old tuning lever, they where light.or use one fiber lever,
heavy levers are necessary for too tight pins mostly
Yamaha lever tune almost all pianos, but pins are sometime thinner than the 1 tip, so it is not as precisely fitted on them than it would bewith a specific or old tip. Jahnn sells a long student lever with four 'tips' (the whole metal portion is changed )

Mark did not read what you wrote !


Edited by Olek (07/02/15 06:18 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2437793 - 07/02/15 10:25 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Gerry Johnston Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 135
Loc: Haverhill, MA
Hemloch -
You received your training on good pianos which were never allowed to drift very far from standard pitch. This is a good way to develop fine tuning skills, but is not very reflective of what we encounter in the real world. There have been some very good suggestions given to you. I'd like to add a couple more things for you to consider.

You mentioned that you are trying to tune these pianos with one pass and you are frustrated when a second pass is needed. You really should assume, before you even ring the doorbell, that any piano will need at least two passes and many may need three passes. The first pass can be a bit rough. Don't waste time trying to get a perfect temperament - get is close (quickly) and move on. Likewise with octaves. Get them close, don't waste time with tests and move on. Same with unisons - get them close, but don't even try for perfection. You cannot raise pitch and get a fine tuning at the same time. To paraphrase a common expression among tuners, "In order to achieve a good quality tuning you have to start with a piano that is already in tune". Accept this as a fact of life and you will immediately reduce your stress level. Experience will teach you how to know the difference between pianos that need two or three passes. I would guess that fewer than 5% of pianos can be tuned with one pass only. Once you get used to the concept it takes less time to go over the entire tuning twice than it takes to struggle with one pass. Plus, your tunings will be more accurate and more stable.

Your speed will improve with experience. Another advantage to the rough pass that I described above is that it helps you with learning to trust your first impression - you say to yourself, "...that note sounds right" and move on (quickly - no tests). I once heard a technician describe this as "throwing a tuning at the piano". With enough experience this rough pass should not take more than 20-30 minutes. Your second (or third) pass is when you want to be more fussy. This is when you take the time to get it right. I think most of use took a long time with our first tunings. Some techs. will eventually get their tuning time down to about an hour on average. Many experience techs. take 1-1/2 hours.

You mention that many of these pianos are "noisy". This brings a couple of thoughts to mind. If you are hearing a lot of action noise you should not hesitate to point this out to the customer and offer to repair. If hammers are badly worn the piano may need voicing. Worn dampers can all be a source of noise. Keep in mind that most people know very little about the piano. They call and ask for "tuning" because that is the only term they know. 1/2 of the keys are sticking and the pedal squeaks - customer says the piano needs "tuning". Much of what we do is educating the customer about the condition of their piano and what other work it needs. It is our responsibility to observe these things and point them out to the customer. Some customers will say "just tune it", but many will have this extra work done if it is explained to them. The customer will benefit by having a better piano and you will benefit by increasing your earnings and job satisfaction.

No question, many old (and some new) pianos are just poorly designed and/or worn out. This is why the Piano Technicians Guild has guidelines in place with regard to which pianos qualify for use in the tuning exam. No one, not the best tuner on the planet, is going to force a concert quality tuning on a Kimball spinet or a worn out old upright. Here again experience will teach you how high to set your expectations with regard to any specific piano. This is not an excuse for poor work habits, just a recognition that we "can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".

Many technicians strip mute the entire piano. One advantage of this approach is that it reduces (to some extent) the extraneous noises that can make octave tuning difficult. This is not the approach I personally use, but it is a legitimate and widely used muting technique. You owe it to yourself to try it and see if you like it.

We've all been there. Yesterday was a typical day and I tuned four pianos. Three of them required two tuning passes and one of them needed three passes. Two of them could be described as "good", well maintained pianos, one was mediocre, and one was an old grand not unlike the pianos you describe in your initial post. Welcome to the "real world" of piano tuning.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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#2437830 - 07/02/15 12:23 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1974
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Moving flat, then sharp, then settling flat, is too much movement, IMHO.

If you are flat on an upright, try 3:00, one pull to pitch, then stop.
What happens:
Tension in non speaking length, NSL, is at top of tension band during tuning.
(Tension band is a range of NSL tensions that produce stability)
When you arrive at pitch, removal of lever force produces unbending and untwisting.
Untwisting lowers NSL tension.
Because you were pulling at 3:00, unbending raises NSL tension.
If the combination of the unbending and untwisting on NSL tension leaves the NSL tension in the middle of (or slightly higher than) the tension band, you will have stability.

