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#624884 - 04/01/04 04:10 PM Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
Just wondering how many out there tune by ear or machine? How many do both? How many of you switched from aural to electronic? Why did you switch?

I have always tuned by ear, however there are times when I wish I had a machine.
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#624885 - 04/01/04 06:54 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Bob, I tune by ear. I too sometimes wish I had one of the newer ETD's. Years ago I had a Sanderson Accu-tuner, but seldom used it.

I hope this thread does not lead to the the ever raging debate of which is best: aural or machine. I know excellent tuners who do it both ways.

Regards,
Ron
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Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#624886 - 04/02/04 12:41 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
I tune by ear. I've looked at ETDs and they have always been so much more clumsy than tuning by ear that I have never had any desire for one.
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Semipro Tech

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#624887 - 04/02/04 06:06 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
I can tune by ear. I have passed the PTG test jsut one point below CTE level. I use the Rayburn CyberTuner of PodketPC for all pitch raises and some tunings. I use the Sanderson
SAT 111 for the rest. Most of the time I set the sequence up exactly as if I were tuning by ear. I could go out every day and tune 4 pianos per day by ear, but during the time I save by using an ETD, I can spend time doing touch up regulation or voicing at no charge to the customer and deliver a much more professional and inclusive service than any aural only tech that I have ever followed behind.... oh, and by the way , I have tuned over 30,000 pianos.
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#624888 - 04/02/04 06:26 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Thomas, sorry but I can't resist. I'm sure you are an excellent piano tech, providing the highest caliber of professional service. 30,000 pianos says you possess the highest credentials.
But I take issue with your point about following behind any aural only tech. I take as much pride in my ability to tune a piano to very very high standards, as much as you take pride in your professionalism. I do not have one thing against the guys who use a machine. It always amazes me that 8 out of 10 pianos techs I know honestly believes they are the only one who truly knows how to properly tune a piano. And 5 or 6 out of 10 wouldn't know a concert quality piano tuning if they heard one. I am in no way implying you or any other tech who posts here, are one of these 5 or 6 out of 10. But why must we bicker and slam each other over this issue. I get steamed enough fixing other people's sloppy work, some who tune aural, others who use a machine.

Again, please do not construe my comments as negative toward you or method of tuning.

Regards,
Ron
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-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#624889 - 04/03/04 09:56 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
Rjalax said ""But I take issue with your point about following behind any aural only tech. I take as much pride in my ability to tune a piano to very very high standards, as much as you take pride in your professionalism.""

I said ""I could go out every day and tune 4 pianos per day by ear, but during the time I save by using an ETD, I can spend time doing touch up regulation or voicing at no charge to the customer and deliver a much more professional and inclusive service than any aural only tech that I have ever "" So I never said I could tune better than you , I said I had plenty of time left over to do minor regulation and voicing that EVERY other Aural Tech I have followed did NOT do.
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#624890 - 04/03/04 10:07 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
Tom - How much time on average does an ETD save you?
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#624891 - 04/03/04 11:03 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I'm a "hybrid" tuner, using both the Verituner as well as my hearing to do the job. And while I can do a strictly aural tuning, my preference is to always use the Verituner(which I use to determine pitch for the first string in unisons).

Mark Mandell

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#624892 - 04/03/04 11:07 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
Bob wrote""Tom - How much time on average does an ETD save you?""

Just tuning I can service a piano in about 35-40 minutes. That leaves me 20-35 minutes to clean, or voice, or touch up the regulation
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#624893 - 04/04/04 11:21 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
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Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
Tom Wrote "Just tuning I can service a piano in about 35-40 minutes"

The ETD time savings is an advantage for Tom. For my tuning fee, a customer gets about 1 hour 20 min of my time. An easy to tune piano, close to pitch takes me about 50 min by ear. A pitch raise/tune (as most are) takes about an hour. A piano with strings that hang up takes longer.

I use the balance of time to vac the dust, fix and adjust what I can.

I wouldn't mind a SMALL, COMPACT, CHEAP ETD that sets a good quick temperment, especially for spinets or school tunings.
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#624894 - 04/04/04 02:35 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
I don't think that I could get a string properly set in less than 10 seconds from the time I take the hammer off one pin to the time to take it off the one I am tuning. I might allot 35 minutes for a piano that I've tuned the day before, or that I know has been kept under good conditions, but I'm not going to do it for a piano that I haven't seen for quite some time.
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#624895 - 04/04/04 07:18 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
I agree with BDB's statement that I do not believe I can get a string stablized in less than 10 second from the time I take the hammer fom one pin to the next. On a piano maintained under good conditions that I have tuned before, I can do the tuning in about 50 minutes. On one that needs a pitch raise or one that I have not tuned before I usually take about and hour and 15 to an hour and 30 minutes. But within this time frame I adjust the regulation if needed and needle hammers (especially at the break points) if needed. As a matter of practice, I will also vac or do minor cleaning after I tune the piano. I usually return quiet to the home within an hour to an hour and a half.
I am not interested in "production line" tuning, so I tend not to schedule more than 4 pianos a day. This way I can give complete attention to the piano, always be on time (of utmost importance) and give the customer the highest quality tuning/service.
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Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#624896 - 04/04/04 09:59 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
I give up you can have the last word, I dont want it
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Maker of the TCHAMMER
www.thomasccobble.com

BUSY IS BETTER THAN BORED

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#624897 - 04/04/04 11:22 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
When I tune by ear, I tune the interval, then use my key banger (a bass hammer glued to the end of a dowel rod) to smack the key very hard. This usually sets the string to a place I don't want, and the process is repeated two or three times till the string and pin are set, and a heavy blow doesn't change the string.

With an ETD, the heavy blow can be done right from the start, without playing an interval, which means a time savings of several seconds on each string. I would assume this is where Thomas makes up some time. Temperment setting with an ETD is probably done within one min. By ear, a temperment sometimes takes me 5 mim. A two octave concert temperment might take 15 min. This would be another ETD time savings.
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#624898 - 04/05/04 12:57 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
I don't understand how setting the string by ear is different than with an ETD. If the string doesn't stay where you want it by ear, how come it will with an ETD? For that matter, I can't understand how you can "tune" an interval when the string isn't set. To me, a string is tuned when it is set at the proper pitch.

