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#2038067 - 02/23/13 04:11 PM stretch question, and other useless information  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 136
jinorden Offline
Full Member
jinorden  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 136
Ok, let's see...

Q1. Upright vs grand, which needs greater stretch?

I tuned a Yamaha P2 upright today, and used 6:3 in bass and 2:1 in treble. The piano sounds alright, anyone would recommend differently?
Next week I'll tune a Yamaha C3. I already tuned it once, in november, for a classical recital. The pianist was an italian touring small cities. I created an opportunity for him to complain, by asking if the tuning was ok, and admitting it's the first time for me to tune for a professional pianist (except me smile ), but he said it's good, he just thought the tone was a little too bright, which of course it was. Fwiw I had my own concert there, a month earlier. Now I'll tune it again for some event, and I'd ask also:

Q2. What fits better a C3? 6:3/4:2 or?

Now a bit of information, it's been some years now that I spent like hours everyday reading everything I could find about pianos, tuning, repairing, history, price lists, you name it. The books I read are Reblitz, and the ones written by Carl-Johan Forrs, especially the repair book. The most stressful experience, as it is in norwegian. Not an expert, but I believe it's like swedish spoken 1500 ad. On top of this, I have downloaded the archives from caut and ptech. Big fun! I read everyday a while before I go to sleep. Also, my Steinway O and Yamaha C7 have been in pieces many, many times. On the Yamaha I reshaped the hammers, traveled the shanks, not easy with hammers on, burned the ones that were tilting, got all the shanks off the rests, mated hammers with strings, and on two sections worked on every note until every string of the unison is hit the same by the hammer. I test both how it sounds when plucked, how each string sounds while muting the others, thou care must be taken that muting doesn't push strings down, falsifying the result. A cool way I found, as I use a wire bent to form a crook, you can sound the strings one by one and press up the hammer to mute them. By assessing how much you have to press until getting a certain muting effect, you can also judge which strings are high or low. I might buy the little bubble thing, but I am not convinced it is so efficient. I suppose having very well squared hammers tells the story of the strings, or, filing hammers to fit strings seems to be better than pushing and pulling on strings. What a long post, especially as nobody will answer, but it's my thread, my post, I can do whatever I want with it, right? I might answer myself. I can search a little for a good answer...
I did a lot more stuff to the Yamaha, but I suppose it would be boring to go on. It sounds great, but a little needling is needed after reshaping, and I am not doing that yet. I have other stuff to take care of, like leveling the keys again, even better.
By the way, I am mistaken, surely, but isn't the search function a little bit... how shall I put it, not very helpful? What is that, not older than 2 weeks? Why would I want to search posts about let-off that are newer than two years? Are there some new groundbreaking discoveries about that?

Anyway, I decided to become a piano technician. Can't be so hard, in the end it's not brain surgery laugh . In fact I already am in a way, but a poor one, with very little or almost no practical experience, and many things I need to put together. I was joking of course, as the smiley indicates, it really is a form of brain surgery. But brain surgery can't be such a big deal, if you know what you're doing. It's not like you'd renovate a Steinway. So, for this purpose, I got hold of a grand manufactured in Berlin 1928, called Steinberg. This will be my renovating project. Will take many years probably, but so what, I am only 53. I might post some pictures of it, wippens look like others I've seen on PW, they called it Schwander type. Funny little things, in very good shape, too.

Now, honestly, from some people I don't expect answers, from some I don't want any. I know it's strange, something must be seriously wrong with me, but I really can't stand people
lecturing other people, talk down to, patronizing, as the english so nicely put it, thinking they have somehow the exclusive right to talk about piano tuning and servicing. I have a strong suspicion they are the kind that know less too. Yeah, Max, show them those darn unisons.

As a last thought, every technician has probably their own strong opinion of what a good action and a good regulation is. But as I see it, that can be achieved only to a certain point by direct interaction with the piano. From there, only through indirect information, by listening to what pianists tell them. For how can someone know how the action is really performing, by pounding a note, or even playing an intermediate level piece on it? Only a pianist playing at least a bunch of Chopin Etudes at speed, can begin to form an opinion. I say begin, as to really understand a piano, you need a few months with it in your own home, or having unlimited access to the practice room where it's located.