NSL tension sensitivity varies for different lengths of NSL and tightness of pins.
Long NSL and soft (not loose, just easy to turn) pins have less effect on NSL tension after tuning. Therefore, on these kind of pianos, 3:00 slow pull sharp can produce stability quite easily because the effect of unbending and untwisting is not much and the NSL tension stays near the top which gives best stabilty.

If 3:00 slow pull sharp results in rising pitch after hard blows, just change to 12:00 slow pull sharp. This removes the unbending component which was increasing NSL tension after tuning.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2437898 - 07/02/15 02:48 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Olek Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 8026
Loc: France
I will add some comments on rhe ones given :

movingndown is counter productive , we only need to know the condition tje pin and NSL are when we begin to tune. if there is a good tension that mean when you begin to torque the lever the pitch change immediately. If there is more tension in the sounding lenght (rare butnit happens) there is a delay before the pitch change.

the goal in the end is to have the NSL as tense as the sounding lenght, at least. that meanthe pin is also stressed the same, by the wire.

the experimentedntuner fells that in the tuning lever as soon it is installedèon the pin (afternhaving tuned a feW strings to get a hold of the way the piano reacts)

once you have enough sensitivity to recognize the condition of the pin vs the wire, you can tune 'directly' that mean putting theèbottom of the pin in theèexact position for the pitch to be right when the pin will be stressed by the wire .

the strip muting is a good beginer technique, it can eventually be used to tune in 'one pass' or one
and a half, if you add some stretch on the first middle string tuned. Why? because thensoundboard settleèa bit and the bridge tilt a hair when the 2 other strings are tuned.

the twelves can be a good etalon to know how much strech you are adding.

but tuning without unisoning gives youna different tone, and the pitch of 2 strings always differ a little, so it is a good habit to work from unisons.

on an old piano that was tuned correctly year after year, you should not find the need for two passes, but this depends really of tje way the job was done and the condition of the pinblock and house hygrometry.

an old string do not loose tension usually.

I tune 'slowly' that mean the wire and the pin have ample time to settle when the unison is finished. I only expect motion from soundboard and bridge (assuming the plate is tightened)

this occur more audibly just after the plate break so this is where some overpull is welcome.

for 'stability' the only thing a tuner must learn to recognize is the amount of springiness of the pin or pin pinblock couple when finished.

That springiness can be as high in an old piano than in a recent one ; What you perceive in the pin is the wire tension, so once you learned how to link those sensations together you have total control on what you are doing.
Beginners focus twice too much on what they hear which slow you and is very tiring;

Hope that helps

indeed only tall enough pianos allows you to obtain a nice sound. Others will sound acid because of too much iH and too stiff strings; they can be good RNR pianos or pianos to play with the choir in the church, but look for good pianos to learn more finesse.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2437904 - 07/02/15 03:00 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Olek Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 8026
Loc: France
the difference in pin bending between 12:00 and 15:00 is something the tuner must perceive in the lever.

the goal is not to 'see what happen' but to directly put the pin and NSL in their expected springy condition, which is something easy to verify:

you push on the lever and 'bend' the pin high, the string must follow immediately (you have direct access to the whole system doing so)
You pull on the lever and bend the pin low, the pitch must not move immediately, only if you insist and pull strong.

this checks the amount of torque you left in the upper system and if it relates correctly to the friction from bearing points.

it happens that the bearing points do not retain much the string tension, then, the same it must be twice as hard to lower the pitch than to rise it.

that is why you will see tuners lightly pushing / pulling on the lever after finishing a string.

when done immediately after tuning the friction is at its lowest so the check works.



Edited by Olek (07/02/15 03:03 PM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2437946 - 07/02/15 05:04 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Olek]
Dan Casdorph Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/09
Posts: 390
Loc: Morgantown, West Virginia
Hemlock

You will find that after a while you start getting retunes. These are usually much easier tunings than new customers who have pianos that have not been tuned in decades. As retunes become an increasing part of your business, your average tuning time will get shorter.

It is important to recontact those pianos you've done and get retunes. Doing all rotten pianos will wear one down quickly...
_________________________
Casdorph Piano Service
Morgantown, WV
www.casdorphpiano.com
All pianos are bald ones.

