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#2114640 - 07/08/13 12:25 PM Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming!  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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In the Tuner/Tech forum there is a thread concerning the appropriate etiquette when working with a tuner. It tends to deal with problems noticed after a tuning is complete, but often as pianists, we tend to forget the little things which help to make for a good working relationship. Here are a few things to consider in helping to ensure that you receive a first rate tuning.

Before Arrival:
  • Make sure that the lawn crew or carpenters are not scheduled at the same time. All Tuners Need Quiet!

  • Clear all objects from the top or lid of the piano. Family Photos - Plants - Candles - Grandma's Ashes - Everything!

  • Make sure that there is adequate lighting. Remember, you will have already removed any piano lamps that either clip on, or are placed on any surface of the piano. This includes the music desk of a grand as it needs to be removed for tuning. Provide a free standing floor lamp if necessary.

  • Dust the piano! Clean the keys!

Upon Arrival:
  • Always treat your tuner with a cordial and mannered disposition. He/She is a professional and should be treated as such.

  • Escort your tuner to the piano, offer a beverage, and make them aware of the closest facilities.

  • Politely excuse yourself and let your tuner do the tuning in private and without interference.

  • Keep Quiet. This is not the time to do the dishes, run the laundry, blast the TV or stereo, or mow the lawn.

  • Corral the kids. A tuner is not a babysitter or an amusement for your children. The same concept applies to pets.

After Tuning:
  • Check the tuning by playing music you have memorized and are comfortable playing. Extended scales, of various types, serve the same purpose. Now is the time to listen to the tuning, not your performance. If you are not a pianist, it is best to assume that the tuning is fine.

  • If your tuner plays the piano, there is nothing wrong with asking him/her to do a little playing so you can stand back and listen to the tuning. It is not a recital for your enjoyment. It is for you to listen to the accuracy of the tuning.

  • If you notice any problems with unisons or intervals, now is the time to have them corrected. It is your responsibility to evaluate the tuning, at the time of service, to give your approval or ask for corrections.

  • When you are satisfied, pay for the service, and conclude the session.

Optional:
  • Tip for the service. I always do, but many do not.

  • Provide a snack or cookies. Hey, we're all human!

  • Have a TV-table(s) available for the tuner's tool kit and/or beverages and munchies.

  • Get to know your tuner. There is nothing wrong with being sociable.

For many of us, we know the routine. However, we always have many newcomers in the forum and I offer these as a general guide.

By all means, please add your own comments and additions. These guidelines are just the basics, as I see them, and it would be great to hear your opinions.

Last edited by Minnesota Marty; 07/08/13 05:37 PM. Reason: additions

Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
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#2114664 - 07/08/13 12:53 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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My tuner came last week and this list would have been helpful. Maybe this thread should be permanently placed somewhere for reference.

Last edited by Steve Chandler; 07/08/13 12:54 PM.
#2114667 - 07/08/13 01:02 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Very good post and one I will use it with my tuner/tech. I want to make sure I keep him happy so my piano is happy laugh

Last edited by shaolin95; 07/08/13 01:02 PM.

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#2114677 - 07/08/13 01:45 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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I’ve only had one piano technician to tune my piano, (besides me); and, it was a well known, world renowned concert technician, Sally Phillips. Afterward, my piano sounded (and played) better than it ever had. Sally gave me a few pointers and lessons on tuning that will no doubt help me to become a better tuner, in time.

I cleaned up a few twangy unisons the other day, and the tuning is still very sweet and pure, and stable. My hat is off to the techs/tuners who are good at what they do… they are well worth what they charge.

Rick



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#2114693 - 07/08/13 02:11 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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When hiring a tuner for the first time, make sure he or she knows of any parking restrictions or difficulties. If no free parking is available (such as in a downtown area), expect the tuner to add this to the bill.

Be sure to mention any mechanical problems while scheduling. We usually ask, but sometimes we forget.

Make sure there is a safe place to place the music desk, cabinet parts, etc.

When deciding where to put your piano, consider that we need adequate space to work, and it is particularly appreciated if there is nothing valuable nearby that can be knocked over on accident (your great-great grandmother mother's 18th century heirloom vase, or wall decorations, for example).

