tune your piano by yourself!

Posted by: offnote

tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 04:00 AM

Quote:
Clear explanations of piano tuning for the beginner are hard to find. When I wanted to learn how to tune my piano, most sources insisted that I should not try, or hid the basics in a mountain of detail, or insisted I buy a book. So I taught myself instead. After research and trying it, I developed the simplified method on this site which uses three tools: mutes, electronic tuner and a tuning lever.


here is how

p.s.
what one men did other can do as well.
Posted by: itsfreakingmeout

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 05:56 AM

i think i speak for most of the people here when I say that we do hold our piano's as 'precious' and would not attempt such a thing. shameless plug?
Posted by: offnote

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:08 AM

Originally Posted By: itsfreakingmeout
i think i speak for most of the people here when I say that we do hold our piano's as 'precious' and would not attempt such a thing. shameless plug?


if your instrument is so 'precious' to you wouldn't you like to
pamper it by yourself??? give it your own final touch...


p.s.
what plug? crazy have not affiliation with this site.

Posted by: ando

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:15 AM

Originally Posted By: itsfreakingmeout
i think i speak for most of the people here when I say that we do hold our piano's as 'precious' and would not attempt such a thing. shameless plug?


You certainly don't speak for me. I would, and have attempted such a thing and I used some of the ideas presented on that site as part of my resources (I also visited several other sites). I guess it is a plug, but there's nothing shameless about it. Lot's of people have promoted themselves on PW.

There is no reason why each and every pianist here shouldn't be familiar with tuning techniques. Even if you never tune your whole piano, occasionally you can have one or two notes that are out which you could tune yourself until your regular professional tuning appointment.

I just thought that was a tad harsh.
Posted by: Cy Shuster, RPT

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 09:23 AM

These instructions aren't bad. The writer doesn't make the most common mistake of suggesting that you use a simple guitar tuner for the whole piano, and he also gives some other basic warnings, such as how to prevent rounding off the pin by not having the socket seated.

Any skill can be learned (some of us are better at some things than others), and we definitely need more piano technicians. Just use your common sense about risk-taking, like you would if you were working on your car, plumbing, or house wiring, and know when to call the experts.

I teach many of my customers how to touch up unisons between tunings (make two or three strings on one note sound the same).

--Cy--
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 10:52 AM

Hi Offnote, (good forum name for talking about tuning pianos, by-the-way)

I applaud you for your gesture of good will and your effort to want to be helpful to other piano owners here, but you have opened a huge can of worms and an ongoing controversy when you mention tuning your own piano here on these forums. Granted, there are many members here who do exactly that (and do a competent job, by-the-way), but they usually keep fairly quite about it for various reasons.

I, for one, understand your sentiments and your thoughts here, and I agree to an extent, but topics like “tune your piano by yourself” will only garner contention, harsh comments (like the one from itsfreakingmeout) and nasty arguments here. There are lots of professionals in all aspects of the piano business who are members of this forum, and they don’t take kindly to threads like yours who encourage piano owners to tune their own piano for lots of reasons.

Cy’s comments above are about as peaceful and civil as it gets… He’s a great guy and a great piano tech, and has helped me with technical information on several occasions.

As valuable and interesting as this topic is, it is probably better left taboo on these forums for the sake of peace and civility.

Take care,

Rick
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:02 AM

Rick,

Respectfully I disagree. All on-topic posts are welcome. I, for one, welcome healthy discourse on the advantages and disadvantages or trying to learn to tune your own piano. The overly sensitive and the overly critical can bugger off.

Kurt
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:34 AM

I am in Cy's camp! I have purchased professional tuning levers for clients who are interested in tuning. I have a link to places to buy tools, and acquire tuning software on my website. I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who wants to try their hand at tuning a piano! Even if it doesn't work out, they will gain a deeper appreciation to the craft, and their piano. So what if a string breaks? It happens to all of us! As a professional in the service industry I feel it is NOT professional to make a client feel embarrassed or ashamed if they attempted a repair themselves. Sometimes they do surprisingly well. Other times.... wink
Posted by: ToneCanvas

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:46 AM

I'm with Kurt.

I agree that this board sees contentious, nasty, argumentative responses frequently, but I think it's very unfortunate. The contentious and nasty should be what is taboo around here rather than someone posting a link to a site (s)he found informative and wanted to share.

I'm never going to try to tune or "touch up" my piano -- I find it hard enough to tune my guitar! But I do love learning about how a pianos are made, how the should be cared for, how they work, and what techs do. I think pianists should learn as much about their instrument, how it works and how it is maintained as they can.

Thanks Offnote!
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:48 AM

Originally Posted By: rysowers
I am in Cy's camp! I have purchased professional tuning levers for clients who are interested in tuning. I have a link to places to buy tools, and acquire tuning software on my website. I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who wants to try their hand at tuning a piano! Even if it doesn't work out, they will gain a deeper appreciation to the craft, and their piano. So what if a string breaks? It happens to all of us! As a professional in the service industry I feel it is NOT professional to make a client feel embarrassed or ashamed if they attempted a repair themselves. Sometimes they do surprisingly well. Other times....

Wow, have attitudes here changed or what? What happened to the quote “only a fool would represent him/herself in court and only a fool would attempt to tune their own piano”? I’ve been made to feel like a fool all this time, but a fool whose piano is in tune. thumb

Maybe attitudes here have changed… are the PW forums evolving?

Let the good times roll……. grin

Rick
Posted by: Pianolance

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 12:04 PM

I sort of agree with Rickster, however, I would say that this thread would be ripped to shreds on the Technicians forum, but treated a little more respectful on this forum. I learned to tune my own piano and have always been glad that I did. I still call a professional at times, but I have saved myself $1000's of dollars over the last 20 years, and in todays economy who couldn't use that kind of savings. One thing that came in handy and was sort of a suprise, I got a speeding ticket this summer and the judge sentanced me to 8 hours of community service. I contacted a couple of local small churches and offered to tune their pianos. They were thrilled to get their pianos tuned for free and I felt like I contributed to the success of several Christmas programs around our city. I also got to know several music ministers. Overall, it was a great experience.
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 12:34 PM

I think it's probably a matter of time.. the right people just have not seen it yet!! laugh

Regardless, though, contentious, nasty, argumentative responses do not belong here.
Posted by: BDB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 12:48 PM

I certainly have nothing against people trying to learn technical work on a piano, but I also warn people about the pitfalls. I have a friend who works with vision-impaired people, and he once asked me about it for one of his charges. I invited them to my club for dinner, and explained the good and the bad of the business. Afterwards, my friend said he could not decide whether I had been encouraging or discouraging. I took that as a compliment.

I tell people I can teach them to tune a piano in a day, and after that, it just takes four years of practice to become good at it. It takes even longer to become truly excellent. If you think the first piano tuning you do sounds wonderful, you probably have very little aptitude for piano tuning.
Posted by: Del

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 12:59 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
If you think the first piano tuning you do sounds wonderful, you probably have very little aptitude for piano tuning.

This is one of the most insightful comments I’ve seen on this subject to date.

ddf
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 01:06 PM

The internet has everything on it. I am quite sure it is something out there about "Building Your Own Grand Piano".

Tuning is an art, Respect it and go to school if you really want to learn.
Posted by: offnote

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 01:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Aliwally

Tuning is an art, Respect it and go to school if you really want to learn.


oh please, cooking can be an art too but somehow we cook ourselves with great results almost everyday. Why we assume art cannot be part of our everyday's life???


Besides good musicians should be able to tune his/her instrument wether it is flute , guitar or piano.
Posted by: Bob

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 01:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Cy Shuster
and we definitely need more piano technicians.

