What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?`

Posted by: hoola

What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 02:43 AM

I think that there are a lot of differences between a top notch and an average piano technician on works of voicing and regulations (I don't talk about rebuilding works which require even more skills).

But how about tuners? With softwares and electronic tools which have graphics to put side by side the right sounds and the out-of-tune sounds, and more features that I can imagine such as set the temperament then its corresponding characteristics... I guess that nowadays, technicians only need max few weeks to learn to use these softwares, tools... then the differences between a top-notch and an average technician are not as important as before.

??? Thanks
Posted by: BDB

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 03:00 AM

There are aspects of tuning that machines still have not mastered. But the biggest difference may be most apparent a while after the tuning. The better the tuner, the longer the piano stays close to being in tune.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 03:22 AM

Originally Posted By: hoola
But how about tuners? With softwares and electronic tools which have graphics to put side by side the right sounds and the out-of-tune sounds, and more features that I can imagine such as set the temperament then its corresponding characteristics... I guess that nowadays, technicians only need max few weeks to learn to use these softwares, tools... then the differences between a top-notch and an average technician are not as important as before.

By far the best way to answer your question is to get yourself some software and a tuning hammer then have a go.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 03:41 AM

Originally Posted By: hoola
I guess that nowadays, technicians only need max few weeks to learn to use these softwares, tools...



This is definitely not true. Even with the most advanced machines (TuneLab, Verituner, Cybertuner), a novice will probably need to tune at least 50 pianos before the tunings are passable and at least double or triple that before they can be considered proficient. And they will have to have at least a basic understanding of tuning theory in order to program the machine properly. For aural tuners who start learning to use an ETD, many have problems adjusting (taking more than a few weeks), and some of them ultimately decide it's not worth the hassle to change.


Originally Posted By: hoola
then the differences between a top-notch and an average technician are not as important as before.


All technicians have their strengths and weaknesses. For some, it's tuning, for others, it's technical work. While using a machine can definitely lower the learning curve, it is not eliminated. As I said before, one still has to know how to program the machine, and one has to be able to tune perfect unisons by ear, and do it quickly, and make sure that the tuning is stable.

The overwhelming majority of pianists cannot tell the difference between an "average" tuning and a "top-notch" tuning and after a certain point, what constitutes a "top-notch" tuning is subjective. Unfortunately, many tuners get so wrapped up in the tuning that they ignore the other stuff....
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 03:59 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
There are aspects of tuning that machines still have not mastered.


True enough in some respects, I suppose, but then again, not all ETDs are the same. I can't speak for the other programs, but it is unlikely that most RPTs could beat a Verituner tuning (especially when using custom styles), and this is not just my opinion, as many RPTs I know share this view.



Originally Posted By: BDB
But the biggest difference may be most apparent a while after the tuning. The better the tuner, the longer the piano stays close to being in tune.


Beyond a certain point, I'm skeptical of how true this is, because there are so many things (the weather, for example) that can conspire against even the most solid tuning. I know this from experience, having done fairly large pitch raises on pianos a month after they were previously tuned by really good tuners.
Posted by: hoola

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 04:58 AM

@withindale:
1/ I humbly ask this question as service consumer, not as a service provider.

2/ Let's focus: This question is to see the gap of nowadays between a top-notch and an average. The reason is some so-called "top-notch" charge $175 US dollars, and an "average" charge in the range $80 -> $120. So what are the difference when both would use same softwares, or same ETD?

3/ "get yourself some software and a tuning hammer then have a go": I'm not even a rookie in this field, and have no intention to become one. Again : just a service consumer's question.


@beethoven986:
1/ "a novice will probably need to tune at least 50 pianos before the tunings are passable": I asked about average + top-notch, not about novice.

2/ "one still has to know how to program the machine": I earn my living in the last 20 years as a software engineer (mechanical in the beginning of professional life then switch to IT, so I'm very sensitive to trainings, and differences between different qualifications). The learning curve of how to program the machine is exactly the same for an average, a top-notch. But the top-notch will not always learn faster, sometimes much slower, because programming is something new to both of them. I'm very senior in Oracle then Java/J2EE, but when I have to learn DOJO I mumble as a baby, 5 times slower than a 26 year old guy!

So after programming phase of the new machine, what's the big difference between a top-notch and an average technician in related to piano tuning?