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#2437967 - 07/02/15 06:32 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Patrick Draine Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/25/14
Posts: 15
Loc: Billerica MA
Hemlock, Congratulations on completing your course of study. Have you joined the Victoria Branch of APTTA? I was visiting Melbourne and Adelaide June 14 through June 29 and attended a South Australia Branch meeting in Adelaide. I have heard from someone that the Victoria Branch isn't very active, but he may have been just a bit out-of-the-loop. Networking with local established technicians may get you some work (experience) restoring those older pianos. Gerry Johnston's advice is spot on. Multiple (usually just 2) pass tunings (pitch correction followed by fine tuning) is my standard approach.
After a full year of aural only training you may find that using a quality ETD for the "less delightful" pianos may make this stage of your career development more pleasant.
_________________________
Patrick Draine, Registered Piano Technician (PTG)
Draine Piano Service

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#2437969 - 07/02/15 06:49 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Gadzar Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 2101
Loc: Mexico City
Great post Gerry! thumb
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#2437979 - 07/02/15 07:42 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1974
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I do not mean to be a contrarian, but FWIW, I often tune pitch raises in one pass. But then, I don't tune the way most other technicians do. I am using open double string unisons, DSU, meaning I only mute one string with a rubber mute, tune the DSU clean, make a judgement based on rapid beating intervals, RBI, then detune the DSU in the direction I want to go (0.3 cents possible resolution), clean it up, and recheck using RBI.

Here are some of the reasons why I don't need/want to do multiple passes. (I am aware some technicians will be flabbergasted at these comments, but try to be professional and mature, and read into why I am tuning this way, instead of coming out swinging, please)

1. The soundboard is not as unified as some may think. I hypothesized, and a rebuilder who has taken measurements concurred that the soundboard does not sink uniformly when tension is increased. This means, extra time taken to tune the temperament before moving on, will produce more accurate pitches as references, that will not drop as much as we think when when tune up the higher notes. In effect, this can be considered multiple passes, just not in the usual sense of the word.

2. I have developed a bisecting beat speed window temperament sequence that is based on RBI and requires extreme accuracy from step one. This allows me to hear how the soundboard is moving as I tune. After tuning a precise temperament, I sometimes notice temperament notes rising in pitch, which of course is counter intuitive. This must be due to the non-uniform reaction of the board to increased compression/tension. Point being, the high accuracy allows me to fix notes up or down before moving on. (It also brings into question the claims of certain ETD manufacturers as to the accuracy of their over pull functions.)

3. I use beat speed windows which refer to already highly accurate temperament notes and notes between. Example: tuning F5, I will use C#3F3 = C#3F4 < C#3F5 = C#3A#3.
This produces a pure 4:2, a wide 2:1, and a pure 12th within a wide P4. But more importantly, as I move up the keyboard, I may have to continually retune the middle note (F4 in this case). I call this "tuning parallel octaves"; I keep pulling along the octaves below as they settle, and the theory that once the board settles in one area, neighbouring settling does not affect it as much as we think, means the retuned note is more stable than we may have thought. Also, tuning high tension in the NSL also means if the board does settle, the high tension NSL may pull the string up and counteract the tension drop. More empirical research needs to be done to prove this theory.

I am aware that this goes against the common knowledge. I am also aware that it works, as proven by my successful use of this technique.

http://howtotunepianos.com/double-string-unison-dsu-and-pitch-raises/
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2438129 - Yesterday at 08:34 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Hemloch Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 7
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Wow! Such a response...it will take some time for me to absorb all the information here and formulate questions. We have just taken in a young dog from the rescue service and that is a big distraction at the moment (she's great though) - hope it will settle down soon. Thank you everyone, David, Olek, Gerry and Mark, Patrick and Dan. Will get back to this presently.

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#2438162 - Yesterday at 10:43 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2713
Loc: Olympia, WA
When I first started tuning customers pianos shortly after passing the PTG tuning exam, I was taking up to 4 hours! It was exhausting, but I was young and motivated. After some more practice I got down to 3 hours and that was not so bad. I was a three hour tuner for at least 2 - 3 years.

I once discussed this with Jim Coleman and his advice was: if you want to get faster, get your pitch raises down to 15 minutes. This is a real challenge but can be done. You just can't dwell on any string for long. The goal is to get some tension on the piano, not make it sound good.

The quick pitch raises will give you lots of practice making split second decisions and help develop an sense of rhythm and flow. You should be constantly moving and eliminating inefficiencies of movement.

