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#2105381 - 06/20/13 01:40 PM Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854  
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Toni Goldener Offline
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Here in Lucerne, Richard Wagner lived for a few years in a House near the lake of Lucerne. There, the original Erard Grand of Richard Wagner is still in his house. From time to time, if there is a concert on this particular piano, I have to tune it to 435 Hz. Tuning stability is not a problem. What interrests me is your opinion as piano tuners, or pianists: when I tune the piano with a "normal" octave stretch, it still sounds very flat in the treble. So I once decided to stretch even more, the octave from c5 - f7 ( highest note) has a beat up to 5 bps. Or even more. Then the piano sounded fine, with no floppy treble. While playing, I could hardly hear this "over stretched" octaves. It was like the thirds, sixths were as fast as the octave beats, like a cancelling effect.
For Verituner users it is, like using only 8:1 octaves, 0.0 beats in the treble.

In such a case, would you tune the piano the way it pleases the ear, even if you really have to cheat the tuning, or not?

Any comments? ( maybe there a mich better temperaments than equal!)

Thanks Toni

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#2105386 - 06/20/13 02:03 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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I think that in each and every case, no matter what method is used to tune a piano: the final judge must be the human ear.

Why tune to appease the algorithms of an electronic devices? Do they really care?

#2105416 - 06/20/13 03:05 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Phil D Offline
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Hi Toni,

Sounds like a lovely job to have! Obviously you should tune it the way sounds best to you, regardless of the numbers. Have you asked anybody else who has access to the piano whether they prefer the more stretched tuning?

Also, when you say 'normal' octave stretch, what are you referring to? I generally tune my temperament octave to be just wide at 4:2, and the octaves moving upwards easily get to 6:3 and beyond (I don't use a ETD so I don't really know the numbers). If you were to stretch out the octaves in the middle more, perhaps you wouldn't end up with so fast a beat in the octaves to the top section. I could certainly see this happening if you are starting with an octave between 2:1 and 4:2, especially if the instrument has high iH. Do you have inharmonicity readings for the piano?

#2105471 - 06/20/13 06:15 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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When I tune a piano to 435, it sounds flat all over! I have gotten used to 440.



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#2105533 - 06/20/13 11:41 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Olek Offline
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France
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
Here in Lucerne, Richard Wagner lived for a few years in a House near the lake of Lucerne. There, the original Erard Grand of Richard Wagner is still in his house. From time to time, if there is a concert on this particular piano, I have to tune it to 435 Hz. Tuning stability is not a problem. What interrests me is your opinion as piano tuners, or pianists: when I tune the piano with a "normal" octave stretch, it still sounds very flat in the treble. So I once decided to stretch even more, the octave from c5 - f7 ( highest note) has a beat up to 5 bps. Or even more. Then the piano sounded fine, with no floppy treble. While playing, I could hardly hear this "over stretched" octaves. It was like the thirds, sixths were as fast as the octave beats, like a cancelling effect.
For Verituner users it is, like using only 8:1 octaves, 0.0 beats in the treble.

In such a case, would you tune the piano the way it pleases the ear, even if you really have to cheat the tuning, or not?

Any comments? ( maybe there a mich better temperaments than equal!)

Thanks Toni


hello Toni . it may depends of the strings it have mounted on it.
435hz was indeed what was called "French pitch" but I have seen notes of Erard using a vey high pitch at those times or a little later (444 if memory serves, may be only in England).
if the piano sound good you may have find a correct pitch.
It may be hard on the piano to tune it above its original pitch of course.
Erard had very little treble generally, if your way of stretching high seem to be ok for the music I see no bad in that. But today I could not tell you what it relates to .
The human ear ask for that raise in pitch as the piano iH so for once they both agree.
Now it happens that the tuning I find so excellent on the moment, when listened later looked somewhat excessive.

The treble may sound just in regard of the mediums.(and the basses)

Possibly if the strings lenght progression doess not allow for enough iH a treble tuned to the iH of the piano will sound dull. But probably with old wire this will not happen.


Last edited by Olek; 06/20/13 11:47 PM.

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#2105535 - 06/20/13 11:43 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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France
BTW I recall when I tuned old Erards with the VT100 I was never satisfied really, vs the way I liked them when I tuned them purely by ear.

The VT did not allow enough enlarging in the mediums, for those pianos, probably. it was sometime from now so I am unsure.
I guess that it is on those sort of instruments I decided/suspected that the software was making too much compromizing, on a too large scale, and that seemed to lower the musicality of the whole tuning.
(As it is enough to have a zone totally out of the iH curve to modify the whole tuning just to agree with it)


Last edited by Olek; 06/20/13 11:46 PM.

