absence makes the heart grow fonder

Posted by: Tech 5

absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/08/12 04:09 PM

But what does it do to the piano? That is the question. I was away visiting my daughter for one week. My piano wasn't played during that week and now it sounds "funny."....like the damper pedal is pressed when its not. Is this a normal thing to happen in just one week of non use of a piano that has been tuned in the last 3 months?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/08/12 04:17 PM


Hmmm….just like cats we all have no idea what the piano is up to when we are not around. Obviously while you were not there your instrument did not want to put a damper on any fun times…...
Posted by: Olek

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/08/12 05:14 PM

When you go always leave enough water to your instrument (and a few scores so he can play)

A pic of you can help, also.

Joke apart, what I notice is that pianists are used to their piano and get along whatever condition it is, then after holidays are a few weeks without playing it, they come with fresh ears, and the piano sound strange (sometime/often with reasons)

A played piano sound better , but I believe the tuner have something to do with that as well.
Posted by: jim ialeggio

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/08/12 06:26 PM

I agree with Isaac...for better of for worse, pianists are used to accommodating to their pianos, not the other way round.

On one hand, this is a handy defense or survival mechanism. Since pianos often don't sound as good as we perceive them them to sound, and since the pianist has little to no control over the actual sound of the instrument, if they fretted about its actual sound, they'd have to keep a tech on retainer, or be frustrated often.

As with other defense mechanisms, it helps one survive, but its also a drag. This because for many pianists, the actual sound of the instrument gradually becomes more of a remembered experience, rather than an actual present sensual experience.

That's why I became a tech...I want that experienced sound when I sit down to play...often...not just twice a year for a week-and-a-half.

Jim Ialeggio
Posted by: rxd

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/08/12 11:58 PM

Our human perceptions are a huge variable but it is rarely the whole story. The piano can also change.

While I am familiar with the sometimes intense cold of N Carolina and Georgia at this time of year, I am not so familiar with S. CarolIna. Did you lower the heating while you were away and was it during the time of your recent spell of inclement weather that I have been reading about?
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/09/12 04:28 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd
Our human perceptions are a huge variable but it is rarely the whole story. The piano can also change.

While I am familiar with the sometimes intense cold of N Carolina and Georgia at this time of year, I am not so familiar with S. CarolIna. Did you lower the heating while you were away and was it during the time of your recent spell of inclement weather that I have been reading about?


No drastic inclement weather occurred in my absence and the room temperature wasn't adjusted because my husband remained home where I was gone. I just wondered if this was a common occurrence that pianos sound differently after just one week of nonuse.
Posted by: rxd

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/09/12 06:15 AM



Yes. Pianists do develop a sensitivity to their piano.

It is, however, dangerous ground on this forum because there are those who are insensitive to their pianos and confirm this insensitivity by bullying those who perceive differences. So be prepared.

I check on the same 7-8 concert and recording pianos in the same building most mornings. Just a 2-3 minutes on each to make sure they are ready for a days work. Sometimes I might make minor adjustments, often not. Most of them don't change much but two of them seem a bit different to me every time I see them.

I have measured atmospherics in these 2 rooms and made comparisons, all the things you would expect. The changes can certainly depend on whether it has recently been played heavily or spent the last day hardly being played at all.

So, yes, some of it may be the way you perceive the piano after not playing it for a week, you may even be hearing things you hadn't noticed before. Since you mention sustain, if it is an upright, you may be noticing the after ring that is common to all uprights but is rarely noticed. That would be a credit to your increasing sensitivity.
Apart from all this, the piano can change from not being played.

One thing I never do with pianos is to attribute human characteristics to them.......they hate it when you do that!!! (my apologies to whoever said that first on this forum).
Posted by: Withindale

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/09/12 06:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
But what does it do to the piano?

... and to the pianist?
Posted by: jim ialeggio

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/09/12 09:45 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd



So, yes, some of it may be the way you perceive the piano after not playing it for a week, you may even be hearing things you hadn't noticed before. Since you mention sustain, if it is an upright, you may be noticing the after ring that is common to all uprights but is rarely noticed. That would be a credit to your increasing sensitivity.

Apart from all this, the piano can change from not being played.


I would agree that the picture is usually multi-dimensional, since the whole piano as a machine, mind as somewhat unknowable, and interaction of the two are so complex.

Acknowledging that, it still is often the case that as I teach my clients how to listen again to the sounds their piano is making, instead of pretending entirely to hear the sound they want to hear, they become more acutely sensitized to what is happening, and less willing to accept the sound going too far south.

