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#644937 - 01/17/09 06:33 PM Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2076
I think this is a question mostly for piano tuners about the pianos they themselves own. Do you do full tunings on your own pianos? How often? Or do you do more frequent 'touch-up' tunings? Is it possible to keep a piano in tune indefinitely by doing touch-ups, or do you spend a full hour or so and tune less often? For those of you who play, how long is the longest you have let a piano you regularly play go without doing a touch-up or a full tuning? Just curious whether tuning-wise the non-tuning musicians are missing out on something only available to those who tune (since you don't have to call, arrange, and pay for tuning).
_________________________
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
Just started: Brazilian Like (Michel Petrucciani)

Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

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#644938 - 01/17/09 08:24 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3834
It's not possible to keep a piano in tune with touch up tunings. At some point the piano slips beyond touch up when the humidity changes the pitch. I tend to do full tunings twice a year and hardly ever touch up between tunings.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#644939 - 01/17/09 09:31 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1613
Loc: Mexico City
I think it is not possible to touch up the tuning of a piano.

When I have tried to touch up an unison in my own piano, then I find another bad unison and then I find not only bad unisons but bad octaves, and this goes on, until I decide to tune the hole piano.

I used to tune my piano every month and then I installed a Dampp-Chaser system. I waited a month to have the piano stabilized and I tuned it.

This was more than two years ago, I have not retuned it. It is still in tune, some unisons are not perfect but the piano is playable. I mean I can play it for an hour without being disturbed by the sounds I get from it.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#644940 - 01/18/09 12:03 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2076
Thanks a lot for the thorough answers to my question. I didn't know a Dampp-Chaser would have such a significant effect on tuning.
_________________________
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
Just started: Brazilian Like (Michel Petrucciani)

Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

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#644941 - 01/18/09 11:41 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1613
Loc: Mexico City
By eliminating the variations of the moisture contents in the sounding board of a piano you eliminate the most important factor that detunes the piano!
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#644942 - 01/18/09 06:14 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8428
Loc: Georgia, USA
As someone who has learned to tune my own piano, I have an opinion and a comment to offer here. I have no direct experience with this, but I have read that concert pianos have the tunings touched up between performances in the same day/evening. I’ve also learned by experience that regardless of tuning stability, unisons can get knocked out slightly with hard, intense playing.

I touch up the tuning on my pianos about every 4 to 6 weeks on average; I do a complete tuning about every three months. This is dependent on how often/hard I play and the humidity fluctuations.

I’ve also learned that the tunings on acoustic pianos can be very sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature and humidity; it may sound a little different from early morning to late evening on the same day. I call this the personality of the piano itself.

As far as it being worth paying a technician to do touch-up tunings verses doing a full tuning, I doubt it. But I see a definite advantage to the occasional touch-up if you want a finely tuned piano the majority of the time.

Of course, this is just my meager .02 \:\)

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

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#644943 - 01/18/09 07:02 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3834
I put a Dammp-Chaser in a piano and the customer says "can you spend 5 min and touch up the tuning?" A quick check told me most of the unisons were out as were plenty of octaves. Not worth touching up, as it needed a complete tuning. That was 2 years ago, and she still hasn't tuned it.

Now, touchups at concert tunings are different. I give the piano a good hard tuning, after which the artist plays for a few minutes to 3 hours, then I must fix everything that slipped, often as the audience arrives.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#644944 - 01/18/09 11:40 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1613
Loc: Mexico City
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob:
I put a Dammp-Chaser in a piano...


... That was 2 years ago, and she still hasn't tuned it.[/b]
Maybe the Dampp-Chaser system is so good that it tuned the piano for you and has maintained it in tune until now! \:D
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#644945 - 01/20/09 02:18 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Hongzhi Mo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 89
Loc: Shanghai
I own a yamaha G2 (1969) in Shanghai, and plactise at least 90 minutes of Chopin Etudes, and one hour other works each day.

I tune it with tunelab 4.0 and Fujan level, usually I touch-up every 3-4 weeks and had to do complete full tuning while autume changes to winter every year (the piano shift 4-6 cent higher in this process).

Now I choose a more frequent touch-up, like every week or 2 weeks. Weekly touch up with tunelab, it only cost 15minutes, less than 20% strings need to touch up (they all drifting within 1 cent, while others settle still deadly). The result is so good.

But even I do not do that frequently, the piano is still stable. It's becoming a psychologcal issue.
_________________________
De BG4AWB
73!

