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Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! #2521834
03/16/16 08:21 PM
03/16/16 08:21 PM
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Self Tuner Offline OP
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Hi kids:

I am currently debugging the new Self-Tuning Piano prototype and thought that you would all like to see some pictures for a change.

This is a new website and is very crude and incomplete (I did it myself). The photos mostly show the construction of the prototype. It is not complete, but I will be adding more pictures over the coming weeks. No, it is not available yet--I am currently talking to several manufacturers about a contract and will keep you posted.

The pictures are here:

http://dgdevices.com/gallery

There are also links to the worldwide publicity that it has received in recent years, if you click "Publicity" at the top of the page.

I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Please bear in mind that this is just the prototype. The production unit will be much simpler and slicker.

Thanks for having a look.

Don A. Gilmore
Inventor
Kansas City

Piano & Music Gifts & Accessories (570)
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Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2521849
03/16/16 09:18 PM
03/16/16 09:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,144
Georgia, USA
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That's quite interesting, congratulations on your invention!

But can it replace a broken string? smile

Just kidding!

Wishing you all the best,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2521893
03/17/16 12:53 AM
03/17/16 12:53 AM
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Queensland, Australia
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Very interesting.

I imagine it would still need a technician to come regularly.

When a technician services my piano, I notice that a myriad of other adjustments to regulation and voicing are done while he is there, not just tuning.

Last edited by backto_study_piano; 03/17/16 12:54 AM. Reason: forgot something

Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2521963
03/17/16 07:49 AM
03/17/16 07:49 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,144
Georgia, USA
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I can see this invention/option getting more interest from recording studios or concert venues where pianos are played heavily and often. It would allow for fine-tuning without needed the services of a piano tech daily or even hourly.

Also, from what I understand about how this works, it uses electronic temperature manipulation to heat or cool the piano string wire to raise or lower pitch. There are certain parameters and tolerances where this can work. If the pitch of a certain sting is beyond the parameters/limits of what this device can do, a tuning hammer would still be needed to raise or lower the pitch of the string manually.

I can see where there might be a limited market for this device/invention, but very limited. And, likely only on very high-end pianos.

Of course, my comments are just my meager, amateurish opinion.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2521972
03/17/16 08:21 AM
03/17/16 08:21 AM
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The new system (with a new patent) can now be installed in any piano, not just new pianos. I have driven the cost and ease of installation down to an affordable level too.

Going out of range was a concern of mine early in the project, but it has turned out not to really be a factor. I have found that piano pitch is cyclical and annual. The tuning varies throughout the year, but returns every year close to where it began. It stays within a reasonable range. The original prototype has stayed in range for twelve years now--and in the extremes of brutal Kansas City weather (below zero F winters and above 100 summers with high humidity).

The range of the system can be thought of as a "pool of tuning power". The current system has a pool of about 7000 cents. That's an average of about 30 cents per string. But for every string that's only 10¢ out of tune that leaves another 20¢ that can be used by other strings. For example, the next string could have 30¢ + 20¢ = 50¢ to use. Actually, I tune the demonstration model grossly out-of-tune, to make the effect more obvious, and I use nowhere close to the full range.

Don

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2521976
03/17/16 08:40 AM
03/17/16 08:40 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,144
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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Originally Posted by Self Tuner
The range of the system can be thought of as a "pool of tuning power". The current system has a pool of about 7000 cents. That's an average of about 30 cents per string. But for every string that's only 10¢ out of tune that leaves another 20¢ that can be used by other strings. For example, the next string could have 30¢ + 20¢ = 50¢ to use. Actually, I tune the demonstration model grossly out-of-tune, to make the effect more obvious, and I use nowhere close to the full range.

Don

If my math is correct, and my understanding of the device, at a maximum "pool" (? range? minimum/maximum?) of 7000 cents, to be spread out over 88 notes and roughly 225 individual strings, that means the self-tuner is capable of keeping the piano tuned within a tolerance of 31.1 cents per string. That is a fairly wide range of tuning variation/tolerance.

If we assume the 7000 cent "pool" of capability includes individual notes, and not individual unisons/strings, then the tolerance would increase to 79.5 cents per note. That is a wide range of tolerance. It would be capable of keeping the piano in tune even if it were over 75% of being a full semi-tone flat or sharp. That is a wide range of variation/tolerance.

Hey, you may be on to something there... smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Rickster] #2521982
03/17/16 09:22 AM
03/17/16 09:22 AM
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If I understand correctly, since the system can only raise a string's temperature above the ambient temperature, and thus can only lower the string's pitch from the pitch it would have at ambient temperature, in order to be able to "raise" string pitches in operation they must all start by being roughly tuned some amount above standard pitch, and are then heated varying amounts to bring them down to standard pitch.

