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#2270205 - 05/02/14 01:33 PM Tuning stability  
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DoelKees Offline
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A question for the professionals.

How do you know your tuning is actually stable? Do you occasionally do checks by revisiting the customer later in the day, or next day, or next week to make sure your technique is actually working?

In my experience it is possible to have all unisons in tune and stable against test blows, but a few of them still go out of tune after a couple of hours of normal playing.

Kees

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#2270214 - 05/02/14 02:06 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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For the schools I tune at, I will often tune before rehearsals begin and then give a gratuitous touch-up before the performance. This gives me a good idea of how my stability is doing.

Then there are my home pianos, and the one I usually hear and usually play on Sundays.

I think test blows are overrated. Sure, tune fairly loudly, but that should be enough. Getting a string to be stable is like aiming high and to the right when shooting far in a cross wind. Ya kinda gotta lob the pitch on target. And often what you do with the pin after the pitch is where you want it, without changing the pitch, is important too. Be the string, Danny. Be the string. (Ever watch Caddyshack?)


Jeff Deutschle
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Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#2270266 - 05/02/14 04:18 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Aside from good tuning technique the rest of it, in my mind, is knowing the instrument, followed by knowing the climate and environment it is used in (type of use as well as room environment).


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#2270278 - 05/02/14 04:44 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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I often have the opportunity to follow up my tuning on the next day because I have a showroom and my wife teaches piano at home. I have never found my day old tuning so perfect I couldn't improve 6 or 7 strings at least.

The interesting thing is a few go sharp. This is because I did so much tuning of new pianos early in my career that I tend to leave the pin as "high" as I can and be able to get the string tuned.


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.
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#2270379 - 05/02/14 09:48 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I often have the opportunity to follow up my tuning on the next day because I have a showroom and my wife teaches piano at home. I have never found my day old tuning so perfect I couldn't improve 6 or 7 strings at least.


Finally, an experienced tech attaching a quantity to the stability discussion.

I don't have the years of tuning Ed does, but my tunings benefit, when I get the opportunity, to follow myself up a day or so later. A day or a few days later, after the tuning has some time on it, a few unisons will have started to drift. After cleaning them up, the whole thing stays put (a relative term) better than if I didn't have the opportunity to catch stragglers.

How many...for me, if the pins and front segment are reasonably compliant,10-11 strings, usually only one string in a unison. These are minor unison drifts. In a really tight pin, poorly rendering item, the number of strings might be the same, but the drift sometimes is more aggressive. It depends on how much of a pitch correction was required.(I always do 2 full passes, with final tweaks)

Jim Ialeggio




Jim Ialeggio
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#2270384 - 05/02/14 10:08 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: jim ialeggio]  
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Originally Posted by jim ialeggio
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I often have the opportunity to follow up my tuning on the next day because I have a showroom and my wife teaches piano at home. I have never found my day old tuning so perfect I couldn't improve 6 or 7 strings at least.


Finally, an experienced tech attaching a quantity to the stability discussion.

I don't have the years of tuning Ed does, but my tunings benefit, when I get the opportunity, to follow myself up a day or so later. A day or a few days later, after the tuning has some time on it, a few unisons will have started to drift. After cleaning them up, the whole thing stays put (a relative term) better than if I didn't have the opportunity to catch stragglers.

How many...for me, if the pins and front segment are reasonably compliant,10-11 strings, usually only one string in a unison. These are minor unison drifts. In a really tight pin, poorly rendering item, the number of strings might be the same, but the drift sometimes is more aggressive. It depends on how much of a pitch correction was required.(I always do 2 full passes, with final tweaks)

Jim Ialeggio



Interesting. From the boldfaced part of the quote it then follows that the discerning customer would benefit from scheduling a short cleanup session a day or so after the main tuning.

Does anyone offer such service?

Kees

#2270395 - 05/02/14 11:05 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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I think that is why many solo piano recording sessions have a piano technician on standby.

I have found that when working for music festivals that use the piano several times a week I can get the piano so stable it does not change during performance. Sometimes even going many days without me needing to move a string. It does take having a climate controlled hall and not overly bright stage lights. Some situations need retuning every three days-or every performance day


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#2270407 - 05/02/14 11:59 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Honestly, I think people obsess over this way too much. People make such a big deal about "setting the pin" (a term I really hate, btw), blah blah blah. I firmly believe that the single biggest mistake tuners (at least novice tuners) make is that they attempt a fine tuning when the piano is too far away from the destination pitch. Rick Baldassin wrote an excellent article on tuning stability, which was published in the PTG Journal, in 1990.


