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Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655210 06/20/17 09:55 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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This is a standard pattern of unison behavior. VERY often (but not absolutely universally), as the humidity rises significantly the unison goes out...all strings sharp but the middle string more so than left, and right string the most sharp. I would bet that if the humidity came down to 55%-60% those unisons would come back pretty close to in tune.

Total opposite happens in the dead of winter when it drops to 20%-25%..pattern is reversed.

If you get it under control at 45%-50% you'll probably be in great shape.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
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Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655230 06/21/17 12:14 AM
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Gadzar Offline
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Originally Posted by rogergordon
Today the hygrometer is showing 70% and the "wowing" is prevalent.

I have just noticed that by damping one of the strings the unison is restored for the other two strings. It appears that this only happens if I dampen the outer string on the right, as seen from above. I also notice that the tuning pin for this string is the one furthest away from the bridge. Is there any significance in this or is it just coincidence?


So, there is only one out-of-tune string in the unisons and it happens to be the one with the longest non speaking segment, with the other two strings being in tune with each other. This is absolutely not what Peter talks about in his last post.

I do not want to be annoying but this is a sign of a bad tuning hammer technique, the tuner does not set correctly the tuning pins and the strings to leave them in a stable condition.

When dealing with a NEW problem, i. e. something that happens now and did not used to happen before, I focus my attention in finding what is now different from before. What has changed?

There is a recent thread by Beemer called "Why is the longest NSL the first to detune?", there technicians coincide to say that this is due to a bad tuning hammer technique.

A DC system and/or a whole room humidity control system won't help. If your tuner is doing a bad job, unisons will continue to go out-of-tune even if the RH stays constant.

If I were you I would make a test, a cheap test: I would have the piano tuned once more and for three weeks I would make a record of the RH, if unisons do not stay in tune while the RH has not changed significantly then I would know RH is not the culprit. Instant changes in RH are not relevant, it takes 3 weeks for the soundboard to absorb humidity. So the fluctuations must be not only significant but enduring to make the soundboard move.



EDIT: Or directly hire a well reputed tuner, living in London you won't have troubles in finding a good one

Last edited by Gadzar; 06/21/17 12:34 AM.
Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655245 06/21/17 02:49 AM
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rogergordon Offline OP
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The nonspeaking length of the string seems to be factor in lack of tuning stability which I will follow up with the tuner.

I cannot, however, accept that his tuning technique is a cause of the problem: I hired him through one of the top London Piano retailers and Bechstein specialist. He has trained in Kawai, Fazioli and other factories, preparing concert grands for recitals at various venues including Festival Hall in London for top line artists (including Herbie Hancock). This might well have been the case with the previous two.

Thanks again.

Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655249 06/21/17 04:37 AM
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daniokeeper Offline
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Excellent discussion here!

Just an additional thought.

Your piano was stable when tuned by the first tuner. Yet, there was no humidity control system installed. The room's humidity was not stable then or now.

If it was OK before, why not now?

What time of day was your first tuner tuning the piano?

What time of day is your current tuner tuning the piano?

Perhaps there is a rhythm to the room's environment.

Edit: For example: If the humidity is high in the early morning and low in the late evening, maybe it's better to tune the piano at noon to avoid too wide swings in one direction only. Maybe it's better to let the tuning get a little more humid and then a little dryer. In other words, don't tune at the very peak of the curve or at the very bottom of the curve.

Edit: Also, is there some other activity going now that wasn't going on before, such as steam cleaning the carpets?

I agree that a correctly installed humidity control system is probably your best solution, though.

Last edited by daniokeeper; 06/21/17 05:12 AM.

Joe Gumbosky
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www.morethanpianos.com
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"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -Marcus Aurelius
Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2655260 06/21/17 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
This is a standard pattern of unison behavior. VERY often (but not absolutely universally), as the humidity rises significantly the unison goes out...all strings sharp but the middle string more so than left, and right string the most sharp. I would bet that if the humidity came down to 55%-60% those unisons would come back pretty close to in tune.

