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#621017 - 04/13/08 10:50 AM Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
I'm turning to you guys and gals, tuner-techs, hoping to hear your thoughts on what I'm experiencing with my piano!

I've had two different piano techs in so far to tune my piano. Tech #1 did the first couple of tunings. Tech #2 did all of the tunings after that for the last couple of years.

When Tech #1 did the first couple of tunings, I never noticed anything out of order. Everything seemed fine to me.

When Tech #2 started tuning my piano (I posted here about this a while ago) I began to notice when I play a very low bass note simultaneously with very high treble note, such as the final note ending a piece of music, the bass note sometimes makes me cringe - it sounds a bit flat - just barely enough to notice.

Also, after the first tuning by Tech #2, my piano sounded suddenly brighter in tonal quality, the difference was so noticeable, my husband and I wondered if the tech had juiced up the hammers with lacquer. But there's no way he did that.

We continued to hear brightiness and the last couple of times I've also noticed my piano is also starting to sound "glassy". I don't know how better to describe the tonal quality I'm hearing other than "glassy". Maybe some of you will know what I mean.

Well, my husband and I figured the piano is a couple of years old, the hammers were brand new when I bought it, it's "playing in", the hammers are getting impacted and the tonal quality is changing and getting brighter.

I figure maybe the two techs tune slightly differently - so I decided to experiment and go back to Tech #1, have him tune my piano and see if there's any difference in the bass notes sounding out of tune.

Yesterday Tech #1 tuned my piano. The first thing I am aware of, is completely unexpected - it sounds *very different* in tonal quality! The brightness and also the glassy sound I've been hearing - both are gone! It sounds overall more mellow - actually somewhat subdued - in comparison to before.

I am totally amazed. Do different kinds of tunings make the tonal quality brighter, "glassier" or more subdued? I never heard THAT before.

I haven't played enough yet to tell if the bass/treble issue is gone, I haven't noticed anything out of kilter yet. If that issue if "fixed", that means the type of tuning can affect how the bass and treble notes interplay with each other - whether they sound more or less in tune.

Thoughts on any of this?


Jeanne W

P.S. I'm trying to decide which sound I like better, it's a trade off. The brighter sound projects better and seems to make for a stronger treble, but the more mellow sound is more to my liking in terms of tonal quality. My initial reaction, is Tech #2's tuning results in a "clearer" more European tonal quality.
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
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#621018 - 04/13/08 11:07 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8366
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Jeanne,

I'm just curious, did the most recent Tech (Tech #1) voice the hammers at all, or did he just tune the piano?

I didn't think that a tuning in and of itself could change the tone from bright to mellow, per-se.

Best regards,

Rickster
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#621019 - 04/13/08 11:33 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Hi, Rickster:

Tech #1 did not do any voicing. Just tuned the piano. He did do some extra work, though.

One note, Eb6, had developed a greater "impact" sound when I played it. Barely noticeable, but there. The tech said a couple of things could cause that, including if the hammer was loose. He didn't think it would be the hammer loose, though, because when that's the case, the unwanted sound is usually louder.

It turned out be a loose hammer, after all. He found 7 more loose hammers. My recollection is the notes were scattered between middle C up to the Eb6. My receipt says: Reglued 8 hammerheads to their shanks in upper register." Cost an extra $80.

Wala! Problem fixed. \:\)

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#621020 - 04/13/08 01:41 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21202
Loc: Oakland
Tuning can definitely affect the perception of brightness. I recently tuned a piano for a special event. When I got to the locale, a sound company, I was told that the piano had been tuned the day before when it was delivered, and then again that morning. They complained that the piano was too big for the space, and too bright. I looked at it, tuned it properly, and afterwards was told that the piano sounded much better. I think these people, one of the best manufacturers of sound systems in the world, got an education that day. So did I!
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Semipro Tech

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#621021 - 04/13/08 02:08 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Thanks for your reply BDB. You say you you "tuned it properly" which toned down the brightness. Can you elaborate on that? Were you able to determine how your tuning differed from the previous tuning? If so, what was it about the previous tuning that made it "improper" in your estimation?

Aside from the tonal/brightness issue, did the previous tuning sound "in" or "out of" tune to you?

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#621022 - 04/13/08 02:09 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8366
Loc: Georgia, USA
I can see where the tuning can change the tonal color of a piano. For example, I have read that you can get that twangy, honky-tonk sound by flattening the left most unison of the 2 and 3 string unisons ever so slightly. But to go from bright to mellow simply by tuning, (unless it is extremely out of tune to start with) seems like a stretch to me (no pun intended) \:D .