#2270438 - 05/03/14 04:42 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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I concur with Beethoven986: one of the most difficult things I've have to teach was how to move on (i.e., to set it and forget it...so to say). Multiple passes are the way to go: I encourage different techniques that allow for 20/40/60 min passes depending on what in the tuning needs to be achieved.


Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
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#2270456 - 05/03/14 07:31 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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it is easier to leave the tuning when unison goals are clear.

small rest before deciding to work more may avoid unnecessary work also .

some shapes have a larger acceptable bandwidth than others, so when at some point the eventual change only influence the harmonic content lightly and not global energy output, then it is time to give the piano to the pianist.

Very often the customers tell me they hear more or less, or are aware of what I am doing, that is surprising, I was use to hear comments that nothing was really perceived by a close listener.

of course as anyone I experiment some light drifts up or down, more on the energy side/attack width than moaning, beats. But a strong initial phase tend to lock well in my opinion, sort of auto correct itself to some point. Not absolutely the most thin sparking tone but the most long lasting certainly.

more time than available is often necessary to allow a control and play enough the notes to be sure they are really set.

ET is asking for too much precision, in the end, you can tune more pianos a day by using an UT, a little wild tone and some customers may be happy.



Last edited by Olek; 05/03/14 07:32 AM.

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#2270460 - 05/03/14 07:46 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Those of us 'blessed' with university work have plenty of opportunities for gathering information about tuning stability - from practice rooms to teaching studios to the performance pianos. Whether or not any specific tech. takes advantage of the opportunity is up to them....

Ron Koval

#2270466 - 05/03/14 08:14 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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When I tune for a professional high level recording studio, we tune the piano every morning and I am on stand by in the afternoon in case. What does that tell you?


Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
#2270468 - 05/03/14 08:32 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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This topic comes up often. Some have gone through great lengths in explaining quite well how tuning stability is achieved; but in most instances they might as well be talking to the fence post.

Case histories. Some have witnessed:

1. Good tuning technique - pitch raise or none - applied to a S&S D and surviving as heavy handed a Brahms 1 or a Rach 3 performance as one can imagine, with the fine tuning absolutely intact. Nothing has moved. Unisons clean.

2. Instances wherein new pianos tuned in the store, knocked down, loaded on the truck, traveled across town, set up for an event, have survived with the tuning intact.

3. Average Home Piano holding its tune for six months to a year - sometimes longer - anywhere from intact to virtually so.

4. These and many similar cases repeated over and again.

Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, How Much? For those who understand the tuning technique required to make the achievement of such a result possible, no explanation is needed. For those who understand not, neither would they believe if told, no explanation will suffice.

Off to Toad Suck Daze. yippie Dueling pianos tonight. wow


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#2270476 - 05/03/14 09:06 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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#2270493 - 05/03/14 10:17 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: bkw58]  
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Originally Posted by bkw58
This topic comes up often. Some have gone through great lengths in explaining quite well how tuning stability is achieved; but in most instances they might as well be talking to the fence post.

Case histories. Some have witnessed:

1. Good tuning technique - pitch raise or none - applied to a S&S D and surviving as heavy handed a Brahms 1 or a Rach 3 performance as one can imagine, with the fine tuning absolutely intact. Nothing has moved. Unisons clean.

2. Instances wherein new pianos tuned in the store, knocked down, loaded on the truck, traveled across town, set up for an event, have survived with the tuning intact.

3. Average Home Piano holding its tune for six months to a year - sometimes longer - anywhere from intact to virtually so.

4. These and many similar cases repeated over and again.

Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, How Much? For those who understand the tuning technique required to make the achievement of such a result possible, no explanation is needed. For those who understand not, neither would they believe if told, no explanation will suffice.

Off to Toad Suck Daze. yippie Dueling pianos tonight. wow


So I guess you may believe in some sort of "auto alimentation" that allows the strings to get tightly coupling together.

I cannot locate that anywhere else than in the chock absorption capacity of the upper part of the wire (pin pinblock and NSL.

Whenever some controlled stress exists it is an energy reserve.
If it is not submitted to power levels higher than what it can accept it will maintain the system perfectly stable.

Piano designers take some (great) care of using strings lengths and diameters that suffer the less from seasonal changes.

But I also have noticed very good tuning quality staying despite moving in hard roads, on a 1838 and 1842 instruments.

A professional customer that have a 2008 D Steinway moved with it from France to Spain recently, and told me he did look for a technician for tuning only one month later and that the piano did hold "well" after the move.
Played professionally daily and by a tall pianist wink

I also happen to tune a piano regularely tuned by another tuner, thinking leaving everything good and stable, and probably I have used a slightly different way (did not notice at that point ) and the unison moved way more than I expected.

