Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!?

Posted by: straightclaw

Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/24/09 09:19 PM

I tuned this piano two different times with Verituner Pocket and both times I touched up the fine tuning starting from A0, verifying every note was within 1 cent, but when I got to around C5 I discovered that all the notes I had just verified were in tune, were all of a sudden all flat 4 to 9 cents and I don't know why. Could this be caused from the fluctuating piano temperature? It does sit right against an outside wall in front of a huge window and it was below freezing both times I tuned it. Or could the Verituner Tuning File be messed up?

When I was there I didn't think to check where the forced air heat supply was but I wouldn't be surprised if it is right behind the sound board.
Posted by: Thomson Lawrie

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/24/09 09:33 PM

This sounds like a structural problem. Is it a grand or an upright? If its a grand it could be that the pinblock isn't fitted against the plate flange. If it's a an upright try checking the plate screws to see if they are loose. (This could be the cause with a grand as well.)It is unlikley to be the placement in the room.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/24/09 09:54 PM

I am always amazed that *anyone* would start tuning a piano at A0! To me, that says it all that you did that. To quote from another thread, "You don't even know what you don't know". Now, I am not trying to be cruel but I think the problem really is that what you thought was a "fine tuning" was anything but that. What you experienced was probably quite normal. There is nothing wrong with the piano and the humidity conditions are very dry, yes and that is why you had a flat piano that needs a pitch raise pass *before* it could ever accept a "fine" tuning.

You'll need to study up on pitch raise techniques. At this time of year, most of this continent is fighting pianos that need quite aggressive techniques to get them to hold pitch. The thing that makes the effort so appalling as it was for me twice today with pianos that absolutely *had* to be at standard pitch is that those same pianos will go sharp enough to make a dog howl, come next July. It's always a losing battle.
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/24/09 11:12 PM

I'd need more information before guessing whether it was a Verituner issue or a piano issue.

Coarse mode first, then fine tuning mode?
You mentioned touch up - was this from a saved file?
Was there a pitch adjustment involved?
Only this piano reacts this way? (other pianos are fine?)
What kind of piano?

Nice puzzle!
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 05:19 AM

Don't forget your ears. You learn very quickly when you listen to what you're doing that things move around quite a bit as you work. Part of the skill of tuning is anticipating the movement and compensating.

Starting at AO and tuning from there will get you all sorts of deviation as you progress. The dip you got in the "problem area" - mid treble - is normal for this time of year in the North. For some pianos in my area, that's a pretty small deviation.

Yea, when clients want strict A-440 in February and September in Maine, I expect to hear dogs howling at these instruments in 6 months! I encourage customers to bend with the climate-induced pitch swings, but that's not always possible, or that easy to explain.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 05:59 AM

If the piano started 20 cents or more flat, which is common this time of year, I would expect this to happen. Where was the pitch when you started?
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 11:36 AM

I used to have the same problems when learning to tune. I used to tune with Tunelab Pro. I even talk to Scott to ask him why a piano I had just tuned was flat by 5 or 6 cents. I imagined all kind of reasons. Even that the pocket PC should be warmed before begin to tune, etc.

What he answered was the same that Bill Bremmer did here. And it was true. I had no idea of what I was doing and I blamed Tunelab Pro.

I guess the best thing you can do, Straightclaw, is to find a mentor. That way is the short one.

Otherwise it will be a long looney way...
Posted by: straightclaw

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 04:22 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Bremmer RPT:
I am always amazed that *anyone* would start tuning a piano at A0! To me, that says it all that you did that. To quote from another thread, "You don't even know what you don't know". Now, I am not trying to be cruel but I think the problem really is that what you thought was a "fine tuning" was anything but that. What you experienced was probably quite normal. There is nothing wrong with the piano and the humidity conditions are very dry, yes and that is why you had a flat piano that needs a pitch raise pass *before* it could ever accept a "fine" tuning.

