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#622324 - 06/27/08 10:25 AM Tuning to A 440
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2362
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Here is a scenario I am sure many of us tuners come across: You arrive at a customers home to find the piano in need of a pitch raising. The value of the extra time/cost needs to be conveyed and as tuners we know why but quite often, they don't. I try to get this cleared up on the phone beforehand but many times there are other factors like them not being "accurate" about when it was last tuned, the pianos condition, and whether the last tuner raised it to pitch. I carry a CD player with Debussys' Clair de Lune and play their piano to the first part of it...its usually convincing especially after they hear it after the piano is tuned. I also explain the usual things like the piano was designed to be at pitch, spatial/sound disorientation for their piano student children, ect..
Any of you have other approaches to this?
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#622325 - 06/27/08 11:08 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1472
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Some techs will forget about putting effort into such explainations and efforts to jog fogged memories, make a pitch raise part of the regular tuning service and adjust their fees to it.
I have had success with telling people on the telephone to play A4 and put the reciever close to the piano (usually need to tell them how to locate the note) while I listen to my fork. I can tell them right away how flat their piano is and how much it will cost to tune to pitch.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

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#622326 - 06/27/08 12:28 PM Re: Tuning to A 440
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
Pitch raising is an important subject. I am also interested in what other tuners do.

In the best interest of my customers and their pianos, I will usually float the pitch from –16 cents in the dead of winter to +16 cents in the dog days of summer. If I need to change the pitch less than 16 cents, I may do a blind pitch raise and tune with 25% overshoot to the floated pitch, no additional charge. If I need to change the pitch 20 cents or more, I will demonstrate to the customer how low the pitch is and suggest that I give a pitch raise and rough tuning today (at half price) and return in a week or two and give a fine tuning (at full price). If the pitch is off by 50 cents or more, I suggest two pitch raises and a rough tuning today (at full price). My experience is that a piano will not stay in tune well if the pitch is changed more than 16 cents. The rough tuning always sounds much, much better than what I started with and I have not had any complaints. Usually with the half price pitch raise and rough tuning, there are other adjustments and/or repairs that bring the appointment to full price anyway.
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#622327 - 06/27/08 12:38 PM Re: Tuning to A 440
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
I call pitch adjustment "coarse tuning." I explain that until the tension is close to correct throughout the piano, it is impossible to fine tune it. I use bicycle wheels (spoke tension) and suspension bridges (cable tension) as analogies: change the tension on one spoke or cable, affect them all.

If the piano is tuned at least once a year, I won't charge for a pitch raise.

If I haven't seen the piano before, or if the customer has gone longer than a year between tunings, I charge for the extra work. People have to take SOME responsibility for neglecting their pianos!
_________________________
Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#622328 - 06/27/08 12:54 PM Re: Tuning to A 440
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
My analogy is the laces on ice skates. You tighten them, go around the rink a few times, tighten them again.
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#622329 - 06/27/08 01:00 PM Re: Tuning to A 440
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1679
Loc: Mexico City
I have gived up! I don't talk anymore about pitch raises.

I do as Dave, if it is the first time I tune a piano or if the piano needs a pitch correction I charge it. By the phone I give always the fee including the pitch raise. And if the piano happens to not need it I offer a discount. I don't explain anymore what a pitch raise is, nor why do we must put the piano at 440. People seem to understand better that if I tune their piano regularly I will offer a special discount! They are then motivated to tune before the piano goes way out of tune, in order to get this special discount.

I am more likely to talk about tuning stability and suggesting to tune twice a year because of the seasonal changes of humidity.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#622330 - 06/28/08 10:21 PM Re: Tuning to A 440
Steven Bolstridge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 197
Loc: Fitzgerald ,GA
Many of my clients are piano teachers and their students. I just tell them the truth: the student will learn best if his or her piano sounds like the teacher's piano. A quick demonstration with an A fork resonating on the piano against the lower pitched A from the piano key usually convinces them.
_________________________
piano tuner/technician

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#622331 - 07/09/08 12:34 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
AndytunesRPT Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/31/08
Posts: 11
Loc: Boston, MA
I'm still not convinced as to why it actually matters that the pitch be at A440. Unless the piano is playing with other instruments regularly, I don't see how having the piano at A440 or A415 makes any difference to the development of the student. As long as the piano is tuned to itself, it should be fine.

I bring it up because the last two pianos I've tuned have been so far out that my only option was to tune them to themselves (I only had 2 hours for each piano, and my fastest time so far is just around 2 hours). The pianos weren't played often (and hadn't been tuned in over 5 years). Is there really any reason I should convince these people that they need it at 440? I already told them the price for the tuning ahead of time. It seems simpler to tune the piano where it is than worry about a pitch raise at all.

