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#633069 - 03/03/03 02:20 PM tuning devices
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
Are any of the "devices" sold by Schaff beneficial for setting the temperament? I mean are they worth it to pay the price? And, would a "novice" benefit from using them? As "devices" I have in mind the more sophisticated ones beyond the strobetuner such as the laptop advertised for about $750.00?? Do these really do a good job for stretching the octaves and alternate types of tunings etc.??

I asked an earlier question about Aubrey Willis and got absolutely NO replies. Apparently Aubrey is dead and that's the end of that. Since then I found out that David Pennington from the Willis school joined the Randy Potter school.
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#633070 - 03/03/03 10:20 PM Re: tuning devices
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Ejks- all of the major tuning computers were tested against one another some time back, and all were found to do a good job. I prefer the VeriTuner, which also has the ability to store any given tuning, and then recalculate the curve the next time you tune that piano, based on new information that it gathers during each tuning. The curve gets better as time goes on.
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#633071 - 03/04/03 12:24 AM Re: tuning devices
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
ejks:

I used a SAT II for some time, then a SAT III, and now I use the Pocket RCT. I learned to tune aurally first of course. ;\)

I run the Pocket RCT on a compaq handheld, but will soon be switching over to my new Toshiba E-740. The software itself does a wonderful job tuning, as do the other big players in the market. The benefit I have found to the Pocket RCT, is the overall functionality of the Pocket PC platform for handhelds. There is so much I can do from my handheld (including posting here when a wireless network is available) \:\)

But I think you'd be ok using most of them, it will become a question of preference as you begin to figure out what you want a machine/software package to do.

Just as a side note: I would prefer something operating on the Pocket PC to a laptop, simply because of size limitations with certain pianos. Battery life, and startup time are also factors with the laptop. My handheld's processor operates at 400 MgHz, so there's not much it can't do. You can also get a PocketPC for a lot less money than a laptop -- comparing top of the line to top of the line anyway. ($350-600 vs. $2500 - $3000)

Hope that helps

KlavierBauer
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#633072 - 03/04/03 11:59 AM Re: tuning devices
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
There are some great electronic devices out there, but the biggest mistake you could make is to start depending on them before you have a good grasp on how to tune a piano well by ear. I know a lot of good tuners who can do it by ear or use a device, but I haven't met any good ones who can't do it by ear and only use a device.

They are good if they are a tool, bad if they are a crutch. The difference is the skill of the user.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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#633073 - 03/04/03 12:58 PM Re: tuning devices
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
Guys,
Thanks for the comebacks. I teach school, play in a church, teach lessons in a store and am considering starting up again. I understand the difference between tool and crutch and I appreciate very much the technicians that tune by ear. I would like to learn someday. Thanks again for your responses.
ej
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#633074 - 03/04/03 01:51 PM Re: tuning devices
pianoseed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/13/01
Posts: 884
Loc: here
All of the electronic tuning devices mentioned by name do excellent tunings. I believe a student tuner can spend an unnecessary amount of time and energy mastering the skill of Aural Tuning. Yes, aural tuning is an admirable ability, but unnecessary to do an excellent tuning. Put your energy into good clean unisons and perhaps beatless octaves. The new equipment out there is excellent. You will find that as you tune electronically you get used to the sound of a piano in tune. It takes the guess work out of tuning. I know I will be lambasted by the "dinosaurs" in the profession because "It is the way I had to do it."
I taught math for 25 years. There is no way I would demand that students learn to us a slide rule now. Scientific caluclators made slide rules obselete, yet I spent weeks in High School learning to use a slide rule. I believe the same is true with Aural Tuning. It will go the way of the slide rule, but the "dinosaurs" will hold onto it until they all die.
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#633075 - 03/04/03 02:50 PM Re: tuning devices
Matt16 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/03
Posts: 7
Loc: Calgary Alberta
I have been tuning for ten years and have done both electronic and aural tuning, and have found that listening instead of watching a screen or flashy lights is far more acurate.

The last time I looked the only dinosaurs I saw were the ones using electronic tuners because they were to old to hear beats. ;\)

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#633076 - 03/04/03 04:37 PM Re: tuning devices
pianoseed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/13/01
Posts: 884
Loc: here
I never said to stop listening. Some of us are coordinated enough to listen as well as watch blinking lights.
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#633077 - 03/05/03 08:46 AM Re: tuning devices
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
I can see there are differences of opinion regarding use of these devices. \:\) I understand, because the 86 year old gentleman that takes care of my pianos tunes aurally exclusively. He also is a professional musician and I believe that fact enhances his skills/sensitivities as a technician but that's another subject. I would love to be able to tune a piano aurally without the use of these aids but what I'd like to try to determine is, while someone is learning the trade what role can and should these devices play?? I know there should be one on one help but that's not always possible. How can I beneficially and practically utilize a tuning device to assist me in learning the skill of setting the temperament, etc.?? WOULD ALL SEASONED VETERAN TECHNICIANS PLEASE REPLY?? It would be greatly appreciated. \:\) Thank you in advance!
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#633078 - 03/05/03 09:45 AM Re: tuning devices
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3272
Loc: Madison, WI USA
" How can I beneficially and practically utilize a tuning device to assist me in learning the skill of setting the temperament, etc.?? WOULD ALL SEASONED VETERAN TECHNICIANS PLEASE REPLY??"