For that matter, I don't understand how anyone could ever do other than concert quality tuning. This point was driven home to me many years ago when I was tuning a piano for the wife of one of my college professors. When I finished, she told me she was glad I could come, because her cousin was coming to play with the symphony that week. Actually, it was both Claude Frank and Lillian Kallir playing together.
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Semipro Tech

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#624899 - 04/05/04 08:55 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
Most of my customers wait too long between tunings, therefore a "concert quality" tuning can not be achieved in one sitting even with a pitch raise. The piano simply isn't stable enough. It might sound good when you leave, but it won't always be stable. The pitch of the average school piano in Chicago changes 50-100 cents winter to summer - again not possible to do a "concert quality" tuning in one sitting. In September I have to lower the pitch 50 cents. By January, I raise the pitch 50 cents. Is it frustrating?? You bet, but thats how it is.

For a "concert quality" tuning in Chicago, it requires pitch raising or lowering and tuning two days before, then a second tuning the day of the concert. Even then, the tuning holds for the concert only. Pianos might be more stable in Oakland -I suspect the humidity is a bit more constant.

BDB wrote: I don't understand how setting the string by ear is different than with an ETD.

Please re-read my previouse post - time savings are by not playing as many notes while tuning.
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#624900 - 04/05/04 02:52 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
I use the SAT-III.
I think what Bob was implying by an ETD speading-up the "string setting" is because not only does your ear locate the problems, but your eyes also can now play a part in observing string movement.

I seem never to spend less than 1 hour for a tuning (ranging from 60-90 minutes) and another 25 for a PR. I tend to only schedule 1-2 pianos per day and reserve 1-2 hours a-peice for regulation and voicing. This to me, is much more rewarding then 4-5 tunings.
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Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#624901 - 04/05/04 10:18 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
donluis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/03
Posts: 92
Loc: guayaquil ecuador
repair...rebuild...etc...for my is very import, and I very happy when I listen, when I look..the piano for my repair..for my tunning...ˇ..then I am a piano technician...I tunned by ear only...but I am I piano tunner too...I think the piano technician is other profession, very different to the piano tunner...ˇˇˇor no?

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#624902 - 04/06/04 01:51 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
I simply cannot believe that a piano will vary by an entire semitone due to humidity. It is far more likely that the calibration of an ETD would be off. I have tuned relatives' piano on the East Coast, and they haven't gone out that much, even with a year or two and a change of seasons between tunings.

The last time I tuned four pianos in a day, I could barely move for a couple of days afterwards. Three is my limit.
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Semipro Tech

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#624903 - 04/06/04 08:08 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
BDB said: "I simply cannot believe that a piano will vary by an entire semitone due to humidity"

Our humidity in Chicago changes more than on either coast of the USA. Some years are worse than others, depending on the weather. Some pianos, especially school pianos will be 50 cents sharp in late August due to high humidity and lack of summer air conditioning and 50 cents flat in February due to low humidity, and steam radiator overheating. At one college, the grand pianos have 3/16" soundboard cracks in winter. These close up in summer. A hot, sticky summer followed by a very cold winter is the culprit.
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#624904 - 04/06/04 10:09 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1677
Loc: Chicagoland
"I simply cannot believe that a piano will vary by an entire semitone due to humidity. It is far more likely that the calibration of an ETD would be off"

Yikes! What ETD in use today varies by even 1/10th of that amount? Even the cheapo needle tuners don't shift by any appreciable amount. They may be set wrong from the factory, but that's another story... (tuning forks, however...)

50 cents may be on the extreme side, but 25-30 cents is common. Less in the bass, and more in the low tenor. (Another Chicagoland vote)

I've used quite a selection of machines over the years, currently the Verituner. However, that being said, I've always used the machines for one string and then set the unisons by ear. I never thought that someone would set all the strings by machine, but I recently met someone who did. Two hour tuning minimum...

Even though I trust my Verituner, on "tough" pianos I still will check the octaves going down into the tenor break. On very few instruments, I've made some adjustments. You may know some of those instruments with wound strings creeeeping up into the temperament octave...

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

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


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#624905 - 04/06/04 12:37 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
(tuning forks, however...)
Mine came from Chicago! It's a fine old Deagan. You can't get anything half as good today. Still, I do check it against other forks I have.

I was talking to Bobby Hutcherson about Deagan the other day. He visited there many years ago. He said that the guy who tuned the tone bars for vibraphones. He worked in a basement room three stories underground. After getting the bar to pitch, he would work on the harmonics. Each bar would take many days to tune. All done by ear, of course, since the tuner was blind.
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Semipro Tech

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#624906 - 04/06/04 09:31 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3322
Loc: Madison, WI USA
To comment on the many thoughts being brought up in this thread:

I've been tuning for 35 years and tuned for over 20 of them entirely by ear. When I first got my Accu-Tuner II (which I am still using) in 1991, I found it to be terribly cumbersome. I kept thinking to myself that I could do it "faster, better and cheaper" by ear and for about two years, that was true.

Eventually, I did learn to use it to my advantage and although it does help get an ordinary tuning on an ordinary piano done more quickly, I still consider the main benefit to be the reduction of overall stress.

Tuning qualities: Not all pianos are created equally and so the attention paid to each one depending on the circumstances can't be expected to be the same either. I normally tune and service 4 pianos a day and I think many people who are professionals do too. However, there are many factors: extended service on any given instrument, long distances between customers, weather, amount of demand during peak or slow season.

Recently, I tuned 10 pianos in one day for a solo & ensemble event at a high school. I started at 9 am and was done just before 5 PM and took about 45 minutes for lunch. They were all on the high school auditorium stage and the stage hands opened them up and put them back together for me. I showed them how to do minor repairs and adjustments while I kept hammering away. The following day, I tuned 4 more and took the boys out to lunch and took off early on that Friday and for the rest of the weekend. It was hard, yes but the Accu-Tuner, ear plugs and stopping occasionally to stretch and massage my arm made it possible and tolerable. I wouldn't want to do that very often.