Regards
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 06:54 AM

Greetings,
The top notch tuner is one with a combination of dexterity, which is needed for pin setting, hearing that can discern the faint phasing required for unisons, and exposure to other techs of similar ability. I don't see many top notch techs that have spent their careers isolated from other techs.
The mediocre tech doesn't care, the purpose of tuning the piano is to get paid. Others do that too, but also tune the piano so that it represents who they are, and I find that customers will pay more for that. The only top notch tuners I have seen really, really, like working on pianos. Most of them have solid, formal, training. Most of them have a long list of customers that will vouch for them.
And, their tunings stay "in tune" longer.
Regards,
Posted by: Withindale

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 07:16 AM

My point is that there is more to tuning than one might imagine, tuning hammer and listening skills for starters. Have a look at the current thread on Unison Tuning in the tech forum to get an idea.

You could well be right about ETDs raising the base level.

As a general rule on price, my grandfather's advice to never go for the cheapest or the most expensive probably applies. Performance comes before price in this field.
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 07:36 AM

From my vantage point as a novice, there are many requirements. An average tuner-tech would hopefully get most of these right at some level of proficiency, while a top-notch should get all of them (and possibly more) right at a high level:

* Interacting professionally with the client
* The actual tuning (laying and expanding a decent temperament, appropriate and/or desired stretch, clean unisons)
* Importantly, like BDB said: making the tuning stable
* Addressing/resolving small repairs and adjustments as they appear, i.e. striving to leave touch and tone a bit better than it was found
* Advising on the need and/or feasibility of larger repairs, adjustments, etc.
* Doing all of this in a reasonable amount of time.

Other than the second point, I don't see that the mastery of machines or their programs is going to help much.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 08:13 AM

Having been a member here for several years now, I've seen this topic come up several times. It can get heated, and tempers can flair (or is it flare? smile ).

Anyway, as someone who has learned to tune my own pianos, and, having tuned several pianos for others (for free) I must say that I have learned why piano tuners charge what they do… it is not at all easy, and can be very time consuming and tedious work; however, the end result is what really counts.

So, with that said, I do indeed have a renewed respect for really good piano tuners.

I can’t say that I’ve tuned 50 pianos, but have definitely tuned my pianos 50 times (or more). smile

I say that if a piano owner wants to give it try, go for it… however, there are risks involved.

Rick
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 08:19 AM

In my opinion, there are crucial differences between a top-notch tuning and an average one. Please note that I have not worded this as differences between tuners (i.e., people) but rather as differences between tunings (i.e., the finished job).

I do not believe, based on the evidence of my ears, that a tuning that relies solely upon a machine is ever as good as one that relies primarily upon the ears of the person doing the job. I have experienced both (or rather my piano has, I just listen). Machine-based tunings just are not the same. The tempering that an ear-based tuning can supply sounds wonderful, and tends to be missing from a machine-based tuning, at least to the sophisticated extent that ears can provide. Probably because of this, an ear-based tuning can last a long time. I can hear the chords going out of tune a lot more quickly with a machine-based tuning, something I attribute to the fact that the machine probably never got them fully correct in the first place.

To me, this is a situation in which my Luddite-ism is warranted by the facts. I mourn the dying art of tuners using their ears to tune pianos. The best tunings I have ever had start either with a fork to set A at 440, or with a machine used for that sole purpose; the rest relies on the tuner's ears. It is getting harder to find people who tune pianos this way--if you find someone who does, stick with them!!!
Posted by: Bob

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 08:30 AM

In addition to some good comments above, a top notch tuner has a commitment to excellence. A desire to tune each piano a bit better than the previous piano. A willingness to go over the piano until it's right, and a realization that they are only as good as the last piano they tuned.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 08:43 AM

A great tuner will:
  • Address each piano as an individual
  • Set a temperament appropriate for the instrument
  • Create flawless unisons
  • Set the pins to provide tuning stability

A decent tuner will:
  • Apply a generalized temperament
  • Provide decent unisons
  • Leave the piano sounding OK

A bad tuner will:
  • Charge too much for the quality provided
  • Run away real fast

A Great Tuner spends a lifetime on a quest to provide the perfect tuning, time and time again.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 08:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Bob
In addition to some good comments above, a top notch tuner has a commitment to excellence. A desire to tune each piano a bit better than the previous piano. A willingness to go over the piano until it's right, and a realization that they are only as good as the last piano they tuned.


Bob, you summarized my thoughts better than I could have. Thank you.