The strings seem to want to go back to their usual place...

Last edited by Olek; 05/03/14 10:18 AM.

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#2270515 - 05/03/14 11:18 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: Olek]  
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Originally Posted by Olek

Played professionally daily and by a tall pianist wink


A tall pianist?? confused



Herr Weiss


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-Lao Tzu
#2270520 - 05/03/14 11:25 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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#2270526 - 05/03/14 11:59 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Vertically Enabled and an Upright Citizen, I'm sure.


Thank you, Marty!

Maybe something was lost in translation.



HW


"Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment."
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#2270541 - 05/03/14 12:40 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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wink actually 73.6 inches tall, and strong hands.

Sorry may be not exactly what I should have used.

I like great pianists but the tall ones play stronger than my aunt's garden smile


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#2270578 - 05/03/14 02:29 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: Mark Cerisano]  
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Originally Posted by Mark Cerisano, RPT
When I tune for a professional high level recording studio, we tune the piano every morning and I am on stand by in the afternoon in case. What does that tell you?

That you haven't read the question?

Kees

#2270641 - 05/03/14 05:43 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Originally Posted by DoelKees
A question for the professionals.

How do you know your tuning is actually stable? Do you occasionally do checks by revisiting the customer later in the day, or next day, or next week to make sure your technique is actually working?

In my experience it is possible to have all unisons in tune and stable against test blows, but a few of them still go out of tune after a couple of hours of normal playing.

Kees



..."How do you know your tuning is actually stable?"...

Kees, that question, in the way it is worded, it's a bit odd. You do not really 'know' (for sure) when unisons will start sounding wrong (too many variables), but you can make sure you have done everything you could, in order to have your tuning as stable as possible.

..."Do you occasionally do checks by revisiting the customer later in the day, or next day, or next week to make sure your technique is actually working?"...

Yes, as others have confirmed.

..."In my experience it is possible to have all unisons in tune and stable against test blows, but a few of them still go out of tune after a couple of hours of normal playing."

Well, perhaps you are asking if it is 'normal' that '..after a couple of hours of normal playing..' a few unisons go out of tune? That should not be understood as the norm, but it may also depend on those many variables, as you may deduce from what has been posted.

Perhaps you wanted to ask what professionals do, so that their tunings are as stable as possible?
.


alfredo
#2270655 - 05/03/14 06:22 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: alfredo capurso]  
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Most of the responses the OP's question are, to my way of thinking a breath of fresh air...honest...bowing to the complex and in some ways only partially knowable reality imposed by the interactive systems that comprise this instrument.

Kees, I have always felt that the questions about stability, my own questions included, jumped a key conceptual step. The questions always ask this or that about stability, but stability is never really defined. Most of the above responses consider stability to be a relative term, and in dealing with it as a relative quantity, begin to offer some hint of a definition.

In my view, stability refers to a band-width of musical acceptable imperfection, pretty darn close, but alive, and moving as the instrument moves within its environment and micro environment. There is some movement, there has to be some movement, but it must be musically acceptable movement.

Posts where stability pretends to perfection simply are not helpful, accurate or instructive, and give no hint as to a reasonable definition of the concept.

So, to those with more years than I at the lever, how about we try to offer some kind of a definition...is a quantifiable definition possible, or does quantifying it shoot the whole subjective aesthetic in the foot.

Jim Ialeggio


Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA
#2270679 - 05/03/14 07:17 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: alfredo capurso]  
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Originally Posted by alfredo capurso
Perhaps you wanted to ask what professionals do, so that their tunings are as stable as possible?

No, I wanted to ask what I asked, otherwise I would have asked what I wanted to ask.

Kees

#2270694 - 05/03/14 07:44 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Chris Leslie Offline
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Originally Posted by DoelKees
A question for the professionals.

How do you know your tuning is actually stable? Do you occasionally do checks by revisiting the customer later in the day, or next day, or next week to make sure your technique is actually working?

In my experience it is possible to have all unisons in tune and stable against test blows, but a few of them still go out of tune after a couple of hours of normal playing.

Kees

Occasionally, if I need to return for another specific reason, but never to deliberately assess my tuning stability.

Last edited by Chris Leslie; 05/03/14 08:10 PM.

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#2270791 - 05/04/14 01:18 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Mark Cerisano Offline
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Originally Posted by DoelKees
Originally Posted by Mark Cerisano, RPT
When I tune for a professional high level recording studio, we tune the piano every morning and I am on stand by in the afternoon in case. What does that tell you?

That you haven't read the question?

Kees


Woof!


Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
#2270792 - 05/04/14 01:21 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Originally Posted by DoelKees
Originally Posted by alfredo capurso
Perhaps you wanted to ask what professionals do, so that their tunings are as stable as possible?