I may also on another given day, spend the entire day preparing a piano for a concert. Even if all I have to do is tuning (which is rarely the case), I could still spend 8 hours getting a tuning as close to perfection as I know it can be and also be stable. When I use my Accu-Tuner, I never use it's calculated tuning program, the FAC. I prefer to use the Accu-Tuner to measure and store what I determine to be my goal by ear. So, essentially, my tunings are still aurally determined but the Accu-Tuner helps manage a difficult job. One analogy might be that of an accountant who uses a calculator. The accountant can add, subtract, multiply and divide but the electronic device helps manage and store a large amount of data.

Stupefying pitch volatility: I live about 150 miles from Chicago on an isthmus between two lakes. While plus or minus 50 cents is about as bad as I've seen, unprotected pianos do go drastically out of tune in this climate, from one extreme to the other. Pianos with climate control or under other well managed conditions do much better.

The school pianos are the most frustrating. You just know the poor kids hardly ever hear a piano that's really in tune at standard pitch but there are a few exceptions and they are remarkable: well placed pianos that have humidity control that is kept operating and properly serviced. Those pianos have a professional quality sound at all times. Mny of the others have the cracks that you can see through in winter and which close in summer. They make me ask myself, "Why am I even doing this?"

For the 26 years I have been tuning in the upper midwest, I have routinely accepted the fact that I will always have to tune each piano at least twice. When I go back to Los Angeles where I grew up, I wonder how people can make a living tuning where the conditions are so mild? The last time I tuned my brother's piano (which does have humidity control) in Huntington Beach, it had been 4 years since it was previously tuned and took all of 15 minutes to get it done. It just hardly needed any adjustment at all. My sister's Kimball Studio on the southern end of Los Angeles, the piano we all grew up with and which I first learned to tune on has no humidity control but it is in an interior room, away from sun and drafts and barely needs adjustment when I see it about every other year.

Yet here in the upper midwest, conditions are very volatile. The concert grand I have taken care of since 1992 at the community college theater *always* needs a pitch correction. I usually go in with the idea that I will have to tune it 3 times to get a tuning that is good enough for a concert and I know it will be good for only a day or two at best.

It's all relative to the circumstances.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#624907 - 04/07/04 08:07 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
Bill, great post. Well said.
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www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#624908 - 04/07/04 12:08 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
What a luxury to have an entire day to prepare for a concert! I usually have to do it while the lights and sound are being set up, often right after the movers have delivered it. The first time I got a CFIIIs, there was packing material still on it, so I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the previous time it was tuned was in Japan. But it was SO much better than the old CFIII!
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Semipro Tech

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#624909 - 04/07/04 08:21 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
Don Luis dice"--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
repair...rebuild...etc...for my is very import, and I very happy when I listen, when I look..the piano for my repair..for my tunning...ˇ..then I am a piano technician...I tunned by ear only...but I am I piano tunner too...I think the piano ..."

I know that in Latin America piano tuners and piano technicians are different occupations. Here in the USA It is required that a piano technician is also a piano tuner
_________________________
Maker of the TCHAMMER
www.thomasccobble.com

BUSY IS BETTER THAN BORED

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#624910 - 04/07/04 09:52 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
donluis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/03
Posts: 92
Loc: guayaquil ecuador
Thomas, the hand and the ear walk together in the piano tuning..this is very important. In my country don´t have a piano technician school, piano tuner and piano technician is one.

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#624911 - 04/07/04 10:43 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
As an example of Chicago humidity, I recently tuned a Yamaha studio, moved from the humid gym to a drier, small theater 2 days (they said) before tuning. The outside temp had been 60 F all week. The piano was 25 cents flat at tuning on Saturday (a smaller room is usually less humid than a large room and the outside temp had dropped 20 degrees.) On Sunday morning, the outside temp dropped another 25 degrees to 15 F. The call came in on Monday, "the piano is out of tune."

On Tuesday, I raised the piano another 15 cents. On Wednesday, the outside temp was back in the 60's with rain. The call came in again, "the piano is out of tune again, we are moving the stage Steinway into the room instead." On Friday, I raised the pitch on the stage Steinway 15 cents.

The hvac system in this college sucks all air from the outside. Humidity inside goes up and down like a yo yo. Cold dry is overheated, and the winter humidity is only about 8%. The roof top humidifier was disabled years ago because the stage curtains got mildew one summer. (I doubt if the humidifier was even on in the summer, but thats their excuse). So Pianos here are 50 cents sharp in August, and 50 cents flat in February.

Most schools are not quite this bad, but humidity changes definately keep us busy here in Chicago.
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#624912 - 04/09/04 10:05 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Eric Gloo_dup1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 43
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Here in central New York State, I find pianos to be much like the Chicago pianos I've read about in this thread - amazing pitch swings.

This morning's tuning is a good example. A 1909 Everett upright. I tuned it last October, had to lower the pitch. The woman called me 2 weeks ago, wondering why the bass had gone so far out of tune. When I arrived this morning, I was glad to find the bass had actually stayed fairly close to pitch. The rest, however, had dropped about 50 cents from A-440.

In October, the action was nice -- played well. Today, all I heard was click, click, click, rattle, rattle, rattle. Loose flange screws, some hammer heads coming unglued, too.