With this kind of attitude, one has the makings of being a very professional piano technician, IMHO.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 08:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

I do not believe, based on the evidence of my ears, that a tuning that relies solely upon a machine is ever as good as one that relies primarily upon the ears of the person doing the job. I have experienced both (or rather my piano has, I just listen). Machine-based tunings just are not the same. The tempering that an ear-based tuning can supply sounds wonderful, and tends to be missing from a machine-based tuning, at least to the sophisticated extent that ears can provide. Probably because of this, an ear-based tuning can last a long time. I can hear the chords going out of tune a lot more quickly with a machine-based tuning, something I attribute to the fact that the machine probably never got them fully correct in the first place.

To me, this is a situation in which my Luddite-ism is warranted by the facts. I mourn the dying art of tuners using their ears to tune pianos. The best tunings I have ever had start either with a fork to set A at 440, or with a machine used for that sole purpose; the rest relies on the tuner's ears. It is getting harder to find people who tune pianos this way--if you find someone who does, stick with them!!!


Greetings,

I dunno. After formal training, I spent 16 years tuning aurally in recording studios, at the highest price on the market. The programmable tuning machine I then bought (an arthritis friendly move) made me a better tuner than I was. It is a recording device, it allows cumulative improvement, and it is more consistent than any human. I have dumped my tuning on familiar D's and had some of the best ears on the planet comment favorably on it.
Many machine tuners today never learned to leave a stable tuning, but on a well-scaled piano, there are few aural tuners that would care to compete with say, a V-100 or SAT III. I have seen it done, and perhaps a Jim Coleman or Virgil Smith can tune so accurately that rooms full of techs voting are evenly split between the machine and the ear. However, if one is to believe that any aural tuner is going to be tuning like Jim or Virgil, I have a bridge to sell...
If your "machine" tunings are going out of tune more quickly, it is doubtful that it was because the machine didn't put the pitch in the correct place to begin with. I would first suspect that the person using the machine did a sloppy job of pin setting.
Regards,
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 09:18 AM

I suppose for me, great tuners "push the boundaries" - doesn't matter a bit if they prefer to tune aurally, or use a modern electronic tuning device.

The best 'tune for the music' - too many 'tune for the checks' - (ha ha, I was thinking the tuning test checks, but the money meaning may just as well apply!)

Instead of repeating the same approach over and over, the best tuners will always be searching for ways to make the piano sound better just with the tuning lever. Alternate temperaments, experimenting with stretches, a passionate focus on unisons... all of these can come into play over a tuner's working life.

Ron Koval
Posted by: Steve Jackson

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 09:59 AM


The great aural tuners I know, leave the piano more musical sounding than a machine, the unisons are very solid and the difference is noticeable by most.

Steve
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 11:05 AM

One problem machine tuners have that they are either unaware of or ignore, is that a piano can drift in pitch while tuning from reacting to temperature swings in the air. Ear tuning involves constantly referencing the string you are presently tuning to the strings tuned earlier. If the earlier work is drifting slightly the present work is harmonized with it. If you are tuning to a set of reference pitches stored in memory the newly tuned string will not reflect the drift.

The other problem is some techs think the precision of the machine gives them license to speed tune.

Another machine problem is some of the standard tuning programs have excessive treble stretch and too little bass stretch. This leaves the piano prone to sounding out of tune quicker because the best pitch for each note of the scale is not perfectly centered within the range of "in tune". Thus any rise or fall in overall pitch will quickly make either the bass too sharp or the treble too sharp.

Handled well, a good machine used by a skilled tech will result in a very good, well-centered, stable tuning. I usually tune by ear unless the client prefers a machine.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 11:31 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: BDB
But the biggest difference may be most apparent a while after the tuning. The better the tuner, the longer the piano stays close to being in tune.


Beyond a certain point, I'm skeptical of how true this is, because there are so many things (the weather, for example) that can conspire against even the most solid tuning. I know this from experience, having done fairly large pitch raises on pianos a month after they were previously tuned by really good tuners.


Given similar climatic conditions, the better the tuner, the longer the piano will stay in tune. Weather is a great excuse for sub-par tuners.
Posted by: TunerJeff

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 11:44 AM

I think Ed has hit the nail here...tuners that are glued to their lights and spinning wheels can sometimes miss the fact that the strings they tuned earlier have shifted...they are not actually listening to the work they are doing, and the tuning will suffer. Although they have tuned every single wire precisely to the 'lights', they don't go back and check the 'drift' that any piano will go through during a tuning...especially when the pitch is being raised or lowered by more than a cent or two...and they don't realize that the earlier tuned strings aren't where they left them. An aural tuner automatically infuses later tuning with the sounds of the earlier tuning, and get a more balanced tuning at the end of the day.