You'll need to study up on pitch raise techniques. At this time of year, most of this continent is fighting pianos that need quite aggressive techniques to get them to hold pitch. The thing that makes the effort so appalling as it was for me twice today with pianos that absolutely *had* to be at standard pitch is that those same pianos will go sharp enough to make a dog howl, come next July. It's always a losing battle. [/b]
Please read my post a little closer, and let me explain the procedure I used, maybe it will be more clear to you then. I first coarse tuned the piano which was originally 8 cents flat, starting from the middle of the piano. I then fine tuned it starting from the middle of the piano again, (or if you don't feel this is worthy of your definition of fine tuning then simply call it a second pass tuning), tuning A4 first then from the lowest tenor note to C8 then from highest bass note down to A0 (The Veritune recommended tuning sequence). I THEN started from A0 verifying each note was in tune with Verituner (they all were within +/- 1 cents, (this was just a touch-up pass). When I got to C5 I noticed the notes A0 to C5 which I had just verified were all flat 4-8 cents.

By the way, I have used Tunelab, tuning from A0 to C8 no problems, it is really quite easy. Just perfom a pitch raise first if needed.

Oh and, you mean there are forces on them thar strings!? I had no idea! Is that what makes that pretty twanging sound? You mean twisting them thar pins tighter pushes and pulls on other stuff too?? Who would've thought...Sounds too complicated for me, I think I'd better stick to tuning banjos.
Posted by: straightclaw

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 04:29 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Thomson Lawrie:
This sounds like a structural problem. Is it a grand or an upright? If its a grand it could be that the pinblock isn't fitted against the plate flange. If it's a an upright try checking the plate screws to see if they are loose. (This could be the cause with a grand as well.)It is unlikley to be the placement in the room. [/b]
Thanks for the reply Thomson,

I'll check out the Plate Mounting Screws.

It is old, about 70 years old I would guess. it is a Whitney by Kimball Spinet.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 04:48 PM

Possible broken sounding board…………… I had this experience once where the break was one inch from the treble bridge, top side of the bridge, the entire length of the board. This caused the sounding board to be moving in more than one direction at the same time, and stabilizing the tuning became impossible.

Good time though to let the customer know that I sold used equipment…………….

I think the Whitney spinet by Kimball is a favorite of Jerry Groot’s , Ron Alexander’s and many other technicians around here……….. :p

www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: Bob

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 06:12 PM

Ahh, a quality Whitney. That is your problem. Everything can move on those, not just the pin block.....
Posted by: Ron Alexander

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 07:05 PM

Wroong Dan!!! I'll let the Honorable Groot speak for himself, but curse be the one who came up with the design, scale, even the thought of the Whitney!!!

I know some in here dont care for the term POS...but the Whitney certainly fits...IMHO!!

Whitney's are not the piano of choice for learning to tune.
Posted by: Keith Roberts

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 07:55 PM

You'll be lucky it doesn't implode if you try to keep it at pitch. You should have told us what it was sooner.
Posted by: straightclaw

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 08:50 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob:
Ahh, a quality Whitney. That is your problem. Everything can move on those, not just the pin block..... [/b]
But can the pitch change that quickly, and all the notes going flat at the same time? That's what really had me puzzled. I was just touching up the tuning, fixing a unison here or there, starting from A0 and when I got to around C5 I noticed that all these notes A0 to C5 that I had just checked, were 4-8 cents flat per my ETD. During a previous tuning on this same piano I had something very similar happen. I was touching up the unisons the same as this time, and when I got to the middle, maybe it was around C5, I can't remember, I noticed the Bass and Tenor of the piano was out of tune 3-4 cents, I think it was flat, I can't recall. So I tuned it again, again and again. It would not hold it's tune. I suspected maybe it was something with Verituner Pocket since I had just purchased it and maybe was, or still am doing something wrong with the program.

At any rate, the general consensus here appears to be that this piano will not stay in tune, and if I do actually get this one tuned perfectly it would probably explode. I believe it!!
Posted by: straightclaw

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 09:01 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by RonTuner:
I'd need more information before guessing whether it was a Verituner issue or a piano issue.

Coarse mode first, then fine tuning mode?
You mentioned touch up - was this from a saved file?
Was there a pitch adjustment involved?
Only this piano reacts this way? (other pianos are fine?)
What kind of piano?