Piano sounded great when I left. I'm sure it will sound pretty bad by the middle of June, if not before.
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Eric Gloo
Piano Technician

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#624913 - 04/10/04 01:17 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Just a thought. If you tune by ear, do you end up with well temperament or equal temperament and how would you know?
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#624914 - 04/10/04 01:51 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
Most will end up with a reverse well temperament when tuning aurally.You can tell one from the other by their beat rates when setting the temperament.
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Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
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#624915 - 04/10/04 07:35 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
I just stick with equal temp myself. I'm satisfied if all the interval beats gradually increase in speed as you go up the scale. That wouldn't happen with a well temp. It is the sudden beat difference in well temp that makes some keys sound dark while others are more pleasant. I'm sure a "reverse well temp" wouldn't sound very pleasant.
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#624916 - 04/10/04 10:00 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
I tuned my piano the other day using a well temp. file from the verituner and using a custom stretch someone showed me from the VT user forum. It turned out remakable nice. Much better than all the ET tunings I've done on that piano. It started me thinking, do we really tune in ET or WT when tuning by ear? Are we really in the ET era or have we migriated back, or maybe never left WT? The WT sounded so much better to me.
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#624917 - 04/10/04 11:10 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
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Loc: North Carolina
The majority of people who play the piano are used to "some degree of ET." The degee of perfection of ET solely depends on the tuner who is doing the tuning. If I were to begin using WT or any of the other "designer" temperaments, the vast majority of people I tune for would know the difference, and not consider the piano in a good state of tuning. People who have advanced beyond the beginner level of playing readily know the difference in sound. In other words, they know when the ET tuning is correct, by the beating of the various intervals.

The question has been asked, how an aural tuner can properly tune using ET, implying that an ETD can only assure fine tuning using ET. Aural tuning takes years and practice on many many pianos to achieve. There are many aural tuners out there who have a very limited degree of knowledge and experience. On the other hand, there are ETD tuners who tune strictly by what the machine is reading and they fall almost as short of what the aural tuner is trying to achieve.

There is just no way around a properly trained and practiced ear when tuning pianos.

Going back to the above statement I made about WT and "designer" temperaments. Based on my experience, accomplished pianist who primarily play classical pieces, are far more likely to enjoy an alternate tuning temperament.
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#624918 - 04/10/04 11:29 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
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Loc: Madison, WI USA
This is the very first time I have ever seen anyone but myself acknowledge that commonly made errors when attempting ET often result in a backwards version of a well temperament, the so-called reverse well. I've been saying it publicly for years and there is an article about it on my website, (http://www.billbremmer.com/ReverseWell.html), so the idea must be slowly taking hold. It will be part of my series of articles for the PTG Journal but will probably not appear until sometime next year.

The answer to the question about how aural tuning ends up depends on the skill and the scrutiny given by the tuner. There is a lot of debate about when true equal temperament came into practice. Some people want to believe it was 200 or more years ago. I personally believe that most aural tuners and even some electronic tuning device users are still struggling with it.

A true and perfect equal temperament produces no "colors" or effects. Each key or tonality is exactly analogous to the other. Whether many people truly achieve this kind of complete neutrality or not, I would be the first to acknowledge that it has long been the *goal*. But failing that goal, even by just a little, one inadvertently introduces effects into a tuning. If these effects run roughly opposite to what a well temperament has, it will surely make for a really bad sounding tuning.

That is to say, if a mild well temperament seems to make the piano sound "better" or "warmer", somehow more interesting and musical, unintended errors which produce the opposite kinds of effects will produce a tuning which really does sound sour, chaotic and off key, no matter what is played on it.

There has been a rebirth of interest during the last 20 years of alternative ways to tune and temper the piano. Once true perfection of equal temperament has been possible through both advanced aural tuning techniques and electronic tuning devices, people have begun to look beyond that goal and have questioned whether it is really the ultimate and best compromise for the piano. Many people are still under the impression that a tuning must and should be equal temperament, otherwise it would inevitably be something completely unacceptable. Yet, at the same time, the either/or folks seem willing to grant a wide degree of tolerance.

It is within that range of tolerance that I began to work about 15 years ago. As strictly an aural tuner at the time, I had an "ear" for how far one could go before being "busted", so to speak. There are people who have an interest in tuning harpsichords and fortepianos in authentic, period temperaments and that is all well and good. But to tune a modern piano in an extreme 16th through early 18th Century temperament is to produce effects on that piano which would be intolerable for general use.

However, most music that is enjoyed today, no matter which century it comes from is tonal in nature. Composers of today seem to still choose a key to write in the same way they have for centuries. Choosing a temperament which is aligned with the cycle of 5ths as any well temperament is but which also does not deviate radically (more than a few cents on any given note of the midrange) will bring out a character from the piano and virtually all music which is played upon it which has largely been unknown, undiscovered and unheard of until very recently.

The fact that we can all communicate the way we are via the Internet, that we have organizations like PTG and forums like this one and in particular, scientists with no preconceived prejudice about such issues as ET vs. WT who have invented such marvelous electronic tuning devices has made this new area of interests possible and exploitable.

Recently, I found this post in the Pianotech archives:

"At the risk of stirring up the recent food fight, I would like to recommend that folks interested in the topic could download the Verituner manual and read chapter 8 (pp. 83-117), for further information on unequal temperaments."

I read the Verituner manual pages on the use of unequal temperaments and found it to be the most fascinating, up to date, nonjudgmental offering of alternatives the *default* tuning known as equal temperament I have ever read anywhere. Now, everyone knows that unless you know what you're doing, you should use the default settings. You can't go wrong, it has been provided for you by people who know much more than you do.

But that alone should create a distinction between people of differing sets of interests and ambition. There will be those who will just use what has been provided, just the usual, keep it simple, don't take any risks. The same possibility for alternatives will spark the interest of those who are more curious and who have more ambitious goals. There will be those who, knowing of other possibilities and having heard of other's enthusiasm about what they've discovered and heard, will want to try these ideas to experience them for themselves.