Now in my 34th year, I hope I qualify. One of the things I observed long ago is that for every strongly held opinion, there is bound to be another which contredicts it but is just as strongly held and it doesn't necessarily mean that one opinion is right and the other wrong.

To learn to tune at a very high level aurally can take a considerable amount of time. I would agree that learning to tune by ear first is *usually* the best and most recommended way but it is not for everyone. It is also true that many who start off with an ETD never do develop aural skills which can duplicate what they can do with an ETD but it is not universally so.

If you are serious about having both aural and electronically assisted skills, you simply need to work on them simultaneously. I have 3 apprentices, 2 of them are strictly aural but the 3rd, because of his unique circumstances is learning with the aid of an ETD.

The decision has to be your own. If you want to be able to qualify as an RPT, you have to have a minimum amount of aural skills. If there are other priorities in your life and business, then highly developed aural tuning skills may not be essential. The latter can be summarized as nothing more than the ability to perceive and control beats. You learn to listen in a way that goes quite a bit further than what a musician does to learn to play "in tune".

Don't let the dinosaurs beat you up.

Regards,
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#633079 - 03/05/03 07:12 PM Re: tuning devices
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Well, thammer, perhaps one day we shall meet and find out who is truly the dinosaur.

The analogy of slide rules and calculators is not valid re aural tuning vs electronic tuning for reasons you obviously don't understand.

If you are interested at all in educating yourself on what the ear/brain can know that devices don't, one aspect is covered in the January 1979 issue of Scientific American cover story "The Physics Of Piano Strings".

And a question you may want to ask yourself is: why do the companies making devices like the Sanderson Accu-Tuner sell tunings performed by good ear tuners and stored as SAT software files?

I will say again- I have heard tuners who are great ear tuners and are great with a device. But I have yet to hear a great tuner who skipped the process of learning to tune by ear and used only devices. As to the whys and wherfores it could be the subject of perhaps endless debate, but that is my observation and until I start finding exceptions, I'm sticking to it.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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#633080 - 03/05/03 11:41 PM Re: tuning devices
ChrisKeys Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1274
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by thammer:
All of the electronic tuning devices mentioned by name do excellent tunings. I believe a student tuner can spend an unnecessary amount of time and energy mastering the skill of Aural Tuning.[/b]
Sorry, but I really beg to differ with you. I'm just a pianist. I'm neither a tuner nor a tech. But the times someone has tuned my piano with a device rather than by ear, the result has always been inferior. One of my coworkers told me that a tuner showed up to tune her Yamaha G3 using only a tuning device. The result: a "correct" tuning that she hated. I gave her the name of my tech, who tunes only by ear. After my tech talked with her, he tuned her piano so well that she told me how amazed she was at the results.

When a friend asks me to recommend a tuner, I say: If you choose someone, and he shows up at your door with an electronic device, be polite and kindly show him the door. Then find someone who tunes by ear.

I will never let anyone tune my piano unless he does so by ear. Period.

-- Chris

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#633081 - 03/06/03 02:17 AM Re: tuning devices
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
I'd like to start by saying that I agree with Rick.

I am fairly confident in my tuning abilities, and I use an ETD. BUT (and it's a big butt ... err but) I first learned the fundamentals of aural tuning. If you don't understand tuning, and what's going on in the scaling of the piano, the ETD is of limited use. Virgil Smith once showed me that an ear can hear what a machine cannot. This amazed me at the time. No not everyone tunes good by ear, but the principles learned in that process are invaluable.

So after saying that, why do I swear by my ETD? Well, as I said I'm fairly confident in my tuning abilities, and my understanding of the process. I am also constantly checking what the machine is calling "right" by checking octaves, 4ths, and 5ths (these are quick checks to make while moving up the scale). I also like to check things more thoroughly when needed.

I have found that aural tuning can be extremely exhausting on the ears. In fact, I wear earplugs much of the time when tuning. Pounding the notes of a piano in close proximity can play with your equilibrium, and your general sense of well being. Tuning visually allows me to "save" my ear for the important parts. What I mean is, I can tune visually, seeing what the note's doing while I'm moving it, and check it afterward aurally.