Professional of the profession.
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I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2105640 - 06/21/13 08:09 AM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Toni Goldener Offline
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Europe
I normally use a 4:2 type octave in the temperament, witch sounds fine and then go up to the treble in octaves, about one beat per 2-3 seconds. If I tune that way, the treble sounds quiet nice on uprights and grands, and I also check by playing chords and scales, let's say in a kind of musical way.
These octaves don't work on the Erard grand, much to flat in the treble (BTW even if the piano is tuned on 440 Hz it could have a flat treble wink ).
The verituner is only a help, in the end my ear decides how much stretch there must be, by playing all over the keyboard.
This grand has still some original bass strings on, so I was told to tune to 435 Hz. A crew of experts made a revision about ten years ago. Not me! Unfortunately, the dampers don't work well, maybe too small or not exactely at the right place on the string.
There are also a lot of strings from the midtreble to the top with extreme false beats, sometimes one string sounds like a completely out of tune unison, so my "third ear" is very useful in this case.

Phil, you are right, it is a lovely job to do. This house is a museum of Wagner, he lived there some years and the grand was a gift of Erard's wife. Even Franz Liszt played on this piano! That is pretty cool.
While tuning, a have all the room for me alone, the view on the lake... And a little coffee bar outside.
The next tuning I have is in the middle of August, but two week before there will be another tuner, because then I am still on holiday, so I have a good situation to compare the tunings.
Thanks for your answers

Toni

#2105914 - 06/21/13 05:54 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Herr Weiss Offline
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If I'm lucky enough to pass away peacefully in my bed, my final wish, time permitting, is to listen to two compositions.
My favorite hymn, How Great Thou Art, and Wagner's Tannhauser Overture. Haven't decided the order yet, but I will.


"Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment."
-Lao Tzu
#2107588 - 06/25/13 12:21 AM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Gary Fowler Offline
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I have wanted to own an Erard piano ever since I read "Piano shop on the Left Bank". I have tuned pianos for 35 years and have never run across one.


Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...
#2107616 - 06/25/13 02:18 AM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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France
Let me know Tony, you can find them relatively easily (the straight strungs, way less the mod O)

Some older Pleyels (with assembled metal bracing just before 1900) are extraordinary sounding, but very rare.

Erards with original wire , not "so common" (often wire replaced with Roslau without corrections.

If you can, measure the A's from top to mediums, probably you will notice a small progression in the treble, hence iH does not raise as much as usual. I have no time for that but I have a few Erard scales I can have a look too.









Professional of the profession.
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I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2107768 - 06/25/13 10:56 AM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Phil D Offline
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I have an Erard. Envy me wink

#2107822 - 06/25/13 12:25 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Toni Goldener]  
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Toni,
I had a similar situation with a similar vintage Broadwood grand masquerading as a fortepiano for a Mozart concerto.

I, too perceived the very false treble as narrow. My solution, right or wrong was to force fit an SD10 treble tuning from my electronic tuner memory so that the professional international orchestra that was assembled for the summer would at least be hearing the precise individual pitches that they were used to hearing from the regular concert grand in the last 3 octaves.

The rest of the piano was tuned to itself at 442 to match the first of the top 3 octaves. There was two days rehearsal so I had time to formulate a plan b if necessary. We were in a dry atmosphere at almost 6,000 feet above sea level.

Water boils at 442Hz. at that altitude. ( I just said that to see if you were still paying attention).

In fact there wasn't a lot of difference between the force fit SD10 treble tuning and my aural tuning with minimal stretch and I still perceived the treble as flat on this piano. The SD10 itself I never perceived as flat in the treble. Precisely the same pitches in a different context.

I attended the rehearsals and the piano sounded fine to me from the auditorium and I heard no problems from the musicians.

I sometimes perceive a very false treble as flat but I have since thought that perhaps on this occasion the tenor section had a very high IH. Which would create the illusion of a flat treble when the whole piano was played. I didn't test it at the time because this was a job to get done. It might be an explanation. it may be a tone quality thing. We tend to expect what we are used to hearing.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


#2107853 - 06/25/13 01:16 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Phil D]  
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Originally Posted by Phil D
I have an Erard. Envy me wink


I want a Pleyel.

I already have a bicycle, thank you. grin


"Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment."
-Lao Tzu
#2107900 - 06/25/13 02:40 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Herr Weiss]  
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Originally Posted by Herr Weiss
Originally Posted by Phil D
I have an Erard. Envy me wink


I want a Pleyel.
I've a late model Pianino. The sound is quite rich - better than my mates well maintained upright Steinway. It has shed loads of character and is a joy to play.

#2107943 - 06/25/13 03:36 PM Re: Tuning a Erard Grand Piano from 1854 [Re: Gary Fowler]  
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Originally Posted by Gary Fowler
I have wanted to own an Erard piano ever since I read "Piano shop on the Left Bank". I have tuned pianos for 35 years and have never run across one.


Also The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason. Interesting novel with a victorian Erard like an actress into a indian jungle...


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