It's all up to you as an individual.
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Bill Bremmer RPT
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#624919 - 04/10/04 11:31 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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That hyperlink to ther Verituner manual didn't come through in my last post. Here it is in black & white:

http://www.verituneinc.com/veritune.asp?id=33
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#624920 - 04/10/04 11:40 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
curry Offline
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Bill,you showed me the light years ago.No more reverse well. \:\)
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#624921 - 04/10/04 01:56 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Bill,

Which stretch would you suggest using with your EBVT temperament in the verituner? Probably an impossible question to answer without konwing the piano, but if you had to pick one of the three (clean average, expanded) for a Steinway B, which would it be? For now I've been using a modified stretch by Ron Koval and the Broadwood Best temperament.
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#624922 - 04/11/04 02:02 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
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Loc: Madison, WI USA
Since I use a different method entirely to determine stretch, it is hard to say but the closest would probably be the expanded, especially with a Steinway B. Be open to other choices under different circumstances though.
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#624923 - 04/11/04 01:56 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3322
Loc: Madison, WI USA
I'll be very much interested to find out what differences you perceive between the EBVT and the Best Broadwood temperament. They are both Victorian style temperaments but there are substantial differences. The word "best" merely means that it is "milder" or closer to equal temperament than the "usual" Broadwood.

There are two features about the EBVT which I consider to be important: it is the very mildest well temperament I know of that still has 5 pure 5ths. It also has a much higher incidence of equal and proportionately beating intervals than does the Best Broadwood. These conspire to make the harmonies in the simple keys (those with no or few sharps or flats) sound much closer to pure than they really are. This savings avoids harshness which would otherwise be intolerable in the complex keys.

Please let us all know how you perceive various kinds of music to be affected, especially ET vs. EBVT and EBVT vs. Best Broadwood.
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#624924 - 04/11/04 03:50 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Bremmer RPT:
Please let us all know how you perceive various kinds of music to be affected, especially ET vs. EBVT and EBVT vs. Best Broadwood. [/b]
I sure will Bill. I'll probably retune the piano tomorrow and use the same custom stretch as I do for the Broadwood Best so I get a good comparison. The stretch I use is called the K3a and can be found in the verituner user forum by another poster. I can tell you right now, I'll never tune to a strict ET again. The upper register intervals beat too fast and the treble and bass are stretched far too much for my liking. I can see now that many good aural tuners never really tune in ET but rather some form of WT. Now that we have very sophisticated machines that measure pitches so accurately, that becomes very clear. The best aural tuners should store their best tunings in an EDT for all of us to use.
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#624925 - 04/11/04 05:02 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
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Loc: Madison, WI USA
I tried to access the Verituner user forum but it only allows Verituner owners. I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I am one but I am not, at least not yet. However, the more I see and hear about it, the more I am leaning in that direction. The inventor was flattering to me in requesting to place the EBVT in its program. It does seem to be the most versatile device on the market.

I have some more temperaments in the works which can only be done with an ETD. However, I have tried first to present ideas which could be done surely and accurately by ear. The Best Broadwood really can't be. Neither can the Coleman temperaments. The possibilities are infinite when an ETD is used. Many combinations of ideas are possible.

Could you please describe the kind of stretch you use so all of us here may be informed?
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#624926 - 04/11/04 07:55 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Bill,

Here's the custom stretch I got from the VT user forum. The Verituner has a setup page under the "style" menu to program the VT which partials to listen for and at which point on the piano to switch to a different set of partial samplings. You can also give multiple set of partials and assign them a percentage of importance. I also set for 0.0% beat rate for the octaves. The default in the VT is 0.33% beats. That's what one would get if you used one of the default stretches (clean, average or expanded). Well, here's the seguence for stretch K3a, all beat rates are set to zero:

A0
10:5 60%
6:3 20%
8:1 20%

A1
6:3 40%
4:1 30%
8:4 30%

A3
4:2 60%
6:3 40%

A4
4:2 60%
6:3 40%

A5
4:1 60%
4:2 20%
3:1 20%

A6
4:1 60%
4:2 20%
3:1 20%

C8
2:1 80%
4:1 20%


Hope that's clear. I did my best with my limited knowledge.
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#624927 - 04/12/04 11:42 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Bremmer RPT:
Please let us all know how you perceive various kinds of music to be affected, especially ET vs. EBVT and EBVT vs. Best Broadwood. [/b]
Well Bill, I tuned my piano to your file using the stretch I posted above. The perfect intervals are pure throughout the piano and the double and triple octaves are perfectly in tune. It's the best the piano has ever sounded. The Broadwood Best is very good too, with less stretch in the bass and more stretch in the treble, but your's is a more conservative WT tuning, maybe closer to ET than the Broadwood, but much better than ET. At least on my piano, ET sounds noisy in the upper treble. It's a S&S B which has a little bit of a noisy front duplex, but a WT tuning suits it much better than ET. I'll be using your tuning file for now on.
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#624928 - 04/13/04 06:53 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3322
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Wow! I couldn't have paid for better advertising! When you get the time, you may want to read about how I developed the EBVT, the story is on my website, "The Origins of the EBVT". I find it curious that you perceive the EBVT to be milder than the Best Broadwood because clinically, it is stronger. According to Jason Kanter, the range in sizes of Major 3rds of the Best Broadwood is from 6.7 to 17.7. The EBVT ranges 7.9 to 18.8. (In ET, all M3rds are 13.6 cents wide of just intonation).

I can see however that the Best Broadwood C4-E4 M3rd beats at about 4 beats per second and mine beats at 6. When you play a broad C Major chord, however, do you hear that fast, 6 beats per second somehow get "swallowed"? When played as a broad chord, C Major seems to have the quiet stillness of a much stronger temperament such as a 5th Comma Meantone.

I'll bet that the EBVT simply sounds "smoother" than the Best Broadwood. It is the usual way that I tune the piano for virtually all kinds of music. Only when there is a special request for a specific temperament do I use something else. There is a classical music recording using the EBVT now in the works. I have no idea, however ho soon it will be on the market.
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#624929 - 04/13/04 09:45 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
RonTuner Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1677
Loc: Chicagoland
Hi Ralph,

Congratulations! Nice sound, isn't it? Those are my stretch numbers, maybe tweaked a little by Jon Page... The Verituner has that ability, to bring out the resonence in your piano, by matching up the octaves in a pleasing manner.