Nice puzzle! [/b]
Ron,

This is the second time I tuned this piano. It is a Whitney spinet by Kimball, I think 60 to 70 years old. The first time I tuned it it was 40 cents flats and I used coarse tuning then fine to tune it. Then for this tuning the piano was 8 cents flat - I just loaded the saved tuning file from the 1st tuning and did a coarse tuning then a fine tuning. Actually I didn't come back and do a separate touch up visit, but rather was touching up the fine tuning I had just performed, just tweaking some of the unisons.

This is the only piano that reacted this way, but then it is only the fourth that I've tuned with Verituner Pocket.
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 09:20 PM

Going back to your first post...

No one has looked at the temperature issue. While I may hate to tune the Whitneys as much as the next guy, it shouldn't behave like you've indicated. Nothing about your approach with the Verituner indicates a problem there.

Forced air heat? Sun moving across the board? A big change of temp, or sunshine could certainly cause some issues - especially if you noticed everything from A0 up to C5 or so moving.

I was thinking bridges unglued or cracked, and cracks in the board, but temp changes would have a global effect.

Ron Koval
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 10:13 PM

I think nothing further is necessary to be said on the subject of Whitney spinets by me.

Except for... May they rest in peace...

Posted by: dschwoyer

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/25/09 10:49 PM

My last few tunings were pitch raises.I experienced the same thing.I had set my temperaments,worked my way up the treble,and I found the C5-C6 octave had dropped some while tuning the high treble.Once I retuned the C5-C6 octaves,everything was fine after that.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/26/09 07:37 AM

I prefer Whitney spinets to Kimball spinets. There is a difference in scaling.

This shows an advantage to aural tuning. Since each note is tuned to notes that have already been tuned, then if the pitch of the piano changes some, the tuning progresses with the change in pitch. The result is a piano more in tune with itself, even if it is not quite at the correct pitch overall.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 04:24 PM

What!???

In pitch raises, notes fall down as you progress on the scale. How this will help the piano to be more in tune with itself?

With an ETD you can anticipate the fall in pitch thus at the end you are fairly close to the in tune pitches.
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 05:20 PM

I realize there are probably a gazillion ways to do a pitch raise, but David Schwoyer's post reminded me of how I used to do them. I did them slowly!

'Not anymore. My aural procedure now is to strip the entire piano, set a quick temperament, pull one string per note through the rest of the scale noting the needed movement, then silent-tuning the unisons for the whole piano using the amount the one string needed to be pulled as a guide. Do a finish tuning, and usually the piano is nicely at pitch and very stable.

It takes some practice, and some of my early attempts crashed spectacularly, but now the whole procedure takes 45 min. or less on a good day. On a bad day ... 46 and 1/2 min.
Posted by: Ron Alexander

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 06:36 PM

When doing pitch raises, and I also do this by ear, I usually pull the strings sharp by a few cents. Many times, even on Whitney's the strings settle down to about there they need to be. If you simply pull them to pitch they do fall, not back to where they were, but below where they need to be to do a stable fine tuning.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 10:25 PM

Wow! Silent tuning unisons!

I barely tune them aurally, I can't imagine how is it to tune them silently!

So there is a third way to tune:

1st = by ear, aural
2nd = visual, by eye
3rd = silent, by tact
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 10:31 PM

I am always intrigued with people that talks about cents when tuning aurally instead of beats. Beats are trully heard when tuning aurally. You can not hear cents!

Cents are only visible when tuning with an ETD!
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 11:15 PM

Gadzar, that actually makes cents! \:D
Posted by: JDelmore

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/27/09 11:58 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Groot RPT:
Except for... May they rest in peace...

[/b]
Or...pieces... \:\)
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/28/09 07:50 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Gadzar:
What!???

In pitch raises, notes fall down as you progress on the scale. How this will help the piano to be more in tune with itself?

With an ETD you can anticipate the fall in pitch thus at the end you are fairly close to the in tune pitches. [/b]
When a piano’s pitch is changing while you are tuning it is like trying to hit a moving target. But, if you are also moving, it is easier to hit the target. Like two boys playing catch. If they are both running at the same speed it is easier than if one is running and the other is standing still.