Total opposite happens in the dead of winter when it drops to 20%-25%..pattern is reversed.



Hi Peter,

This has intrigued me since studying the effects of NSL on stability. Let me see if I can propose a logical reason.

The standard tuning technique is to raise pitch slightly above target and set the pin with a CCW twist. Despite what some people seem to think, I do this often. It was the first hammer technique I learned.

But let's imagine what happens to NSL tension after we do our CCW twist.

The pin untwists in the CW direction. This is needed because as we apply our CCW twist, the NSL tension is dangerously low, making the NSL flabby and loose. The CW untwisting puts tension back into the NSL.

Now, because of Hooke's Law, whose corollary states that for the same deflection a short spring changes tension proportionally more than a longer spring, this means the consistent CW untwisting produces a higher NSL tension in the right pin.
(See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooke%27s_law)

Now, when the soundboard rises, the SL tension increases, but the right pin's higher NSL tension counteracts the increased SL tension and prevents slippage at the v-bar.

The longer NSL tensions however are lower and as the SL tension rises, this raises the tension band, bringing the already low NSL tensions closer to the lower limit of the tension band, eventually resulting in the string slipping on the v-bar/agraffe and going flat, the longer NSL going flat first.

This would produce a relatively sharper right string and the pattern you observe.

This is why I try to be aware of the different length NSL and tune them appropriately.

It may also explain why some tuners seemed to have stability that lasts through the seasons better.

Sorry for derailing the thread. If anyone wants to discuss this more, please copy and paste my post to a new thread.

Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655282 06/21/17 08:27 AM
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I have observed this phenomenon for many years.

I am (reasonably) convinced that it is a function of the WAY the soundboard/bridge moves (slightly at a compound angle relative to the agraffe) under EXTREME humidity conditions (both high and low...and AFAIAC 70% is extreme for the reasons I set out earlier). My reasoning for this (largely) is due to the fact that when the humidity comes back closer to where it was when tuned, THE UNISONS COME BACK TOO to a large extent (not perfectly of course but often pretty close).

If it was NSL slippage (which yes, it can be in some cases or compounded by) the unisons will REMAIN out of tune even though humidity comes back.

Can I prove this beyond any question? No! But if his unisons improve (not perfectly, but generally) when the humidity comes back down, this is strong circumstantial evidence that it is a simple matter of CONTROLLING the humidity that will SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

It may also be (as I stated earlier) that there is an excessive or uneven (or both) downbearing issue (also unprovable short of restringing [which I am sure is not going to happen]) exacerbating the problem. HUMIDITY CONTROL is also the best solution for this too.

Think simple...the solution usually is simple.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 06/21/17 08:29 AM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655308 06/21/17 10:26 AM
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Gadzar Offline
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Peter,

All what you say about the effects of changes of the RH in the tuning is correct but this does not explain why the piano was stable for 9 years with the first technician and has been instable since he left. How do you explain that?


Mark,

I do not know what others do but I for my self only make an untwisting CCW movement to set the pin. That is, I do not twist the pin CCW, I do not make the pin foot move CCW. I just untwist the pin in its hole to suppress the CW torsion and leave it straight. So there is no CW untwisring .

If I happen to feel the pin moving when I make the CCW setting I restart from the beginning , that means I've gone too sharp in the first movement. If I correctly estimate how sharp I must go before the CCW untwisting, then this 2 movements (go sharp and untwist) are enough to leave the string at pitch and stable.

Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655413 06/21/17 04:56 PM
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Raphael,

This is probably going to spark some defense and/or criticism but here goes:

People change over the years, our likes and dislikes, our preferences, our sensitivities, etc. We are being asked to give advice (or simply insight) into a situation for which we have NO truly hard data. We are simply told that he was very satisfied with one tuner for 9 years (in which it is implied that the piano virtually did not go out of tune [yes, that is probably am overstatement, but...]). Then he was forced to have another tuner, then another (neither satisfied him), and his current tuner is very good, it seems the piano has somehow developed this annoying habit of unison drift in the center section.