On the other hand, it seems to me that having loose, out of alignment hammer heads could definitely cause that harsh brightness.

Best regards,

Rickster
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#621023 - 04/13/08 02:50 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
bellspiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 496
Loc: Boston, MA
Here's my guess -- one tech uses a different amount of stretch than the other. (This could be via using an ETD differently, using test notes differently, or just thinking differently about "how it sounds best.") This would result in differences in sound when notes at the extremes of the piano are played together, as Jeanne heard. It could also result in different partials being apparent to the listener. My humble opinion --
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Dorrie Bell
retired piano technician
Boston, MA

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#621024 - 04/13/08 02:59 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21202
Loc: Oakland
Loose hammers usually will show up as clicks before the alignment goes out enough to affect the tone.

In the case of the recent tuning, there were a number of octaves that were beating quite audibly when I checked the piano. This will in itself impart an edge to those octaves, and probably other intervals as well. That may sound bright, depending on the interval.

Of course, being very far out of tune makes a piano sour. It is difficult to describe exactly the changes, and as an experienced tech, I listen to these things in such a way that may be more precise than the terminology that we are using. I need to know whether what you call brightness is due to tuning or to something else. Doing the wrong thing leads to worse problems than doing nothing at all.
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#621025 - 04/13/08 03:32 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
bellspiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 496
Loc: Boston, MA
Aha! More is revealed! I see your point, BDB -- I wasn't even thinking of "so much stretch" that the octaves were into the sour range. And I agree, as a tech one's language and one's way of listening is not that of the usual customer.
_________________________
Dorrie Bell
retired piano technician
Boston, MA

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#621026 - 04/13/08 04:47 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3833
The greater stretch, the brighter the treble. I will use less stretch for a bright piano in a live room, or the piano will sound too bright. A very slight detuning of unisons makes a difference too. Very clean unisons sound brighter than slightly loose ones. The room ambience adds to the equation as well. A loud piano gets softer when carpet, drapes and soft couches are installed.
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#621027 - 04/13/08 05:30 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 548
Loc: Toronto, ON
I think people here are being pretty generous. It may be impertinent to suggest this, but it sounds to me like tech #1 is a more knowlegeable, experienced tuner than tech #2.
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Anne Francis
PTG Associate Member

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

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#621028 - 04/13/08 07:18 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
(Deleted Post: I misunderstood something and posted something that was just plain wrong.)

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#621029 - 04/14/08 03:21 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7079
Loc: France
Hello Jeanne,

Tuners are humans, the role of the tuner is :

1 to have the piano at pitch ( A=440 Hz or slightly above) being an accepted standard
2 to have the piano tuned meaning the notes are in tune one each other all along the sacle.
3
To "build tone", meaning that the way the 3 (or 2) strings of the unisson are tuned together, taking in account the tone projection, the speed of the attack stabilistaion, the roundness of the tone.

Different musicality from differnt tuners can bring differnt results for the last 2 points.

Hearing for a pure tone doex not mean you have the best tone for a particular piano in its particular room accoustic. It is not rare that tuners does not learn to build tone , but only to provide an accepteable tuning. In that regard, tuning for concert is a good school, as working for musicians or keen eared pianists like you.

There are many ways to describe the tuning of unissons, not very easy for me being French, but it is often possible to tweak an existing tuning and add some musicality only cbhnaging slighly the phase and phase opposal behavior of the strings , hence changing the global enveloppe of the tone.

Basically this is a touch question , then a listening questions. Many tuners listen too much within the instrument, and not enough in the tone projection.

I don't really get what you mean with "European tuning", I have find US instruments to have generally a straighter tone, with a lot of shine but a less lively curve, because power is most wanted sometime with juice indeed. all the power tend to straighten the tone if it is more than the piano can naturally deliver, and if you use most of the attack energy immediately (the note speaks very fast and immediately).

Slowing the stabilisation of the attack helps with tone projection at the expense of power.

A common "error" is also to tune the basses way low, it make it sound more "greazy" (and it is unavoideable on short grands and verticals) but the basses are then out of tune vs the medium and treble. The tuning method based on coincidence of partials without listening to the overall tone can lend to those results. A tuning may be checked musically, not only with tuning theory.

In that regard a tuner which is also a good musician will certainly tune better (while I see good concerts tuner that don't play really the piano, it is then a training question).

I hope those comments can help.