What you are hearing is the careful manipulation of the beat ratios between two intervals sounding at the same time. (The major third and minor third in a triad) This effect is haphazard in many of the historical temperaments, but Bill seems to have found an aural path to this effect. While we've been looking at width of major thirds for quite a while, only recently have a few of us been charting more information on beat ratios. Check out Bob Wendell's syncronous, for full beat syncronicity. Paul Bailey has a few full-strenght options that he uses to rave reviews. My KV series uses the effect in the remote keys to reduce the dissonence normally found there.

Ron Koval
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#624930 - 04/13/04 10:08 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Clically your EBVT is stronger if you go by the numbers. The Best Broadwood seems to "compress" several more intervals than EBVT , which perhaps more stretch in the bass and less in the treble. The result, however, is the opposite. EBVT produces and better and more pleasing, even sound throughout the keyboard. All pianos are different. On mine, the F2 has always been a problem. I have a hard time getting it in tune the F4 and F5. It just sort of fell in place with the EBVT. With the BB and ET, it was too sharp. I always had to correct aurally. The BB puts the C's, F's , and I think the G's sharp by 4-5 cents. That pulled the exteme ends of the scale toward the middle resulting in less stretch in the bass, but also a less conservative or universal sound. That's what I meant by "EBVT beinging more conservative". In other words, it's more useful for a wider range of repertoire.

If one is playing music which stays pretty much in the middle of the keyboard, the BB works extremely well. For later works, the bass just isn't stretch quite enough and the treble is pushed up a bit to compensate, but that can get a little sharp sounding. It also depends on the instrument and the environment of the instrument. In a concert hall, the BB with the sharp treble (C's, F's and G's) could just sound clear and project. In a home, it could be very annoying after awhile.
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#624931 - 04/13/04 10:26 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
RonTuner Offline
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Now wait just a minute....

Using the Verituner, altering the temperament won't alter the stretch at all. So any temperament used, using the same stye, (K3a) will put the F's in the same relative position to each other. Did you change styles as well between tunings? The octave matching from end to end is a result of custom style development, not custom temperaments.

Ron Koval
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#624932 - 04/13/04 11:51 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
I'll have to doulbe check what I did. I may have picked the expanded default stretch instead of the K3a. I can't really remember, now that I think about it.

I think you're right about what you're saying. The relationships between the same notes in different octaves should remain constant regardless of the tuning file used as long as the same style or stretch in selected. I suppose the intervals WITHIN an octave are changed depending on the tunung file. Is that about right?
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#624933 - 04/13/04 06:32 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Ron,

I see your temperament (KV 2.0) is close to ET. The thirds vary from 10.9 to 16.0. I'd call that conservative at least on paper. I have not tried it yet. Do you have any favorite stretchs for a S&S B? Any new temperaments coming out?

The Broadwood B is in fact rather radical by ET standards althought it did not sound that way to me. It's possibly due to the fact that I"m playing Beethoven's 1st sonata and a bunch of bach inventions and partitas. Of course the Beethoven is in F minor with areas in Ab and Db. Still sounded pretty good. Other repertoire may sound different.

Bill, how would you place your EBVT in terms of radical departure from ET as compared to the above two examples?


Ron again,

I posted a question for you in the VT user forum. Sorry, I forgot.
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#624934 - 04/13/04 11:28 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
I butchered my earlier post three posts up. The second sentence makes no sense and is flat out wrong. I'm not sure what I was trying to say.

This I know I'm right about, the K3a stretch works great with the EBVT.
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#624935 - 04/14/04 04:35 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3322
Loc: Madison, WI USA
The EBVT is not designed to be or sound *radically* different. In fact, most people including technicians don't really notice that a piano tuned in the EBVT is "different", they just notice how good the piano sounds.

It is designed to be as mild of a well temperament as it can be, preserving the charachter, effects or "colors" of each of the 24 major and minor keys and yet be compatible with other fixed pitch instruments, be useful for all kinds of music as ET is supposed to be.

It was designed in 1992 and since that time, I have seen that it is possible to make a milder Victorian and also to make Quasi Equal Temperaments but I still rely on the EBVT to produce the kind of sound that I consider to be ideal under most circumstances.
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Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
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#624936 - 04/14/04 01:39 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
I agree with what you're saying. If does sound better, but I would not be able to tell the piano wasn't tuned in ET if I didn't know. The Best Broadwood is very good too. Different than EBVT, but I'm still not sure how. It will take some time since I'm not willing to retune the entire piano every other day. Right now I've got it tuned to your file and I'll tweak it here and there to keep it in tune. It has also been raining for 4 straight days and the humidity in my room has gone from 28% to 45%. The piano keeps going sharp, but mainly the right string unison. The left string of the upper tenor and treble holds the pitch, but the right will go sharp. The middle one moves just a hair. The lower tenor section and bass are pretty stable. Strange. Anyway, I have to clean it up almost everyday right now. It's hard to compare tuning files if the unisons aren't right.
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#624937 - 04/14/04 09:25 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3322
Loc: Madison, WI USA
A Dampp-Chaser system would help. I've got one on mine and my piano never sounds bad. You bring up one of the greatest impediments to the study of the effects of different temperaments. You can't ever conduct a truly scientifically controlled study. You experiences will almost always be anecdotal.

But I'd surely like to put my idea up against the Best Broadwood and other popular mild Victorian style temperaments like the Moore and Coleman 11 (and/or 16) in a contest like we had back in 1998. I still think I could win it hands down with the way I temper and the way I stretch the octaves. I literally tune the piano to itself.
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#624938 - 04/15/04 02:12 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Bill,

Exactly how do you stretch the octaves? I know it depends on the piano, but do you have a formula that can be input into the VT or other ETD that measures inharmonicity?

I looked up the offset for the EBVT in the VT and saw the range of major 3rds in cents. The Best Broadwood looks a little less severe to me, but works out to a sharper tuning than EBVT especially in the low tenor and bass. Am I missing something?
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#624939 - 04/15/04 07:58 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3322
Loc: Madison, WI USA
I make an equal beating compromise between the octave and 5th and when I have tuned enough notes, an equal beating compromise between the double octave and octave and 5th. If I want maximum stretch, I favor a pure 5th and octave and 5th and allow the octave and double octaves to have a slight beat. It's really very simple but all of the ETD's calculate the octaves on an entirely different basis.