Here is what we know:

1) It is a Bechstein grand. (Open pinblock, large string rest...)
2) It has been refurbished 10 years ago.
3) It is currently in an extreme environment (according to most standard assessments).
4) He liked his first tuner.
5) He didn't like his 2nd or 3rd tuners.
6) He likes his 4th tuner.

Here are things we don't know:

1) The specific tuning cycle of the first tuner (1, 2, 3 times per year).
2) The specific month(s) of first tuners work.
3) Did the tuning cycle change when tuners changed?
4) Did the tuning month(s) change when the tuners changed?
5) Is there any personality likes/dislikes about any of these tuners?
6) Have there been any emotional situations he has dealt with recently that may be coloring his perception of what is currently going on, OR in his recalled perception of what USED to be?
7) What has been the TRUE humidity cycle this instrument had been subjected to? (Data logger can yield surprising results).
8) Did the first tuner know to lube the string rests and the others do not?


There are more factors to be considered that I don't have time to deal with. These are ALL RELEVANT whether one wants to admit it or not. We though, have no way of verifying anything and are only getting one side of the story. I am in no way trying offend or accuse!. Simply stating facts that 40 + years of experience tell me are all part of the story.

What consistently puzzles me is WHY some people are so adverse to controlling the humidity which is probably the single most obvious and simplest solution?

Okay...fire away!

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: rogergordon] #2655426 06/21/17 05:52 PM
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daniokeeper Offline
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Quote
(from P W Grey)

Here are things we don't know:

1) The specific tuning cycle of the first tuner (1, 2, 3 times per year).
2) The specific month(s) of first tuners work.
3) Did the tuning cycle change when tuners changed?
4) Did the tuning month(s) change when the tuners changed?


Excellent points.

Also, was the first tuner floating the pitch?
Is the current tuner also floating the pitch, or setting it to exactly A=440 every time?

Last edited by daniokeeper; 06/21/17 05:53 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -Marcus Aurelius
Re: Effect of humidity on tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2655439 06/21/17 06:25 PM
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Gadzar Offline
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Raphael,

This is probably going to spark some defense and/or criticism but here goes:

People change over the years, our likes and dislikes, our preferences, our sensitivities, etc. We are being asked to give advice (or simply insight) into a situation for which we have NO truly hard data. We are simply told that he was very satisfied with one tuner for 9 years (in which it is implied that the piano virtually did not go out of tune [yes, that is probably am overstatement, but...]). Then he was forced to have another tuner, then another (neither satisfied him), and his current tuner is very good, it seems the piano has somehow developed this annoying habit of unison drift in the center section.

Here is what we know:

1) It is a Bechstein grand. (Open pinblock, large string rest...)
2) It has been refurbished 10 years ago.
3) It is currently in an extreme environment (according to most standard assessments).
4) He liked his first tuner.
5) He didn't like his 2nd or 3rd tuners.
6) He likes his 4th tuner.

Here are things we don't know:

1) The specific tuning cycle of the first tuner (1, 2, 3 times per year).
2) The specific month(s) of first tuners work.
3) Did the tuning cycle change when tuners changed?
4) Did the tuning month(s) change when the tuners changed?
5) Is there any personality likes/dislikes about any of these tuners?
6) Have there been any emotional situations he has dealt with recently that may be coloring his perception of what is currently going on, OR in his recalled perception of what USED to be?
7) What has been the TRUE humidity cycle this instrument had been subjected to? (Data logger can yield surprising results).
8) Did the first tuner know to lube the string rests and the others do not?


There are more factors to be considered that I don't have time to deal with. These are ALL RELEVANT whether one wants to admit it or not. We though, have no way of verifying anything and are only getting one side of the story. I am in no way trying offend or accuse!. Simply stating facts that 40 + years of experience tell me are all part of the story.

What consistently puzzles me is WHY some people are so adverse to controlling the humidity which is probably the single most obvious and simplest solution?

Okay...fire away!

Pwg



thumb


Thanks for your answer and your time.

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