BTW I've benn tuning in concerts for a long time.
10 years ago, I changed the way I tune the unissons (and also my overall tuning approach,) after 15 years in the trade; my tunings where appreciated, no real complaints, but I fell that something was missing. The unissons where too bright and the tone not "open" enough, because was looking for a maximum power output. I had to change my way, not so difficult but one have to accept to change, and learn to listen differntly. Tuning is also way less tiring then !

A good tuning take in account the attack and hammer rebound sensation felt by the fingers, the tone projection in the room, avoid beats between strings, but manage the extinction curve shape of the tone by managing the very first miliseconds of tone. Ear/hand synchronisation + imaginatioon is the key.
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Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#621030 - 04/16/08 09:19 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Thanks, everyone, for the feedback, and a special thank you to you, Kamin, for your long and detailed reply.

Pianos are fascinating, there are so many variables to take into consideration. Seems to me a career as a piano tech can provide a life long quest in the pursuit of knowledge.

I thought I knew a little (very limited) about pianos, but this latest tuning and the replies I received here has taught me something new. I didn't expect tuning to have the ability to make a piano sound brighter or more mellow - now I know better!

!!!

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#621031 - 04/17/08 06:49 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
You should probably read the "Saving tuning, by a customer" thread. Quantifying your observation is what I was trying to accomplish.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#621032 - 04/17/08 07:24 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7079
Loc: France
Thanks for your feedback, Jeanne.

Makes me think of one of the most interesting comment that was made by a tuner to a customer ; he stated that he "tuned the piano to the room". As it looks a little like some "sexy talking" , the remark make sense, as this is reaaly a way of litening that can be sescribed like that.

The tone of the instrument when hearing it a 30 cm is not at all the same ase even 1 meter apart.

It does not suffice to "liten to the room" but it is indeed part of the tuning process, it guarantee that you are not "caught in the tone" and that your mind & ear have some "disatnce" from the stricly talking "tuning process".

Lot of "" !! . It is difficult to explain. I will make some recording when I'll have time. Listening only to the room can lend to beats in the unisson, so it is not the whole story.

I'll point something like "sympathic resonance" as being the key - for the high treble for instance, as the strings are always free to vibrate, tuning them to a good resonnance with the medium part is certainly adding a lot of light in the overall tuning.
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#621033 - 04/18/08 04:10 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
SilentMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 26
Loc: Reston, VA
My opinion is that the particular temperament a tuner puts on the piano has a drastic effect on the tone. I've had my Boston for about 10 years, and used about 3 different tuners in that time. I can very easily tell just from the sound which tuner tuned it.

The piano took on a very different character depending on who tuned it. I am talking tuning, not voicing.

I claim that I can tell if they used an Accu-tuner aid or tuned entirely aurally. The latter seems to give me better results. I am not a piano tech, put an amateur player who makes up for limited technique (can't play Czerny's Art of Velocity at Czerny's speed) by listening really hard to the sound blends in the harmonies of, say, Schumann, or Chopin. For that style of composition, non equal temperament works best. You need the sweet sounding thirds and fifths in keys like C G F and Bb. (Though with Chopin you are likely to need it in keys like B major or G# minor.) So a WT that is biased toward the keys of easy Shumann can really make those pieces sing in ways the standard ET fails to do.

On the other hand, if your tastes run more to jazz or even Gershwin and Ragtime, your ideal temperament would be different. ET may be more your thing since, unlike Chopin and Schumann, this style of music was composed when ET predominated and so it sounds more "right" in that temperament.

Tuning is full of tradeoffs. There is no right tuning. If you want to optimize one thing, you will de-optimize something else. It is a question of what is important to you.

I also think that stretch and other characteristics of the individual piano plays a part and the aural tuning is more likely to get this right. It turns out that "ideal" strings have a diameter of zero and all their vibrational energy comes from transverse waves moving along the length of the string. But real strings have some diameter and store energy in their rigidity, especially the short strings near the high end. So the actual harmonics generated by the strings are actually a bit sharp as compared to the ideal ratio's that theory says they ought to have. Add to this the fact that parts resonate and stings are not perfect in their manufacture, and grow less so as they age, the actual harmonics will differ from one piano to the next. But these variations from the ideal are audible variations! A good tuner who listens carefully and has a good deal of experience will naturally compensate for these things as a matter of course arriving at a good compromise.

I was recently shopping at the Steinway dealer and really did not care for the tuning on a new L's I was considering. The dealer offered to bring in my favorite turner and have him tune the piano more to my liking. I expect it could have made a significant difference. In the meantime, I had already purchased a much older B from a private party. I still expect to tweak it's temperament after I get it up to my apartment. Looking forward to it really. Part of the fun (and the pain) of owning a piano, is how much you can change the sound by doing simple things.