So Don, (a) how many cents high, on average, do you initially tune the strings, and (b) how much warmer than ambient temperature, on average, are the strings once brought down to standard pitch?

Larry.

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2521991
03/17/16 10:01 AM
03/17/16 10:01 AM
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Manila
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Wow! I'm excited for this development. It's certainly something I would want to install in my piano when I get an acoustic (whenever that may be...)


Working on: Schumann Album for the Young, Clementi Op 36 No. 1 (all movements), Various Bach, Czerny 599
+ CASIO PX-720 and PX-730 +
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Rickster] #2521992
03/17/16 10:19 AM
03/17/16 10:19 AM
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In the mountains of NC
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Like anything electronic, such components fail, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Trust me on this. And if they fail in this particular category, the results could be both dire and catastrophic.

At times, it's not even the components fault when things go wrong. An example of such but on a much larger scale; a few years ago I received a number of calls on a Sunday morning (my job position required that I be on call 24/7/365) regarding alarms being generated and equipment failing, so I motivated myself into work only to find a no power situation at numerous locations and facilities. This led me to believe that our major source of power had been disrupted, so I headed over to our 5E electrical distribution substation only to find a number of local utility company vehicles and hard hat wearing individuals, along with the somewhat apprehensive maintenance manager of an associated company's buildings hovering about. I asked what was up and was directed towards a corner of fencing where I observed a brown squirrel. Interesting, as here in my neck of the NY woods we only have grey squirrels. I immediately sensed what was forthcoming and that was the fact that this one squirrel, while jumping from one point to another 30 feet or so up in the air on the structure, had unfortunately managed to complete the circuit between a bare high voltage/large amperage connection and ground, mostlikely on a large transformer, creating a major short between them, which initiated the systems protection system, but not before causing a tremendous arc which set the squirrel on fire and sending it to the ground in flames, where it actually survived but I'm sure perished a short time later, the poor thing. Anyway, this "incident" electrically knocked out the juice to over 2 million square feet of industrial buildings and the whole shebango caused me to get out of bed on my only day off, spend nearly 4 hours waiting for the electricity to be re-energized, then more time restarting and or resetting numerous pieces of equipment such as boilers, air compressors and diesel gensets, and lastly clearing existing alarms. A squirrel. Just one squirrel.

In a similar fashion, it's no stretch of the imagination to believe that your friendly but curious house mouse could essentially do the same thing to this collection of electronic components, without component failure.

My 2007 Dodge Nitro has only just recently begun exhibing the inability to lower the passenger side front window, and that's just a simple component exchange to correct...but here we're talking about adding a system that's in its infancy to a multi thousand dollar accoustic musical instrument that is essentially a wonderful source of kindling wood, that to me, has the potential for disaster should things go awry with its operation, or as mentioned, even without component failure.

Imagine some of the inductive coils going rogue or never shutting off due to a bad temperature sensor or controller; several strings become overheated beyond the expected temperature and cause irreparable damage to the strings to the point where replacement is necessary. These new strings will then each have to be removed and the new strings installed, then tuned repeatedly by hand until such a time as they've stretched sufficiently. Besides the cost of this and the downtime in playing that will have to be endured by the owner, the new strings may not match the surrounding strings in physical color or color tone.

Imagine your piano is fine just sitting there with the top down, when one of the electronic components fails during an auto-tune, begins heating up, then catches fire, setting your beloved instrument that's been in the family for 2 generations, or the instrument that you struggled and worked hard and saved up for years to own on fire. You receive an urgent phone call at work from a neighbor informing you that your house is on fire and you rush home to find both your piano and home reduced to ashes.

My dealer, if taking in a used piano on trade and is found to have a Dampp Chaser system installed, regardless if it was physically installed a week prior, they have their techs remove it and throw it in the trash. I asked why? The answer: liability. And this is for an already proven system.

I really don't see any advantage of this system other than it being an expensive excercise in "Look, it might be able to be done." Many have tried to reinvent the wheel or have overcomplicated things so much in an effort to make things easy. Think about that for a moment.

Kudos to the inventor, but it's a solution, which will no doubt ultimately be a very expensive one (I've worked for years with electronic components - installing, troubleshooting, and replacing coils, controller/logic boards, solenoids, etc., and they aren't cheap), to an existing need that has been happily addressed manually for years by dedicated individuals who love the work. Plus, I don't imagine the inventor will find many PTG techs willing to install a device on a piano that will in essence, take away their revenue earned from tuning long time clients and new piano owners pianos alike.

In the end, after personally observing multitudes of electronic component failure and the damage possible from such failed devices, um, I'd be 'fraidie-scared to have this system installed on my Yamaha. I'll gladly continue to contribute to the employment of hard working humans to come tune my instrument and with whom I can share pleasantries and comradery with before and after they've completed their task.

