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#631716 - 02/19/05 08:55 AM Going electronic from ear tuning
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
A couple techs here have mentioned they would like me to post my experiences learning electronic tuning after being an ear tuner so long.

I'll just relate some experiences and they may be disjointed- I'm not really trying to reach a conclusion. Just take from it whatever info may be of value.

To refresh- I've been tuning by ear for 30 years but just acquired a Veri-Tuner. I'm not intending to "switch" but rather add electronic tuning to my repertoire.

A few observations, in no particular order:

1. Electronic Tuning (ET) is HARD for a beginner. I feel much like I did when I first started to tune by ear. It is taking me about 2 hours +. There are a couple reasons for this. First of all, I don't really have the hand-eye coordination yet, as my mind wants to go into hand-ear mode. And it's a disjointed feeling not to use my usual tuning checks (at least until the job is fini). Secondly, without the aural reference of the note I would normally compare the note being tuned to, I don't have the muscle-intuition of how far I should move the pin. My tendency is to want to nudge-nudge to hit the visual target rather than just making a quick move like I would by ear. And with very tight pins (about 80% of what I encounter these days) , the nudge-nudge is a real pain in terms of time consumption.

Also, I think I am trying to match the accuracy of the machine itself and hit targets dead-on within 1/10ths of a cent, but in fact it is really not realistic to try and get a high treble note within 10ths of a cent. I think I need to learn how to allow a little more 'slop'.

2. The machine really couldn't handle high treble and low bass at all. That still had to be done by ear, and I don't see how someone can properly accomplish a good tuning with these devices without ear tuning skills. But it's kind of disappointing because one of my primary reasons for getting the device was for tuning in very noisy situations (group tunings, etc) but it looks like I'll still need my ear for what was already requiring more silence than the other registers.

3. I would judge the end result to be very good, equal to my most concentrated ear efforts. However I did feel the need to retweak several notes in the mid bass by ear for a more focused sound. But it was not much extra work to do it. I will learn how to customize my settings so the machine does it the same way.

4. The pitch raise function was not the huge miracle everyone promised. It turns out the machine does it the same way I was already doing it by ear, and the end result is very nearly the same. However, for someone who does not have the overpull skills by ear, it probably gives a big improvement in results.

That's about it for now. I've only done a few pianos with it. We'll see how things progress with experience.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#631717 - 02/19/05 12:07 PM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Rick Clark said: "2. The machine really couldn't handle high treble and low bass at all. "

Rick: as a die hard VT user, I think you may change your mind once you ask the VT to recalculate the tuning, especially on "difficult" pianos after the third or fourth tuning (assuming you keep that piano in memory).

I agree with the 2+ hours comment. I first thought I had made a big mistake by buying the VT because it slowed me down so much. But once I got through the learning curve, it actually shaved time off.

I have sent it back for service twice (great turnaround time, BTW) and had to go back to my SAT. What a difference, the VT just makes life so much easier.
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#631718 - 02/19/05 01:48 PM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Sam,

Thanks for the info. It's so new to me and time is so limited with so much to do, I actually haven't read much of the manual yet. ((shame))

I was basing what I said about the bass and treble on the fact that the machine just seemed to "give up" in those regions and not give me a coherent display. Perhaps as I read more I will understand how to deal with it.

However when I need the machine most I won't have the option of it being my third or fourth tuning of the same piano. It will be pianos just uncrated, with 4 other tuners working at the same time in the same room, and running forklifts 3 feet from my ear. I have been machoing out this situation for a couple years and doing it by ear, but this year the noise levels just exceeded my capacity to cope. This was my main reason to get the machine. So I hope it will be workable in the low bass and high treble in these circumstances. Not only do I need the machine to handle it, but I need to be able to put in earplugs as well.

Thanks again for your contribution.

Regards,
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#631719 - 02/19/05 08:11 PM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Rick, You will see in the manual ((shame)) that there are different sensitivity settings for different background noise levels. I havent had the pleasure (?) of tuning in the conditions you describe, but would encourage you to play with those settings. Also once you save a particular tuning (say a C7) in memory, and recalculate, you can get it VERY close for any C7. If those crated pianos are the same model, the VT will nail the tunings for you in short order.

Also, Dave Carpenter, the VT inventor, was absolutely terrific when it came to advice and tips. Never seemed annoyed or bothered by my questions, some of which were answered in his manual ((shame)). If you haven't yet, log on to the website and read the bulletin boards.

If all else fails, I'll buy it!

Sam (no ties to VT!!) Lewis
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#631720 - 02/20/05 07:35 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
velopresto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
Rick,

I don't use a VT, but I began to use Tunelab after years of aural tuning. Yes, it took awhile, and 3 years later, I'm still learning how to use the machine. I've become a hybrid tuner, always checking aural vs. visual.

The REAL value of it for me is speeding up pitch raises, and helping me set temperaments when I'm on a tight schedule...allowing me to where earplugs when dealing with excessive noise.

I hear from many, many users that Verituner does an amazing job, and that they'd never go back to strictly aural tuning.