--Cy--


Yes, someone will have to tune all those digital pianos they sell......... laugh
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 01:34 PM

Originally Posted By: offnote
Originally Posted By: Aliwally

Tuning is an art, Respect it and go to school if you really want to learn.


oh please, cooking can be an art too but somehow we cook ourselves with great results almost everyday. Why we assume art cannot be part of our everyday's life???


Besides good musicians should be able to tune his/her instrument wether it is flute , guitar or piano.




Yeah, but some cooks make six figure salaries as well as some Concert Tuners, they did not get there by cooking at home. So go ahead and read your Tuning Made Easy. I have tuned drums for a living before, and just about every drummer can tune his own drums but not all can tune to make a living.

The piano is just one instrument that is so complex, how many instruments can you name that have over 10,000 parts. How many spices can you name off the top of your head, and mix those spices to achieve a certain taste. Art and being an artist are two different things. Tuning Made Easy For Piano...sorry, it's a Joke.
Posted by: AJB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 02:14 PM

I think the 10,000 parts argument is a red herring.

There are very few parts that need to be touched, merely to perform a tuning.

All string players treat continuos tuning adjustments as an everyday basic skill. Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult. My tuner showed me how to do it years ago and he did not treat it as a black art. He knew perfectly well he was much more skilled than me - and was happy to share some of it.

A really good tuner can deliver superlative results. I prefer to use my good tuner every three months. But I see no reason why anyone who fancies it cannot learn to tune their piano to their own satisfaction.

Incidentally, I got the impression, perhaps wrongly, that the OP was not promoting himself, as has been suggested here. He had just come across a web site to which he is drawing our attention - as a good citizen of Piano World.
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 02:40 PM

Don't mean to sound harsh. Somethings will drive you crazy, and I think this is one of them. Spend that time practicing. My piano tech friend who works in New York just gave me one word advice to piano tuning when I get a real piano. If the tuner is not striking those strings loud, "Get Rid Of Him". He told me it should get on my nerves because when I go to play if no vibrations was made when tuning, it will go out of tune with the vibrations I will make playing. Can't exactly explain like he did but I know what he was saying. He also told me to ask how many cents out of tune it was, I have it written down somewhere to know how many cents for a pitch raise but no piano should get that bad before it needs tuning. That was it...so I will remember that. I asked though, "Can I tune the piano myself?"..he just laughed... and said yeah, If you have a couple of years to learn.
Posted by: itsfreakingmeout

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: itsfreakingmeout
i think i speak for most of the people here when I say that we do hold our piano's as 'precious' and would not attempt such a thing. shameless plug?


You certainly don't speak for me. I would, and have attempted such a thing and I used some of the ideas presented on that site as part of my resources (I also visited several other sites). I guess it is a plug, but there's nothing shameless about it. Lot's of people have promoted themselves on PW.

There is no reason why each and every pianist here shouldn't be familiar with tuning techniques. Even if you never tune your whole piano, occasionally you can have one or two notes that are out which you could tune yourself until your regular professional tuning appointment.

I just thought that was a tad harsh.



oh please
Posted by: BDB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 03:42 PM

Well, I think that musicians should know what tuning is. However, you are not going to learn that from an electronic tuner. Electronic tuners do not tune, they only set frequencies.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 05:47 PM

I'm not mechanically inclined and don't think that my ear would be good enough to tune even with much practice. From the little I've read about it it seems very complex(although I was a math teacher before retiring). I've read somewhere that it takes 1000 tunings to become reasonably good, so even if I had more mechanical/aural skills I would never consider tuning my piano.
Posted by: AJB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:00 PM

Yep, it's incredibly complex. You get this wrench. You plonk it on the pin, and you give it a bit of a twist.

You also get to shove some rubber between some strings.

You do this really badly 999 times and then "POW" it's there.

Come on. You have managed to do nearly 12,000 posts here. You are apparently a retired maths teacher. You can risk a little twist on a tuning pin one day.

Live a little. Stretch a bit of wire.
Posted by: Steve Jackson

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Aliwally
My piano tech friend who works in New York just gave me one word advice to piano tuning when I get a real piano. If the tuner is not striking those strings loud, "Get Rid Of Him".


Hi:

I disagree with this. Depends on the tuner and their technique.
You can do a solid tuning with no pounding, or an unstable tuning with a lot of pounding.

There are those who have two ways of doing a job. Their way, or the wrong way. There are others who can see many ways of achieving a goal.

Take care,

Steve
Posted by: TomazP

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:23 PM

There must be a secret here somewhere! My self tuned unisons last about the same length of time as it took to get the three strings into unison in the first place!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:46 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
Yep, it's incredibly complex. You get this wrench. You plonk it on the pin, and you give it a bit of a twist.

You also get to shove some rubber between some strings.

You do this really badly 999 times and then "POW" it's there.

Come on. You have managed to do nearly 12,000 posts here. You are apparently a retired maths teacher. You can risk a little twist on a tuning pin one day.

Live a little. Stretch a bit of wire.
If it's so easy why does it take 1000 tunings or four years?
Posted by: offnote

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If it's so easy why does it take 1000 tunings or four years?


it doesn't, it is just another myth. You know, people love myths because they are lazy. It is so easy and convinient to say: "it can't be done, you have to be trained professional etc etc" yawn
Posted by: La Vega

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 07:14 PM

I would never attempt to replicate or replace what my tuner does, but I wouldn't mind learning a bit of touch-up. Seems like there are always those one or two notes that go noticeably sour before the tuner's next servicing.

But better safe than sorry. Unless my tuner agrees and shows me how, don't think I'll bother.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 07:39 PM

Well, I see this thread is not done yet… in fact, it is just getting started. Who knows where it will end, or how many feathers will be ruffled in the process.

I will say, however, that I have enjoyed learning to tune and service my pianos as much as I’ve enjoyed learning to play. Fact is, I own two tuning hammers!

To me, the most difficult part is learning to tune the unisons to sound pure. The ETD can help you set the temperament and the pitch of a certain note. However, getting the unisons right and stable is the real challenge. Heck, it’s all a challenge!

Tuning is actually the easiest part (once you learn proper tuning hammer technique). Regulating and voicing is a whole new ballgame. One thing is for sure, you tend to develop an appreciation for the real piano techs when you try it yourself. My hat is off to the fine piano techs here on this forum, and else ware, that are good at their craft; there is no substitute for years of training and experience.

And, to BDB… no, the first time I tuned my piano, it didn’t sound great, but it sounded a hell of lot better than it did when it was way out of tune! laugh

Happy Holidays!

Rick
Posted by: BDB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 09:09 PM

Each time you do it, you get better. You get better results, and you get better at appreciating the results.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:12 PM

The other thing to consider is that there is a big advantage to tuning the same piano over and over. One of the big challenges of being a professional technician is that so many pianos tune differently - some, like many Yamaha pianos, tune very readily, while others can be next to impossible! Its similar to playing piano: I have friends who have pianos that I think are really hard to play and control, yet when they play it, the sound is wonderful! They know every nuance of the instrument and can make it do what they want!

So part of whether tuning your piano is practical partly depends on how easy your piano is to tune. It also depends on how much you enjoy DIY projects. It also depends on your expectations,sensitivities, aptitude, etc.

For me, I found learning to tune at a professional level to be one of the most difficult challenges ever! But I'm not a quick learner. Getting through a whole piano was so exhausting at first. It was a real breakthrough when I could get the process down to 4 hours.