For more background, I would recommend Ross Duffin's, "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)". He recounts an experiment in which measurements were taken of the actual tunings made by expert tuners. He discovered that tuners acknowledged as more highly skilled tended to vary measurably from the ET scale that they believed themselves to be tuning to.

Also, Chaun C. Chang's "Fundamentals of Piano Practice" has an insightful chapter on tuning and temperament in which he describes tuning procedures for some of the Well Temperaments and gives a physicist's view on tuning concepts such as stretch.
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The rest is silence. -- "Hamlet", Act 5 scene 2

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#621034 - 04/18/08 07:06 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2021
Loc: Maine
I found the title of this thread confusing.

"Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?" - written as a statement, but with a "?" as the end punctuation.

Why not - Can different kinds of tunings affect tonal brightness? There you have a clear interrogative with the corresponding punctuation and the same number of words.

My answer to the question would be a qualified, yes.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#621035 - 04/18/08 07:39 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Hi, David:

Regarding how I chose to title this thread, have you heard that song, the one that goes:

"Different strokes, for different folks" !!!??? \:D

Seriously, your point is well taken. I was trying to condense my question into a short title - I think your way is better - it's a clearer way to pose it.

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#621036 - 04/18/08 09:29 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I wonder if we blind folded Mark if he could tell the difference then? ;\) I'm just kidding with you Mark.. As I read your post, I couldn't help but think of the Pepsi Coke test. \:\)

Seriously, I know of very few technicians that tune exactly alike. Some are close but most have a little different form, technique and preference for stretching. One tech might like faster progressing 3rds where the next tech might like it totally the opposite.

One complaint I get is if I take the piano apart (Diane are you reading?) without scratching it, \:D they quite often say, gee, nobody else has ever taken anything apart before! When I look at whose tuning is marked inside of the piano, that reveals a lot to me because we get to know who we like and dislike as technicians too.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#621037 - 04/18/08 09:48 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3169
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Thank you, Silent Mark. You have said much of what I would have said and seem to be as knowledgeable about it as any seasoned piano technician should be.

I have been quite busy the last few days and have wanted to respond to this thread. There is a concert series I have been attending this week at night too, leaving me no time at all. Can you imagine a professor playing ALL of Beethoven's sonatas from memory with outstanding interpretations? This month if the final series and tonight it ends with the Opus 111! The tuning is excellent although the technician there is afraid to do anything but Equal Temperament (ET). An 18th Century temperament would have made it all the better.

It appears to me as well that the tuning which was disliked involved a combination of temperament and excessive stretch. From the description, I think there is a possibility that tuner #2 tried the so-called Equal Temperament with pure 5ths. It certainly would make the piano sound brighter but at the expense of having both intolerably wide octaves and Rapidly Beating Intervals (RBI), Major thirds, sixths, tenths and seventeenths (M3, M6, M10, M17).

The author of the thread may not understand what this means but the effects of overly stretching out an otherwise standard tuning will certainly produce the sound that she heard and found pleasant in one way but ultimately unacceptable. It is just as you noted, something gained but also something lost. When what is lost exceeds the value of what is gained, the compromise made is found to be unacceptable.

Another possibility is one that I have noted now for many years which is called Reverse Well temperament. The tuner dislikes the sound of a tempered 5th when progressing through a 4ths and 5ths kind of sequence and therefore "errs towards the just 5th" (makes them too close to beatless or "pure") as the late John Travis identified in his book, now over 50 years ago, Let's Tune Up.

Since the temperament sequence begins primarily among the white keys and ends with the black keys, the tuner does essentially the opposite or reverse of what is called for in Well Tempered style tuning, (usually called Well-Temperament). The 5ths among the white keys are beatless or nearly so and those among the black keys are overly tempered as an ultimate compromise. In this case, if the ET with pure 5ths was not intended, octaves may have ended up overly stretched as well to try to keep all of the 5ths and octave and 5ths from beating while ignoring the effect upon the RBIs.

The result either way is that typical harmonies played in the simple keys, those with no sharps or flats or up to 3 or 4 sharps and flats would sound very "busy", slightly or even downright "sour". The reverse well scenario would have made it even worse than the ET with pure 5ths.