Dr Hongzhi Mo
Lecturer

Architecture Dept., FINE ART COLLEGE
SHANGHAI UNIVERSITY
99 Shang Da Road, 200436
Shanghai, China

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#644946 - 02/06/09 05:22 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Gadzar,
Surely you mean significant moisture variations in the soundboard?

The standard deviations occurring in normal households are not likely to significantly effect tuning as a well designed soundboard should take account of these.

On this point would you care to please quantify or elaborate what percentages and deviation ranges of relative humidities etc you consider to be significant?
_________________________
vcz

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#644947 - 02/06/09 07:24 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
David Jenson Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2041
Loc: Maine
"On this point would you care to please quantify or elaborate what percentages and deviation ranges of relative humidities etc you consider to be significant?" Mocheol
________________________

Gadzar will likely not answer this inquiry. This is a heavily guarded secret among piano professionals. It is passed from Tech to Tech in public parks on tiny pieces of paper that self-destruct after reading. The penalty for revealing this deviation range is so awful that it can't be discussed on a public forum, but I can reveal that it has something to do with forcing violators to listen to selected American Idol contestants singing and playing piano.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#644948 - 02/06/09 08:02 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4911
Loc: Bradford County, PA
 Quote:
Originally posted by David Jenson:
....

The penalty for revealing this deviation range is so awful that it can't be discussed on a public forum,

....
[/b]
So also is there a penalty for mentioning that there is[/b] a secret. David, you will be having a visit from the High Inquisitioner!
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#644949 - 02/06/09 08:07 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
David Jenson Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2041
Loc: Maine
OOPS!
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#644950 - 02/06/09 08:12 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4911
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Recant while there is still time to avoid the “birdcage” torture.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#644951 - 02/06/09 09:30 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Oh, I'll tell him. I won't notice anymore hate mail than I already get.

Steinways secret is out. They change the moisture content of the board to achieve their proverbial crown of the soundboard and so goes the the tuning. The swelling and shrinking of the board causes unison creep, a disease that only a tuner can fix.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#644952 - 02/06/09 11:24 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4911
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Keith:

Breaking the tuner code of silence is one thing, but breaking the Steinway code? Not even recanting will keep you out of the birdcage, my friend.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#644953 - 02/06/09 11:34 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Erus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 386
Loc: Mexico
Fetch...THE COMFY CHAIR!

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#644954 - 02/06/09 12:13 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
They're closing GITMO, but a small section will remain open for disclosers of soundboard secrets.
I hear there's an oceanview cell with David's name on it next to the birdcage!! \:D
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#644955 - 02/06/09 12:26 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4911
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Ah, now we know why GITMO is really being closed. I never could quite swallow that "new way of doing business" nonsense. The High Inquisitioner is keeping the birdcage from prying eyes!
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

Top
#644956 - 02/06/09 03:21 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Let me just tell the whole lot of you, there is no secret.
Moisture movement is a normal occurrence.!

Provided the soundboard was originally dried to an acceptable moisture content, I believe to within a range of 8 to 12 % mc, and subsequently varnished,the take up on airborne moisture will be
minimal and certainly insufficient to cause deleterious swelling.

The soundboard will only suffer damage if exposed to alternating damp and very dry conditions over an extended period.
Normal Minor movements will always occur which should make no appreciable difference in a properly designed board.

A bi- annual tuning ought to be sufficient to take account of such changes.
_________________________
vcz

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#644957 - 02/06/09 05:00 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
David Jenson Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2041
Loc: Maine
Jeees! I would open my big mouth.

I'll go quietly to the eternal birdcage torture at the remnants of Gitmo if I must, but I really would prefer waterboarding.

Ah, the agony of disclosing that there is a secret that the secret is a secret!!!

_______________________

My apologies to Charles Lang. Your original question was a good one. I do a full tuning each time. 'No messing with the small adjustments.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#644958 - 02/06/09 09:46 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1613
Loc: Mexico City
All I can answer is that a piano gets out of tune evey time wheather changes. Except, of course, if you install a Dampp-Chaser system to keep it in tune. I don´t want to go to the birdcage.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

Top
#644959 - 02/06/09 10:00 PM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Within a few days after tuning, every piano begins to drift somewhat. Yes, a Piano Life Saver System (formerly Dampp-Chaser) helps, but if unisons are out, I tune the whole piano.

Just touching up unisons, is a little like applying deodorant to a stinky underarm.
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#644960 - 02/07/09 06:42 AM Re: Is it possible to keep a piano in tune just by 'touching up' the tuning now and then?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4911
Loc: Bradford County, PA
I could explain the secret of the "deviation ranges" to anyone really interested, but then I would have to kill them. Hmmm....
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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