A skilled machine user IS listening to, as well as watching, his tuning. Minor offsets, small changes to overall pitch, a willingness to use the ear in troublesome places, and the machine becomes an effective and useful tool that leads to outstanding tuning. I firmly believe that top-notch can be achieved by both aural and machine users, but only when the ear is the final arbiter of what's right.

The true difference between a 'top-notch' and an 'average' tuner, to me at least, is the total package. Is the technician just setting the pins and walking away? That is not, and never will be, top-notch to me!

I spent two years working on a dealership floor before I was willing to charge people for tunings in their homes. Only practice, and tuning LOTS of pianos, can lead to stable tunings that one can be proud of. It is precisely the problem of the day that people think they can buy a machine or program, and turn a few pins, and go out and charge the same fees (or more) than I do for their service. As Snoopy says; "Bleagh!"

Top-notch tuning and stability comes from practice, care, and a never ending attitude that one can (...must!) do better every time they touch a piano. 'Nuff said?

Sipping cup #2,
One sugar,
Ah!
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 11:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
One problem machine tuners have that they are either unaware of or ignore, is that a piano can drift in pitch while tuning from reacting to temperature swings in the air. Ear tuning involves constantly referencing the string you are presently tuning to the strings tuned earlier. If the earlier work is drifting slightly the present work is harmonized with it. If you are tuning to a set of reference pitches stored in memory the newly tuned string will not reflect the drift.

Another machine problem is some of the standard tuning programs have excessive treble stretch and too little bass stretch. This leaves the piano prone to sounding out of tune quicker because the best pitch for each note of the scale is not perfectly centered within the range of "in tune". Thus any rise or fall in overall pitch will quickly make either the bass too sharp or the treble too sharp.
.


Greetings,
I don't see the machine's strict adherence to a pitch standard as being a liability. If notes are being tuned to variable pitch due to temp swings, the notes tuned from these notes can land on either side of correct, depending on what sort of temperature swing has occurred between the 2nd and 3rd note tuned. I think this self-referential aspect to pitches, applied in variable conditions, lends itself to more cumulative error than otherwise, ie, if a note is tuned in the warm cycle of a swing, then its octave is tuned in a cool cycle, the double octave will be out of control at other temps, with little to reference it with. I have tuned on stages where there was a combination of windy HVAC and nervous stage crews testing every light they had. I remember a keyboard's worth of octaves all swimming sharp and flat of where I put them, but none were so far out that they called attention to themselves.

One feature of the machine that I was never able to aurally match was its pitch change feature. I have sent a one pass pitch correction tuning into a broadcast situation, (live! we forgot to call! quick, can you tune it in an hour?) So, I had an hour to tune a C6 that was anywhere from 8 to 13 cents flat, with a top end that was almost at pitch. Flute and piano, live public radio. Plan my overpulls, punch in the corrections, use my ears, finish and all was well. I can't do that by ear alone, and I will wager the price of a tuning that there is no aural tuner that can leave a piano in 95% usuable shape from 10 cents away, in one pass.

Particularly when parts of the piano are not so far off. In order to tune it in one pass, how best to approach it when the piano is normal at the bottom, 3 cents flat at the top of the bass , 6 cents off at the break, maybe 3 cents off by mid C, 1 cent off by A5, then descending to 10 cents flat at the very top. I don't know of an aural approach that will leave the double and triple octaves within a cent of optimum without going through the piano twice, but a careful measurement with the ETD can lay out a plan of action that will leave that piano within a cent of ideal, which is far more unified in one pass than an ear can attain.

Even in situations where the maximum deviation is only 4 cents in places, can the aural tuner make the .25 cent accommodation required to leave the note exactly where it is ideal? I dont' know if there are many ears that can temper things a quarter of a cent sharper than ideal, in any sort of consistent manner. And then gradually change to smaller and smaller increments of extra tempering? Not so likely.