Just my thoughts, 'is all.

Regards,
Andy


1979 Yamaha C7D - Yamaha P115 - Korg MicroKORG synth. - Korg Kaossilator Pro synth.
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522002
03/17/16 11:18 AM
03/17/16 11:18 AM
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S
Self Tuner Offline OP
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You could say all of that crap about any electrical household appliance. That's why we have UL and CSA.

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522013
03/17/16 11:46 AM
03/17/16 11:46 AM
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To answer Larry, the strings are warmed to a median value, then tuned by a tech by hand. Then this tuning is read and "stored" by the system. So when you turn it back off, the strings all go a little sharp. All tuning is done by flattening.

The initial temperature is arbitrary, but it is enough to compensate for the lowest flatness plus a margin to allow for additional fluctuation throughout the year. It varies from string to string, but it's around 95 F.

Don

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522018
03/17/16 11:58 AM
03/17/16 11:58 AM
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Posts: 470
Montreal, Canada
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So you need to install this on a piano with a player mechanism and now you can have a piano that tunes and then plays itself!


What do snowflakes and Chickerings have in common? There are no two exactly alike!
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522024
03/17/16 12:25 PM
03/17/16 12:25 PM
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Self Tuner Offline OP
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Actually, QRS are one of the interested parties. They might be a good fit since they are set up to train installers.

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: DrewBone] #2522043
03/17/16 01:26 PM
03/17/16 01:26 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,619
Hobart, Australia
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ando Online content
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Hobart, Australia
Originally Posted by DrewBone
Like anything electronic, such components fail, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Trust me on this. And if they fail in this particular category, the results could be both dire and catastrophic.

At times, it's not even the components fault when things go wrong. An example of such but on a much larger scale; a few years ago I received a number of calls on a Sunday morning (my job position required that I be on call 24/7/365) regarding alarms being generated and equipment failing, so I motivated myself into work only to find a no power situation at numerous locations and facilities. This led me to believe that our major source of power had been disrupted, so I headed over to our 5E electrical distribution substation only to find a number of local utility company vehicles and hard hat wearing individuals, along with the somewhat apprehensive maintenance manager of an associated company's buildings hovering about. I asked what was up and was directed towards a corner of fencing where I observed a brown squirrel. Interesting, as here in my neck of the NY woods we only have grey squirrels. I immediately sensed what was forthcoming and that was the fact that this one squirrel, while jumping from one point to another 30 feet or so up in the air on the structure, had unfortunately managed to complete the circuit between a bare high voltage/large amperage connection and ground, mostlikely on a large transformer, creating a major short between them, which initiated the systems protection system, but not before causing a tremendous arc which set the squirrel on fire and sending it to the ground in flames, where it actually survived but I'm sure perished a short time later, the poor thing. Anyway, this "incident" electrically knocked out the juice to over 2 million square feet of industrial buildings and the whole shebango caused me to get out of bed on my only day off, spend nearly 4 hours waiting for the electricity to be re-energized, then more time restarting and or resetting numerous pieces of equipment such as boilers, air compressors and diesel gensets, and lastly clearing existing alarms. A squirrel. Just one squirrel.

In a similar fashion, it's no stretch of the imagination to believe that your friendly but curious house mouse could essentially do the same thing to this collection of electronic components, without component failure.

My 2007 Dodge Nitro has only just recently begun exhibing the inability to lower the passenger side front window, and that's just a simple component exchange to correct...but here we're talking about adding a system that's in its infancy to a multi thousand dollar accoustic musical instrument that is essentially a wonderful source of kindling wood, that to me, has the potential for disaster should things go awry with its operation, or as mentioned, even without component failure.

Imagine some of the inductive coils going rogue or never shutting off due to a bad temperature sensor or controller; several strings become overheated beyond the expected temperature and cause irreparable damage to the strings to the point where replacement is necessary. These new strings will then each have to be removed and the new strings installed, then tuned repeatedly by hand until such a time as they've stretched sufficiently. Besides the cost of this and the downtime in playing that will have to be endured by the owner, the new strings may not match the surrounding strings in physical color or color tone.

Imagine your piano is fine just sitting there with the top down, when one of the electronic components fails during an auto-tune, begins heating up, then catches fire, setting your beloved instrument that's been in the family for 2 generations, or the instrument that you struggled and worked hard and saved up for years to own on fire. You receive an urgent phone call at work from a neighbor informing you that your house is on fire and you rush home to find both your piano and home reduced to ashes.

My dealer, if taking in a used piano on trade and is found to have a Dampp Chaser system installed, regardless if it was physically installed a week prior, they have their techs remove it and throw it in the trash. I asked why? The answer: liability. And this is for an already proven system.

