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#617571 - 04/12/04 03:45 AM electronic tuners- any recommendations?
goyo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 24
I see that electronic tuners can be very expensive. Are there certain ones which are more trouble free who take you through the sequence of tuning as it would normally be done by an experienced tuner? Are there ones which give options of different ways to tune, different ways to tune, such as european or american preferences? [LIST]

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#617572 - 04/12/04 09:35 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
I just purchased a Peterson AutoStrobe 490ST. Haven't received it yet, but it'll be here in a few days. The main reason I bought it, was because that's what the school highly recommended.
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617573 - 04/12/04 09:43 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
I have looked over the Peterson tuner owned by a local (new) tuner who also go it from his tuning course. It is possibly the worst tuning machine I'v encoutered.

Do not get this one, even though it is cheap.

I have no experience with the Verituner.

I have used the Sanderson Acutuners for 6+ years and find no problems with them at all. Ther are built heavy duty and can create some vey nice tunings, which can be stored (up to 200 I think on SAT-III).
I know other Techs who use and are thrilled with the Reyburn Cybertuner (which can be used on a laptop or pocket-PC). My personal favourite is the SAT (Sanderson Acu Tuner) for its ease of use, reliability. It does incorporate enhanced functions in the SAT-III for stretching octaves and overlaying hisorical temperaments upon new and saved tunings.
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#617574 - 04/12/04 04:17 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
Quit fooling around and get a SAT 3
_________________________
Maker of the TCHAMMER
www.thomasccobble.com

BUSY IS BETTER THAN BORED

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#617575 - 04/12/04 07:58 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
PP- there is nothing inherently wrong with the Peterson, just be prepared to do A LOT of aural correction that you would not have to do with a VeriTuner or other top ETD.......Sam
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#617576 - 04/12/04 09:38 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
So, what would the purpose of having an ETD be if I still have to aurally correct it? That seems rather pointless to me. What should I get instead, and how much more will it cost? I thought it was gonna break me getting the Peterson at $700. Kind of confuses me why the school would "highly recommend" that I purchase a Peterson AutoStrobe 490 or 490 ST. That kind of irks me.
I haven't begun tuning yet. I'm actually waiting for the Peterson to arrive and allow me time to get used to using it before I begin my servicing. Please don't tell me this means I have to wait another few weeks to start...? Man, oh man. I'm REALLY excited about getting started. I'm already having results like crazy from people in the area wanting a local Technician.
Should I forget about it and use the Peterson for now, and then upgrade later on down the road? You know, start small, grow big?
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617577 - 04/12/04 10:02 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1298
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
If you can't cancel your Peterson order, when it arrives put it on ebay and in the meantime buy Tunelab. For about $385 you can't go wrong, but you do need a laptop or pocket computer.
_________________________
Do or do not. There is no try.

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#617578 - 04/12/04 11:01 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Perspective: I started 29 years ago with a Peterson that was undoubtedly not as advanced as the one you ordered. Used it until about 1992 (17 years, and it still works; I use it from time to time for chipping), then I got my first SAT. A couple years later, I got the next generation SAT. Then the SAT III. Then, the VeriTuner caught my eye. I read the reviews, bought one, and have finally found a machine that needs little if any aural correction, it is that good.

I am a very big advocate of starting small, paying cash as you go, and growing with little or no debt. That is a choice only you can make.

As far as the school highly recommending the Peterson, I would call them and point blank ask them. Then, please let us know the answer. I am sure interested.........Sam
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#617579 - 04/13/04 07:49 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
If I were you, I'd concentrate on perfecting my aural tuning skills first. Using an ETD too early in your development will most likely cause you to become dependent on it. You may never develop a truly keen ear and may not be able to become an RPT because you can't pass the aural tuning portion of the PTG Tuning Exam. It happens to a lot of people these days.

I mentioned that I started with the same course you did and I hate to break the news to you but I think it is important that I do: The information in that course about how to tune is woefully incomplete and seriously obsolete. Following those instructions alone, you'll never be able to tune a piano up to today's standards. You will need an ETD and you'll always be and feel inferior because you can't hear what other people do and you can't do what they do.