Machines are not to be trusted with unisons, nor to make the decision how best to tune a piano, but once given the pertinent information, on a nicely scaled instrument, it is a very rare aural tech that can out perform another aural tech armed with an ETD. The ability to measure is just too valuable to do without, and it is a shame that so many machines are being used by those that don't care to use them to fully develop a tuning, but rather, as a bypass to learning how to listen and make judgements. Aural tuning tunes the tuner as well as the instrument, but there is no need, today, to see a machine as a compromise. If pushed, they can exceed the demands of any listener I have encountered.
Regards,
Posted by: Rickster

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 12:09 PM

Okay, I'm not sure if I'm qualified to join this discussion, but I will anyway. smile

I use the TuneLabPro software with my lap-top computer. I create a fresh tuning file for each piano I tune... use the same file for the same pianos. Once the file is set up (measuring for inharmonisity) I always start at A0 at tune up to C88. I used to start in the middle and work my way up then down... but I like starting at A0 and going up to C88.

On the bichords, I tune the left string with tunelab and the right string by ear; same with the tri-chords.

The biggest challenge for me is the last octave or so... I rely on the machine for more than one string per note there...

Thing is, after playing so many "out-of-tune" new pianos at dealers when I was shopping for a piano, my tunings actually sound pretty good to me... smile

Also, while I'm on the subject, I've enjoyed learning to tune almost as much as I've enjoyed learning to play.

Of course, I'm still in the early stages of the learning curve on both. smile

What is the difference between a top-notch tuner and an average tuner? The top-notch tuner's unisons will not sour after a few hours of playing.

Rick
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 12:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Jackson

The great aural tuners I know, leave the piano more musical sounding than a machine, the unisons are very solid and the difference is noticeable by most.

Steve


The great tuners that use electronic tuning devices that I know, leave the piano more musical sounding than most of the working aural techs - with A spot-on 440, and wicked solid unisons. A real ET, or purposeful alternative - as opposed to the accidental "corrected to drift" random temperament that is so common with average aural techs...
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: hoola

@beethoven986:
1/ "a novice will probably need to tune at least 50 pianos before the tunings are passable": I asked about average + top-notch, not about novice.


You made a comment about how long it takes to learn the machine. Hence, my comment is relevant.


Originally Posted By: hoola
So after programming phase of the new machine, what's the big difference between a top-notch and an average technician in related to piano tuning?


At the end of the day, the machine doesn't tune the piano, the person does, and that person must have the ability to manipulate the pin/string in very fine amounts.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 12:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster


I can’t say that I’ve tuned 50 pianos, but have definitely tuned my pianos 50 times (or more). smile


Well, that counts in my book. I suppose I should have said "50 tunings" grin
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 12:34 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: BDB
But the biggest difference may be most apparent a while after the tuning. The better the tuner, the longer the piano stays close to being in tune.


Beyond a certain point, I'm skeptical of how true this is, because there are so many things (the weather, for example) that can conspire against even the most solid tuning. I know this from experience, having done fairly large pitch raises on pianos a month after they were previously tuned by really good tuners.


Given similar climatic conditions, the better the tuner, the longer the piano will stay in tune. Weather is a great excuse for sub-par tuners.


Stated this way, I agree.
Posted by: TunerJeff

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 12:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster

On the bichords, I tune the left string with tunelab and the right string by ear; same with the tri-chords.


Rickster;
I suggest you try tuning the RIGHT string to the tunelab program, and then match the other strings. Why? Because when you shift the action with the pedal, you should be putting that right-string in synch with the upper tuning, not as the 'sounds best here' tuned unison-mate. The right-string will be sounding a lot more prominently than the left of the bichord when the piano is in 'shift' position. Reasonable?

Even with uprights, I will often choose to tune the right string to the program, and then match the unisons (in the bass, we're talking) to that right string. My (...admittedly murky) thinking is that older pianos were always tuned from the factory to the home, by an aural tuner walking DOWN the bass, not up. So the tuning of the right-hand wire is more critical to the result than the left. Consider that this means the piano was tuned at the factory, and the home, by 'favoring' the sound of the right string for most of its life. I find the result more pleasing, at least...and the reasoning works for me.

You might try that, just for fun. I will tune the bass from A0 up, as well, but then I check aurally from the break down before declaring the job done.

I remain,
Sipping the dregs,
Posted by: Rickster

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 01:08 PM

Originally Posted By: TunerJeff
Rickster;
I suggest you try tuning the RIGHT string to the tunelab program, and then match the other strings. Why? Because when you shift the action with the pedal, you should be putting that right-string in synch with the upper tuning, not as the 'sounds best here' tuned unison-mate. The right-string will be sounding a lot more prominently than the left of the bichord when the piano is in 'shift' position. Reasonable?