Increased sensitivity can quite possibly have an excellent effect on your playing and/or your experience of your music. With my own playing, it took me way over a plateau I had been stuck on for years. It may not be like that for everyone, but it sure was for me.

Jim Ialeggio
Posted by: Olek

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/09/12 12:46 PM

I also believe the pianist influences the tone of his piano, anyway an experienced pianist will do so, I don't know if it have any relation to the amount of power he put on some notes, I have seen pianists playing until the piano settle in a sound they can manage.

When preparing a concert the tuner sometime have to "warm" the tone.

But this works for pianos tuned daily for some time, not for the ones tuned every 6 months.

I also believe that the coupling between 2 strings is something strong, if done well. Unfortunately coupling 3 strings add some instable element to the mix, but firmly set tunings evolve in an even way, leaving no much notes standing up with too noticeable beats, and the coupling add something to the firmness of the pin setting, in my opinion..

The fine tuning give a strong warm and highly dynamic tone, that get clearer in time, longer and with a less large dynamic range.

Strong coupling limits that drift in my opinion.

My guess is : as long as the attack is preserved, the unison stay acceptable.


When the attack begin to be delayed, the absence of dampers in the treble begin to be perceived, the tone is too sonorous, give the impression of being too long (we wish the beating to stop)
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/10/12 04:24 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd


Yes. Pianists do develop a sensitivity to their piano.

It is, however, dangerous ground on this forum because there are those who are insensitive to their pianos and confirm this insensitivity by bullying those who perceive differences. So be prepared.

I check on the same 7-8 concert and recording pianos in the same building most mornings. Just a 2-3 minutes on each to make sure they are ready for a days work. Sometimes I might make minor adjustments, often not. Most of them don't change much but two of them seem a bit different to me every time I see them.

I have measured atmospherics in these 2 rooms and made comparisons, all the things you would expect. The changes can certainly depend on whether it has recently been played heavily or spent the last day hardly being played at all.

So, yes, some of it may be the way you perceive the piano after not playing it for a week, you may even be hearing things you hadn't noticed before. Since you mention sustain, if it is an upright, you may be noticing the after ring that is common to all uprights but is rarely noticed. That would be a credit to your increasing sensitivity.
Apart from all this, the piano can change from not being played.

One thing I never do with pianos is to attribute human characteristics to them.......they hate it when you do that!!! (my apologies to whoever said that first on this forum).


Thank you so much for this insightful response to my questions. Nice to consider that my sensitivity to the piano sound may be increasing even though I have chronic ringing in the ears. The piano is an upright, Chickering, and is sounding a little better since I've attempted to catch up on lost practice time.

Thanks again! Your response to my post was very helpful.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/10/12 02:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
The piano is an upright, Chickering, and is sounding a little better since I've attempted to catch up on lost practice time.

Virginia, I hope you won't mind me having had a word with your piano on "Piano Wire". That's a forum for instruments to exchange views about pianists and tuners.

It told me it had put up a post about the strange feeling of being played again after standing idle for a week. Most replies said it was nothing to worry about; players got their touch and dynamics back after a few days, and some would be that much better than before.

Pianos at music schools took a very different view but that is another story.
Posted by: rxd

Re: absence makes the heart grow fonder - 12/11/12 01:59 AM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
Originally Posted By: rxd


Yes. Pianists do develop a sensitivity to their piano.

It is, however, dangerous ground on this forum because there are those who are insensitive to their pianos and confirm this insensitivity by bullying those who perceive differences. So be prepared.

I check on the same 7-8 concert and recording pianos in the same building most mornings. Just a 2-3 minutes on each to make sure they are ready for a days work. Sometimes I might make minor adjustments, often not. Most of them don't change much but two of them seem a bit different to me every time I see them.

I have measured atmospherics in these 2 rooms and made comparisons, all the things you would expect. The changes can certainly depend on whether it has recently been played heavily or spent the last day hardly being played at all.

So, yes, some of it may be the way you perceive the piano after not playing it for a week, you may even be hearing things you hadn't noticed before. Since you mention sustain, if it is an upright, you may be noticing the after ring that is common to all uprights but is rarely noticed. That would be a credit to your increasing sensitivity.
Apart from all this, the piano can change from not being played.

One thing I never do with pianos is to attribute human characteristics to them.......they hate it when you do that!!! (my apologies to whoever said that first on this forum).


Thank you so much for this insightful response to my questions. Nice to consider that my sensitivity to the piano sound may be increasing even though I have chronic ringing in the ears. The piano is an upright, Chickering, and is sounding a little better since I've attempted to catch up on lost practice time.

Thanks again! Your response to my post was very helpful.


Thank you. Your response is very gratifying.