I have no idea why the person who offers that course has never provided more complete and up to date information or why he recommends an ETD that will forever keep you in second or third class categories as a technician. You are entirely correct in wondering what the point of having an ETD would be if you have to correct the results by ear anyway.

The other ETD's mentioned here are much better and yes, they cost much more. Your rudimentary tuning fork is all you really need except that if you were issued a C fork, you'll need to get an A fork. The $10 fork you can buy at a music store is all you need, however. If all you have for a tuning hammer is the gooseneck style that I was provided when I was your age, you'll need to get something better too. Again, I have no idea why that course issues tools and instructions which I, after 35 years in the business full time, could not and would not use to attempt to tune a piano.

If your tuning instructions only were a pattern of 4ths and 5ths as they were when I was your age, with no instruction on how to listen to 3rds & 6ths, you have a big hurdle to overcome in your set of knowledge and skills. There really aren't any good tuning books out there right now but I actually am working on the problem but it will still take some years for that to happen.

What there is, are some very good study materials available from PTG called the Professionals Advance through Continuing Education (PACE) program. If I were you, I'd contact PTG, get a membership application and order the PACE tuning program first. There are also programs for grand and vertical regulation.

Additionally, I recently wrote a 10 page article to help people who have learned to tune with an ETD but can't tune the middle of the piano by ear which is what is required to become an RPT. It is far too long to post here but you may request a copy by e-mail that would be sent as an attached file in the WordPad format. It describes in every detail how to tune the midrange of the piano with the highest standards of accuracy and entirely by ear.

You may have seen other discussion about tuning on this forum which used terms and made references to things which are way over your head. This should tell you something right away. Why would you not be able to understand what professional piano technicians are talking about when you have just been "certified" by a piano tuning school?

You are not alone and you can increase your knowledge and skill if you have the ambition to do so. Send the Peterson Strobe tuner back unopened and get a refund. When you have enough business and a set of skills that would justify buying a sophisticated ETD, do it then. You need to tune by ear for at least a year, would be my recommendation.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#617580 - 04/13/04 09:12 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
I completely understand. Let me ask this... I was wondering if since the 490 ST requires aural correction, would this not help me develop my ear tuning skills at the same time? My main problem is just that I've always had an ear for intonation, not to listen for beats. So it's extremely difficult for me to listen for 3 beats every 5 seconds, instead of listening to how close in tune the unisons/intervals are.
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617581 - 04/13/04 09:29 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
RonTuner Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1617
Loc: Chicagoland
Did you read through the previous thread on this same topic?

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/3/727.html

(topic heading is something about Petersen vs SAT)
There is a lot of good information there...

Ron Koval
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#617582 - 04/13/04 02:38 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Yeah I read that one too. I think what I'll do is send the Peterson back (definitely) and purchase Tunelab to start out with. I was going to buy a pocket PC anyway, so that'll be great. So, what pocket PC is recommended to use with the Tunelab? This time, I'm getting the advice and recommendations FIRST. :rolleyes:
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617583 - 04/13/04 04:21 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1298
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Robert Scott, the invertor of Tunelab, posts here once in a while. Search the archives or go to http://www.tunelab-world.com/ and give him a call. You can download a free sample of the software that can be used a few times before it shuts down.
_________________________
Do or do not. There is no try.

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#617584 - 04/14/04 04:17 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Well, part of the problem is that "3 beats in 5 seconds" is the wrong information. I had just as much trouble with that as you do and wondered why my temperament virtually never worked out as it was supposed to.

Again, I would suggest you study the article I wrote about this. I have now spent 12 years as one of PTG's Certified Tuning Examiners. When my second term was up, I had to prove knowledge and skill in administering the whole affair. I reexamined the way the "Master" or reference tuning is set up. It is the model to which the applicants work is compared.

It will not be easy but the method I came up with is designed to help people who thought they *couldn't* hear beat rates properly and therefore are forced to *depend* on the ETD. I have no argument with the Tunelab system but I still urge you, at this point, to spend what time and money you have wisely by perfecting your aural skills first.