One may think that such erroneous tuning is rare and far fetched but in my experience, it is the most common error made by aural tuners who cling to the most often taught 4ths and 5ths kind of temperament sequence, the kind which is considered "classic", the kind found in the book used by more tuners than any other, the book by William Braide White called Piano Tuning and Allied Arts.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#621038 - 04/18/08 10:21 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
It is the tuner that makes the error, not the sequence.
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Part-time tuner

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#621039 - 04/18/08 01:35 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
Bill: I'm going to give up defending William Braid White's sequence from your Bashing. It is only to your advantage. It gives you more opportunities for your pre-recorded info-mercials. You are just trying to tear something down to build yourself up. If people don't see what you are up to, well there's a sucker born every minute. Then again, it being an election year, they might just be insensitized to mud slinging. The sad part is that the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater. There are tests in his sequence that are useful in any sequence. These could even be used to improve your sequences, Bill.

Blaming a piano’s reported change of tone on William Braid White is going pretty far.

Regards,
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#621040 - 04/19/08 04:55 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3169
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Well, Upright, if you have any better explanation for why so many tuners across North America, from Montreal to Mexico City and from New York to Los Angeles all seem to make the same errors, I would like to read it.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
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#621041 - 04/19/08 05:52 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21202
Loc: Oakland
Just exactly how many tuners do make these errors? How did you count them?
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#621042 - 04/20/08 10:42 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
One thing you can always, I mean always, be sure of. Anytime two or more piano technicians sit down at the same table, and the conversation is about tuning, there will be strong disagreement every time. I wonder if auto mechanics, or electricians argue the finer points of what they do, this much. I kind of doubt it.

I have to agree with Tooner in this one. When it comes to White's sequence for tempering, the problem usually lies with the person's skill level, rather than the temperament sequence he is using. Someone once wrote, "piano tuning is like cooking; everyone has his/her own receipe."

That said, I must admit I am not a fan of White's temperament sequence in "Piano Tuning and Allied Arts." Though White's book was one of the textbooks in the school I attended, we were not taught his temperaments. I know people, who strongly believe the best method is using 4ths and 5ths as the basic temperament intervals, but I have never found their tunings that pleasing to my ear. That is not to say, they were really bad; just not the way I would do it, to bring the tuning to "life," for lack of a better word.

I am sure Mr. Bremmer has had a lot of experience with people taking the PTG tuning exam, who were in the "ballpark", and maybe even passed, but whose tunings were just not at the highest standard. I would again have to say, it was probably not the tuning interval sequence that was the problem, but that examinee's skill level.

So, the amiable arguement continues, and as BDB so correctly stated. How many indeed do make these errors, and who counts them anyway. Unless one takes the PTG tuning exam, there is no standard for anything in tuning, except the customer's "standard." And I found out a long time ago, the majority of the piano owning public dont know the difference between a good piano tuning and one not so good.
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Ron Alexander
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#621043 - 04/20/08 11:27 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I've been setting here wondering if I should chime in on this one or not and decided that I would.

I strongly disagree with only one way of tuning and in particular in the cutting down of Mr White. While some might not agree with certain methods of tuning, it's wrong to cut someone else down for their personal preferences. Especially naming names, that so many technicians highly respect and on top of that, it is unethical according to the PTG guidelines.

I'm going to name drop. Bill you know some of these people. If not, ask Richard Kingsbury, he knows them and he knows me too from many years ago. My dad and his dad and the rest of these 4 fellows mentioned were good friends and hung around together at all of the PTG functions. In fact, that's where I got to know Richard jr from attending these things with Harry Buyce.

Some of the very best technicians that I know, Harold Buyce , Yat Lam Hong, Gerald Peterson, George Groot (my dad) tuned using the apparently, old fashioned method of ET tuning. These guys produced some of the finest tunings I've ever heard. Yat Lam has used ETD's for many years. Heck, Yat Lam has all the toys for boys!

Ask Yat Lam or Richard about the reputation these ET using people had for tuning. The answer will speak for itself in that there is nothing wrong with using the ET method. It is the person behind the tuning method that they prefer or the EDT of their choice that creates the problems. Not the words written in Whites book.

Many other RPT's that I know use the ET with great results as well so, please don't cut down the choice of others. It's just not right. If it works for them and produces the correct results then, so be it. If you prefer your method over theirs, then, so be that too.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#621044 - 04/20/08 11:28 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Ron,

Good comments here on your experience with the tuning intervals and your preference for a differing temperament structure.

I have used Braid Whites temperament for 37 years, and I can tell you with a degree of certainty that if you are tuning ET with pure or beat less fifths this is not Braid Whites temperament.