Anyway, that's my opinion. But to say again: I think one really needs to understand tuning... which means aural tuning... before using an ETD. One can even use an ETD to help learn aural tuning. But as Rick said, the ETD should never be a crutch.

KlavierBauer
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#633082 - 03/06/03 07:50 AM Re: tuning devices
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
KlavierBauer, thanks for your input too. I used to live in the Chicagoland area and heard of Virgil Smith many years ago. Do you know whether he is still working in the profession? He must be getting up there like the rest of us. \:\) Did/does Virgil use an ETD?
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#633083 - 03/06/03 01:51 PM Re: tuning devices
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
There was a PTG sponsored event some time back, labelled a "Tune-Off". Tunings were done by ear only and ETD assisted, on the same piano, and on similar pianos. If memory serves, Virgil was a participant. The results, judged by PTG members and professional musicians was a dead heat. The differences were so minute that nobody could tell which pianos had been tuned which way. The moral of the story is that if the person knows what he/she is doing, a quality tuning will be accomplished using either method. To say that a person who shows up with an ETD is going to give you a bad job is arrogant and misinformed. This has been debated ad nauseum on the PTG website, and the one thing that everyone agrees on is: nobody will ever agree on this subject........Sam
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Lacquer and polyester specialist.

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#633084 - 03/06/03 02:11 PM Re: tuning devices
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

What you say is true enough. But this is not an argument over whether ETDs are bad or good. The issue here is should a tuner learn ear tuning first (or perhaps concurrently with ETDs), or should he just skip "ear tuning" and go straight to ETDs.

Someone who does not understand the aural principles and goals is going to be hugely handicapped when attempting to tune using an ETD, and will consistently yield unacceptable tunings.

OTOH, someone who is a good ear tuner can use an ETD and achieve results which are just as good as a top-notch ear tuning, as you recounted.

That is what this thread is about.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#633085 - 03/06/03 05:51 PM Re: tuning devices
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Rick- point understood. My post was in answer to Chris W.s post earlier.........Sam
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Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#633086 - 03/06/03 08:19 PM Re: tuning devices
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

Just for educational purposes, I would refer any interested party reading this thread to the Scientific American article I referred to earlier. It should be quite interesting to any serious pianist (Chris W) or any tuner interested in what the ear/brain can do as opposed to having a machine count frequencies. It may or may not be an explanation for the anecdote reported by Chris, but it is certainly an explanation for a significant % of the complaints against electronically rendered tunings, which are often described to me by unhappy pianists as "dead" sounding.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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Piano tuner-technician

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#633087 - 03/06/03 11:28 PM Re: tuning devices
ChrisKeys Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1274
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
To say that a person who shows up with an ETD is going to give you a bad job is arrogant and misinformed.[/QB]
To say I am misinformed is certainly a possibility. In my limited realm of personal experiences, though, tunings via electronic devices have always been inferior to tunings done by ear.

However, to call me arrogant is a misplaced insult. My statements are consistent with the experiences I've had with both styles of tuning because the "device" tuning was always inferior. I will not have anyone touch my piano who uses a device rather than his ear. YMMV.

-- Chris

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#633088 - 03/07/03 12:58 AM Re: tuning devices
pianoseed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/13/01
Posts: 884
Loc: here
I tuned for a lady who did not approve of my SAT. I gave her the name of an aural tuner whom she hired for her next tuning. She was completely satisfied with his tuning. What she did not know which I found out later was that he tuned her piano with an SAT and did not tell her.
The "Tune off" was between Virgil Smith and Jim Coleman. Jim use the SAT and Virgil tuned aurally. The first year Jim won by a slight majority. The next year Virgil won by a slight majority. Sorry to break the aural tuning bubble but a novice tuner will be ahead to go straight to the ETD and spend lots of time learning repair and regulation. Currently you have to do a partial aural tuning to be come certified as an RPT but those days are numbered.
The manual on the SAT tells jow to set a temperament using the SAT.
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#633089 - 03/07/03 01:13 AM Re: tuning devices
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
The tune-off was Virgil Smith, and Jim Coleman Sr. (just to clarify).

Both are amazing technicians, and therein lies the heart of the matter. Certainly Jim Coleman Sr. wasn't using ETD's when he was a wee lad tuning pianos. He has used the ETD as it is designed to be, a tool. It is a tool in the arsenal of tuning, not the tuning itself. I don't argue that ETD's are great and wonderful, I use mine every day. But without my ear being able to check what's going on, how good would it be? Maybe great, maybe not, but I like redundancy. I like having a fail safe. Maybe it comes from climbing, never setup only one anchor point, when you can setup two.