For liability reasons, many tuners will not agree to tune the piano unless you're home. And I do mean you, not your 14 year old kid. Due to liability reasons, most tuners will not agree to be in your house with an unsupervised minor.

When objectively inspecting a tuning, I prefer to play octaves up and down the keyboard, as opposed to playing. This is especially helpful if you're stage shy, and it also ensures that every note is checked. Therefore, I recommend playing single, double, and triple octaves chromatically from bottom to top.


#2114725 - 07/08/13 03:09 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Marty,

I think I failed miserably. You mean to say it was bad form to fix my g/f's collection of wind chimes and pressure wash the walkway. By the time he left, he looked grumpy. After reading your post, I think he's mad. Thoughts?

On their forum I learned that some (not all) techs don't want the client to hover and secondly, ask permission to take pictures. B986 hit it on the head from the perspective of a tech's concerns with site accesibility and minors (no, minors, not miners) in the home .....blob


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#2114726 - 07/08/13 03:09 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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The tip issue is perplexing and complicated. Tuner-technicians are usually self-employed professionals and they charge a professional's fee.

I often tip people who come to work on things in the house (plumber, for instance) when I know that they are employed by a larger firm (i.e. they're not the owner of the business) that is taking a substantial slice of the fee.

In the end, however, customs can vary. If you don't know the custom, it's easy to make mistakes either way.

Oh, and I really don't check on the "quality" of the tuning. I simply expect it to be right ... and it is. If he is doing more than that -- like voicing or some spot regulation -- he will show me what was done.

#2114740 - 07/08/13 03:49 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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I appreciate that my tuner drives 40 miles in LA traffic to get to my piano, so I throw in some gas money.


Gary
Essex EUP-111 at the mountains
W. Hoffmann T-122 at the beach
#2114744 - 07/08/13 03:54 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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Good thinking gang!

I've already made an addition from some suggestions. Not having smaller sized humans in my house, I neglected to include the contingency. Obviously, this is not meant to be a list which covers each and every situation, or what type of service is scheduled. It's just a rule of thumb sort of thing.

My Dear Blob, - You should consult with your tuner beforehand to ascertain whether he/she tunes wind chimes. Often this must be coordinated throughout the neighborhood. I find nothing wrong with mining for the perfect piano sound and, at times, my own piano miner will don a 'head-lamp' when digging into the action. Power washing of the sidewalk is required the day before the tuning to allow suitable drying time. The sidewalk is swept exactly 30 minutes prior to arrival. wink


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2114755 - 07/08/13 04:19 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty

[*]Escort your tuner to the piano, offer a beverage, and make them aware of the closest facilities.

I never offer my tuner a beverage for fear he'll spill it all over the piano's insides! smile If he get's thirsty mid-tuning he can always come have a glass of water in the kitchen but I have a phobia against the imbibing of fluids near the piano.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#2114759 - 07/08/13 04:20 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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If you have inside pets (dogs), put them in another room with door closed or outside. I know my tuner is not real fond of dogs.

#2114774 - 07/08/13 04:50 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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MM,

I stand corrected as it never occured to me to have him tune the chimes! gotta love those miner lights, just got one....lol. minor purchase though.

panche23....I'm still working on keeping "dog nose prints" off the fallboard! I have no idea why they insist on putting their wet noses on my spotless piano. Argh. maybe they know it bugs me and it's a game now?


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#2114802 - 07/08/13 05:34 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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My two cents about the points of the list which have more amusement value than practical value IMO.

  • Make sure that the lawn crew or carpenters are not scheduled at the same time. All Tuners Need Quiet!
You don't have much influence on when the landlord or the neighbors are going to order the lawn crew or carpenters.

  • Clear all objects from the top or lid of the piano. Family Photos - Plants - Candles - Grandma's Ashes - Everything!
If you are using a piano as a shelf for various flotsam and jetsam, then you probably don't care about its tuning.

  • Politely excuse yourself and let your tuner do the tuning in private and without interference.
Kind of contradicts the following:
  • Get to know your tuner. There is nothing wrong with being sociable.


  • Corral the kids. A tuner is not a babysitter or an amusement for your children.
What kids?

  • Provide a snack or cookies. Hey, we're all human!
Oh yeah. Great idea next to a piano. Why not tell the tuner they can eat on the keyboard?