Just send your request to Billbrpt@aol.com
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#617585 - 04/14/04 08:29 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
So, pretty much that school was a waste of my time? Oh well. I emailed you from scoobydude63@hotmail.com. Thanks a lot!
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617586 - 04/14/04 09:39 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
I have and use Virgil Smith's instruction on aural tuning. He wrote an article for churches and the PTG back in 1972-74.
He explains very well a grea many tuning checks and how to set the correct bps in different areas of piano.
Maybe browse through the Oooold PTG archives and find his article on tuning/temperament.
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#617587 - 04/14/04 09:03 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Oh,Ryan, I got your e-mail, you asked about the EBVT which is a different topic altogether. After Virgil Smith saw my article in the PTG Journal, he wrote to me and also sent his equal temperament idea. While it is good, I still feel the initial temperament octave being constructed in the F3-F4 area rather than his less conventional D3-D4 area is best. My article explains all about how to tune the entire span from C3-C5, including minor thirds.

Ryan, I do not mean to take the wind out of your sails nor to outrightly condemn the info in the American school course. After all, I and others in this forum started there too. To be successful in this business, you have to be the curious and self motivated type, always seeking perfection while always knowing you'll never quite attain it.

All methodology eventually becomes obsolete. I gave a presentation on my method last month and brought a large stack of books I have on the subject of tuning, including the American school course manual. There has been a great deal of advancement in the science of tuning within the last 30 years which makes all of them obsolete, including the works of the highly esteemed authors, William Braide White and John Travis.

I think you'll agree that in your tuning course, you never saw the words, "equal temperament", just the word, "temperament". But in this forum and on Pianotech, you'll often see the acronym for equal temperament, "ET" (not extra terrestrial, lol) because people are trying to distinguish between a temperament in which all intervals, 4ths, 5ths, 3rds and 6ths (also minor 3rds) all receive exactly the same amount of tempering and other ideas where some intervals are deliberately and purposefully favored over others.

There has been much hot debate over just when the almighty ET came into common practice. I personally believe that it is actually still rarely achieved today and moreover, when it is finally perfected, many of those who can do it realize there are other ideas which simply make the piano sound better. The information in the American course is what was being taught over 100 years ago. It is not quite accurate and incomplete. Yet people who used that method back then and now believe that what they are doing is ET without questioning it.

I liken the material which is presented to that of Charles Darwin or Sigmund Freud. It's not that they were wrong, it's just that they didn't understand the whole, vast amount of knowledge there was to the subject they were studying. The American course is so crude and simplistic that it would be next to impossible for you to tune a piano to today's expectations and standards using that knowledge alone. The same goes for the ETD which is "highly recommended". It does not provide enough nor precise enough information. The best you could get from using it would be a crude and flawed tuning and you'd just never understand why.

Equal Temperament is the very most difficult arrangement to achieve that there is. The word itself imposes this unequivocal standard. It's like the word, "perfect", any imperfection whatsoever, makes it "imperfect". Any inequality whatsoever makes a temperament unequal. You will see discussion about "Quasi Equal Temperaments" ("quasi" means "almost").

You simply cannot get an accurate ET by using what your course method taught but it did teach you some useful things and it got you to this point so I would not say that you were a victim of any kind. I believe that my Equal Beating Victorian Temperament (EBVT) is far easier to get correct by ear but even it is not what you should really start with. It would be better to start with an 18th Century style temperament where you make some of the 4ths and 5ths pure and others, you make beat the same as each other. It's not "counting beats". It's not the nearly impossible "3 beats in 5 seconds". It's more of a listening and comparing process.

Therefore, I will send you my article on creating a perfect ET by ear but I strongly suggest you study my 18th Century Well Tempered Tuning (also called "well temperament") plan first. It will really get you listening and hearing beats in a logical and manageable way. You can use it to do the first church tunings, old upright, spinet or whatever tunings you get to do and will probably yield results far more pleasing than you would ever get out of trying to tune the American school way.

