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#1991127 - 11/26/12 02:37 PM How many octaves do you choose to be in tune?  
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As a customer, I wonder if there is a standard that tuners use in the industry. Do you try to get a triple octave in tune, or do you shoot for 2 octaves to be in tune and the third a bit off, or do you just go for perfect single octaves, and let the 2nd and 3rd octave be where they may? I'm curious because I would think these choices would alter the general sound of the tuning quite a bit, and is there any standard? Thanks.

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#1991132 - 11/26/12 02:48 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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"In tune" is such a vague term. I try to have as many intervals as possible sound as close to what they should sound like as possible.


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#1991134 - 11/26/12 02:51 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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None, they are all out of tune.


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#1991144 - 11/26/12 03:06 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: Gene Nelson]  
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Originally Posted by Gene Nelson
None, they are all out of tune.


Yes, I understand, but there's out of tune, and then there's out of tune.

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#1991147 - 11/26/12 03:14 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
"In tune" is such a vague term. I try to have as many intervals as possible sound as close to what they should sound like as possible.


Maybe I'll say it differently. On my piano if I play C4 and C5 together, they sound "in tune" (same for B4/B5, A4/A5, etc etc). If I play C4 and C6 together, they also sound "in tune", but if I play C4 and C7 together, they sound "out of tune". However, if I play C5 and C7 together, they sound "in tune". Is this a standard way of tuning? Do all tuners try to get single and two octaves to sound in tune but not three octaves or is it just my piano that sounds this way?

#1991154 - 11/26/12 03:29 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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I cannot hear what you are hearing, so I cannot say.


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#1991165 - 11/26/12 04:12 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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There isn't a standard. Just an infinite number of different ways of making the compromise.

If you don't like the way the tenor of your piano sounds with the top treble, then it can be tuned differently. Talk to your tuner about it.

#1991184 - 11/26/12 05:23 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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There is no standard, just a vast array of aesthetic compromises that different tuners make. Some have an educated reason, others just do what they've been taught or the only thing they know.

It heavily depends on the scaling of your piano. Concert tuning usually errs towards triple octaves and even beyond, but the inharmonicity is lower on these pianos to allow this.

It sounds like you have a very standard [edit: common] tuning on your piano. It is sometimes technically possible to get all single, double and triple octaves 'in-tune', but this requires a good scale. If the triple octaves are noticeably flat to the untrained ear on your piano, I'd guess your scale will require compromises that will knock the single out as you align the triple.

Last edited by Tunewerk; 11/27/12 11:29 AM.

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#1991193 - 11/26/12 05:40 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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You are talking about octaves being in tune and you are listening to single, double and triple octaves.
A single octave will not have the same character as a double octave and a triple octave will be different from the double and single.
If the piano has recently been tuned you can compare single, double and triple octaves chromatically across the keyboard and each one should have similar character, however - depending on the piano, each octave type will vary somewhat from bass to treble.
Also, check individual notes to be certain you are not being fooled by an out of tune unison - and then there are false beats and other noise that makes it interesting.


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#1991196 - 11/26/12 05:51 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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@4ever.. if you play 2 notes together, at 2 , 3 or 4 ocatves distance tyour pitch perception will differ than if you play one then the next.

High treble is sometime tuned to advantage arpeggios or broken octaves, (then the pitch can be as high as 1/4 tone , but can also be tuned to be in resonance with the octave below.
depending of the context the higher note will tone a hair low (in my way) if compared straight with a medium note, but this is only a fast impression, one cannot be sure I believe it is just the ear that is asking for a higher pitch, not the brain.

when a tuning is well done, even low bass and high treble sound at the good pitch. (anyway to me !)
But that is a question on how the central octaves are enlarged, the more they are, the less the high treble will sound low.

They are always a little enlarged due to the piano, then the tuner is obliged to enlarge also higher, but there are nuances and it depends of the piano itself


Last edited by Kamin; 11/26/12 05:54 PM.

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#1991213 - 11/26/12 06:46 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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I'll second BDB's responses. Don't obsess. It's only music. wink


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#1991234 - 11/26/12 07:58 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Piano tuning tradition, at least within the Piano Technicians Guild, recommends different size octaves for different areas of the piano.

Generally speaking, the octaves in the middle of the piano will be narrower than the octaves in the high treble and low bass.