Happy tuning!
_________________________
Dave Stahl
Dave Stahl Piano Service
Santa Clara, CA
Serving most of the greater SF Bay Area
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#631721 - 02/20/05 08:09 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
Piano Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/01/03
Posts: 400
Loc: Southern Ontario,Canada
Hi
I have no experiance with VT or Tune Lab. I use a the Sanderson FAC Accutuner. I combine aural and viual tuning. I find it very good, leaving behind a very nice tuning. Aural checks usually end up tweeking a note or two. Not sure if the note slipped or machine didnt set it right.
_________________________
Richard, the"Piano Guy"
Piano Moving Tuning & Repair
From London ON to Fort Erie ON

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#631722 - 02/20/05 08:51 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21904
Loc: Oakland
Have you tried a stethoscope?
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#631723 - 02/20/05 09:09 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
BDB,

Are you serious or was that a joke? No I haven't tried one, but now I'm wondering if it would work.

But if I did use one, I'd better change my handle from 'pianodoctor', yes?

Sam,

I was very impressed by how intelligently written Dave Carpenter's software is. I took a class from him on the Verituner, and I kept asking him questions about it that I suspected might not have designed into the software, but as it turned out he really did think of everything.

Regards,
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#631724 - 02/20/05 09:32 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21904
Loc: Oakland
I'm serious. I read that many years ago somewhere. Try a medical supply shop. Get a bell tip for it, rather than the diaphram tip which is more common these days. Use some of the stuff that you can get to hold things in place for earthquakes to hold it to the piano and keep your hand free.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#631725 - 02/20/05 09:44 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21904
Loc: Oakland
I should add that I have never used a stethoscope myself. When I need to shield myself from background noise, like a show at an outdoor plaza, I have the movers leave some of their blankets and drape it around me and the piano. On a grand, this means lifting the lid with the flap not folded back, and the blankets draped from the lid to the bentside, and down to the top of my head.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#631726 - 02/20/05 10:11 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
Jens Schlosser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/02
Posts: 262
Loc: Leipzig, Germany
Rick,

I'm not familiar with the VT. Does it have a build in microphone or is it external? An external mic placed very close to the strings could make a big difference in a noisy environment, especially for the high treble, when the sustain is really short. If the VT has a mic input you could even try a guitar pickup (the piezo-type which is intented for classical guitars) and put that on the soundboard. This should give a much better signal to noise ratio and might be worth giving a try.

I'm using TuneLab on a pocket PC and this setup cannot handle a noisy environment very well. In that case I sometimes need to move the PC close to where I'm tuning instead of leaving it in the middle of the piano like I prefer it in a quiet environment. Unfortunately, the pocket PC doesn't have a mic input, so I have to use the internal mic.

Best regards,
Jens

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#631727 - 02/20/05 10:24 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
Nauvoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 20
Loc: Atlanta
I'm a TunLab user, all-be-it not for a long time, and am very impressed with the quality of the software. In addition, I feel itís only gotten better with the resent software upgrade -- although Iím still learning about its new features.

Robert Scott (the software parent) is also very good about customer support. He always seems too ready to provide help Ė and I do need it from time to time.

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#631728 - 02/20/05 11:39 AM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jens Schlosser:
Rick,
I'm not familiar with the VT. Does it have a build in microphone or is it external? [/b]
Yes there is both an internal mic and a jack for an external one.
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#631729 - 02/20/05 03:17 PM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
RonTuner Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1676
Loc: Chicagoland
On any of the machines in noisy situations it is MOST helpful to get an external mic. Either one from Radio Shack, or a more dedicated magnetic, or contact one. Without the mic, adjust the sensitivity, and move the unit around - it really makes a difference. If all else fails, get out of auto-note stepping mode. All of the machines have that option, and if the machine is only listening for one note, it really has an easier time displaying what you need to see. For sure, get the earplugs if you are working in such a "competitive" environment. (Musicians plugs, from etymotic research are cheap and effective.) Pull them out for final checks, you will be surprised how fresh your ears feel.

For Veritune-specific hints, try using the needle mode more, and the spinner less. (Wide, normal and fine, depending on the situation - the lower right hand button brings up the 2nd menu) The machine has more precision than you will be able to set on the piano, unless you are in a stable environment, with an already stabilized instrument. So don't knock yourself out trying to nail an out-of-the box in one pass.

The Veritune forum can be very helpful - really feel free to post any question. It's been pretty slow recently, but a lot of people check in from time to time.
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

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


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#631730 - 02/20/05 04:57 PM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3894
To continue with the stethoscope idea, Radio Shack sells a small battery powered amp for about 12 bucks. I wonder if hooking up a small contact mike and headphones with that amp would work in noisy places. Last time Namm was in Chicago I tuned down there, and the noise was very distracting. If all the tuners try to play softly, move the hammer, then hit a quick test blow, that seems to help, but then some loud playing salesman has to bang on every piano.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#631731 - 02/20/05 10:25 PM Re: Going electronic from ear tuning
pianoseed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/13/01
Posts: 884
Loc: here
Amagnetic mike to attach to the plate is availible for SAT's. Perhaps for the verituner also.
_________________________
pianoseed

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