You should read the articles on my website about "Key Color", "The True Meaning of Well Tempered Tuning" and "What the HELL is Reverse Well?". They will enlighten you tremendously. It will all be a process. Take one thing and one day at a time. I recommend all of the current ETD's *except* the Peterson. But whichever one you choose, let it be an extension of your mind that has already developed a keen sense of what sounds good. I have heard of success from people who learned aural tuning with the help of an ETD but I still recommend the aural approach first and learning to do a well temperament perfectly first before progressing to the almighty ET.

You can expect the 18th Century Well Temperament first in your e-mail, then the very detailed study of how to tune a perfect ET.

Please let us all know how you're doing.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#617588 - 04/14/04 11:45 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Wow, I'm impressed. I think it's awesome how I don't get bashed and trashed for my ignorance. I mean, really, I think it's awesome you guys are willing to help me out here. This is great. I just checked my email, and received the files. Since it's already 11:43 pm for me, I'll have to wait until tomorrow to start crackin' on the 18th Century method stuff. This is great. I think it's awesome how there's so much more to learn, and how complex it all really is. Good stuff, good stuff.

Oh, I was wondering about something. In order for me to go ahead and get my foot in the door and begin gaining clients, should I offer an "introductory fee" in order to be able to get some pianos to tune, and make sure they understand I'm just starting out? Or should I just do it for free, and do it for the experience? The local Music Store is a Baldwin dealer, and want to endorse me to all inquiries for piano tunings in the area. \:D I think they'd be happy to allow me to tinker on their pianos they have sitting around (they're all out of tune at the moment). Obviously, I'd do it for free in order to have the experience. What do you think?
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617589 - 04/15/04 07:45 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Sure, those are all reasonable ideas. Offer introductory fees, do some volunteer work such as for a church. One deal you could make with the store is to get a commission when an old piano you fix up sells rather than getting a fee up front. You'll need to get experience taking actions in and out of pianos, tightening screws, cleaning keybeds, lubricating, adjusting capstans & let off, etc.

One point I'd like to make about tuning pianos which are way out of tune is one I learned early on which I never forgot and always keep in mind:

"You can tune a piano a lot faster and easier twice than you can fight with it once."

There are a lot of reasons for this but if you accept the fact that you can't do a fine tuning unless you've already got it almost in tune, your whole life will go easier. Just get things close on your first pass, go just a little sharp when raising the pitch, just a little flat when lowering pitch of a drastically sharp piano (this happens mostly in summer). Pianos which are between 20 and 50 cents flat will take 3 passes. A half step pitch raise will take 4 passes. Don't struggle on your rough or course tunings and you won't have to struggle on you fine tuning. If you try to skip a step you know is necessary, you'll fight with it the whole way and end up with poor results.

Good luck, post your questions and experiences daily.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#617590 - 04/15/04 09:40 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Well, my Peterson came in today. Now I just hope it won't take forever and a day to get the refund and receive my pocket pc and tunelab.
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617591 - 04/15/04 10:03 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1298
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
PPP,

You'll be glad you did. I have a Peterson and the strobe wheel stopped turning within months of me having it. I had to take the cover off and get the wheel spinning with my finger. I can't believe it's very accurate. It's a mechanical device, a little electric motor that spins the wheel at different speeds depending on where you are on the piano. It can't be as accurate as a computer without moving parts to measure pitch. The other problem is lack of flexibility. It will give you a tuning scale that may be good on one piano somewhere. Tunelab is a great and inexpensive way for you to get started. The more you use it, the more you'll learn about tuning. That wouldn't happen with the Peterson. Sorry to hear you where mislead from the get go.
_________________________
Do or do not. There is no try.