Even with uprights, I will often choose to tune the right string to the program, and then match the unisons (in the bass, we're talking) to that right string. My (...admittedly murky) thinking is that older pianos were always tuned from the factory to the home, by an aural tuner walking DOWN the bass, not up. So the tuning of the right-hand wire is more critical to the result than the left. Consider that this means the piano was tuned at the factory, and the home, by 'favoring' the sound of the right string for most of its life. I find the result more pleasing, at least...and the reasoning works for me.

You might try that, just for fun. I will tune the bass from A0 up, as well, but then I check aurally from the break down before declaring the job done.

I remain,
Sipping the dregs,

I'll take note of that, Jeff... yes, it make plenty of sense!

Now, if I can just get out of the habit of tuning that left string first. smile

By the way, when I tune my pianos, I'll pound them hard for a few minutes and then critique the unisons for stability.

Piano World is a great place to learn! Always! smile
Thanks, Jeff!

Rick
Posted by: hoola

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 02:18 PM

Thank you,

Even I was overwhelmed by a lot of new words and concepts but the lesson I learn from your rich explanations is: when our piano becomes older and starts having problems here and there, then a top-notch can tune it better because he can work and rework, compensate the problems caused by the inconsistency of the piano's state.

I have an analogy to the Lasik doctor who treated my eyes. 8 years ago, he already operated more than 15000 Lasik cases, while an average Lasik doctor would have much less number. So when my little boy of 2 years spit his foods into my eyes just next day of the Lasik operation, I called Mayday to the doctor in the middle of the night. With his history of over 15000 cases, he calmly explained to me steps to do, and I was very happy because a doctor with 2000, 3000 lasik cases would not make me feel that calm. And he handled other later complications to my eyes in the same way: knowledgeable, assuring.

When the complex, out of ordinary situation happens then a skilled, top-notch will stand out and handle cases in a much better way.
Posted by: S. Phillips

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 04:18 PM

Techs who are listening to fine pianos for concert and recording work use every tool available to make sure that the piano is cleanly in tune. Novice tuners who use an ETD are unaware that the aural tests are still necessary. The entire piano has to meet the testing requirements that are done in the temperament area and the unisons have to be really clean, solid and stable. The best techs are also ones that recognize that voicing affects tuning and tuning affects voicing. Badly fit unshaped hammers, incorrect strike point, uneven density of even well fit hammers, strings not seated, loose or badly placed bridge pins as well as the action regulation and damper timing all affect the result. The total piano has to be considered in the tuning, with the concert tech taking the time ( or demanding the time) to do a complete job.
Posted by: Ragdoll

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 05:35 PM

Quote:
Having been a member here for several years now, I've seen this topic come up several times. It can get heated, and tempers can flair (or is it flare? ).


I think both heh heh laugh
Posted by: PianistInJapan

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 06:11 PM

Speaking of ETDs, does anyone have an opinion on this product?

http://www.dirksprojects.nl/index.php?Lan=english&Page=Tuner/piano_tuner_40.php
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 07:21 PM

Originally Posted By: PianistInJapan
Speaking of ETDs, does anyone have an opinion on this product?

http://www.dirksprojects.nl/index.php?Lan=english&Page=Tuner/piano_tuner_40.php


That it is not available on a pocket pc, Android, or iOS platform is a deal breaker. Totally impractical for a field technician, IMO.
Posted by: PianistInJapan

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 07:37 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: PianistInJapan
Speaking of ETDs, does anyone have an opinion on this product?

http://www.dirksprojects.nl/index.php?Lan=english&Page=Tuner/piano_tuner_40.php


That it is not available on a pocket pc, Android, or iOS platform is a deal breaker. Totally impractical for a field technician, IMO.

That may be, but I was wondering about the technical aspect.

Their claim is that every type of piano needs a slightly different tuning due to differences in harmonics, and in order to make the tuning closest to optimal for a piano, they first measure the harmonics, before calculating the optimal tuning. This measurement is conducted only once and stored in a file, after which it is the base for all subsequent tunings.

They claim that this measurement phase is what distinguishes their software from others on the market.