One more last thought. I've read stuff written by people that are incredibly knowledgeable, generous, intelligent, funny, sometimes diplomatic in unexpected and ingenious ways. That makes PW an incredible place, and that's why I am going to be part of it, and have these threads all by myself, if that's the way it's gonna be.

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#2038199 - 02/23/13 10:39 PM Re: stretch question, and other useless information [Re: jinorden]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,087
Mark Cerisano Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Mark Cerisano  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,087
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hi Swebac,

All the best on the continuation of your journey.

I would like to make a comment on stretch. You mention specific octave sizes. Is that because you use an ETD? ETDs have changed the way some technicians speak and perform tunings due to the way they listen; most ETDs only listen to one partial, make an assumption as to interval size, and then tell you where to put that partial. That's fine and dandy if all the inharmonicity is even. But many times, especially on low quality baby grands I have found, the inharmonicity of unison strings, for example, is not evenly matched.

That means any attempt to listen to only one partial (by ETD or aurally as with single check notes), or set interval sizes by listening to only one interval size, may get you in trouble as the overall blend may not be ideal. So, when tuning with an ETD and/or aurally, it is always best IMHO to step back every now and then and listen to the whole blend of unisons and/or intervals. For example, when unisons refuse to be clean on obviously unmatched strings, the only option (besides replacement or PitchLock Couplers) is to listen to the whole sound and try to minimize the dissonance, not just listen to one partial, which is what most ETDs do. (All?)

As for stretch, some people think it is something we place on a piano, stand back, and decide if that sounds good or not. What is more accurate, IMHO, and simpler to do, again IMHO, is to listen to what the piano says; tune your octaves, 12ths, double octaves, triple octaves, etc, as clean as possible, while making decisions as to which of these intervals gets precedence, and keep a smooth and even agreement with all these intervals as one goes up and down from the temperament. The goal is sonorousness, the byproduct; stretch. Not the other way around.

Often though, a technician may find a certain collection of octave sizes result from a fine sounding tuning on a specific piano or piano model/size. (Notice I did not say result "in" a fine sounding tuning. This is a very important distinction for me.) It can take quite a long time to get this level of tuning on a piano. So, to be more efficient, the experienced technician, IMHO, may choose to remember the resulting octave sizes produced from the last tuning, and use them again to reproduce the same or similar "sound" on the same or similar piano.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but I guess what I am trying to say is, for me, I start with octaves in the temperament between 4:2 and 6:3 and then as soon as I can, begin to fit larger intervals in like the 12th and the double octave and triple octave, keeping the quality and preference the same or evenly changing. What are the octave sizes in the treble? I don't really know. Anyway, I couldn't hear the differences in the 2:1, 4:2 or 6:3 check note beats, even if I wanted too. I do know that the treble notes are sonorous with the larger intervals they make with the lower notes, some more than others, depending on what choices I made on the way up.

The result is that, relative to a standard of no stretch, pianos with longer strings like those in grands, which tend to have less inharmonicity, will not vary as much from a no stretch standard. In other words, they have less stretch.

I hoped that helped. I know it wasn't clear, but it's the best I can do so far. I am still trying to explain to others what has worked for me in as clear a way as possible. It is also a journey for me.

All the best.

Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
#2038224 - 02/23/13 11:44 PM Re: stretch question, and other useless information [Re: Mark Cerisano]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,750
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member
kpembrook  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,750
I hoped that helped. I know it wasn't clear, but it's the best I can do so far. I am still trying to explain to others what has worked for me in as clear a way as possible. It is also a journey for me.

Actually, very well said. thumb

I have pointed out before that even the term "stretch" seems to be a machine-centric term. When people first began using machines, those tunings were "compressed" (treble flat and bass sharp) because inharmonicity was not being accounted for by either the machine or the operator. So, aural tunings were described as being "stretched" compared to a machine tuning. Or, to say it a little differently, it was necessary to "stretch" a machine tuning to make it sound good.

Up to that point, stretch was never an issue with aural tuners. They weren't "stretching", they were just tuning what sounded good.