On some pianos there is a pretty big difference between triple octaves and double octaves in the high treble. Compromising between the two seems to make the most sense to me.

The reality is that my tuning relies more heavily on 3rds and 6ths in the middle registers, and 10ths and 17ths in the outer registers. The octaves are more of a check to make sure I'm not over-stretching. To me, the vibrato that these intervals produce has a big influence on the character of the tuning: too slow and the piano sounds dull, too fast and it sounds "edgy".



Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
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#1991255 - 11/26/12 09:26 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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If your piano is a grand, 6+ feet, and you are hearing out-of-tune single/double/triple octaves, I would suggest that maybe the tuner hasn't progressed in their skill that far yet. Especially if you hear a variation in the amount of out-of-tuneness as you move chromatically through the single/double/triple octaves.
I started really trying to make the treble "sing" by tuning pure 12ths. Using a test for a pure 3:1 12th, I was able to get consistent octaves all the way up, (98% RPT with the graph matching the change in string diameter) and that sounded great to me, until I began wanting better double octaves. Now I am tempering the 12ths in favour of the double octave. The octave is slightly wide 4:2, narrow 6:3 (mid section to high treble, as per RPT) and a slightly narrow 3:1 12th and a slightly wide 8:1 double octave. All these are occasionally verified with checks, but I prefer to tune the octaves "beatless" which many will say is impossibly. But when I tune a good octave that is consistently between the 4:2 and 6:3 at the same spot, it has a quality that I can only describe as "beatless". I theorize that the beat at the 4:2 cancels the beat at the 6:3 and the beat at the 2:1 cancels the beat at the 8:4. If this is truly what is happening, then the octave is indeed beatless. Much like we can tune out a false beat by tuning the unison to cancel the false beat. In conclusion, look for consistent single/double/triple octave quality. If you got that, you will be able to request a favouring of one or the other from your technician. Realize that you can't have them all "pure". Especially on a smaller piano.
GREAT question! I love this stuff.


Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
#1991260 - 11/26/12 09:54 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Sorry about that, I was out of line.

Last edited by accordeur; 11/27/12 03:09 PM. Reason: Apology

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#1991264 - 11/26/12 10:21 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
Originally Posted by BDB
"In tune" is such a vague term. I try to have as many intervals as possible sound as close to what they should sound like as possible.


Maybe I'll say it differently. On my piano if I play C4 and C5 together, they sound "in tune" (same for B4/B5, A4/A5, etc etc). If I play C4 and C6 together, they also sound "in tune", but if I play C4 and C7 together, they sound "out of tune". However, if I play C5 and C7 together, they sound "in tune". Is this a standard way of tuning? Do all tuners try to get single and two octaves to sound in tune but not three octaves or is it just my piano that sounds this way?


If you tune C7 to be in tune with C4 then C6-C7 will surely be out of tune. In piano tuning there are compromises, you can't have all intervals perfectly tuned.

And there is no standard. It is up to the tuner to decide how much he stresses the tuning. Though, in the Tuning examination of the PTG, the upper octave must be tuned as a 2:1 type, which sounds good harmonically (in chords) but flat when played melodically (in arpeggios).



Rafael Melo
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Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

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#1991267 - 11/26/12 10:39 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: Mark Cerisano]  
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Thank you for responses from everyone. To answer Mark Cerisano directly, the single, double, and triple octave are not inconsistent on my piano. They sound very consistent chromatically up and down the piano. Every single and double octaves sounds really good, and triple octave just so slightly off, and this is the case no matter what starting note you pick. I have a new 6'1" Yamaha. For some reason the piano sounds a bit different from when it was at the store. Once I have it at home, it still sounds like when it was at the store, but once my own tech tunes it, it changes. It's not bad at all, just different. I guess that's why I asked the question, and it seems every tech has a different way of tuning.

#1991271 - 11/26/12 11:07 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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A new piano is not going to be as stable as an older piano, and there just may be things that both you and your piano are getting used to.


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#1991296 - 11/27/12 12:51 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
As a customer, I wonder if there is a standard that tuners use in the industry. Do you try to get a triple octave in tune, or do you shoot for 2 octaves to be in tune and the third a bit off, or do you just go for perfect single octaves, and let the 2nd and 3rd octave be where they may? I'm curious because I would think these choices would alter the general sound of the tuning quite a bit, and is there any standard? Thanks.