I wish all my clients could pretune the piano for me! Then I could come in and refine it and have time left for voicing and regulating, which I find more satisfying. After all, I'd rather play a well-voiced, well-regulated, but a little out-of-tune piano than a perfectly tuned piano with mediocre touch and tone.
Posted by: RickG1

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:14 PM

Because I have to play several pianos between my schools, church and home, I bought a tuning hammer, mutes, and a Seiko tuner. I would NEVER dream of tuning the whole piano but I have used it to clean up some unisons that were annoying. Setting temperament is somthing above my pay grade. I do respect my techs and appreciate that great job they do.
Posted by: itsfreakingmeout

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:36 PM

of tuning your piano was easy there wouldn't be any professional piano tuners
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/28/10 11:59 PM

There are a lot of of professional dog washers. Does that mean washing dogs is an arcane art only to passed down by the keepers of the secrets?


All joking aside, I don't think it's easy but I also don't think all the FU&D really helps anyone at all. Arm yourself with some knowledge; maybe try to get some mentoring, go slowly and be ready to accept whatever havok you reap. When the time is right, I'll do my learning on a 70's story and clark console (from my MIL's house) that's not worth paying someone to haul away. Till then, it's good bye $115 and hello sweet sounding piano.

Kurt
Posted by: Supply

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 01:36 AM

Originally Posted By: AJB
.... Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult....

Bad example. Ask any top notch technician/tuner. They will tell you that the unison is the hardest interval to tune properly.
Posted by: SCCDoug

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 08:55 AM

Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: AJB
.... Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult....

Bad example. Ask any top notch technician/tuner. They will tell you that the unison is the hardest interval to tune properly.

I'm not saying that is wrong, but I am curious why, as it is not my experience at all. Doing unisons is the first thing most of us amateur tuners try as it is reasonably straightforward to isolate the offending string. I found fixing unisons helped me to develop proper hammer technique and got my ear used to listening for the beats before the more challenging aural requirements of a full tuning.
Posted by: offnote

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 11:18 AM

Originally Posted By: SCCDoug
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: AJB
.... Clearly, tuning a piano is a bit more involved, but some degree of basic adjustment (of unisons for example) is not all that difficult....

Bad example. Ask any top notch technician/tuner. They will tell you that the unison is the hardest interval to tune properly.

I'm not saying that is wrong, but I am curious why, as it is not my experience at all. Doing unisons is the first thing most of us amateur tuners try as it is reasonably straightforward to isolate the offending string.


exactly my experience as well.


Anyway think that the main reason people think is so difficult because piano has so many keys. If piano had only one octave nobody would call a tuner to it. Same principles apply here as with eating an elephant, how? piece by piece.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 12:14 PM

To me, a truly perfect unison is difficult to achieve and takes the most effort. When tuning any other intervals, there is some wiggle room for subjective analysis of the two notes and how they blend. Tuning the unisons on the same note is not as forgiving. Even though perfection or absolutes are mostly theoretical, you can tell if a note is not clean and pure. That subtle “cats meow” will let you know that the unison is not just right. Also, if the unison is not right, you can hear subtle rings, zings, busses and other unwanted nuances.

As a side note, (both literally and figuratively laugh ) if the hammer to string alignment is not right, you will get the unwanted sizzles, pings, rattles, buzzes and fuzziness on the unison no matter how close they are to equal pitch.

There is nothing that sounds better than a clean, pure unison and achieving that goal is not so easy.

Rick
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 12:23 PM

Old piano tuner saying:

"Unisons: First to learn, last to master."

Tuning unisons is a lot like target practice. The first trick is to just hit the target! Then with some practice you start getting closer to the bullseye. A professional tuner gets good at hitting the bullseye on every note!

It's not too hard to tune a unison within a 2 cent tolerance. At A4 that would be about half a beat. To a forgiving ear this might even sound tolerable. Tuning within a one cent tolerance is considerably harder. This is the standard for the PTG tuning exam. It may be acceptable to most listeners, but not for discriminating types. Half a cent gets into the area where the unison will start to sound "dead on".

In fact, inconsistencies in piano tone, the ETD, room acoustics, and measuring discrepancies make it very difficult to consistently measure piano strings much under half a cent. I'm speaking from the experience in having participated in administration of dozens of tuning exams.

Accuracy aside, the other equally, if not more important factor is stability of the unisons. Achieving a stable unison is much more challenging than achieving an accurate unison. But again, this is more of an issue for a professional, and less so for a DIYer. The DIY tuner has the luxury of being able to touch up the tuning on their piano every day if they like. A professional needs the unisons to last if they are going to gain a good reputation.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 01:36 PM

Quote:
Anyway think that the main reason people think is so difficult because piano has so many keys. If piano had only one octave nobody would call a tuner to it. Same principles apply here as with eating an elephant, how? piece by piece.


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.

I remember telling my dad "THERE DAD! Listen to that, it sounds great!!!!" He said, "that's okay Jer, I'll fix it for you..." I thought, HUH? After a lot more ear training I realized, holy smokes! Dad was right! It didn't sound nearly as good as I thought it did. When I told him that, he just laughed and said, yeah, I know, I was just trying to soften the blow for you. We both chuckled...

Unison tuning is the most important aspect of tuning. Octaves can be stretched and are. Whereas to a good technician, unison's must be deadly accurate and very stable.
Posted by: AJB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 02:14 PM

Jerry - surely the point though, or at least a point, is that it only needs to sound good to the player most of the time, as 99% of what we do is solo practice.

Personally I did not find tuning unisons a problem at all. However, I am a guitarist and a violinist. I tune stringed instruments by ear numerous times each day. Minor adjustments to a piano are not so difficult. At least we are not dealing with a wooden peg with just friction grip in a tapered wooden hole. Or stings that are changed monthly (in my case) and will stretch like mad when new and will react wildly to environmental changes.

There is a definite professional skill to tuning a piano really well. I do not have the inclination to spend the time learning to do this perfectly myself. But I can certainly hear perfectly well when two strings are exactly in tune with each other and make the necessary adjustment to fix that. However, the step from that to a a good sounding tempered tuning across 88 notes is more tortuous. My tuner knows how I like it. Takes him about 30 minutes each time he calls. It could easily take me 3 hours to get it only 90% as good - and that would be my limit without spending a lot of time learning to do it better.

But people can learn it if they invest the time. And it is nonsense to suggest that this would take 1,000 tunings. If we are just dealing with one piano, we would get to know it pretty quickly I suspect.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 05:35 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: AJB
Yep, it's incredibly complex. You get this wrench. You plonk it on the pin, and you give it a bit of a twist.

You also get to shove some rubber between some strings.

You do this really badly 999 times and then "POW" it's there.

Come on. You have managed to do nearly 12,000 posts here. You are apparently a retired maths teacher. You can risk a little twist on a tuning pin one day.

Live a little. Stretch a bit of wire.
If it's so easy why does it take 1000 tunings or four years?


Although I happen to support DIY piano work (hey, if people want to do their own plumbing, restore their own Corvette or learn diamond cutting as a hobby, why shouldn't they have the same freedom to try their hand at piano work?) I disagree with the quoted sentiments as applied to either a DIY or professional. It's equivalent to playing the piano: "Hey, all you have to do is press those little black and white things at the right time and you're doing the same thing as they do in Carnegie Hall!"

NOT!!

If you are going to DIY and you don't realize that there's a learning curve, then you shouldn't be DIY.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 06:11 PM

I know I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to learning to tune a piano, but I have learned a lot in the last three or four years that I have been at it, even if on my own instruments. And, I can see where it would be easier to learn to tune the same piano over and over. I have, however, tuned a couple of different pianos for others (for free).

