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#2225472 - 02/03/14 10:36 PM Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours?  
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accordeur Offline
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Québec, Canada
Evans Bros Ingersoll Ontario.

#9936 1909 according to the atlas.

Moved once about 10 years ago, from the house it was in when originally bought.

Completely original. A few bridle straps falling apart. Some wear to indicate the piano was played a lot for about 20 years somewhere in it's history.

3/4 plate open face pin block.

Very little dust and debris inside, leading me to believe the people were hypochondriacs or someone cleaned it, a tuner, 30 years ago?

Well it was a major third flat. C4 was G#3. That is 400 cents flat I believe.

I have never seen anything like it in my life. 28 years of piano tuner tech and technician and 40 of piano playing.

So I set tunelab on pitch raise. The poor machine could not figure anything out. It listens to partials, and if they are that way off, it does not even know where it is.

So... I took out my fork. Estimated about 20 cents above it. and tuned all the As

From there I did a rough pitch raise just using intervals.

At this point I was still about 20 cents flat overall.

I then used tunelab using the pitch raise (it was still calling me to over pull by anything between 7 and 10 cents) being extra careful to have nice unisons, even though they beat wildly with the previously tuned octaves and other intervals.

The result was a piano at pitch (no broken strings) And I was super happy.

But I still wonder. How did it get that low? 400 cents!!!

I've seen plenty at 150 or even 200 flat. But never 400 on a piano that was properly built, solid, like they made then back then.

Full set of Ivories and only one small chip on C6.

I asked how the piano was being maintained, and the owner told me not since 30 years.

It really is a mystery. The pin block is right in your face, not separated from the sides, perfect condition. Dirt on the strings, no rust. A few very insignificant cracks in the soundboard, bridges built to last.

I guess I must have a preconceived notion that pianos left to themselves in ideal conditions will only go flat by about 200 cents.

Anyways. They don't build pianos like that anymore, and given my reliance on tunelab for this job, I probably ended up with reverse well.

Last edited by accordeur; 02/03/14 10:40 PM. Reason: clarity and missing words

Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
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#2225478 - 02/03/14 10:51 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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1/2 step flat, give or take.

#2225479 - 02/03/14 10:57 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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accordeur Offline
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Québec, Canada
So 100 cents.

While I was going at it, I seriously considered that some tuner had done it purposely.

It felt like I was restringing a piano.


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
#2225521 - 02/04/14 12:31 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Yes, several whole tones flat. It happens. Chip tuning first, followed by pitch raise...

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#2225535 - 02/04/14 01:19 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Sandy Eggo, California
Wow. The worst I've ever done was ~150 cents flat.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#2225546 - 02/04/14 01:44 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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ando Offline
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I did a pitch raise on a family friend's old clunker. It was over 400 cents flat. It was so old and brittle, I didn't dare raise it to A440. I ended up tuning it one semitone down, which turned out ok because the guy who lived there liked to tune his guitars down a semitone too! Made jam sessions easy!

#2225585 - 02/04/14 04:36 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Phil D Offline
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London, England
Half an octave in the treble, about 400 cents in the bass, your guess is as good as mine in the treble. Blind chip raise to begin with. It was like I'd just installed the strings! It was a 125 year old pub piano, had probably sat in the corner of that pub during every change of landlord for the last half century without being tuned.

#2225624 - 02/04/14 07:20 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Herr Weiss Offline
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.
HYPOCHONDRIACS!!! LOL!!!
.

HW


"Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment."
-Lao Tzu
#2225632 - 02/04/14 07:48 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Chris Storch Offline
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I once raised a harpsichord up an octave. Some idiot tuner thought the 4 foot stop was supposed to speak at the same pitch as the 8 foot stop.


Chris Storch
Acoustician / Piano Technician
#2225633 - 02/04/14 07:51 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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UnrightTooner Offline
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Bradford County, PA
300 cents for me. It was a huge old Whitney upright. I've had others at 200 cents, too.

I have noticed that old pianos that need a gignormous pitch raise work out very well. I think the strings have more elasticity due to not having been at tension. They tune like a much younger piano. They don't have that dry, brittle, touchy feel to them.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#2225660 - 02/04/14 08:53 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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South Jersey
About a minor third, or 300 cents, is the worst I've seen. It was a spinet, but I don't even remember the make. Unmaintained for no-one-knew-how-many years. But that was definitely unusual. I've run into several other 100-150 cent pitch raise jobs, but I'd have to agree that it takes something special for them to get worse than that.

Maybe pianos in drier/colder climates are more likely to continue going flat instead of eventually leveling out? Or maybe it has to do with pianos that were put in storage at one point in their life. Or maybe it has to do with the manufacturing of the pinblock. Or maybe it's just completely random . . .