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#617592 - 04/16/04 09:00 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Ok. By asking this question, I'm sure to show my ignorance once again. Bill, on the procedures of the 18 Century Well Tempered Tuning, the 2nd step says "Test for 6:3 octave". Might I inquire what that means exactly? That would be another thing that wasn't covered in the school's lessons. Go figure. :rolleyes:
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617593 - 04/16/04 11:36 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Huh! I get this question every time! There are lifelong, career tuners who don't know what that means. Every note is actually made up of several pitches at once, the harmonic spectrum. When we hear beats, it is because two of these harmonics are not perfectly in tune with each other. 4ths, 5ths and octaves make slow beats, 3rds, 6ths, 10ths and 17ths (also others) make rapid beats. Essentially, aural tuning depends on the perception and control of beats.

Here is an excerpt from the long article I sent you: (the words "harmonic, partial and overtone" all mean the same thing. Each note of the piano has at least a few if not several audible harmonics.)

"Test the A3-A4 octave for a compromise between a 4:2 and 6:3 octave. These numbers do not indicate ratios in this circumstance. A 4:2 octave has the 4th partial (harmonic or overtone are also synonyms which are frequently used) of the lower note matching, exactly in tune with, pure or beatless (all synonymous) with the 2nd partial of the upper note. A 6:3 octave has the 6th partial of the lower note matching the 3rd partial of the upper.

Different pianos have different amounts of Inharmonicity. This word means that the overtones, harmonics or partials, whichever you choose to call them are not exact multiples of the fundemental tone. They are all sharp and the higher the overtone, the sharper (but also the fainter) it gets. Inharmonicity is the very reason why octaves and all the notes between them must be "stretched" as it is said. The theoretical values for each of the 88 notes of the piano must be altered to accomodate Inharmonicity. Since each piano's Inharmonicity factor is different, the tuning which is perfect for each piano is also unique."

I approve of your decision to get the Tunelab system. I just hope you'll try to also perfect your aural tuning skills so that you can eventually pass the PTG Tuning Exam. I believe you can get my EBVT on it. The Thomas Young temperament is also a representative 18th Century well temperament, very close to but not exactly the same as the aural version I sent you.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#617594 - 04/16/04 11:46 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Oh boy... Umm... How do I put this, delicately...? I still don't understand. See, I am a visual person. I learn much better by seeing, than reading... So, honestly, I still don't understand what to do.
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617595 - 04/17/04 01:42 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21249
Loc: Oakland
I don't know what it means for an ETD, but to tune the "6:3" octave means that if you are tuning A4 to A5, then A4 and A5 both beat at the same rate with E6, which is 3 times A5 and 6 times A4.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#617596 - 04/17/04 10:02 AM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Bill, regarding step 2, I can't distinguish beats between A3 and C4. Almost can't even hear them on A4-C4. It's pie when I'm doing unisons, but they're pretty much non-existant when doing intervals.
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617597 - 04/17/04 06:37 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Not surprising. It will take time to be able to hear the rapidly beating intervals. It is not very important at this point that you be able to create any particular type of octave. The American course just taught you to make a pure or beatless octave. It said that octaves are "stretched" only when you get to about C6. That is very crude information but until sometime in the early 20th Century, it really was all that was known.

Practice making an octave sound perfectly pure, then widen it just so that you can barely perceive a very slow beat. When you can do that, you will be about right. Confirming it with the rapidly beating interval tests is a very advanced technique. It is at the limit, in fact of my own ability so don't worry about not being able to do that right away.

You should also practice the rapidly beating intervals similarly to the way the American course taught you to practice 4ths and 5ths. You can make a 3rd be pure or beatless but it is also likely to sound peculiar. An equally tempered 3rd is 14 cents wide of the point where it would be pure. An equally tempered minor 3rd is 16 cents narrow.

See if you can make a pure F3-A3 3rd, for example. Get your A3 tuned (just leave it where it is if you choose to do so), then adjust F3 up or down (probably up) until it the 3rd has no beats (or as still as you can get it). The pure 3rd will probably sound "flat" or "dead". Now, flatten the F3 until you start to hear some beating, it will take very little movement to change the speed of the beats a lot. Continue until the 3rd seems to have a pleasant tremolo or "vibrato" like sound to it. Keep going until that pleasant sound gets faster and faster, to the point where it sounds "sour" or unmusical.