Speaking of difficulties when it comes to tuning unisons, my recently acquired Yamaha C7 (which has been rebuilt in the last several years) has fairly tight tuning pins. However, I would rather have a tuning pin that is a little too tight than too loose, but even the overly tight pins can present problems while tuning. For example, some of them are a little jumpy… meaning it takes a lot of torque to get the tuning pin to move clockwise, and then it “jumps” too sharp; then, it takes a lot of torque to move the pin counter-clockwise, and it “jumps” too flat… so, it is a series of “creek” (the noise it makes when the pin does move)… jumps too sharp; creek… jumps too flat; creek… jumps too sharp; creek… jumps too flat; creek… jumps too sharp. And, finally, applying pressure to the pin counterclockwise ever so slightly while pounding on the note, it finds its place as a pure unison.

One thing is for sure, the professional piano tuner earns their money! smile

Rick
Posted by: Neil Sundberg

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 07:47 PM

I sort of hesitate to mention this because I know people have some pretty strong feelings on both sides of this subject. But for a casual mention of my blog on the subject, I thought it might be worth it.

Last year, as I'm sure a few may remember, I started a DIY group on Yahoo for people tuning their own pianos. A while back last Summer I closed it down because it wasn't getting any use. People would join and then never use it.

But recently a fellow named Steve contacted me wondering were it was. So, I said, what the heck, I can easily start another one if you like. So I did .

But this time I think it'll just be more of a casual blog type thing where I and others will just talk about their tuning experiences or their pianos or whatever related to their pianos. And of course, we will still talk about tuning our pianos. I know some will say, well, we can do that here. True, but I kind of like the smaller setting and also the opportunity to post photos or recordings related to tuning there. Or just photos of your piano.

Anyone who joined the old DIY group is welcome to join this one of course, but if you do, it'd be nice if you would contribute some sort of life to it when you do.

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/

I'd rather not get into arguing about the merits of this sort of thing. We could easily just link to the old DIY thread here on PW from last year for that for all my views on the subject. ( and those of Jerry Groot and Rickster also )

Anyway, the group is up and available to join if you like at the above link

Neil
Posted by: Scott D

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/29/10 08:42 PM

Just for the record, as the owner of the site referenced in the original post, I'd like to thank the OP for the plug, but I want to make it clear that I wasn't the one who made the post. You can see by my post count that I keep a very, very low profile here.

I do appreciate the civil tone of the thread. I have noted that over the years since I first made that web page that the attitude toward DIY tuning has softened a bit, both here and in comments made directly to me at the site.

I try to make it clear in my site what the pitfalls are. It's not a "any slob can do it...here, hold my beer" job. But I also think that it's not so dangerous or difficult that those interested cannot explore the idea...if one is informed and knows his or her limits.

**recedes into the shadows**
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 03:49 AM

I just checked out the original post's link again to the DIY tuning site. Here are my biggest complaints:

1) The tuning hammer that is is pictured is a piece of junk. Those $20 student levers are only going to cripple you from the start. Investing in a professional quality lever is a big advantage.

2) It doesn't even mention Tunelab which I believe to be the most practical tuning software for DIYers.

I think Neil's link to his tuning blog has some better information.
Posted by: offnote

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 04:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Scott D
Just for the record, as the owner of the site referenced in the original post, I'd like to thank the OP for the plug, but I want to make it clear that I wasn't the one who made the post.


hey, very nice website! I am heavy believer of doing everything by myself if possible (Leonardo da Vinci style) since standards almost in every field have decreased. From medicine to engineering. I have learned many times if you wanna do something right DIY.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 09:20 AM

Quote:
Jerry - surely the point though, or at least a point, is that it only needs to sound good to the player most of the time, as 99% of what we do is solo practice.


Well, I suppose this might be true but, only to an extent. Here's why. Ears vary tremendously. I've heard DYI'ers tuning posted here. While some are well, acceptable, others are just down right nasty sounding yet, to them, it sounded great otherwise they would not have posted it. No offense to anyone but, it is a point to be made.

My point is that everybody's ear varies so much, that one player will tell me, that their piano sounds great! And, this is before I have even began tuning it. I then often times find the piano 1/2 tone flat and horribly out of tune. The next person tells me it's only a little bit out, only a few notes here and there and I find the whole thing out and many of the octaves sounding nasty. While the next person could be 100 % correct! It may sound pretty darned good. However, most of the time, it doesn't. It just sounds good to them. Which leads me to my concerns about it.

I guess my biggest concern is that these being the cases, many pianos many never then be properly tuned because they will sound acceptable to the player and could wind up being tuned all over creation and back again.

Another concern becomes how often will the rest of the piano receive proper attention such as regulation, action flange screws being tightened and stuff like that. Yes, it is your own piano, do as you like but, looking at the long haul.....
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 11:40 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook

If you are going to DIY and you don't realize that there's a learning curve, then you shouldn't be DIY.
I think this is the most important requirement for successful DIY anything. Accept that you don't actually know what you're doing yet and proceed accordingly.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 12:33 PM

This thread has been very interesting, and has not had the bitter, controversial and argumentative posts I expected it would. Perhaps attitudes here on this subject have changed just a little, or perhaps most members here are in a good mood due to the holidays. smile

I am, however, very interested in learning piano technology, even if only for my own benefit. I've actually learned quite a bit in the last few years, both by reading and study and trial and error. And, a few of the real techs here have been very helpful to me and provided me with some “distance mentoring” if you will. I’ve learned enough to see and understand their side of the equation on this subject.

For example, I worked as an HVACR service technician for several years and I saw from my own experience that some of the service calls I had where the homeowner tried to fix their unit themselves, many times that made my job harder or even more dangerous. I know that might not be the best comparison here, but it is somewhat of a correlation.

On the other hand, the way I see it, when it comes to pianos, if I screw something up, then I can call a real piano tech! I doubt very much that I could ruin something to the point of ruining an entire piano (and since there is no electricity or gas connected to it, it shouldn’t be really hazardous or dangerous grin). So, most anything I do to my pianos is not lethal.

I’ve actually done some major voicing and regulation, as well as tuning. The regulation part is not too bad… just measuring tolerances at various places and turning adjustment screws, though it can be really meticulous and time consuming. The voicing, however, now that is a real challenge! I’ve actually had some good success with voicing, such as filing and reshaping hammers, string leveling, hammer to string alignment, and softening the hammers by needling or other means. I’ve learned to take it slow because it is harder to “undo” the voicing than other things like regulation. I know I’ve still got a lot to learn, though. But, I know when my piano sounds its best!

As far as knowing or not knowing anything about what we are doing, we can only learn by vigorous and comprehensive study and doing it in real life.

Rick
Posted by: Neil Sundberg

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 02:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.



Jerry, I recall you saying something much like this last year when I started my DIY piano tuning thread. I think, sure, a beginning tuner, especially when tuning by ear, is not going to hear what is going on nearly as well as a trained tuner is going to hear. There is obviously a lot to hear there like beats, beat speeds, the actual resulting quality of the sound. So, it's all about sound. Over the years, yes, a trained tuner will have a high level of skill in knowing what it should sound like and how to put that skill to use.

What I hope you are not saying is that a musician does not know or can not know what it "should" sound like or what he or she wants it to sound like. Yes, a tuner can help some piano owners with this since maybe they are not attuned yet to what a quality sound is. What I wonder though is : isn't it simply a matter of a pleasing sound? If it's in tune, it sounds good and feels good.