All of 'em.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#1991406 - 11/27/12 09:52 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Don't forget that the voicing of the piano has a tremendous influence on our perception of what constitutes "in tune."

If your Yamaha grand has brightened up since purchase there will be more higher partials present in the tone - which makes the necessary compromises even more challenging. Room acoustics also play a big role in how we hear tuning and voicing. Many times there is lots of acoustic distortion present in a client home due to the placement of the piano.

Also, lots of great comments above, and Tunewerk is especially spot on - scaling is the big deal here...The best scale designs make the piano much easier to tune throughout the compass.


Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
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#1991544 - 11/27/12 02:56 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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I should perhaps clarify that my tuner S. Skylark has a very strong reputation in the SF Bay Area, and he is a known concert tuner, also tunes for many performing artists and venues. He is also a Boesendorfer factory trained tuner, etc.

My question is brought on by the fact that all the pianos at the stores sound one way, sort of a generic kind of piano sound regardless of brand. A new 6-foot Yamaha at the store sounds good but also in a generic kind of way. When my tech finishes with mine, it sounds different, a bit darker, edgier, perhaps more like Schumann and Schubert, and less Mozart and Beethoven kind of a way.

I know one of the response advises I should not obssess. I am sure I could get used to it. But I am more curious if I am just imagining things, or if any tuning could actually make this kind of difference.

I should also say that I have been working with the same tech for 3 years, and recently upgrade a 5' piano to a 6' piano. I have noticed that for both pianos, they no longer sound like the samples at the store after he worked on them. I enjoy my relationship with Mr. Skylark and cannot imagine using someone else. He is a consummate professional. However, I just wonder short of attending piano tech school myself, how do pianists communicate with their techs? You may look at us like a bunch of idiots, but I have to say it's not easy to communicate the sound that is in my head versus the sound that I am hearing.

In any case, I always believe that time spent with a techs in person or on the forum is always an education.

#1991560 - 11/27/12 03:32 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Does your tech tune the pianos in the store?

If not, you're hearing the differences in particular tunings. Quite often the tunings in stores are 'functional' and adequate for testing/selling purposes. A lot of shops don't spend money on highly experienced technicians getting the best possible tuning on every piano in the store. A domestic tuning is a different game however, and an experienced tech can hear the instrument in it's home environment, and try to get the best out of the instrument.

It sounds like you're in safe hands with your tech, so I'd relax and enjoy playing.


BMus(Hons) DipABRSM
Piano Technician
#1991579 - 11/27/12 04:06 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Greetings,
Different techs tune differently, but it is a rare customer that can tell the difference between two top-flight tuners. Assuming they are both tuning the same temperament with the same amount of stretch, it all comes down to clarity of the unison, and the evenness of this clarity. I was once told by a Steinway artist, after many years of tuning for her, that she thought my tunings sounded better the day after I tuned them. This has to be due to a micro drift of the unisons, because when I checked it once, everything was still within the limits that a SAT could discern. Unisons are about the only interval that an ETD cannot measure well enough to satisfy the ear. There is an increase in sustain with unisons that are slightly out of phase,(see Weinrich effect), but for practical tuning, I leave them as close to dead nut on as possible, since they take longer to crash when they start out in the middle of the road.

"In tune" octaves in a recording studio are not the same as in tune octaves on a concert stage, home, or practice room. If you want information about your octave width, it would be helpful to use some recognized measurement, i.e. 3rd/10th, or m3rd/6th tests to tell us what you are hearing.

All in all, if you want to better communicate with your tech, the education should begin on your part, as the more you know about the instrument, the spectra it produces, and the techniques we employ, the better able you will be able to identify what you want. This is a far more plausible route to understanding than expecting the tech to learn how to play with your hands...
Regards,

#1991661 - 11/27/12 07:24 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: dancarney]  
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Originally Posted by dancarney
Does your tech tune the pianos in the store?


My tech does not work for stores. I have no idea who tuned the store's pianos.

#1991675 - 11/27/12 07:57 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: Ed Foote]  
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
All in all, if you want to better communicate with your tech, the education should begin on your part, as the more you know about the instrument, the spectra it produces, and the techniques we employ, the better able you will be able to identify what you want. This is a far more plausible route to understanding than expecting the tech to learn how to play with your hands...


I should learn more about my instrument; would you say Reblitz's book is a good place to start, or is there something more elementary I should try? Remember, I've no interest in actually becoming my tech.