That is one of the reasons why I don't use my Accutuner's FAC program. I can use the Accutuner in the program mode and make whatever compromise I want. Now, I think Ron Koval understands what I do and I don't really understand his method of making custom stretch with the Verituner. Maybe he can explain.

I wrote an article long ago called "How to Tune *Tempered* Octaves. It is posted on my website. Here is the link if it will come thru:

http://www.billbremmer.com/TemperedOctaves.htm
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#624940 - 04/15/04 09:57 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
RonTuner Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1677
Loc: Chicagoland
Ralph, make sure to compare apples to apples. I think you may have gotten the temperament adjustment, and the style adjustment mixed up during tuning, somehow. Changing a temperament should not effect the amount of stretch set on your piano. You've gotten some good advice on adjusting styles in the Verituner, both here, and on the VT forum. Now you need to just tune and listen, listen, listen to work on matching the machine to your preferences.

When dealing with very mild temperaments, or equal temperaments, it is possible to use the machines to come up with pleasing matching of the octaves and octave + 5ths, as Bill does.

(Think about this part) As you move on to stronger temperaments, the beating of the fifth will influence the width of the octave. The width of octaves will vary on notes close to each other. (tempered octaves)

You will not find a machine that will be able to calculate and set this up for you.... yet.

Machines and aural tuners approach alternate temperament tuning from opposite directions. An aural tuner will work AWAY from a pure interval. That is, find the place where the interval is pure, and then alter it to get the required effect. A machine divides. (they're just fancy calculators...) Give it the width of an octave, and it will split it up into equal temperament. (way oversimplified, here) Once it has that figured out, it then uses offset numbers to get to the requested alternate temperament. Your finished tuning will match the piano only as well as the machine is capable of matching the piano, if you are totally relying on the machine. That's why I continue to recommend the Verituner. For me, it comes down to the quality of the measuring and calculating.

Ron Koval
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my piano videos:
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#624941 - 04/15/04 11:02 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
fratheni Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/04
Posts: 8
Loc: salzburg
Congratulation for all these comments. The probleme is only, the most artists cannot hear the different.
First, for nearly each concert, I have to change the piano pitch. Second, in summer, in winter, you come with your tuning fork in the hall, and where is your tuning-fork-pitch?
So I bought my first "machine".

Franz Nistl
Austria

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#624942 - 04/15/04 11:35 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
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I used to worry about the pitch of my fork, so I bought another one to compare it with. I use steel forks, and they have little variation from time to time, so I am confident that most artists cannot hear any difference. I used to get asked to tune to an organ, which required a big pitch change from season to season, but most organs now are either air conditioned or have constantly heated pipe chambers.

The problem is finding a decent fork. I am fortunate to have bought a heavy steel Deagan early in my career. I guard it constantly. I recently bought the English equivalent, and it is not nearly as good. The harmonics are very prominent on it, making it unpleasant to use.

I was talking to Bobby Hutcherson about Deagan a couple of times recently. He said that many years ago he visited Deagan and saw vibraphone tone bars being tuned. It was done by a blind guy in a room three floors underground. First he would tune the bar to pitch, and then tune its harmonics. Each bar would take a couple of weeks.
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#624943 - 04/15/04 05:07 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Robert Scott Offline
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Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 287
Loc: Minnesota
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
I used to worry about the pitch of my fork, so I bought another one to compare it with. I use steel forks, and they have little variation from time to time, so I am confident that most artists cannot hear any difference...[/b]
The big problem with forks is temperature. My tests show that a steel fork varies about 1 cent for every 7 or 8 degrees F change. If you want half-cent stability then you must maintain 4 degree temperature consistency. Some tuners keep their fork in a shirt pocket so that their body temperature stabilizes the fork.

As for absolute accuracy, even the cheapest fork can be trimmed to absolute accuracy, as shown on my website:

http://www.tunelab-world.com/calforks.html

Robert Scott
Real-Time Specialties
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Robert Scott
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#624944 - 04/15/04 05:32 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
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Loc: North Carolina
Robert, super information. Thanks for joining us and welcome.

Regards,
Ron
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#624945 - 04/15/04 06:26 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
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Just out of curiousity, how much do ETDs vary according to temperature, or any other factors?

I'm actually not interested in half-cent stability. No musical instrument maintains pitch to that sort of accuracy. The difference is not audible within a reasonable amount of time. There are too many people who say that they want to spend less than 10 seconds per string tuning a piano, but worry that the tuning might be off by one beat in 10 seconds. That doesn't make any sense.

Even when I'm tuning to Bobby's vibraphone, it's not a big deal. After all, the vibraphone gets its name because the pitch varies. If I'm reasonably within the range, it's fine.
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#624946 - 04/15/04 11:14 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Robert Scott Offline
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Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 287
Loc: Minnesota
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
Just out of curiousity, how much do ETDs vary according to temperature, or any other factors?
All major ETDs are accurate to better than 0.1 cents over the full operating temperature range. That is because they are based on quartz crystal oscillators. Notice that even a cheap digital wristwatch is accurate to 2 minutes per month. That works out to one part in 21600, or .08 cents. Even the motor in the Peterson is locked to a quartz reference. But accuracy is good only if the intended pitch is really proper for the particular piano being tuned. That's where ETDs differ - in how the arrive at their intended pitch.

 Quote:
I'm actually not interested in half-cent stability. No musical instrument maintains pitch to that sort of accuracy.
Pianos do. A .5 cent error in tuning the octave A4-A5 can mean the difference between a beatless octave and an octave that beats once every 2 seconds. I agree that by pitch perception alone, people cannot hear a .5 cent difference. But they will certainly hear the beats.