Even now, machines do not measure what Capleton calles the "soundscape" which is considerably more complex than the various models we use to explain the formation of partials. The complete tone, as a whole, is more than merely the sum of all the partials. There is complex interaction between them and the net perception by the ear/brain may not be exactly represented by a machine's assessment of any given partial.

This is not to say that one can't use a machine to get a good tuning, but that a good aural tuning is likely to be different than a machine tuning. Last fall, I was at a venue that has 2 9' M&H and keeps them in immaculate condition in terms of humidity control, tuning, voicing and regulation. They have had a number of people over the last 10 years who I know to be competent tune the pianos. The one thing I believe they all have in common is they use machines. After I tuned the pianos, I was told, "They have never sounded like this before. We'd like you to be our regular technician." This is not the first time that I have gotten this kind of comment in following other RPTs I know to be fully competent.

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
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
#2038244 - 02/24/13 12:40 AM Re: stretch question, and other useless information [Re: jinorden]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 136
jinorden Offline
Full Member
jinorden  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 136
Hi Mark,
Thank you for your answer, I do have to go through it several times and think about this. But I do understand, on an abstract level. Applying it is another question, might take years. One thing I noticed, you read something, you get it in a general, difuse way, and after a while, it falls into place. Is that english?
Anyway, yes, I am using ETD, but the way I listen after tuning, is more like playing the whole piano, in different ways, and look for the feel. If I am getting a sense of pleasant sounding piano, I am satisfied. Of course, that's a basic level.
I played many times on pianos tuned by someone the venue usually hired, that I felt were not properly tuned, but when I mentioned it, the guy would press keys and showed me how good they sounded. It was the unisons that he did right, but my problem was the temperament. I knew that already, but wasn't aware then as I am now. It's my opinion that in modern jazz especially, where chords can have all the notes of a scale in it and some more outside of it, it won't sound right unless the temperament is a very close ET. Anything else, and it sounds bad. It lacks that bite, but also transparency and order, sounding muddy and just ugly. When I have to play on a piano like that, I reduce the amount of busyness of chords. Not a bad exercises in efficient playing thou. When a good ET is there, you can push down anything, it'll sound good, that's my personal opinion, related to playing complicated structures in jazz.
To return, I am working on my stability mostly, comparing different ways of handling the lever. I belive it's hard to improve at things at the level you are talking about, when after a minute you go back and the string is not where you left it. But now I have made substantial progress in that area. Also, before I tear the Steinberg apart, I'll practice setting the temperament auraly for a while. I did that once, and it turned out close, but I didn't feel I really know what I'm doing, more like guessing beats. I continued to do the octaves up and down, and unisons, and ended up with a playable piano, much like those pianos I hated to play on those festivals and clubs. But I'll continue doing that and hopefully I'll become better.
Thanks again for taking the time to help.

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#2038250 - 02/24/13 01:35 AM Re: stretch question, and other useless information [Re: kpembrook]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 136
jinorden Offline
Full Member
jinorden  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 136
Hi Keith,
I know exactly what you mean, I am using the term stretch as a convention. I read as much as I could about it, and a horibly simplified description of how I see it, stretch is just tuning the treble higher and the bass lower so certain partials would fit over other partials of other notes of the intervals a tuner listens too. All gradually, of course. As I understand it, if one partial is tuned to fit another partial in an interval, the other partials will fit less, more so with high IH. So the tuner can make decisions which partials should fit, and which not, as everything is just a huge compromise, like everything in life.
Also, simplisticaly, if I want to play C2 and a chord in the middle of the piano, I want the partials to fit rather than tuning fundamental to fundamental, as I may have thought some years ago.
What I mean is, I understand the concept of stretch I belive, and I keep it separate from temperament, altough I'm aware of the possibility of stretching the temperament octave itself.
I must admit the only way for me to do it for now, is to just do it, and afterwards to become my worst critic, I play the piano and think, is this a piano I'd consider in tune? Would I love to play it, or would I complain? Another thing, right after tuning, I am most unsure of it, I tend to dislike it, and see flaws everywhere. If I get away for a while, and come back with fresh ears, I see clearly if it's up to a certain level of acceptability. Which for me, as a pianist, is quite high, which made me not very popular with organizers. They thought I'm fussy and difficult laugh.

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