I am a total novice, so it is hard to judge for me, but it does make sense. At the very least I got to realize that tuning a piano is actually a very complicated process.

Any tuners here who could comment on this software vs. what is already available?
Posted by: Withindale

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 07:42 PM

Try searching here for Dirk, it's been discussed before.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 07:53 PM

The Dirk software sounds a lot like TuneLabPro; even the graphics are similar.

I doubt if I will every tune pianos for pay, but if I did, I'd want the best tools on the market. Good techs use the best tools!

And, I wish I had the time to hang out with Sally Phillips at Columbus State University and watch her tune and critique those Steinways!! smile

Rick
Posted by: daniokeeper

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/05/13 10:34 PM

I have a slightly different take on this...

The best tuner is the one that meets your specific needs.

Sometimes "adequate" can be best, when you consider the big picture... price, availability, personality, etc. (and not just regarding piano tuners smile )

I think the best strategy is to define exactly what your needs are. Then, look for a tuner-tech that can meet those specific needs. IMO smile
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/06/13 01:37 AM

ED FOOTE,
Thanks for quoting me. I did not mean for my post to be seen as contrary of yours. I was only trying to add my observations of how some machine tuners work and how the public reacts. The public sometimes does not react logically to tuning problems they encounter when assessing between machine and aural tuners. Your skills and protocols are of the highest professionalism, your clients are fortunate to have you.

The two issues I addressed regarding pitch drift and un-centered stretch curves are ignored by the marketers of tuning instruments when they tutor their customers. Pianists notice these things though in the conditions I listed and often blame the machine! The same problems can be produced by aural tuning alone yet pianists are likely to be more forgiving. Go figure how prejudices twist things!
Posted by: BDB

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/06/13 02:40 AM

Another difference is that a top-notch tech will know which problems are due to the tuning and which are due to other causes. Machines do not know the difference.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/06/13 03:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Rickster
The Dirk software sounds a lot like TuneLabPro; even the graphics are similar.

When you look behind the screens I think you will find they differ. Dirk's tuner works as PianistinJapan says whereas the TuneLab Pro 4.0 manual describes inharmonicity curves and selecting 6:3 or 4:2 etc. during a tuning.

You can also use Dirk's tuner to assess the tuning of a piano. Play all the notes, compute the optimum, compare actual to optimum. This may be of more interest to owners than technicians.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/06/13 08:33 AM

An ETD is a tool. How well one uses it is a measure of craftsmanship.

An ETD will help a beginning tuners create better tunings earlier. In the hands of an experienced and serious tuner, they sharper tools of the craft. On an out of pitch piano, my final result will much more accurate and stable because I used the pitch-raise function of my Cybertuner.


Experienced tuners will silently affirm when I say you HAVE to use your ears. It's much easier than you think to find yourself tuning a chunk of the piano with your machine (computer) listening to the wrong partial!
Posted by: hoola

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 03:47 PM

I had my piano tuned yesterday.

On the keys with 3 strings, I saw that tuner only used machine to tune the first string (the left one), then he used his ear to tune the middle and the right string using the left string as reference.

I asked him why he did not use machine to tune all 3 strings of the same key. He said that it's better to do 1st with machine, 2 others with ears. I don't fully understand his explanations (he's from Europe and has accents, and English is not my mother language)

Is his way is a good one?

Thanks.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 04:04 PM

Originally Posted By: hoola
I had my piano tuned yesterday.

On the keys with 3 strings, I saw that tuner only used machine to tune the first string (the left one), then he used his ear to tune the middle and the right string using the left string as reference.

I asked him why he did not use machine to tune all 3 strings of the same key. He said that it's better to do 1st with machine, 2 others with ears. I don't fully understand his explanations (he's from Europe and has accents, and English is not my mother language)

Is his way is a good one?

Thanks.