#1991815 - 11/28/12 04:03 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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i guess you heard machine yuned pianos ETD, may be done with a Yamaha Pt something or using a standard stretch without taking in acvount yhe piano itself. I have let much of those tunings myself, the tuning is stronger than the piano and room accoustics.
A good tuner tunes what he hear. so it make the instrument more central in the tuning.
it is also possible to use a very even progression of fast beating intervals without attention to the octaves and doubles etc, and when played the piano sound "in tune"

to have a warmer tone on a Yamaha C 3 the octaves are tuned more tight the notes that are then resonating strong by sympathy are not far from the note played , octave, twelve , double octave. the triple can sound a little out of focus then that is why higher octaves are more enlarged in that case probably.

Again the trade between playing in close harmony or larger one is not always well balanced. Congratulations to notice that , only some tuners can hear that and often only with tests , not when music is played.

Last edited by Kamin; 11/29/12 05:03 AM.

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#1992226 - 11/29/12 12:18 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: Olek]  
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Originally Posted by Kamin
to have a warmer tone on a Yamaha C 3 the octaves are tuned more tight the notes that are then resonating strong by sympathy are not far from the note played , octave, twelve , double octave. the triple can sound a little out of focus then that is why higher octaves are more enlarged in that case probably.

Again the trade between playing in close harmony or larger one is not always well balanced. Congratulations to notice that , only some tuners can hear that and often only with tests , not when music is played.


I think this describes what I am hearing. My tech tells me I have very good hearing. I assume he is being kind. He said I am one of very few customers who complains about a 3-cent drift. Even though the humidity in SF in almost constantly at 45% year round, I still cannot tolerate any less than 3 tunings per year. For some reason, I do also think my piano sounds best about one week after a tuning.

This is a very helpful discussion. Thanks!

#1992375 - 11/29/12 11:33 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Using your example, it IS possible on better pianos to get the triple octave C to work "just as well" as the single and double octave combinations... There is a little wiggle room in each octave combination where it still sounds "in tune" without being clinical. It sounds like when setting up the tuning on your piano, the triple octave width was set a little outside of the range - usually because of setting the singles and doubles a little "too" narrow.

It really takes tiny adjustments - Virgil Smith did it all aurally, but I find it much easier to do this with the Verituner before starting the job of tuning the whole piano - similar to your example, find the "best" location of all of the A's to set up a framework for the stretch of the piano, with the goal of any combination of A's sounding "in tune". It is a fundamentally different way of approaching the tuning stretch...
(and of course, the better the scale, the more successful the result!)

Ron Koval

#1992410 - 11/29/12 01:02 PM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
Originally Posted by Kamin
to have a warmer tone on a Yamaha C 3 the octaves are tuned more tight the notes that are then resonating strong by sympathy are not far from the note played , octave, twelve , double octave. the triple can sound a little out of focus then that is why higher octaves are more enlarged in that case probably.

Again the trade between playing in close harmony or larger one is not always well balanced. Congratulations to notice that , only some tuners can hear that and often only with tests , not when music is played.


I think this describes what I am hearing. My tech tells me I have very good hearing. I assume he is being kind. He said I am one of very few customers who complains about a 3-cent drift. Even though the humidity in SF in almost constantly at 45% year round, I still cannot tolerate any less than 3 tunings per year. For some reason, I do also think my piano sounds best about one week after a tuning.

This is a very helpful discussion. Thanks!


Good for your piano, but honestly a 3 cts drift is a large one almost 1 Hz) it can be heard a little, the tone quality change (less tension) at large, but if it is only on a limited zone of the piano as it is usually the case when the drift is due to drying of the soundboard - you have 4 octaves in the centre that move a lot, the difference between the centre and the extremes is very audible (extremes almost does not move usually once the piano is set)

If you feel the need for 3 tunings that mean 2 possible things to me :
the moisture content of the air varies enough to make you hear the tuning movement
The tuner use some extreme stretch (very low or very high) that is then less resistive against the seasonal changes.
The tuner does not set the tuning firmly enough (that takes time, most of us have a good number of pianos to tune a day and to be honest I prefer to see a piano twice a year, then I have less tuning time and I can make a little maintenance.

That said, I have a good number of professional pianists, teatchers and jazz players, in my customers.