Quote
By all means, please add your own comments and additions. These guidelines are just the basics, as I see them, and it would be great to hear your opinions.

Done.

Last edited by patH; 07/08/13 05:40 PM.

Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
#2114807 - 07/08/13 05:38 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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The "rules" are becoming refined!


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2114860 - 07/08/13 07:51 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Sometimes when my tuner arrives, I cannot be home due to long work hours. I just tell him that the key is under the mat, and the champagne and caviar are in the fridge. His reply is: Oh yes, the old-fashioned way. The cat is always home and makes sure he does a great job.


Some men are music lovers. Others make love without it.
#2114863 - 07/08/13 07:58 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Piano*Dad Online content
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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
I have a phobia against the imbibing of fluids near the piano.


You might have a conniption watching me set a nice glass of red wine on the floor beside the bench … grin

#2114877 - 07/08/13 08:40 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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'Great list Marty. The quiet environment is probably the most appreciated by me, and most clients seem to know that. It doesn't have to be dead silent, but as quiet as is reasonable is helpful.

I find the vast majority of piano owners to be a cut above the general population in courtesy and good manners. You're all just darn nice people! wink


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2114880 - 07/08/13 08:55 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
I have a phobia against the imbibing of fluids near the piano.


You might have a conniption watching me set a nice glass of red wine on the floor beside the bench … grin

So long as it's your piano I might even join you in a toast!


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#2114896 - 07/08/13 09:26 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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Piano*Dad,

Would it be considered rude to offer the red wine in a sippy cup? Would lobster be considered passé for our north woods tuner? How 'bout Châteauneuf-du-Pape flavored with maple syrup?

David, any thoughts?



Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2114903 - 07/08/13 09:53 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Jean Claude Offline
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I have a few extra rules, I would like to stress that they relate only to one specific tuner who I used only once.

1. If you have daughters, make sure that you send them out to the cinema for the afternoon or failing that, lock them in a bedroom.

2. Check the room beforehand and be sure to remove any small, valuable items, especially those which might get accidentally into his tool-roll.

3. Lock or better empty your drinks cabinet.

4. When he has finished DO NOT under any circumstances whatever allow him to play
his version of Für Elise to demonstrate the brilliance of his tuning as it will ruin for ever your appreciation of Beethoven.



Last edited by Jean Claude; 07/08/13 09:55 PM.
#2114907 - 07/08/13 10:15 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Jean Claude]  
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Originally Posted by Jean Claude
I have a few extra rules, I would like to stress that they relate only to one specific tuner who I used only once.

1. If you have daughters, make sure that you send them out to the cinema for the afternoon or failing that, lock them in a bedroom.

2. Check the room beforehand and be sure to remove any small, valuable items, especially those which might get accidentally into his tool-roll.

3. Lock or better empty your drinks cabinet.

4. When he has finished DO NOT under any circumstances whatever allow him to play
his version of Für Elise to demonstrate the brilliance of his tuning as it will ruin for ever your appreciation of Beethoven.


Hmmm... sounds like my tuner from childhood moved to France! wink

Just kidding... my childhood tuner, Gordon Blomgren, was very good to me. He always took time to alk to me, listen to a piece I was working on, or to show me something cool about my family's piano. In fact, he and Ralph Onesti were two people that fanned the spark of interest in pianos in me.

Gordon passed away a short time after he met my daughter for the first time. I miss him.



Rich Galassini
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#2114933 - 07/08/13 11:41 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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The sonic disruption most troublesome is a ceiling fan. The rotation creates a sort of beat because of the doppler shifting of the piano tones off of the moving blade surfaces. This destroy ones ability to hear the correct beats from the piano. The same is true of someone walking back and forth in the general vicinity of the piano. Absolute silence is not required as most piano are loud when being tuned. Singing along to the notes being tuned is also a bad habit.

For a grand piano there must be enough room to slide the action out of the cavity without hitting furniture. Usually about three feet in front of the keyboard is needed-more on a concert grand. The treble end of the piano should have room for the tuner to stand at the side of the piano for tuning the highest notes-if your technician tunes left handed the bass side need this room.