For example, (and I am going to use cents because I use a guitar tuner to evaluate a piano's pitch and sometimes to set C4) a piano is 10 cents flat. I don’t feel a need to do a pitch raise, but will tune C4 2-4 cents sharp. The tenor section is strip muted and stays that way until the end. The temperament is set and the octaves in the tenor are tuned. Then the octaves and unisons are tuned one note at a time going up the scale. As this is done, I will notice that the lower treble is dropping in pitch because of the increased tension of the upper treble. The same thing happens in the bass. But when the tenor unisons are tuned, the pitch in the tenor section drops back to where it belongs and the piano is in tune with itself, and very close to proper pitch. Often the notes around the treble break will need to be touched up, though.

If I do a major pitch raise and the treble is still flat, I will give a string or two of each treble unison a yank without playing the note to get the tension up before fine tuning.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/28/09 10:55 AM

I've found that the strongest point on using an ETD is pitch raises. You can calculate how much to overpull the strings in the first pass to be close enough to do a fine tuning in the second pass. And you have no guessing to do.

Unright,

So you too, you use to silently tune unisons! (or pulling strings without hearing at them). How do you do this?
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/28/09 11:32 AM

Gadzar:

I mostly use a jerk-style when tuning, anyway. So, I give the pin the jerk I think it deserves. Better a little too much than not enough. It seems the treble will drop in pitch more from not enough than it will rise from too much. Sometimes when I am tuning above pitch, expecting it to drop down, I find that the treble is dropping too much. Then I will give the treble pins a jerk up and go back down a 5th or so and retune. Like all techniques it takes trial and err... uh, practice.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/29/09 12:37 AM

I've never tried it. I was taugh to never move a tuning pin without sounding the corresponding string.

I guess this is valid only for beginners, to avoid breaking strings.
Posted by: straightclaw

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 01/30/09 11:31 PM

Interesting techniques on pitch raising that I have never heard. I will have to experiment with some of these methods.

Regarding original post:
I just wanted to thank everyone for helping me with the Whitney Spinet pitch drop episode. I don't know when I'll see this piano again, but I will let you know what I find out. One thing I did notice is that after the forced air heat stopped blowing, the pitch of the strings came up from 6 cents flat to about 3 cents flat, but I didn't stick around to see what happened after that. I plan on returning on a warmer day.
Posted by: vince mrykalo

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 02/01/09 12:30 AM

Referring back to the original post, even tho it's a Whitney spinet, it shouldn't have dropped like that. I concur that it's probably structural. No one has yet mentioned pinblock separation from the back. Also a plate crack may be developing at the treble strut.
Posted by: nhpianos

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 02/01/09 09:36 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by RonTuner:
Going back to your first post...

Forced air heat? Sun moving across the board? A big change of temp, or sunshine could certainly cause some issues - especially if you noticed everything from A0 up to C5 or so moving.

Ron Koval [/b]
I have seen even high quality pianos (Steinway B's & D's, Yamaha C7's) move several cents in as little as a minute or two when there is airflow around the piano such as forced hot air or AC. In one case the piano was a good 12' from the FHA floor duct and had a full DC with bottom cover. This was in a recording studio where the HVAC was just maintaining a normal temperature, not changing it. It's easy enough to check for this effect - just monitor A4 using your EDT while the HVAC is cycling on and off.

- Mark
Posted by: straightclaw

Re: Piano Changing Pitch 6 Cents in 10 Minutes!? - 02/01/09 04:37 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by nhpianos:
 Quote:
Originally posted by RonTuner:
Going back to your first post...

Forced air heat? Sun moving across the board? A big change of temp, or sunshine could certainly cause some issues - especially if you noticed everything from A0 up to C5 or so moving.

Ron Koval [/b]
I have seen even high quality pianos (Steinway B's & D's, Yamaha C7's) move several cents in as little as a minute or two when there is airflow around the piano such as forced hot air or AC. In one case the piano was a good 12' from the FHA floor duct and had a full DC with bottom cover. This was in a recording studio where the HVAC was just maintaining a normal temperature, not changing it. It's easy enough to check for this effect - just monitor A4 using your EDT while the HVAC is cycling on and off.

- Mark [/b]
Good Idea Mark. This is what I was considering... monitor the A440 and other notes as the temperature cycles in the room and while I'm there inspect for structural issues.