I just dug out my copy of the book to review, the 1974 edition, and interesting to note that there is a typo on page 88 in the chart of ET where the beat count for A37-D42 has been left out. My father calculated the count and wrote it in with pen. This could be the problem with everyone making the same errors as Mr. Bremmer claims.

No-where within this chart does he instruct students to tune the fifths beat less or pure.

While I don’t use the beat count much anymore (just as a guide) I can tell you that this temperament must be “varied” slightly from instrument to instrument. Example: I find I have to adjust the F-C slightly slower on Asian entry level uprights more so then on longer grand’s. Could be the mathematical error produced when casting a smaller plate scale. And this fact is really not important. I just do it and the customer is always happy. Really with tuning what we might hear as tuners might not be the same thing that the customer hears, if they can hear at all………………
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#621045 - 04/20/08 11:39 AM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Also just as an addition this book went to 18 printings from 1917 through to 1974. I don’t think this would be the case if people were of the opinion that this guy didn’t know what he was talking about.
The book was repeatedly printed because of………….maybe he knew what he was talking about.

How abstract.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#621046 - 04/20/08 08:58 PM Re: Different Kinds of Tunngs Can Affect Tonal Brightness?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3169
Loc: Madison, WI USA
The topic of this discussion is whether different tuning styles may affect perceived tone. The answer is most surely, yes. I gave my opinion about what I thought two possibilities may have been. I meant what I said and I offer no apology for that.

I did not drop any names. I did cite the one book which was written nearly 100 years ago as what I believe to be the primary source and reason why so many tuners, certainly not all, make the very same type of error. I have also, at other times, critiqued other books and said what I thought was good information along with what was clearly erroneous, incomplete and obsolete.

My personal observation has been that about 3 in 4 aural tuners who use a 4ths and 5ths type sequence end up with the same kind of error in temperament, one that is a result of accumulating and compounding the effects of tuning one 4th or 5th after another without any way to correct oneself at each step along the way.

The instructions in Braide-White's book do not adequately explain how to correct accumulated error nor do they tell anything at all about how to take the theoretical values which are provided and alter them to accommodate the piano's actual inharmonicity nor for the size of octave that is chosen.

Therefore, one is left with a vague "guideline". So, the skill level that Ron mentions is not in that book for anyone to read and learn. I also can name any number of names, which I will not, of very highly skilled aural tuners who started with and still use a 4ths and 5ths based sequence that more than likely was learned from Braide-White's book.

I can name many, many more names, which I also will not and never have, for it would be indeed unethical and when those names were of those who barely passed or failed PTG Tuning Exams, I am specifically prohibited from doing so. Those people were also taught the same kind of sequence but were either not taught or couldn't learn what isn't taught in the book that it takes beyond those basic guidelines to actually make a temperament end up as the intended goal.

I was one of those people myself once. If you asked me today to tune an ET from the Braide-White sequence, I could surely do it with results that would meet the highest of standards. I don't use the method I actually teach people as a way of setting up a nearly infallible framework right in the beginning of the process and leaving the rest to be simple and easy to complete because I never tune any pianos in ET.

My only interest in ET is helping those who want to pass the PTG Tuning Exam learn the skills that it takes to do so. I also am interested in identifying why certain problems recur and finding a way to avoid those problems in the first place. There has to be a reason why so many people make the very same errors.

I am quite certain about what the reason is and what the source of it is. Other very highly skilled technicians who also teach ET tunings have agreed with me and supported my contentions but I'm not going to "drop" any names. I've read the same outrage that was written in this thread many times before. If someone else can identify something else as the reason for it, I would be more than happy to read and consider it. But I will not take any suggestion to not reveal the truth for what I know it to be.

Until then, I stand firmly behind what I said here and have been saying for over 20 years: The Braide-White book is obsolete, incomplete, misleading and inaccurate. For those reasons, it should not be used today as a primary source for the education of a novice piano technician.

There is some information in it which is still valid, of course. One point made in it which I use in my own teaching is the value of tuning a 4th or 5th beatless first and then tempering it. Very few people, however seem to have even read that page, much less make use of the suggestion.

There was obviously something wrong with the way Tuner #2 in the initial post tuned which did not sound appealing to the pianist. A few people responded with ideas of what they thought the problem could be based on the description. Some mentioned stretch and at least one mentioned temperament. One person hinted at ETD vs. aural tuning. I also know how and why this bad combination occurs and I am not really concerned if some people find the plain truth to be a little too uncomfortable to bear.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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