No, it must not be a good technique... that is how I do it. smile

Rick
Posted by: hoola

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 04:22 PM

I appreciate your sense of humour :), but I appreciate more if I can have more explanations, because it seems that it will be out-of-tune if he tuned all 3 strings of the same key with machine.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 04:57 PM

hoola,

What the tuner did was a very good technique and used by lots of tuners. The machine is used to set the pitch, but the ear is more accurate for matching. There is much that a tuner listens to other than just the basic pitch. It takes a long time to develop that level of hearing.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 05:08 PM

hoola,

The first post in the following thread on unison tuning goes into detail:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1887457/Unison%20Tuning.html#Post1887457
Posted by: Mwm

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
hoola,

The first post in the following thread on unison tuning goes into detail:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1887457/Unison%20Tuning.html#Post1887457


The first post in the above thread speaks about string coupling and the possibility of making adjustments to the temperament when tuning the 2nd/3rd string(s) of a unison. It is interesting to note that two very low notes on a pipe organ separated by a semitone, when played simultaneously, will often phase sync into a single pitch. It appears to be random, however, which pitch will result. The synced pitch will be either the lower or the upper note, not an intermediate pitch. Does this random pitch shift in string coupling occur in piano unisons. If so, how can one be sure that the temperament adjustment being made will be reproducible?
Posted by: hoola

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 05:31 PM

Thank you for the intimidating thread, it's like La Mecca of unison, and makes me sweat smile.

Note: However, my thank you is sincere.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 07:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
Originally Posted By: Rickster
The Dirk software sounds a lot like TuneLabPro; even the graphics are similar.

When you look behind the screens I think you will find they differ. Dirk's tuner works as PianistinJapan says whereas the TuneLab Pro 4.0 manual describes inharmonicity curves and selecting 6:3 or 4:2 etc. during a tuning.

You can also use Dirk's tuner to assess the tuning of a piano. Play all the notes, compute the optimum, compare actual to optimum. This may be of more interest to owners than technicians.


I use Dirk's Piano Tuner. I am a pianist, not a technician. I only tune one piano. the software is truly amazing. I would highly recommend it for private use. You still need to learn how to set pins and tune unisons, but the calculated stretch is amazingly beautiful.
Posted by: peterws

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 07:14 PM

If a tuner creates flawless unisons, the moment he walks out of te door, is the moment they deteriorate. Not nice, but acceptable I guess.

As one who has tuned his own piano (Just one, might I add0 It is fun. Yes! You can achieve flawless unisons. Yes! You can achieve flawless octaves, beat perfect. And the top notes? OMG!! Stretch tuning. I did that. The piano sounded Good, to me and `er, who played Chopin (I was stuck on Beethoven (easy play)). . . . Until I played it! . . .but it was worth it. Wonderful memories of 30 years ago . . .
Posted by: S. Phillips

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 07:30 PM

[quote=peterws]If a tuner creates flawless unisons, the moment he walks out of te door, is the moment they deteriorate. Not nice, but acceptable I guess.

That is the point of stabilizing the pin. The tuning won't move as soon as the tuner walks out the door.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 10:25 PM

I have seen situations in several markets where a Tech with a prestigious account does not provide the same level of service to customers of lesser musical professional status. Say for instance they service pianos for the resident professional orchestra part time and gain private clients who expect them to provide artist level services for them. For these clients they do a lower standard work and charge a premium price-then if the client complains they claim the same standard was applied to their piano that the touring pro's get-and the pro's are happy!

Conversely I have seen techs who haven't had a chance to have a top position who consistently turn out well serviced, voiced and stably tuned pianos for the "average" user.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: What differences between top-notch tuner and average tuner?` - 03/07/13 10:27 PM

Originally Posted By: S. Phillips
[quote=peterws]If a tuner creates flawless unisons, the moment he walks out of te door, is the moment they deteriorate. Not nice, but acceptable I guess.

That is the point of stabilizing the pin. The tuning won't move as soon as the tuner walks out the door.


Yeah, what she said.

There is a point in the unison where the differences of the three strings is small enough so that the resulting note doesn't "move" which is often the only goal that circumstances warrant. There is often another point where the note blooms, signaling some mysterious alignment, that, though fragile, beckons with ineffable musical qualities. It is more than just a quiet unison, it is synergy made manifest.

Obviously, a pair of strings' behavior can be easily plotted, they approach unison and then depart and there is only one point of maximum agreement. This isn't the case with three strings, which offer the possibility of phases of phases. The three relate to one another in a wide variety of ways, leaving me to wonder if perhaps there is room for a fractal perspective on what the simple combinations of three frequencies is capable of producing.

By now, my best unisons come from a mindless approach. I don't think about the note, I don't think about my car, I don't think about getting old or needing a shoelace, or anything else. I just try to follow David Anderson's guidance to accept that I am a good tuner, and if I get totally in the moment with a piano, I will get a good tuning. So, I get a cleaner, more consistent result if I stop thinking about what I am hearing and instead, pay attention to what it feels like.
Regards,