I have played piano for about 40 years. When I play a piano, I instantly know whether it is in tune or not and if the sound pleases me or not. When piano buyers, most of us, go out to buy a piano we hopefully are considering how it sounds. We are far more likely to buy the one that sounds best to us, so as buyers, we know sound, do we not?

So, my point is, musicians know sound as well as tuners do. After all, when it sounds bad, that is when we either tune it or call a guy like you.

But yes, I get that there is knowing what sounds good and then there is knowing how to put that to use in tuning a piano. But if a person is willing to pay the price, Electonic Tuning Devises (ETDs) are out there that can do that for you.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Neil Sundberg
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.

Jerry, I recall you saying something much like this last year when I started my DIY piano tuning thread. I think, sure, a beginning tuner, especially when tuning by ear, is not going to hear what is going on nearly as well as a trained tuner is going to hear. There is obviously a lot to hear there like beats, beat speeds, the actual resulting quality of the sound. So, it's all about sound. Over the years, yes, a trained tuner will have a high level of skill in knowing what it should sound like and how to put that skill to use.

What I hope you are not saying is that a musician does not know or can not know what it "should" sound like or what he or she wants it to sound like. Yes, a tuner can help some piano owners with this since maybe they are not attuned yet to what a quality sound is. What I wonder though is : isn't it simply a matter of a pleasing sound? If it's in tune, it sounds good and feels good.

I have played piano for about 40 years. When I play a piano, I instantly know whether it is in tune or not and if the sound pleases me or not. When piano buyers, most of us, go out to buy a piano we hopefully are considering how it sounds. We are far more likely to buy the one that sounds best to us, so as buyers, we know sound, do we not?

So, my point is, musicians know sound as well as tuners do. After all, when it sounds bad, that is when we either tune it or call a guy like you.

But yes, I get that there is knowing what sounds good and then there is knowing how to put that to use in tuning a piano. But if a person is willing to pay the price, Electonic Tuning Devises (ETDs) are out there that can do that for you.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/
I think many of your assumptions are not generally true. I think what sounds "good"(what could be more vague than that?} to one person could sound terrible to another no matter how much experience playing the piano they've had. Many people post their playing on Youtube and most think it's good although often it's not so good. I'd guess many trained piano techs have more experience tuning pianos during their training than DIY have in a lifetime of tuning.

"Musician" can mean many different things to different people. Some have much better ears than others. Years spent playing the piano don't guarantee adept hearing. If they did, I'd have extremely good hearing!

"Pleasing sound" doesn't make much sense to me because it's not a black or white issue...it's matter of degree. Same for "in tune".

I never wait until my piano sounds bad to have it tuned. My BB is so stable that my tech said I could have it tuned only once/year, but I just have it tuned twice a year on a regular basis.

None of this is meant to imply you may not be capable of tuning of your piano well.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 03:44 PM

You're right, I did but, it seems it is being addressed again with other people so, here we are again Neil. smile

What I would say, is that a musicians training is not in tuning. Any more than being a trained tuner makes us a musician. One field is completely opposite the other.

After all of these years tuning, I am still surprised at the amount of times people ask me; "do you play the piano?" Yes I do. "I would assume that you must be able to play the piano in order to tune it." So, reverse that instead. Should I have to be able to tune the piano in order to play it? Of course not. smile

Many concert artists want a certain sound, or, the piano voiced a certain way. That is right Neil. The problem is that many technicians cannot do what is necessary to accommodate their preference for their performances.

One of the things I encounter perhaps most often, is that piano players get voicing, mixed up with tuning. If the voicing is not even, a lot of people think tuning will make it all better but, it will not. Just as they think tuning will fix a sticking key so, it is always advisable to mention ahead of time that "this note doesn't sound pleasing to me." So that I can then get them to address this in more detail to figure out just exactly what it is they are looking for.
Posted by: Neil Sundberg

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 04:19 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Neil Sundberg
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT


The reason why you think it sounds good is because your ear is not trained like ours is. Yours is telling you that it sounds great when in all reality, it just sounds better than it did before but is probably still not so red hot sounding to us. In fact, it may sound more like ours did the first time we tried tuning, kinda lousy, but, much closer than it did when you started.

Jerry, I recall you saying something much like this last year when I started my DIY piano tuning thread. I think, sure, a beginning tuner, especially when tuning by ear, is not going to hear what is going on nearly as well as a trained tuner is going to hear. There is obviously a lot to hear there like beats, beat speeds, the actual resulting quality of the sound. So, it's all about sound. Over the years, yes, a trained tuner will have a high level of skill in knowing what it should sound like and how to put that skill to use.

What I hope you are not saying is that a musician does not know or can not know what it "should" sound like or what he or she wants it to sound like. Yes, a tuner can help some piano owners with this since maybe they are not attuned yet to what a quality sound is. What I wonder though is : isn't it simply a matter of a pleasing sound? If it's in tune, it sounds good and feels good.

I have played piano for about 40 years. When I play a piano, I instantly know whether it is in tune or not and if the sound pleases me or not. When piano buyers, most of us, go out to buy a piano we hopefully are considering how it sounds. We are far more likely to buy the one that sounds best to us, so as buyers, we know sound, do we not?

So, my point is, musicians know sound as well as tuners do. After all, when it sounds bad, that is when we either tune it or call a guy like you.

But yes, I get that there is knowing what sounds good and then there is knowing how to put that to use in tuning a piano. But if a person is willing to pay the price, Electonic Tuning Devises (ETDs) are out there that can do that for you.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYpianotunings/
I think many of your assumptions are not generally true. I think what sounds "good"(what could be more vague than that?} to one person could sound terrible to another no matter how much experience playing the piano they've had. Many people post their playing on Youtube and most think it's good although often it's not so good. I'd guess many trained piano techs have more experience tuning pianos during their training than DIY have in a lifetime of tuning.

"Musician" can mean many different things to different people. Some have much better ears than others. Years spent playing the piano don't guarantee adept hearing. If they did, I'd have extremely good hearing!

"Pleasing sound" doesn't make much sense to me because it's not a black or white issue...it's matter of degree. Same for "in tune".

I never wait until my piano sounds bad to have it tuned. My BB is so stable that my tech said I could have it tuned only once/year, but I just have it tuned twice a year on a regular basis.

None of this is meant to imply you may not be capable of tuning of your piano well.


What I would say to both you and Jerry, is that a big part of a successful pro tuners job would be to tune pianos for recording studios and orchestras where tuning obviously has quite a stringent level of sound quality and indeed actual frequency so that it matches the other musicians.

But unless a DIY tuner is proposing to tune his own piano for the sake of the above, I don't see the need to apply such a high level of standard to one's own tuning of his own piano. Speaking for myself at least, my ear is working just fine for the purpose of deciding what is working sound quality wise. Like I said before, I know what I like to hear from the piano I am playing.

This has nothing to do with assumptions in my view. I am making no assumption when I am deciding what my ear likes.

I think the confusion in these discussions is often born of the differences between pro and amateur tuning. The above is just one example of that.

Neil
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/diypianotunings/
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 04:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot
One of the things I encounter perhaps most often, is that piano players get voicing, mixed up with tuning. If the voicing is not even, a lot of people think tuning will make it all better but, it will not. Just as they think tuning will fix a sticking key so, it is always advisable to mention ahead of time that "this note doesn't sound pleasing to me." So that I can then get them to address this in more detail to figure out just exactly what it is they are looking for.