I enjoy my clients-they are some of the most interesting people I have ever met. I have clients that I have been servicing their piano for nearly forty years. You do get to know each other!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
#2115015 - 07/09/13 04:30 AM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Jean Claude]  
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Originally Posted by Jean Claude
I have a few extra rules, I would like to stress that they relate only to one specific tuner who I used only once.

1. If you have daughters, make sure that you send them out to the cinema for the afternoon or failing that, lock them in a bedroom.

2. Check the room beforehand and be sure to remove any small, valuable items, especially those which might get accidentally into his tool-roll.

3. Lock or better empty your drinks cabinet.

4. When he has finished DO NOT under any circumstances whatever allow him to play
his version of Für Elise to demonstrate the brilliance of his tuning as it will ruin for ever your appreciation of Beethoven.



what about sons?


Kawai CA65
#2115024 - 07/09/13 05:20 AM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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wow, ed. I new you were smart but not a child prodigy!

#2115028 - 07/09/13 05:27 AM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Personally I get a little frustrated when a customer appears to be checking the tuning because:

1. I spent a lot of time and effort getting the tuning right and I am sure I did not leave anything that a layperson would be able to hear. It's my job to leave it as well tuned as that piano can be.

2. very very few people, professionals included, know what a good tuning is or how to really check it

It turns out to be just a show and a stab in the dark (I think this octave is a little out, could you fix it...)

If you have to check each note to make sure your tuner did the unisons correctly, get a new tuner!

#2115033 - 07/09/13 05:55 AM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: shinegamix]  
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Jean Claude Offline
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Originally Posted by shinegamix
Originally Posted by Jean Claude
I have a few extra rules, I would like to stress that they relate only to one specific tuner who I used only once.

1. If you have daughters, make sure that you send them out to the cinema for the afternoon or failing that, lock them in a bedroom.


what about sons?


I have no information about this. Probably best to lock them up too, just to be on the safe side.

#2115115 - 07/09/13 11:21 AM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: BoseEric]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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Originally Posted by BoseEric
Personally I get a little frustrated when a customer appears to be checking the tuning because:

1. I spent a lot of time and effort getting the tuning right and I am sure I did not leave anything that a layperson would be able to hear. It's my job to leave it as well tuned as that piano can be.

2. very very few people, professionals included, know what a good tuning is or how to really check it

It turns out to be just a show and a stab in the dark (I think this octave is a little out, could you fix it...)

If you have to check each note to make sure your tuner did the unisons correctly, get a new tuner!

Hmmmm ... Maybe it is not such a good idea to treat a tuner with respect, courtesy, and manners since tuners don't seem to feel the need to return the consideration.

I would like to add that if you receive pompous attitude from your tuner, find another tuner.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2115118 - 07/09/13 11:34 AM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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If you are a professional musician-I will also add-don't start telling them about all the new business you can send them-making it almost obvious you seek a discount. Especially when you mention how wealthy some of the clients you can refer are and that you should "really stick it to them" when you service their piano. Especially when the technician knows you have rotated through several of the local and imported techs over the years. It also really doesn't help when you bad mouth the techs who won't play ball with you. I know it is tough to make a living in music-I am trying to do the same!

Piano service is a business and a profession-so trust and respect are at the center of the relationship. The prices for piano services have not moved much in the last decade, compared to inflation. There is not much room for technicians paying commissions to pianists!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
#2115133 - 07/09/13 12:28 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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shaolin95 Offline
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Posts: 477
So I guess this makes me curious...I am sure my high profile Steinway tech charges other people more than he charges me based on my piano and my own social status if you want to call it something. Is that how it works? smile


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#2115141 - 07/09/13 12:49 PM Re: Yikes - The Tuner Is Coming! [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,860
Piano*Dad Online content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Piano*Dad  Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,860
Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Piano*Dad,

Would it be considered rude to offer the red wine in a sippy cup? Would lobster be considered passé for our north woods tuner? How 'bout Châteauneuf-du-Pape flavored with maple syrup?

David, any thoughts?



Hey, the wine is for for ME while playing, not for the tuner! Can't imagine what a boozing tuner might do.

Hmmm. That might be an interesting experiment. See what a full glass of wine does to the tuning ... unless s(he) is using one of those digital thingies.

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