Last edited by BenP; 02/04/14 08:55 AM.

Ben Patterson, RPT
South Jersey Piano Service, LLC
www.sjpianoservice.com
#2225664 - 02/04/14 09:04 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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I think the biggest pitch raise I have done was a little more than 200 cents flat. That was an interesting day. No broken strings though!


Lucas Brookins, RPT
#2225667 - 02/04/14 09:09 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Cincinnati, Ohio
The piano was a small Hamilton grand. When I walked in the house, the customer, who was in his 90's, proudly stated that the piano had been sitting in that same spot since it was purchased new in 1948. I asked him when it had been tuned last, and he replied "Never". It was a couple whole tones flat.


Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com
#2225702 - 02/04/14 10:29 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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I had an old upright once that was about the same as yours. When I encounter a piano that is more than 100 cents off, instead of trying to overpull with Tunelab, I will pull it up to A-440 first and then on the next pass have Tunelab overpull it. I see where all the A's are to get an idea of where the pitch is generally sitting. I then start at the break and tune to the top and then from the break down to the bottom. I've had pretty good success with this method. On most pianos, when I come back to them next year or six months are very close to where I left them. I don't know if this is the best procedure or not. I would be interested to see what others think.


Ryan G. Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
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#2225716 - 02/04/14 11:09 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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David Boyce Online content
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Scotland
A major third - 400 cents - is the most I've done. I've come across pianos lower, but not of a quality or state to justify attempting to tune them.

#2225782 - 02/04/14 01:27 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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I read in an old, old book to start a big pitch raise at the lowest note and work upwards to the highest note.

I last did a pitch raise of this nature 4-5 years ago on an old player while the player techs had the action out.

If it is a half step flat, simply tune the A0 to the A#0 continuing up without wedges, exaggerating a bit by judgement if the treble is even flatter, (it usually is in these cases.

I always pull a pitch raise to 442 so that there's no more pitch raising on subsequent tunings, therefore building stability. Just like a new piano.

Similarly if it's a whole step, tune A to B, B to C# etc. you can expect to tune at teast three times and a return visit although I have often been amazed at the stability a month later. Of course, for a minor third, tuneA to C. Etc.

Starting at the bottom is supposed to be safer and better for stability. Our piano construction experts can answer that one for us.

I would not overpull a piano much above 444, particularly an old one. I would rather do a couple more rough tunings.

Some do silent tunings, using one hand on the tuning tip and the other on the handle for speed between pin changes. An experienced tuner knows how much to pull.


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.


#2226040 - 02/04/14 10:20 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Paul678 Offline
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Great information on this thread, thank you
everyone.

I may be tuning a piano that hasn't been tuned in 8
years, so some of this info could be useful.

Like some other people, I charge extra money if
the piano is more than 10 cents out of tune, but
really, aren't most of the tuning jobs out there
on pianos that need a pitch raise? That's been
my case so far....but I'm still green at this...and
I don't have regular customers yet....


#2226189 - 02/05/14 07:53 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: rXd]  
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David Boyce Online content
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Scotland
Quote
I read in an old, old book to start a big pitch raise at the lowest note and work upwards to the highest note.


rxd, what was the old old book?

#2226204 - 02/05/14 08:39 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: rXd]  
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Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted by rxd


I would not overpull a piano much above 444, particularly an old one. I would rather do a couple more rough tunings.



Most wise especially considering the condition of the bridges in these old instruments. The shock of too much overpull can be damaging.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2226367 - 02/05/14 02:17 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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rXd Offline
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I wish I could remember those old books, David, I wish I could.

The Henry Watson music library in Manchester had archives on piano technology. A great resource from the heyday of piano manufacturing. I used it in the '60's. Last time I visited, Nothing seemed to remain of it.

There was also a piano store I worked for there that had a Dickensian back room full of old copies of "the pianomaker" from the early 1900's that I used to borrow and devour. All gone now.


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.


#2226371 - 02/05/14 02:26 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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BDB Offline
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Oakland
I have restrung pianos, so they have gone from nothing to pitch.

I have been asked to tune birdcage pianos which are really, really flat. I get out of it by showing the owner how, if I turn the tuning pin and let go of my tuning hammer, the tuning hammer swings back. It is my favorite demonstration of an untunable piano.


Semipro Tech
#2226392 - 02/05/14 03:03 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
You mean you actually make the trip to the owner's home to do the demo (and then presumably have to bill them for your time)?

I pre-screen those kind of pianos over the phone. There is no use in wasting my time and the client's money.

Just yesterday someone called me with one. It "came with the house". Increasingly, pianos are "coming with the house" when a house is sold. Sadly, the unsuspecting buyers have no idea they are buying a liability and the last owner didn't want to invest in piano removal.

I told the client what to look for on CG and to call me back when she found a piano for technical inspection.