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#622332 - 07/09/08 06:56 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
Robert Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 283
Loc: Minnesota
 Quote:
Originally posted by Andytunes:
...I don't see how having the piano at A440 or A415 makes any difference to the development of the student...
Learning to play piano relies on auditory feedback. The student learns to recognize when she has hit a wrong note by the sound of that note. Conversely, the student gets positive feedback when she hears the right note. That feedback will be much more effective if the right note is always at one pitch. If the right note is at one pitch at the teacher's piano and another pitch at the student's piano, the student will never gain the confidence that she can play correctly because of the inconsistency of the feedback.

 Quote:

...The pianos weren't played often (and hadn't been tuned in over 5 years). Is there really any reason I should convince these people that they need it at 440?...
No, you don't need to "convince" them of anything. But you do owe it to them to explain that tuning to standard pitch is the standard in your profession. If you give them all the objective facts about the consequences of tuning the piano "where it is", and then they decide to decline the pitch-raise, then you have done your duty.
_________________________
Robert Scott
Hopkins, Minnesota
http://www.tunelab-world.com

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#622333 - 07/09/08 07:40 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
AndyTunes:

Besides the pitch, which may seem arbitrary without another instrument being played with the piano, there is the tone to consider. A piano that is a half step or more low in pitch will definitely sound less vibrant than if it is tuned to correct pitch. But, there is also the radio or TV in the background to consider. The music from these are (hopefully) at A440. A piano can sound “funny” if not at the same pitch.

One other thing that I hadn’t thought about until your post is the inharmonicity of the piano. I expect that a piano tuned to a lower pitch would have less iH, require more “additional” stretch, and have busier octaves in the treble in order for the high treble sound right. Has anybody had experience with this?

Regards,
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#622334 - 07/09/08 07:51 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
It is interesting when a student with natural perfect pitch comes into the picture. My son has it to the cent. As a violin student he would notice that the piano at school was at 441 while the one in his teacher's studio when accompanying was at somewhat above 439. His violin would get tuned to whatever piano was there, but he did have to learn to deal with those differences.

Slightly OT, but I still don't understand in the other forum why anyone is striving to acquire perfect pitch for playing the piano. It would seem to be more of an annoyance than a boon. (?)

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#622335 - 07/09/08 08:17 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1242
Loc: London
 Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Scott:
Learning to play piano relies on auditory feedback. The student learns to recognize when she has hit a wrong note by the sound of that note. Conversely, the student gets positive feedback when she hears the right note. That feedback will be much more effective if the right note is always at one pitch. [/b]
Is this actually true? Obviously if the student has perfect pitch, it is. But otherwise?

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#622336 - 07/09/08 08:21 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
Keystring:

I have a customer with perfect pitch. We were doing some voicing on a piano in a sanctuary and I was playing a piece so that he could hear the tone of the piano from different pews. We switched places and he played the piece, which he didn't know, from what he heard. It was very similiar! I can see the advantage.
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#622337 - 07/09/08 08:26 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
Robert Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 283
Loc: Minnesota
 Quote:
Originally posted by David-G:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Scott:
Learning to play piano relies on auditory feedback. The student learns to recognize when she has hit a wrong note by the sound of that note. Conversely, the student gets positive feedback when she hears the right note. That feedback will be much more effective if the right note is always at one pitch. [/b]
Is this actually true? Obviously if the student has perfect pitch, it is. But otherwise? [/b]
It seems so in my case. I suppose one would have to do a controlled psych experiment. But abilities needed to demonstrate perfect pitch (conscious pitch identification) are not necessarily possessed by someone who is only subconsciously affected by consistent auditory feedback.
_________________________
Robert Scott
Hopkins, Minnesota
http://www.tunelab-world.com

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#622338 - 07/09/08 08:36 AM Re: Tuning to A 440
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
A piano is designed to be tuned to A/440. A certain amount of tension is "supposed" to be on the piano, give or take as the weather changes.

Car manufacturer's recommend 5 quarts (for those that take 5) of oil. I don't intentionally put in only 2 because it still "seems to run okay."

Yamaha recommends A440 not A415 or whatever. It does make a difference in sound and will eventually cause other concerns within the structure of the piano and if intentionally kept at a lower pitch by a non competent tuner, can void the warranty too I do believe.

As for floating pitch? That's fine within reason. The piano will hold tuning a little better if we don't have to continually change pitch.

I usually put them on pitch but, not always. It depends on the time of year, the piano, the location, what the humidity levels are like "now" and what they will be in maybe a month from now. And, if I tune them 2-4 times a year, I might also "float" it slightly but, not much...

If it is used with other instruments or with concert work, then absolutely not. And, only float within a reasonable amount one way or the other. Floating a piano at 443 now will leave it probably close to the 440 range in December in Michigan.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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