Doing this, you have explored the range that 3rds can have in tuning. An ET 3rd will sound right in the middle, neither very sweet and pleasant nor very sour. You can do this with a minor 3rd too. From any note in the low tenor, C3 for example, find the minor 3rd above it (Eb3), make a pure sound, then flatten until it starts to beat very rapidly. The pure sound will probably sound peculiar and once you get beyond the 16 cent narrow point of ET, the minor 3rd will begin to sound "flat" and peculiar too.

In the past, any temperament where all the 3rds sounded reasonable, musical and playable was considered "equal". But with today's knowledge and tools, the only ET is the real thing, no exceptions. However, when you really know what you're doing, you can choose a non-ET to give the piano a well intentioned effect.

With the 18th Century temperament I sent you, just start with what sounds to you like a pure octave. When it asks you to tune a 3rd at 4 beats per second, anything close will do. It will be a gentle beat with a sound quite a bit sweeter than it would be in ET. Tune all of the pure 4ths and 5ths to what sound like a "pure" interval to you. There are ways to test and prove that they are pure but that is a little beyond what you should be trying to do now.

When you get to the "temporarily tune" parts, you should be able to hear that one interval is pure and the other beats very badly and sounds out of tune. You then flatten or sharpen the note you are told to and you should be able to hear when you've reached an equal beating compromise. Neither one will sound perfect but both will be the same. When you develop sufficient skill, any equal beating method like this can be used to tune just as accurately by ear as any ETD can provide.

The 18th Century temperament will have chords which sound very sweet and pleasant, some middle of the road like ET and some that sound a bit sour. Unless someone will play very advanced, Romantic era music in 4, 5 or six sharps or flats, however, the 18th Century temperament will actually provide a much more consonant and "in tune" sound. It can be a very good choice for church pianos, people with spinets and old uprights, people who play the simpler types of music in the easier keys. It can be a very good choice for you to make for your earliest aural tunings and continue to be a well chosen option as you progress in your skills.

There really is, in the end, no difference in the beats of a unison or of any other interval. I remember one instructor saying, "all tuning is unison tuning." When you are tuning a unison, you hear the beats between the partials at the fundamental level (but also at all levels, the fundamental is just the strongest). When you tune an octave, you begin to hear the beats between the fundamental of the higher note and the 2nd partial of the lower one. 4ths and 5ths use higher partials and 3rds and 6ths use yet higher ones. But you can always find the point where any of these sounds pure, you can always create a slow beat and you can always create a rapid beat, with any one of them.

Keep on trying.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#617598 - 04/18/04 01:09 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
perfectpitchpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 61
Loc: North Wilkesboro, NC
Am I assuming correctly when I say I should just dismiss what the school taught me in how to tune a piano? Completely?
_________________________
Ryan Marlow
Certified Piano Technician beginning at age 18.

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#617599 - 04/18/04 02:17 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21249
Loc: Oakland
You should if they sent you Vice-Grips instead of a tuning hammer! \:\)

Seriously though, if you are only now buying an ETD, and you haven't learned to hear beats, one can only wonder what you learned in that course.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#617600 - 04/18/04 02:35 PM Re: electronic tuners- any recommendations?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3184
Loc: Madison, WI USA
No, not entirely. I got out that old manual, copyright 1966 and looked through it. I don't know if yours is any different or not. What I do know is that I found the very same bearing plan that is in the American manual in Owen Jorgensen's book called "Tuning". The difference is that for each step that is in the American method, there are the elaborate "untuned note reference checks" which prove that a 4th or 5th is tempered and not pure or tempered the wrong way (a widened 5th or narrowed 4th).

The problem with the American course is not that it is inherently wrong, it just does not provide you with all of the information you would need to tune a piano up to today's standards. If you want to eventually be an RPT, you will have to tune the middle two octaves, C4-B4 by ear and come within certain tolerances. If I used the American information alone, I, myself might be able to pass and so would many other skilled technicians. But I couldn't be as perfect as I could be knowing what I know that goes beyond that information.