For a piano that is more than 50¢ flat I anticipate 2-3 pitch raise passes before fine tuning. The first will be a 15 minute, followed by two 20-30 minute tunings and then a final pass which should only take about 45 minutes because things should be very close at that point.

It sounds like the other problem is you are not getting enough practice. Promoting yourself is another indespensible skill. You need to tune a piano every day even if its for free or donation. Just keep working!
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2438232 - Yesterday at 02:15 PM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Iceman Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/02/15
Posts: 2
Get a tuning agreement going with a bar or restaurant that has piano music. Give them a low price and arrange to tune once monthly.

You will learn a lot after one year of seeing the same piano every month and also gain an understanding on how the piano changes w/weather.

As to all your other concerns, it may take 5 years of real world experience before you start to develop your own tuning philosophy.

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#2438394 - Today at 05:52 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 727
OK, so I am NOT and never will be a piano technician (disclaimer done).
However I doubt the value of doing tunings in some minimum amount of time, other than pride in achieving efficiency.
I don't think it is generally the case that pianos in need of service are so plentiful and closely spaced that many techs could do 3 a day (including travel time, meet and greet, get paid and depart). Sure, there are exceptions - in house work at large music colleges, store work, etc.
Speedy tuning might allow you to avoid rush hours, have more time with family, catch up on the sales and accounting, but I doubt that it brings in more CA$H.

A potential down side is that customers compare you to the tuner that took an hour longer - UNFORTUNATELY that hour is more tangible than the "quality" of work performed.

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#2438397 - Today at 06:11 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Olek Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 8026
Loc: France
if you tune a piano on a regular basis, or find one that was stabilized and is almost in tune when you begin, the tuning is not that long,

The more you manipulate the pins the less the stability, so goping slowly mean only moving the pin more slowly, and certainly not changing the pin posture a lot,

usually correcting the tuning first pass , if 2 are necessary, mean raising only a little more pins that where yet set, the pin and the wire are manipulated as a whole, and just displaced from a "set position" to another "set position"

MAKing a fast but light setting just to install tension on the structure is only necessary with large pitch rises, I think up to 2 Hz once can tune directly and just add some corrections

But , unless in terrible conditions , with too hard hammers, and played brutally, no piano will loose more than 2 Hz in a year if the tuner know what is firm pin and wire setting?

Now with some custiomers you need to be ready to "oblige "them to tune the piano even if they do not hear it out of tune, That is where stopping talking "tuning" and telling them about "maintenance" is useful.



If you wait for them it will tajke 2 years for them to call back, at last, and you will have more work, so if you work that way, you better rise your tuning fee,

Lately I was asked to "tune" a G2 Yamaha that is about 15 years old and was very well maintened by precedent owner

I was there for 3 HOURS and did

Correct the existing tuning
Clean the strings

Regulate the key frame glide bolts (that where excessively screwed)

Regulate sustain and UC pedal
regulate the damper stop rail
even hammer line
Deep needle all the hammers

Fast file them, mostly basses that where really too impacted.

Even, the tone
Voice for the UC pedal

Talcum on knuckles

price paid about 2,5 tunings, and I will be back there probably in 2 years

Just an exemple of what we can do with a frame time

PS if you bang too strong on a tuned note, the problem is may be not the key that may break but the wire deform and loose a little pitch.

It is more useful to play the notes enough so they have moved on all friction points, than to use a test blow in the end

If you have a good pin setting technique (and wire motion control) a test blow should do absolutely nothing,

It can be used to tune, to set the pin, but it is tiring and not very precise, the work is better done with the lever once you are sure the wire have moved everywhere.







Edited by Olek (Today at 08:27 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2438429 - Today at 09:55 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2174
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted By Mark Cerisano, RPT
Moving flat, then sharp, then settling flat, is too much movement, IMHO.

If you are flat on an upright, try 3:00, one pull to pitch, then stop.
What happens:
Tension in non speaking length, NSL, is at top of tension band during tuning.
(Tension band is a range of NSL tensions that produce stability)
When you arrive at pitch, removal of lever force produces unbending and untwisting.
Untwisting lowers NSL tension.
Because you were pulling at 3:00, unbending raises NSL tension.
If the combination of the unbending and untwisting on NSL tension leaves the NSL tension in the middle of (or slightly higher than) the tension band, you will have stability.