No, I wanted to ask what I asked, otherwise I would have asked what I wanted to ask.

Kees


Grrrr.


Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
#2270795 - 05/04/14 01:33 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Just teasing Kees.

OK. I'll have a go.

Originally Posted by Kees

How do you know your tuning is actually stable? Do you occasionally do checks by revisiting the customer later in the day, or next day, or next week to make sure your technique is actually working?


When I have the opportunity to revisit a piano I tuned recently, I usually check the unisons to see if they still sound clean. Most of the time, they do.

Originally Posted by Kees

In my experience it is possible to have all unisons in tune and stable against test blows, but a few of them still go out of tune after a couple of hours of normal playing.


If the pin is left "high" in the hole, and without sufficient positive tension differential, pin settling can occur over time (a few days?) that could reduce NSL tension to below the tension band limit and that would cause the pitch to drift.

Isaac refers to tuning "the knot" as a way to reduce this pitch drift.

What I was referring to when I said "What does that tell you" is that, even the professional engineers and producers who pay big money to use expensive recording studios full of engineers and expensive equipment, don't expect the piano to stay in tune more than a day, or even a half day, and will pay the extra expense to ensure it is at the highest level possible.

As for a quantifiable assessment of stability, I would say that unisons should not stray beyond the "swelling" or "blooming" quality. Yes, I know, that is qualifiable. (Is that a word?) So, let's use the PTG tolerance then. Nothing more than 0.9 cents off, left to centre, right to centre, and left to right. BTW, that's a pretty big window, but a 100% on the RPT exam.

Hope that helps.

Last edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT; 05/04/14 01:35 AM.

Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
#2271111 - 05/04/14 07:04 PM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Seattle, WA USA
When discussing tuning stability, I don't think it is wise to forget about the inharmonicity balanced temperament. If you compress or stretch the fit of the partials across the compass to extremes-any environmental change that increases this extremity-makes the piano sound out of tune quicker. If all the notes are centered in the middle of the sweet spot-any environmental caused changes in tension will take more movement to be noticed.

So if the piano is in the dry season and you tune with as little stretch as is musically acceptable-when the humidity rises the treble and bass will sound flat sooner. And if it is the humid season and you stretch the octaves as much as is tolerable-when it dries out the treble will just screech and the bass will sound pinched.

So if you float the basic pitch of a regularly tuned piano with the seasons you also need to "float" the stretch.


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#2271258 - 05/05/14 04:33 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
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Posts: 2,758
Gadzar Offline
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Gadzar  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,758
Mexico City

I do less and less test blows and more and more hammer technique to equalize tension in the NSL.

I buy and sell pianos and these pianos are an invaluable source of feedback about my tuning stability.

I was taught to pound the keys. Now I have learned to tune gently stroking the keys.

I don't like to pound the keys. By tuning and retuning the pianos I sell, I've learned that it's more stable to make a three or four passes tuning, that a one pass pounding the keys.

In grand pianos with high levels of friction in the NSL (understring felt) it is useless to pound the keys, the strings just do not render with a test blow, so it is better to equalize tension with the tuning hammer.

I'm with Rick Buttler when he says that unisons are to be first rough tuned before they can be fine tuned and that has a lot to do with stability.


Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx
#2271325 - 05/05/14 08:20 AM Re: Tuning stability [Re: DoelKees]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,760
UnrightTooner Offline
5000 Post Club Member
UnrightTooner  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,760
Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by DoelKees
A question for the professionals.

How do you know your tuning is actually stable? Do you occasionally do checks by revisiting the customer later in the day, or next day, or next week to make sure your technique is actually working?

In my experience it is possible to have all unisons in tune and stable against test blows, but a few of them still go out of tune after a couple of hours of normal playing.

Kees


Like most questions, the person answering will often consider what the questioner wants to know, not just what the questioner is asking. But feedback from the questioner is often needed to keep things on track...

Another thing that I will do is revisit a home piano a month or so later after replacing a string to bring it back up to pitch. (I charge enough at the replacement to cover this). This gives me a chance to see how the stability is.

Or for that matter anytime I tune a piano that I have tuned before is an opportunity to check stability. You expect to hear some slow beating in the intervals and a jump in the pitch across the break causing bad octaves. But there should not be any horrible unisons.

For my better home piano, I will have a couple imperfect unisons a few days later that I will touch up, and a few more a few weeks after that. Then it is fine for a few months until a humidity change overwhelms the dampchasers and things don't sound right across the break.

Doel, you did not ask what level of stability we achieve, but it seems it would only make sense to give this info, too.



Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
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