Because you apparently cannot distinguish very much yet amongst the rapidly beating intervals, you, as a novice and probably most other people who went directly to the use of an ETD could not produce a two octave span that would fall within tolerance. What happens when you follow those directions and try to make 5ths beat "3 beats in 5 seconds" for example, is that you simply don't get them right. You may get some too pure and some too tempered maybe some tempered the wrong way which will produce uneven 3rds. That's the description of a Historical Temperament like a Meantone, Modified Meantone or Well Temperament, not ET! The further problem would be that the inequality would not be deliberate and on purpose, it would simply be the chaos produced by haphazard errors.

Yet, if all you ever knew about were the American instructions, you'd always think you were doing what is right and called for but also always wonder why sometimes the piano came out sounding pretty good and other times not.

You can go ahead and get the Tunelab system and have it set up a beautifully equally tempered scale and you can listen to the smooth progression of 3rds it produces and also listen to the slower/faster 4:5 ratio of contiguous 3rds it produces but unless you learn how to do the same thing by ear (or at least be able to approximate it), you'll always be a "slave" to the machine, always be envious of those who can do finer work and always wish that you could attain that professional status of RPT that you could put on your business cards, in the yellow pages and in your logo. You would never get to be in the national registry of people who are automatically considered a good choice simply because of their status. You would forever be defensive about your skills instead of being confident of them.

So, at this point, before you get your equipment, I would suggest going back to the basics, listen to the beats you hear in unisons first, then octaves, then 4ths and 5ths, just like the American school teaches. But then you've got to do the same with Major 3rds and 6ths and minor 3rds. The higher you go on the piano, the faster the rapidly beating intervals will beat. Yes, there is a finite limit at which the ear can be expected to be able to perceive and control the beating of a Major 3rd.

In ET, that limit is at or about F4-A4 which would beat around 15 beats per second, a virtual blur. You may say that you can't "hear" that but you certainly could hear it if it were to beat only a few beats per second and you'd know that it is not correct. I'm pretty sure that you could also hear if it was beating far too fast, it would sound very "sour". One of the things my long article stresses about both octave tests and contiguous 3rds tests is that, Ta-dah, the most important rule of all:

IT IS FAR EASIER TO KNOW WHEN INTERVAL RELATIONSHIPS ARE INCORRECT THAN TO BE ABSOLUTELY SURE OF WHEN THEY ARE CORRECT.

To start hearing the rapidly beating intervals, work first in the lower part of that 2 octave span, from C3-C4. You don't need to try to set a perfect temperament of any kind yet while you are just trying to learn to perceive beats. In that range, you should be able to hear and control both major and minor 3rds and 6ths. Just leave C3 where it is, try tuning E3 as a 3rd, slow it down, speed it up, make it sound nearly pure, make it sound very fast and sour. Do the same with C#3, D3, D#3, etc. Then try minor 3rds. They work the opposite way. Narrowing them makes them faster, widening them slows them down. Try and make them sound all of the different ways you can. For 6ths, start at C3 again and tune A3. Slow it down, speed it up, etc.

When you get past the point where you can tune the midrange well, the multiples of 3rds, the octave and 3rd, the double octave and 3rd (10ths & 17ths) will need to be controlled just as precisely as the core 3rds are. Otherwise, if you just rely on making what sound like "pure" octaves, you'll make the same error as you would with the 5ths under the American instructions. You'll get some narrow by mistake, some too pure and some too wide. All of your harmony will end up chaotic and you'll have wobbly 5ths and sour 3rds right in the region of the piano where these intervals are the most critical, the so-called "killer octave" (that's a whole subject in itself).

Look at it this way: You are now a graduate of that course. So now, you are a graduate student. What graduate students often do is go back to explore the gaps and deficiencies in knowledge that were an inevitable part of the undergraduate process. You find out that your course was not the end of the learning process, it merely was an introduction which barely scratched the surface.

Keep at it and you'll do fine. It probably would be helpful to you to be able to get with an experienced aural tuner who could help you better understand aural tuning techniques. Once you get beyond the descriptive words, there really just is a "feel" for the whole thing as you have alluded to.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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