Robert Scott
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#624947 - 04/16/04 12:19 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
Pianos do. A .5 cent error in tuning the octave A4-A5 can mean the difference between a beatless octave and an octave that beats once every 2 seconds. I agree that by pitch perception alone, people cannot hear a .5 cent difference. But they will certainly hear the beats.
Would you explain this? A .5 cent positive error at A5 (440 hz), 440 + .5 cent, is 440.127095336, according to my computer. That's about one beat every 8 seconds. Where did you get your numbers?

(If there is .5% inharmonicity in A-220, then the interval would be beatless anyway.)
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#624948 - 04/16/04 12:22 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
fratheni Offline
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Registered: 01/09/04
Posts: 8
Loc: salzburg
Look around in the orchestras, there are so many players with electronic tuners. They all come to check the piano and they look, not hear, if it is in tune.
The tuning is very important, but sorry, you make your job good, or not. I'd never problems with the tuning. It's easy to tune a perfect piano, but in other cases, you fight with one string.

Franz Nistl

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#624949 - 04/16/04 07:46 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Robert Scott Offline
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Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 287
Loc: Minnesota
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
A .5 cent positive error at A5 (440 hz), 440 + .5 cent, is 440.127095336, according to my computer. That's about one beat every 8 seconds. Where did you get your numbers?
Oops! You are right. What I should have said was that the octave A4-A5 can beat at 880 Hz and at 1760 Hz, depending on whether you are listening for the 2:1 octave or the 4:2 octave. If you are listening at 1760, then a .5 cent error would be one beat every 2 seconds.

Robert Scott
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#624950 - 04/16/04 03:21 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21916
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
Oops! You are right. What I should have said was that the octave A4-A5 can beat at 880 Hz and at 1760 Hz, depending on whether you are listening for the 2:1 octave or the 4:2 octave. If you are listening at 1760, then a .5 cent error would be one beat every 2 seconds.
The 1:2 octave of A4-A5 is 440 Hz. 880 is 2:4 and 1760 is 4:8. Errors in the higher higher harmonics tend to be masked by the more prominent lower ones.

But dragging me to do the math confirms for me is that these tolerances are well within what can be attained by ear. After all, tuning a major third operates at these harmonic levels
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#624951 - 04/18/04 03:46 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
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And to think, I do all of the above by ear, and my customers love it.
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#624952 - 04/18/04 04:26 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
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Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Bob wrote:

"And to think, I do all of the above by ear, and my customers love it."

Amen Brother (but I believe the word today is "Bro"), keeping preachin' it.

But if this forum is an indication, we aural guys are a dying breed.

Ron
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#624953 - 04/18/04 06:39 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
 Quote:
Originally posted by rjalex:
Bob wrote:

"And to think, I do all of the above by ear, and my customers love it."

Amen Brother (but I believe the word today is "Bro"), keeping preachin' it.

But if this forum is an indication, we aural guys are a dying breed.

Ron [/b]
No you're not. EDT's are here to stay no doubt, but they don't replace the ear. A person that knows little or nothing about tuning could do a passable job at best with an EDT alone, but an EDT in the hands of a skilled tuner will yield markedly different results.

I don't think pilots that fly their planes with the help of instruments are any less of a pilot than those that used to use no instruments at all. You can't fight progress so learn to use it to your advantage. A good tuner will always be a good tuner even if he/she uses an EDT. I don't think it should be looked upon as a sign of weakness.
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#624954 - 04/18/04 08:48 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ron Alexander Offline
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Registered: 06/17/03
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Loc: North Carolina
Ralph, I'm not calling you or anyone else who uses an ETD any less of a tuner. I completely agree with you that ETD's are here to stay, and in many ways that is a positive. In my comments here and in other threads I have never and would never imply that ETD's are a sign of weakness in a tuner's ability.

However in this thread and in others, some have implied or overtly stated that a finely tuned piano cannot be accomplished without the aid of an ETD. I and I believe Bob would strongly take issue that that implication. I choose to not use an ETD strictly by choice, and my customers love what I do. And no, I do not just tune for the "back-woods, tone deaf," in fact I tune for some very fine, formal music education types who do know the diffence between a "tuning" and a piano tuning.

My desire to tune without an ETD is not merely a decision based upon distaste for modern technology. I have spent many years developing my skills as an aural tuner. I love what I do, and based upon feedback, referrals, etc from my customers I am very good at it.

No offense to anyone intended.

Ron
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#624955 - 04/18/04 11:08 PM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
 Quote:
Originally posted by rjalex:
Ralph, I'm not calling you or anyone else who uses an ETD any less of a tuner.


No offense to anyone intended.

Ron [/b]
And none was taken. I probably did a poor job in expressing my ideas. I did not mean to sound like I thought you were diminishing anyone for using an EDT. My post was meant to be a general comment on the old aural vs EDT debate and also to challange your comment that you are a dying bread. Eventually, I believe everyone will be using an EDT. The best aural tuners today will remain the best tuners even if they use an EDT. It's a skill that requires patients, sensitivity and the desire to do good work. I certainly hope those are not dying qualities. EDT's are wonderful tools. They store tuning files that can be shared and improved. They have helped me tremendously to understand how to tune and what to listen for, and that's the key. Listening is still, and always will be necessary to be a good tuner. So will pride in a job well done.
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#624956 - 04/19/04 09:43 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Bob Offline
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Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3895
I advertise I tune by ear, which separates me from my competition, but I NEVER say to anyone that tuning by ear is better. The truth is, most customers probably couldn't tell the difference between an electronic tuning and aural. And if the customer can't tell, does it really matter? There are times when I wish I was using aN ETD.
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#624957 - 04/19/04 10:41 AM Re: Do you tune by ear or machine?
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
An EDT might make someone more efficient. The decision to use one will come down to economincs. If you can be even 25% faster and still do a good job, That means more income and less stress to get a good tune onto a piano. I still think eventually the EDT will be part of a tuner's tools just like a tuner hammer. The issue of listening still remains. Just because a tuner uses an EDT doesn't mean he can stop listening. EDTs make it possible to tweak things in such small amounts that listening becomes all that more important.
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