So true Jerry! People will sometimes hear a "harsh" note as being "sharp", or uneven voicing as something being off in the tuning. That's why I believe tuning and voicing go hand in hand. Not nearly enough piano tuners do voicing as part of regular service. There have been numerous pianos that I have encountered that I have been hired to "tune" that had tunings that were reasonably good, but terrible voicing. If I had just tuned it, they probably wouldn't have noticed a difference. But spending an hour on the voicing can transform some of these pianos and make for happy clients and (best of all) referrals!
Posted by: Steve W

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/30/10 11:22 PM

I've been lurking on this thread for a while but will jump in here. I'm the "Steve" that Neil S referred to am happy to be a "charter member" of his new DIY tuning blog.

From the discourse on this thread, and some others, it seems to me that one factor we haven't touched on is that there are different levels of commitment from one DIY'er to another. Some of us are actually very committed to trying to do a great job of learning to tune our own pianos, even at the expense of the time it takes us away from other activities (like playing the piano!). Yes, we are "amateurs," but it's good to remember that the word "amateur" means "one who loves." Some of us amateurs really do "love" to learn, and dig in deeply. Now, when I say this, I don't mean to imply in any way that I will achieve nearly the depth of understanding or skill that a pro will. However, I do intend to do my very best in learning to aurally tune my piano, to be careful to be nice to my pinblock, to develop my hammer technique, etc. As an example of another clearly devoted "amateur," look at Rickster's comments. I bet his piano, despite his not being a pro, is well regulated! I bet he really took his time to get the adjustments right. Obviously, what he, and I, and other amateurs, lack is the incredible wealth of experience that the pros have, so when we run into something that's unexpected or not by the book, we won't have 500 or 5000 other repairs to draw from. (However, we can collectively learn from each others' experience!)

So - one other thought. This forum (Piano World, I mean) is clearly the best piano discussion forum on the 'net. From even casually browsing other sites, it's clear that some "amateurs" really don't "love" their pianos. I've seen recommendations of using a guitar tuner (the $20 Korg model) to tune one's piano! No reference to learning beat rates, or using a proper ETD. No discussion of proper hammer technique. That's bad tuning. I think those of us on this forum, at least most of us, are pretty well self-selected to be serious about this, and we probably represent less than 5% of all piano owners.

Just my random thoughts.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/31/10 12:25 AM

A very well written and coherent post there, Steve. And, thanks for the honorable mention of me and my DIY piano tech skills. I would actually be a little scared to do to someone else’s piano what I have done to mine. I figure if I make a mistake on my own piano, I can either correct it myself or call a pro. Fortunately, I have not made any major mistakes, though I did over voice a hammer with rubbing alcohol once. It was a real learning experience too. I didn’t ruin the hammer, but I did come close. I also made a rookie mistake recently when I replaced some of the bass strings on my vintage Yamaha C7; I handled the new strings with my bare hands and now they have tarnished finger prints on the shinny new copper where I touched them while installing them. I got in a hurry and didn’t think about that. The actual string replacement went well and they sure do sound good!

I will say that I have learned a lot about pianos here on PW. And, I think you are right, this is the best piano related site on the internet. I’m proud to be a member here and I spend way too much time logged in to the forums. But it is my favorite past time. I have learned a lot from the real piano techs here and I always try to show them respect and appreciation for their help. There are a couple of them in particular that have been very helpful to me with support and information. I have also purchased some piano related things from the PW store to help support this site. I’ve also given a donation to Piano World. That is how much I appreciate this forum.

Fact is, if some of these real techs here didn’t live so far away, I’d be willing to pay them to come to my home and show me some things about piano technology, like how to stab the hammers with the voicing needles without stabbing my fingers! grin There is a lot to learn about piano technology, weather we are a DIYer or a pro. One thing is for sure, we can indeed learn from each other.

Take care,

Rick
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/31/10 08:40 AM

My desire to learn to tune and maintain my piano is what caused me to learn many years ago. I can't STAND to play an out of tune piano and I could not afford to have a tuner come in every month or two to touch it up so I learned. Difficult but not as hard as I thought. I am still improving and my tunings please me greatly. It's irrelevant to me whether it would please some unknown tuner. It's pretty apparent that not everyone is necessarily pleased with all 'pro' tunings, hence things like 'Grand Obsession' where the author was searching for a specific sound and was not getting it from the 'pros'.

It's similar in many ways to home maintenance and renovation. My first attempts were crude at best but after years of learning and improving, my results are as good as most 'pros'. They have to learn too by the way.

Many pros give examples of horror stories or make fun of attempts they've seen but they forget that they never see the most successful ones because we rarely need them and they never see their results, so their view is distorted. I've seen some amazingly poor work done by 'pros' over the years too.

It's a fun and satisfing thing to do and a worthwhile goal in spite of the negative attitudes of some.

I supported computer networks for many years and many of my colleagues made fun of and ridiculed beginners at that too. I never understood that either and did what I could to offer my help and expertise to help them get up to speed. I never felt threatened by them and encouraged them whenever I could.

I applaud anyone trying to learn something new, it seems like a good thing to me. I don't get it.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/31/10 04:05 PM

Quote:
Many pros give examples of horror stories or make fun of attempts they've seen but they forget that they never see the most successful ones because we rarely need them and they never see their results, so their view is distorted. I've seen some amazingly poor work done by 'pros' over the years too.


You want to see a horror story? You should have heard MY first piano tuning! While I thought it sounded "perfectly in tune" my dad told me in my later years, that it sounded like crap... grin ha

Those "pros" to whom you refer, Roger, are not pros. Pros do good work. Hacks and dishonest people do poor work. They are "tooners" that have no business being in this business in the first place. We follow up after these idiots all the time. smile

Happy New Year you all!
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/31/10 06:19 PM

There are two definitions of "Pro". One is a technician who can efficiently achieve a refined stable tuning, in addition to touch and tone regulating, and is in demand by discriminating clients for this work.

Then there is the other type of "Pro" (or "tooners" as some of us call them!). These are the ones who can't really tune a piano to a reasonable standard, and may even cause damage trying to fix them: i.e. WD-40 to lube an action! This type of "Pro" may be full time and may advertise in the phone book, internet,and or Craigslist. They make up for their lack of skill by charging substandard rates and/or having a convincing song and dance. Some of these folks actually make a better living than some skilled techs!

Assuming that the professional tuning spectrum is a bell curve, you can figure the top 20% are terrific, and the bottom 20% are lousy. The rest of us fit somewhere in the middle. The problem is (like Rickster says) that in some areas one of those top 20% techs may not be available. Maybe not even a top 50% tech. I have known more than one piano technician who got into the biz because they simply could not find anyone who could do the job to their satisfaction.

I have no doubt that a conscientious piano owner who does his/her homework can learn to service their own piano and get results that are far superior to the professional "tooner". With enough practice and effort I see no reason why they couldn't achieve truly professional level results.
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 12/31/10 07:08 PM

I recently tuned an Everett that a self professed pro had replaced the hammers on. I really wish I had photographed it. None of the hammers were even close to the same angle with the strings and they didn't line up even with each other in any way. He charged the lady $400.00. I think her teenage son could have at least got them all in a nice even row :-)


I don't know first hand, but I expect this inconsistancy may be why the PTG was formed.

However, that's another can of worms and I hope I'm not sorry for even mentioning it.
Posted by: cyclotron

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/03/11 02:40 AM

I am your basic fourth string amateur piano player. Tuning isn't really my thing, but there are times...

In college we had an old grand available for anyone to play on. You could tell from all the cigarette burns. One day several keys were jammed - Pencil in the works. That day I learned how to pull the action and put it back. I became five bucks richer in change, had writing implements for the year and two class rings (six years apart).

Later I ended up working in Saudi Arabia, a country with mixed feelings about music. I couldn't find a decent piano and ended up buying an electric.