#2226413 - 02/05/14 03:53 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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It has only happened a couple of times. Once was when I was paid for an inspection, and the person who paid for it bought one of my pianos instead, something I did not bring up until I had shown the problem with the piano in question.

I will sometimes offer to stop in and look at a piano if I am in the neighborhood, but it has to work out at my convenience. The last time, the person left her work number, rather than a number where the piano was, and that does not work for me.


Semipro Tech
#2226815 - 02/06/14 07:44 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: Paul678]  
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UnrightTooner Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by Paul678
Great information on this thread, thank you
everyone.

I may be tuning a piano that hasn't been tuned in 8
years, so some of this info could be useful.

Like some other people, I charge extra money if
the piano is more than 10 cents out of tune, but
really, aren't most of the tuning jobs out there
on pianos that need a pitch raise? That's been
my case so far....but I'm still green at this...and
I don't have regular customers yet....



I used to charge for pitch raises, but decided on a more "community" approach. I raised my rate a bit and if a piano needs a pitch raise, or the lost motion adjusted, or a couple of ivories glued back on I don't charge extra. Yeah, some pianos don't need any extra work and the "time" goes into a community "bank" and gets used where it is needed more. But if a piano requires TWO pitch raises, then there is an extra charge.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#2226847 - 02/06/14 09:03 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: UnrightTooner]  
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Paul678 Offline
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Originally Posted by UnrightTooner


I used to charge for pitch raises, but decided on a more "community" approach. I raised my rate a bit and if a piano needs a pitch raise, or the lost motion adjusted, or a couple of ivories glued back on I don't charge extra. Yeah, some pianos don't need any extra work and the "time" goes into a community "bank" and gets used where it is needed more. But if a piano requires TWO pitch raises, then there is an extra charge.


Ok, but what % of your tuning jobs so far have been
within 10 cents? I haven't had any yet...

#2226856 - 02/06/14 09:38 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Silverwood Pianos Offline
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From zero tension.


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
#2226878 - 02/06/14 10:21 AM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: Paul678]  
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UnrightTooner Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by Paul678
Originally Posted by UnrightTooner


I used to charge for pitch raises, but decided on a more "community" approach. I raised my rate a bit and if a piano needs a pitch raise, or the lost motion adjusted, or a couple of ivories glued back on I don't charge extra. Yeah, some pianos don't need any extra work and the "time" goes into a community "bank" and gets used where it is needed more. But if a piano requires TWO pitch raises, then there is an extra charge.


Ok, but what % of your tuning jobs so far have been
within 10 cents? I haven't had any yet...


A piano that has a dampchaser (that is working...) or one that is tuned regularly is usually within 10 cents. But I usually do not worry about a PR unless it is 20 cents or more. A little overshoot, or a blind PR in the treble, or floating the pitch (in some cases...) works fine without a full PR.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#2226999 - 02/06/14 02:12 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: UnrightTooner]  
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Paul678 Offline
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Originally Posted by UnrightTooner


A piano that has a dampchaser (that is working...) or one that is tuned regularly is usually within 10 cents. But I usually do not worry about a PR unless it is 20 cents or more. A little overshoot, or a blind PR in the treble, or floating the pitch (in some cases...) works fine without a full PR.



What exactly do you mean by "blind PR", or "floating the pitch"?

Sorry for the newbie questions....

#2227009 - 02/06/14 02:38 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: Paul678]  
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UnrightTooner Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by Paul678
Originally Posted by UnrightTooner


A piano that has a dampchaser (that is working...) or one that is tuned regularly is usually within 10 cents. But I usually do not worry about a PR unless it is 20 cents or more. A little overshoot, or a blind PR in the treble, or floating the pitch (in some cases...) works fine without a full PR.



What exactly do you mean by "blind PR", or "floating the pitch"?

Sorry for the newbie questions....


Use the search feature, please. No time right now...


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#2227067 - 02/06/14 04:43 PM Re: Biggest pitch raise I've ever done. What's yours? [Re: accordeur]  
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Vancouver B. C. Canada

Blind pitch raise;

You attend an instrument that is low pitch; you make note of how far the tuning hammer moves to bring up one string in the center register. Then without touching the keyboard you pull each string up using the same amount of movement for each tuning pin. This is raising the pitch “blind” (without sound)

Floating pitches;

You attend an instrument in a church in late September and the center register is sharp and the ends slightly low. Leave the center sharp, set temperament there, and bring up the ends of the scale. Then during the winter months the scale will fall more evenly.

The tuning was not @ pitch but floated where it was found. To drop the center in September will cause a pendulum effect that you don’t want.

Unless of course the instrument is played in concert with other instruments and the requirement was for A440 scale. Then the pendulum effect is unavoidable.


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
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