NSL tension sensitivity varies for different lengths of NSL and tightness of pins.
Long NSL and soft (not loose, just easy to turn) pins have less effect on NSL tension after tuning. Therefore, on these kind of pianos, 3:00 slow pull sharp can produce stability quite easily because the effect of unbending and untwisting is not much and the NSL tension stays near the top which gives best stabilty.

If 3:00 slow pull sharp results in rising pitch after hard blows, just change to 12:00 slow pull sharp. This removes the unbending component which was increasing NSL tension after tuning.



With all due respect, I believe this "one pull to pitch" method to be inferior for (long-term) stability. It leaves the embedded part of the tuning pin twisted counter-clockwise (when viewing it into the pinblock), because the embedded part lags behind the free part.

When removing the lever from the pin, the free part of the pin is pulled/twisted counter-clockwise by the string, and the embedded part is also loaded/twisted counter-clockwise. Therefore, only the very top-most lamination of the pinblock is actually holding the tension.

On the other hand, if you overshoot somewhat, and then settle down counter-clockwise, the embedded part of the pin will now be loaded/twisted clockwise. Therefore, all laminations of the pinblock will contribute to maintaining the tension.

I'm trying to say that in my limited experience, the foot of the pin should be twisted somewhat clockwise relative to the pin in the top lamination, so that the whole embedded length of the pin can contribute equally to maintaining the tension. [Edit: this should make the foot of the pin work for stability, not against it.]


Edited by Mark R. (Today at 09:58 AM)
Edit Reason: given in post.
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#2438442 - Today at 11:06 AM Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Olek Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 8026
Loc: France
You just need to know that the pin acts on all its lenght. This is perceived in the lever when you set the pin.

What is to be avoided is to be obliged to Turn the foot of the pins counter clockwise.

I prefer to raise 2 or 3 times than to overshot too much.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2438514 - 19 minutes 0 seconds ago Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: R_B]
Gerry Johnston Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 135
Loc: Haverhill, MA
Originally Posted By R_B
OK, so I am NOT and never will be a piano technician (disclaimer done).
However I doubt the value of doing tunings in some minimum amount of time, other than pride in achieving efficiency.
I don't think it is generally the case that pianos in need of service are so plentiful and closely spaced that many techs could do 3 a day (including travel time, meet and greet, get paid and depart). Sure, there are exceptions - in house work at large music colleges, store work, etc.
Speedy tuning might allow you to avoid rush hours, have more time with family, catch up on the sales and accounting, but I doubt that it brings in more CA$H.

A potential down side is that customers compare you to the tuner that took an hour longer - UNFORTUNATELY that hour is more tangible than the "quality" of work performed.

R.B.-
I disagree with you completely. Perhaps a hobbyist won't care how long it takes to tune a piano. However, if you are in this as a profession it most definitely does matter.

Suppose one technician takes three hours to tune a piano, another takes only one hour and they both produce a good quality tuning. The "three hour tuner" must charge considerably more or earn a considerably smaller income. For every service, including piano tuning, there is a limit to what customers are willing to pay. Working too slowly and charging more is equivalent to punishing the customer for the tuner's inefficiency. Working for a fraction of the income is a very poor business strategy.

I am certain there are parts of the world where a technician will not be able to find enough pianos to work on as a full time business. Nonetheless there are many technicians, myself included, who have plenty of work and sometimes have to turn work down.

Your final comment, "Speedy tuning might allow you to avoid rush hours, have more time with family, catch up on the sales and accounting, but I doubt that it brings in more CA$H", makes no sense at all. If a hardware store sells more "widgets" this week than they did last week they will make more money. If I tune five pianos I will make more money than if I only tune three.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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#2438517 - 5 minutes 0 seconds ago Re: New Tuner, Old Pianos. [Re: Hemloch]
Gerry Johnston Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 135
Loc: Haverhill, MA
Olek stated, "But , unless in terrible conditions , with too hard hammers, and played brutally, no piano will loose more than 2 Hz in a year if the tuner know what is firm pin and wire setting?"

Olek - I guess it depends on where you live. Here in New England (U.S.A.) it is not unusual to have temperature fluctuations of 20-30 degrees or more from one week to the next. The humidity level can also fluctuate quite a bit. A good quality, solidly tuned piano can easily change by 20 cents or more over a six month period of time. This is why many of us simply assume that most pianos will require a pitch raise pass prior to fine tuning. During the more humid summer months many need a pitch "lowering" pass. Yes, there are exceptions. But not many.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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