Same applies here, why use only one tool for tuning, when you can use two? I think you save your ear in the longrun, and give your customers better work.

You are certainly right though, new technicians need to also spend adequate time learning the fundamentals of regulation and voicing as well.

KlavierBauer
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#633090 - 03/07/03 09:05 AM Re: tuning devices
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
This is probably showing my ignorance here but I seem to pretty good at that. \:\) I've read about false beats and I think that is where a string has beats in it while speaking alone. I believe there are different reasons why they occur so when a technician comes across an instrument with false beats how does that play out with the ETD? Does the technician need to "compensate" somehow? Sure the pitch may be correct but doesn't that affect the reading on the ETD or does the ETD know when to compensate? I know there has got to be an easy answer. Thanks for all your input thus far.
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#633091 - 03/07/03 11:56 AM Re: tuning devices
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I must confess to being something of an obsessive fanatic when setting the temperament. As a result, it can even take me a bit longer when using the Verituner as opposed to an aural only approach there. This is because I'm constantly checking out the Verituner's accuracy through aural checks.

It's funny that in the first eleven yars of my tuning career I was "aurally fixated". Then when I acquired an SAT I, I became dependent on it and really felt at a loss on those several occasions I didn't have it(as when I had to send in for repairs). These days though I don't seem to have quite that dependency on the few occasions I've had to also send in the Verituner for fixing problems.

Mark Mandell@pianosource.com

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#633092 - 03/07/03 12:04 PM Re: tuning devices
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

The ETDs don't listen to beats, so they are irrelevant to the machine. An aural tuner quickly realizes through process of elimination that a beat is false and simply ignores it.

FWIW, I find false beats less and less common (or more reparable) these days, because typical new inexpensive pianos are much better made. I find most of the intractable false beating problems are in U.S. made spinets, but thankfully I see less and less of those in the field each year.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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Piano tuner-technician

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#633093 - 03/07/03 03:31 PM Re: tuning devices
Chris W1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
Not to be confused with Chris W, I'm of almost the opposite persuasion. I won't make a techno anecdote about why I'd bet ETD tunings yield better results, on average, than do aural tunings. I would disagree that you can't tune with an ETD if you can't achieve an equal result without one. Maybe that's a different, higher standard, than merely having an understanding of aural tuning, or being able to hear beats in unisons, octaves, or perhaps fifths.

I would hate to have to grade myself with an ETD, as the PTG does, if I didn't have it along with me most of the way. I will say, however, that Rick, you are welcome to come by and judge my DIY efforts any time you are next in the Boston area.

Anyone know if Pocket PC's will run Tunelabs?

Cheers,
Chris W1
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#633094 - 03/07/03 07:44 PM Re: tuning devices
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
What everybody has said has truth. Especially the one about the lady that believed she was getting an non-EDT tuning. I have been using a Sanderson Sigh-0tuner, then a SAT 1 and now a
SAT 3 for over 27 years. Probably 20k pianos. I also have passed the RPT test. The EDT is a good thing. Any tuner that disregards the effectiveness of a properly used EDT is living in another dimension. Any pianist that does the same is too stupid to learn anythin new , so why bother??? The fastest way to learn is to use anm EDT to confirm what your ear tell you. But knowledge is different from experience. Just get in there and DO IT!!! everything will sort itself out. trust me....
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#633095 - 03/07/03 09:36 PM Re: tuning devices
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Will *anyone* here read that Scientific American article and turn this into an intelligent discussion, or are you all just going to chant your ETD mantras?

This is an opportunity to learn something about this subject, folks. If you consider yourselves professional you ought to avail yourselves of that opportunity.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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Piano tuner-technician

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#633096 - 03/07/03 10:52 PM Re: tuning devices
pianoseed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/13/01
Posts: 884
Loc: here
Jim Coleman is an excellent aural tuner. However he has used ETD's since they were invented, from the Conn strobe to the SAT to the Cybertuner. He is not afraid of technology.
I heard of a story about adding machines introduced to Japanese workers to improve effeciency. The opposite result was achieved. The problem? The employees were adding the figures on their adding machines but they did not trust them. They were checking the figures on their abbaci.
As they say in pilot school, trust you guages. Spend the other time doing things that make a difference.
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#633097 - 03/08/03 04:55 AM Re: tuning devices
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Rick, I will gladly read the article you linked, as well as bump this article back up, so we can begin an intelligent discussion. \:\)

I hope I wasn't contributing to it's idiocy.

KlavierBauer
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#633098 - 03/08/03 08:34 AM Re: tuning devices
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
In response to KlavierBauer,
You used the word "link" in reference to the article in the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 1979?? Did I miss something? Is there a link so I can click it on or does it need to be dug out of the archives at the local library? Thanks.
ej
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