Several months later I snagged a Yamaha upright from the Taiwan Interest Section (equivalent to their embassy). It was bought in Japan, moved to Taiwan and then recently to Saudi. It was still in the shipping crate and came with a full internal complement of cockroach traps.

Minor problem: no decent tuners and NO technicians. Where to begin?

I had my machine shop make a tuning hammer and a few regulating tools. It was basically in tune (Fortunately). I adjusted a few unisons. Pulled up two bass notes that were low and did some basic regulating.

All was well except that those bass strings did tend to drift and a few more joined the group a few years later. So on my next trip to Europe I talked to the technician at a big piano store in Bonn and got ten oversize pins. Only needed five.

Several years later I found a decent tuner, but still no technician, "Not bad, but you're 12 cents low."

Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Hiring a tuner/technician is much easier and I wouldn't even think of doing a complete tuning or trying regulation. Oh, and I don't have perfect pitch, thankfully.

Dan Carroll
Posted by: cyclotron

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/03/11 02:51 AM

Trying Voicing, not trying regulation. Been there, done that.

It's late.

Dan Carroll
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/03/11 08:32 AM

Interesting perspective 'cyclotron'.

There are many reasons to pursue some of these skills beside saving money. Even though that was part of my initial motivation, satisfaction and interest was what kept me interested over time.
Posted by: leemax

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/03/11 10:31 AM

I'm a bicycle shop owner and have worked with bikes for about 35 years. This discussion sort of reminds me of when people talk about truing their own bicycle wheels. I know there are amateurs who can do an OK job, but I pretty much only see the failed attempts. I imagine piano tuning is much the same in that the basic techniques can be taught easily, but the art of doing it proficiently, every time, and on a wide varitey of wheels takes years to master. When people ask me about truing their own wheels, I often suggest they practice on a wheel they don't care about.
In spite of being quite mechanically adept I have never considered tuning my own piano. I have adjusted some of the dampers, and my technician showed me how to tighten some of the hundreds of little screws that have worked loose on my old piano.
Posted by: sam235813

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/03/11 06:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Pianolance
One thing that came in handy and was sort of a suprise, I got a speeding ticket this summer and the judge sentanced me to 8 hours of community service.
that's a stiff sentence. habitual offender?
Posted by: Hop

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/04/11 10:45 AM

Originally Posted By: rysowers
I am in Cy's camp! I have purchased professional tuning levers for clients who are interested in tuning. I have a link to places to buy tools, and acquire tuning software on my website. I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who wants to try their hand at tuning a piano! Even if it doesn't work out, they will gain a deeper appreciation to the craft, and their piano. So what if a string breaks? It happens to all of us! As a professional in the service industry I feel it is NOT professional to make a client feel embarrassed or ashamed if they attempted a repair themselves. Sometimes they do surprisingly well. Other times.... wink



As an amateur owner, player and tuner, I have to admit that my instrument is likely inferior to the very best Steinway D, my playing is not to the professional standards of an Oscar Peterson, and my tuning skills do not equal those of a concert tuner. In all likelihood, none of these peaks will ever be obtained in my lifetime. If these were the main criteria, I would stop now.

As for tuning my own piano, it deepens my appreciation for the instrument and the process of tuning. I find it interesting and worthwhile. So far, I have not often tuned an entire keyboard to the level of a good tuner. The primary result of my tuning efforts so far has been to have a professional tuner service my piano more often the previously. I don't see that as a bad thing.

One additional benefit is that I can now determine the differences in the quality of the tunings I pay for. I have had three different tuners, one of whom was excellent and two of whom were very good to excellent. I now have a basis of comparison and can evaluate who I want to call. This is not a bad thing either.

Hop
Posted by: Mike86

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/06/11 01:19 PM

I tune my harpsichords about once a month out of necessity. I use the Korg Orchestral tuner for most of it and tune the extreme notes by ear. It does a good job. I never break strings now, but I did when I began a few decades ago.

Personally, I would like to buy the tools and tune my piano, but I will leave it to the professionals. I would hate to break a string or bend a tuning pin. Plus, it's a big job compared to a 2-choir harpsichord.

Mike86
Posted by: ando

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/06/11 03:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Mike86
I tune my harpsichords about once a month out of necessity. I use the Korg Orchestral tuner for most of it and tune the extreme notes by ear. It does a good job. I never break strings now, but I did when I began a few decades ago.

Personally, I would like to buy the tools and tune my piano, but I will leave it to the professionals. I would hate to break a string or bend a tuning pin. Plus, it's a big job compared to a 2-choir harpsichord.

Mike86


Hey Mike, I thought you had a loaner Kawai to practise on for a while... wink
Posted by: wouter79

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/07/11 03:14 PM

The unisons may be the hardest but also the first one that audibly go out of tune.

I have tweaked them both on my previous grand (Petrof IV) and on my current one (Grotrian 189) with good results. At least the sound acceptable again and saves me some annoyance till the tuner comes around again.

Just a very little pulling and pushing usually does the trick with unisons. In my case only 1 string was out, the other 2 were still ok.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/07/11 04:36 PM

Originally Posted By: wouter79
The unisons may be the hardest but also the first one that audibly go out of tune.

I have tweaked them both on my previous grand (Petrof IV) and on my current one (Grotrian 189) with good results. At least the sound acceptable again and saves me some annoyance till the tuner comes around again.

Just a very little pulling and pushing usually does the trick with unisons. In my case only 1 string was out, the other 2 were still ok.


This has been my experience as well… when I notice a unison a little twangy or has that slow “cat’s meow” or has an odd ring to it, I’ll take a rubber mute and determine which string of the unison is out. It is usually one of the outer strings and on occasion it might be the middle string. It doesn’t take long to clean up the unison so it sounds pure.

I’ve also learned that after several times cleaning up a few wayward unisons, the overall tuning will become less “in tune” and some intervals become a little dissonant; that is when a full tuning is in order.

There is nothing sweeter than a fresh tuning… smile

Rick
Posted by: Edtek

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 01/07/11 09:51 PM

"There is nothing sweeter than a fresh tuning… "

Rick, you said a mouthful! I tuned my Hamilton a week after I got it 3 months ago. After the passage of time and switching from high humidity cooling to how humidity heating it seemed that playing the piano didn't excite me as much. Tuned it this weekend and there's that wonderful sweet sound again, can't keep my hands off it :-)

Ed
Posted by: Mario Bruneau

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 03/16/11 09:22 PM

Interesting thread.

I always encouraged my clients to try the DIY or at least study the piano tuning and servicing. A knowledgeable pianist is better equipped to perform when he knows how the piano works.

Likewise, I think DIYers can sometimes do a better job than the "tooners" Some so called pros. There are too many around unfortunately.

In the DIY world, I have to say that the resources on the Net are poor.

The DIY sites often give bad informations but then again, a lot of "pros" do so too!

But today with YouTube, one can see and hear what's good and what's not.

I have seen videos with people commenting on a pro tuner like he was a king or a master and he did it all by ear! People just don't make the difference between good and bad "pro" tuners.

I invite you to look and listen to this video:

http://www.tucson-piano-tuning.com/blog/piano-tuning/piano-tuning#more-36

I want to start sharing my knowledge with HowToTunePianos.com (http for short) It is not online yet but will be within weeks.

When my clients call me because they notice their piano is out of tune, then I know I am in trouble.

Don't have your piano tuned because it is out of tune, have it tuned to keep it in tune!
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 03/17/11 10:39 AM

Hi, Mario...