Some pianos I tune once a year, some customers wait until the tuning is really gone and that takes really at 2 years or more despite a strong use.

Something I finally understood is that the piano change only with temperature and humidity once you have set it well. a string will move if banged strong, but not if you play quietly enough.
There is an "unison shape" that is very resistive to mistuning (the "smiley shape") I certainly wish to understand where this stability comes from, but it is easy to verify on any nicely sounding unison after some time , you will have the 2 outer strings coupling strong, and the central one a little low, it is just a "natural shape" where the energy circulates well.

To get there (stability) the tuner may "tune the tuning pin" as much as the wire, as the control on the tuning pin tension is what allows it.

it cannot be done without making "concert tuning (that mean to me more attention to firmness of tuning pins than usual.

Apparently most of us are not tuning the last tenths of cts, but expect the piano to settle there, some with a strong test blow, others by leaving the 3 strings exactly the same.

Leaving the wire and the pin exactly where we want and knowing it is the final position is a luxury that many of us dont use.

As the whole piano is moving while tension is added to be confident of the final pitch is usually out of question. we come very very near but there is a grey zone left to the instrument itself.
Working with an ETD allow to learn to apprehend that drift well, but in the end, once the unisons are tuned, the ETD is closed and anyway cannot provide useful information, so a grey zone is still there.

The final perceived pitch is near what the ETD have proposed, but depending of the moment the justness is apprehended the numbers may vary more than expected. 2 strings coupling most often are pitched a little lower than one. 3 strings and every variation is possible, a tendency to raise as the opposite (in the range of a few 10ths of cts).


Just my personal cts ...

Best regards






Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#1995717 - 12/07/12 12:37 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,087
Mark Cerisano Offline
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Mark Cerisano  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,087
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I wanted to add a new technique I have stumbled across (new for me anyway), in direct relation to this post.

I kept thinking about this problem (getting in-tune single, double and triple octaves) and trying to understand how it relates to the way I tune. Specifically, my tuning process has matured from tuning clean octaves, to tuning pure 12ths, then clean double octaves, but always compromising. e.g. slightly wide (beatless) octaves, slightly narrow (originally pure) 12ths, slightly wide double octaves.

Now, using the aural checks below, I am able to tune consistently wide (beatless) octaves, consistently narrow 12ths, consistently wide double octaves, but pure triple octaves. Note that the wide and narrow qualities are confirmed only with checks. I.e. the octave, 12th, double octave all sound clean (beatless) and in tune. The shock for me was to stumble upon this way to tune the triple octave pure and have all these other intervals clean and in tune. Which means, our OP should be expecting single, double, and triple octaves all sounding in tune from a good tuning.

Here is how I do it: When tuning a note that has a triple octave below that has already been tuned, I look for these confirmations.

Let's use F6 as the tuning note, F3 as the triple
octave below. (I am not proving these relationships as that would just make the post too long. Email me if you want me to.)

Listen for these relationships when checking the beat speeds.
(1)Db4F4 slow
(2)Db4F6 medium
(3)Db4Bb4 fast
(4)Bb3Db4 faster
(5)F3Db4 medium

Notes:
(1)(2) confirms a wide 4:1 double octave
(1)(3) confirms a wide fourth
(2)(3) confirms a narrow 3:1 12th
(3)(4) confirms a narrow 6:3 octave
(2)(5) confirms a pure 8:1 triple octave

Tuning the triple octave pure and confirming all these sizes makes a nice upper temperament, but I start tuning the qualities as soon as possible, in anticipation of matching up all these intervals when they are all available to be checked. I.e. at C5, I start confirming the narrow 3:1 12th. By now I have a good idea by how much.

I tried to make this post as concise and clear as possible. I hope some techs find this interesting and can use this technique to really make the upper section sing in tune if you are not already doing so. Please respond if you have any questions.


Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
#1995747 - 12/07/12 02:55 AM Re: How many octaves do you choose to be in tune? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 25,559
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
BDB  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 25,559
Oakland
My own testing method is to check octaves and double octaves (sometimes more), fifths and fifths plus one and two octaves, fourths and fourths plus one and two octaves, all of which should be close to beatless. There is, of course, a slight beat expected on the fourths and fifths. However, if one of them stands out, I adjust in the direction of the other. I also test major thirds and major thirds plus one and two octaves, which should all beat as close to the same rate as possible.


Semipro Tech
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