I really don't see any advantage of this system other than it being an expensive excercise in "Look, it might be able to be done." Many have tried to reinvent the wheel or have overcomplicated things so much in an effort to make things easy. Think about that for a moment.

Kudos to the inventor, but it's a solution, which will no doubt ultimately be a very expensive one (I've worked for years with electronic components - installing, troubleshooting, and replacing coils, controller/logic boards, solenoids, etc., and they aren't cheap), to an existing need that has been happily addressed manually for years by dedicated individuals who love the work. Plus, I don't imagine the inventor will find many PTG techs willing to install a device on a piano that will in essence, take away their revenue earned from tuning long time clients and new piano owners pianos alike.

In the end, after personally observing multitudes of electronic component failure and the damage possible from such failed devices, um, I'd be 'fraidie-scared to have this system installed on my Yamaha. I'll gladly continue to contribute to the employment of hard working humans to come tune my instrument and with whom I can share pleasantries and comradery with before and after they've completed their task.

Just my thoughts, 'is all.

Regards,
Andy


That was quite a rant, Andy. But I think it was rather overblown and excessive. Concerns about the reliability of parts are not your concern, they are the concern of the person selling them because he will have to deal with the backlash if they weren't reliable. That is all very solvable, and I'm sure Don has thought about servicing requirements. He's been working on this system for a good many years and seems to have gone about it in a very thorough way. So really, it's not up to you to determine the reliability of his system.

As far as it taking jobs off humans: as you say, it's not like everybody is going to buy one of these. It's not going to affect the tuning industry that drastically. Techs will still be needed. In fact, maybe if owners can reduce their tuning costs, they can actually channel the savings into getting their piano maintained to a higher degree. There is much more to piano maintenance than tuning. And the tech needs to periodically tune the piano with this system anyway.

Pianos going out of tune are a bane for many people who are especially sensitive to it. This represents an opportunity for people to experience a consistent tuning which is to their liking, and which allows them to focus on their music rather than their irritation.

Most people are set in their ways - they probably won't adopt this technology en masse. But there are people who haven't bought an acoustic piano because of the apprehension of keep it in tune - especially in regions with wide humidity swings. This represents an opportunity to do away with one of the major hardships of owning a piano.

I just think you are far too negative about a very exciting invention - focussing only on speculative negatives.

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522051
03/17/16 01:51 PM
03/17/16 01:51 PM
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Self Tuner Offline OP
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Can you imagine a guitar player having to call someone to come over and then pay him to tune his guitar for him?

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522054
03/17/16 01:55 PM
03/17/16 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Self Tuner

... Then this tuning is read and "stored" by the system.


Don,

I have a few follow-up questions. As currently configured, can the system simultaneously store more than one tuning (such as two different temperaments)?

If so, can it easily switch between them (understanding that the changeover would take at least several minutes)?

How does the system store the individual string pitches in a tuning?

Larry.

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522055
03/17/16 01:56 PM
03/17/16 01:56 PM
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Gibson does make a self tuning guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6BY-JpAwgo


What do snowflakes and Chickerings have in common? There are no two exactly alike!
Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522056
03/17/16 01:58 PM
03/17/16 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Self Tuner

Can you imagine a guitar player having to call someone to come over and then pay him to tune his guitar for him?


Some, yes if their electronic tuner dies.

Larry.

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522062
03/17/16 02:22 PM
03/17/16 02:22 PM
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Self-tunuing guitars sound like a real blessing. I recently had a guitarist 'sitting in' with my trio who insisted on tuning his instrument (by ear) after each number, which was really annoying. He was far too loud too, which reminds me of the old joke 'How do you make the guitarist turn down? Put some sheet music in front of him'

What I wanted to say however is that if the self-tuning piano really works then I think it is a wonderful idea. I suppose it may be too early to say but have you any idea of the likely cost of the system?

Re: Self-Tuning Piano - PICTURES THIS TIME! [Re: Self Tuner] #2522063
03/17/16 02:27 PM
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Larry:

The pitch value for each string is just a 32-bit number representing its period (the time for one single vibration of the string). I count how many "ticks" of a 20 MHz clock happen in one vibration. So for A440 there would be 20,000,000 / 440 = 45,455 ticks, or 0000B18F in 32-bit hex. For 230 strings that's 230 numbers to store or 920 bytes of memory (basically 1K), which is nothing these days.

So, yes, you could store lots of tunings. The only thing is, you need some sort of user interface like a keypad and LCD display to choose temperaments. This would be an added expense for people who aren't interested in exotic temperaments, so it would be included only in a deluxe model. We may also offer software to do it through USB or RS-232. The base model will have a permanently stored factory tuning and an additional user tuning. Your tech will flip a tiny switch on the master circuit and the strings will warm. He then tunes the piano how you like. When he flips the switch back, this new tuning is stored.

Don

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