I watched the video you mentioned and it was interesting. You could tell the tuner worked pretty quickly and knew what he was doing. The only thing I saw that was a little surprising is how rough he was on the tuning pins. It looked to me like he was “flag-polling” the heck out of the tuning pins (bending the pin without turning/twisting the pin in the pin block).

I don’t know… maybe its okay to “flag-pole” the tuning pins if you are a pro and know how far you can go without doing any damage to the pin or the pin-block.

Thanks for sharing!

Rick
Posted by: Cy Shuster, RPT

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 03/17/11 11:45 AM

Tip: when inserting or removing mutes, please step on the sustain pedal. This prevents damper damage.

Inserting a mute moves the string sideways a bit. For those dampers shaped like a "V" or a "W", this squeezes the narrow edge that goes between strings. Over time, the damper felt will get deformed so the narrow edge hangs below the strings, causing problems like whooshing noises when the damper is lifted. I've seen dampers with 1/4" of felt hanging down!

Playing can cause this, too, but this is just one of those subtleties of working on pianos. Please protect yours.

--Cy--
Posted by: Mario Bruneau

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 03/30/11 10:20 AM

Hi folks,

I was kind of hoping for more replies.

C'mon guys! Give it a shot!

Tell me what you think about this video and the comments too.
Posted by: mikf

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 03/30/11 02:08 PM

I have made my own wine, was it as good as I can buy - no, would a wine expert scoff at it - yes, did it put the wine makers out of business - no, was it fun to do, cheap and drinkable - yes.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 03/30/11 06:45 PM

Interesting little video. Looks like the gentleman is still enjoying his craft! thumb

One thing I wonder about though is the super long tip he's using on his tuning lever. I was always told those were a no-no because they cause so much more flex and flag-poling of the tuning pin, which can create tuning stability problems.
Posted by: Mario Bruneau

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/03/11 07:03 PM

Dear fellow piano lovers,

I presented this video to you to show what should NOT be done to the tuning pins.

My opinion on this gentlemen piano tuner is that he might be a good pianist but not so good a piano tuner.

Like other mentioned here, he really is hard on the tuning pins.

Funny enough, people seem to think that because he works fast that "he must know what he is doing" Well, my opinion is, maybe he is doing it fast but very far from perfection. His unisons are far from accurate, the temperament is so so and the highs are completely out.

BTW he is using a long bit only for highs to pass over the plate. In the middle he was using a bit longer than a regular but not as long as for the high region.
Posted by: Prof.Pickles

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/06/11 10:23 PM

I made a video on how to tune your own piano using an oscilloscope and entered in a contest.

I really could use your vote!

Here are the links and let me know what you think too.
Contest page: http://mytektronixscope.com/videos/

This was a fun video to make and share. I hope you enjoy and support me.
Thanks

PS: I had posted this under a different forum but I think this is a better home for it being it is just general piano chat. Sorry if you already read this in the other forum.

Todd Harrison
Posted by: knotty

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/09/11 11:58 AM

Don't tune your piano by yourself.

1. You will spend lots of time tuning it.
2. Your piano will sound so gorgeous, it will make it painful to play on any piano not tuned within the last 78 hours.
3. You will have difficulty listening to commercial CDs, as the pianos are so often out of tune.

Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/09/11 01:29 PM

And should the pins become loose prematurely, don't expect it to be covered by the warranty. Same if you break a string.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/09/11 03:41 PM

"Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire."

LOL that makes me wonder, do tuners ever go to a concert or listen to recorded music? Probably half of the pianos sound awfully out of tune? If they play piano themselves, do they tune every 3 days or so?
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/09/11 04:14 PM

Originally Posted By: wouter79
"Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire."

LOL that makes me wonder, do tuners ever go to a concert or listen to recorded music? Probably half of the pianos sound awfully out of tune? If they play piano themselves, do they tune every 3 days or so?
When I go to a concert or listen to recorded music, I listen to the MUSIC. Unless the piano is really horribly out of tune, I don't notice any problems.

If I'm called to tune an instrument, THEN ... I go over it with a fine tooth comb listening to it in a different way.
Posted by: Mario Bruneau

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/18/11 09:37 PM

Originally Posted By: wouter79
"Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire."

LOL that makes me wonder, do tuners ever go to a concert or listen to recorded music? Probably half of the pianos sound awfully out of tune? If they play piano themselves, do they tune every 3 days or so?


Yes it is a drag when you get sort of perfect pitch. I especially find it hard to go at concerts with "non keyboard instruments" like violin, singer, flute, those instruments often sound out of tune to me. The intonation is often not so good even at pro concerts.

On the other hand, I don't encounter that many piano concerts with an out of tune piano thankfully. But when it happens, it really freak me out. I mean, get a "real" piano tuner.

But then again there are "circumstances"

If a piano is tuned perfectly before a concert and then, for the concert 10,000watts worth of lighting is on, BANG! the piano gets out of tune. It's a matter of minutes not even hours for this effect to happen.

I usually tune my piano every 3 months.

But if I'm recording I might tune it 3 times A DAY!
Posted by: Supply

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/18/11 10:27 PM

Finally! The ultimate on-line video tutorial for tuning your own piano at home!

http://youtu.be/mYwSe_ixkCU
Posted by: Rickster

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/19/11 08:07 AM

Well, I thought I might learn something from that video, but it’s not too educational and it was just uploaded to YT on April 17 2011 (this past Sunday).

That’s not you in that video is it, Jurgen? laugh (Just kidding)

Rick
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/19/11 08:47 AM

Oh, but you can learn something from that video, Rick:

1) iPhones have been around for almost 100 years.
2) Impact tuning levers have been around for almost a hundred years.
3) Loren has been around for almost 100 years (and given the hue of his hair in the video, probably 50 more).
4) What really counts, is not the sound you get from the piano. It's using the right tuning lever.

smile
Posted by: wouter79

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/19/11 04:09 PM

Quote:
I especially find it hard to go at concerts with "non keyboard instruments" like violin, singer, flute, those instruments often sound out of tune to me. The intonation is often not so good even at pro concerts.


Interesting but I think I know what you mean. But sometimes you hear a perfectly tuned set of wind instruments and then it sounds awesome. I guess I have been lucky

Quote:
If a piano is tuned perfectly before a concert and then, for the concert 10,000watts worth of lighting is on, BANG! the piano gets out of tune. It's a matter of minutes not even hours for this effect to happen.


Never noticed it is that bad but you might be right... Maybe they should paint these concert pianos white instead of black laugh

Quote:
"I usually tune my piano every 3 months."

That is much less frequent than I was expecting. That is without tweaking a few strings in between the tunings?
Posted by: RayE

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 04/19/11 04:36 PM

Back when I had an acoustic piano, a had purchased a tuning hammer and some mutes. I never have nor never intended to tune my entire piano, but I have done a little touch up between tunings, fixing unisons that go out, or one or two notes here and there. This greatly extended the time I could go between tunings, and wasn't hard to learn how to do.
Posted by: Mario Bruneau

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 06/17/11 09:34 PM

Originally Posted By: wouter79

Quote:
"I usually tune my piano every 3 months."

That is much less frequent than I was expecting. That is without tweaking a few strings in between the tunings?


You might be surprise that it is much less frequent than you where expecting but bear in mind that the most often a piano is tuned, the less it tends to go out of tune.

Like I say and saw other say it too:

Quote:
Don't tune your piano because it is out of tune, tune it to keep it in tune
Posted by: Jasper82

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 06/21/11 05:08 PM

I would love to be a piano tuner but I have tinnitus. frown
Posted by: BDB

Re: tune your piano by yourself! - 06/21/11 06:19 PM

So do I, but I have learned to listen to what I have to listen to, and I tune for the greats.