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Open Unison Tuning #2840732
04/19/19 07:10 PM
04/19/19 07:10 PM
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Grandman Offline OP
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I am interested in understanding the thoughts behind open unison tuning forgoing use of the muting strip. Would such a tuning yield any difference in tone and, if so, how might this difference be characterized tonally? What are the supposed advantages or disadvantages? If there are advantages, why isn't this technique used by more technicians? Finally, will open unison tuning make any difference in the stability of the tuning? Thx.

Last edited by Grandman; 04/19/19 07:11 PM.
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840752
04/19/19 10:23 PM
04/19/19 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Grandman
I am interested in understanding the thoughts behind open unison tuning forgoing use of the muting strip. Would such a tuning yield any difference in tone and, if so, how might this difference be characterized tonally? What are the supposed advantages or disadvantages? If there are advantages, why isn't this technique used by more technicians? Finally, will open unison tuning make any difference in the stability of the tuning? Thx.


Greetings,'
The advantage, when tuning aurally, of tuning sequential notes from open unisons is that rather than the interval being set by one of a trichord's three options(strings), the open unison provides the "note" as a resultant of the three strings being blended. This rarely makes any difference, but at times the "whole-tone" sound of the unison (to quote Virgil Smith RPT), is not quite the same pitch as any one of the individual strings. The blending of a unison tends to have a flattening effect, if it does anything. There are scales that require such a compromise that a more informed choice of octave width can be made from the full tri-chord rather than one of the three strings.

The stability of the tuning is more dependent on the skill of the tech than the style of tuning. It is rare that a novice tuner can leave stable, clear, unisons, so there may be more stability associated with tuners that have more experience and tune this way. One has to have full faith in their unison tuning to use unisons for setting a proper temperament, but if a rolling unison is acceptable, there is little chance of the temperament being accurate.

I use open unisons when tuning because in performance settings, they are going to have to be clear anyway, and it is faster to use one mute than muck around with temperament strips.
Regards,


,

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840754
04/19/19 10:29 PM
04/19/19 10:29 PM
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From what I’ve read there are some technicians who argue that using mute strips creates small changes in the actual tuning leading to less precision. I’ve read and watched a video on tuning only muting one string of the trichord which was interesting, but I’ve not heard too much about not using any mutes at all.

There may be more rationale behind it however.

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840761
04/19/19 11:46 PM
04/19/19 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Grandman
I am interested in understanding the thoughts behind open unison tuning forgoing use of the muting strip. Would such a tuning yield any difference in tone and, if so, how might this difference be characterized tonally? What are the supposed advantages or disadvantages? If there are advantages, why isn't this technique used by more technicians? Finally, will open unison tuning make any difference in the stability of the tuning? Thx.

in terms of the science of physics - No difference . There is no difference HOW you will create your unison. You can pinch a string, you can do it's with a narrowly directed air flow on it's although this is an inadequate method .
Conclusion: it is not important as method the string is oscillatingly moving in, the most important thing is a mark the digital tuner .

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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Maximillyan] #2840772
04/20/19 12:41 AM
04/20/19 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Maximillyan
Originally Posted by Grandman
I am interested in understanding the thoughts behind open unison tuning forgoing use of the muting strip. Would such a tuning yield any difference in tone and, if so, how might this difference be characterized tonally? What are the supposed advantages or disadvantages? If there are advantages, why isn't this technique used by more technicians? Finally, will open unison tuning make any difference in the stability of the tuning? Thx.

in terms of the science of physics - No difference . There is no difference HOW you will create your unison. You can pinch a string, you can do it's with a narrowly directed air flow on it's although this is an inadequate method .
Conclusion: it is not important as method the string is oscillatingly moving in, the most important thing is a mark the digital tuner .


Not correct.
It has been established scientifically that the pitch of of a multi-string unison will be different with all the strings sounding than with a single string. This is because of a phenomenon they call "bridge coupling". The same principle is present in adjacent pendulums swinging from the same pivot.

Or, you can just listen and decide for yourself:
1) mute two notes an octave apart in the low tenor (say, for example, F-33 and F-45) so that only one string of each note will sound.
2) Tune as good of an octave to your satisfaction. Doesn't matter if it's 4:2; 6:3 or 2:1-- just tune it until it sounds good to you.
3) now move the mute on the lower note to expose an additional string (of course, it will be the center string whichever side you started on)
4) Tune the center string to the first string you tuned. Make it as good of a unison as you can.
5) Now strike the octave again. You will notice a beat that wasn't present there before. The octave with the two strings sounding will be different from the octave with one string sounding.
6) Re-mute the center string and listen to the octave: Voila! It's back to clean!
7) you can move the mute back and forth as long as you want... With one string sounding, you'll have a clean octave but with two strings sounding in perfect unison there will be a beat in the octave.

That's why it is good to develop the skill of "cracking the unison". That's very slightly opening the unison with one string and then tuning the other string so that you have slightly changed the pitch of the 2-string unison to be beatless with the octave.

This only really matters on larger pianos -- either 5'6" grands or perhaps very tall professional uprights. On smaller pianos, the phenomenon can be detected but with the shorter strings the effect is negligible. I used to tune my home piano (Baldwin Hamilton 243 studio) that way but stopped because the difference was marginal. But it's really noticeable on a good grand.

Since I started doing this over 20 years ago, my tunings have been more solid and "locked-in" from a musical standpoint. Previously, even though other people thought my tunings were OK, I was never really satisfied with them. Now I am.
This is a capability that electronic devices have yet to develop, BTW.



Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2840786
04/20/19 01:43 AM
04/20/19 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Maximillyan
Originally Posted by Grandman
I am interested in understanding the thoughts behind open unison tuning forgoing use of the muting strip. Would such a tuning yield any difference in tone and, if so, how might this difference be characterized tonally? What are the supposed advantages or disadvantages? If there are advantages, why isn't this technique used by more technicians? Finally, will open unison tuning make any difference in the stability of the tuning? Thx.

in terms of the science of physics - No difference . There is no difference HOW you will create your unison. You can pinch a string, you can do it's with a narrowly directed air flow on it's although this is an inadequate method .
Conclusion: it is not important as method the string is oscillatingly moving in, the most important thing is a mark the digital tuner .


Not correct.

7) you can move the mute back and forth as long as you want... With one string sounding, you'll have a clean octave but with two strings sounding in perfect unison there will be a beat in the octave.

???

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840790
04/20/19 01:58 AM
04/20/19 01:58 AM
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Whenever anyone comes up with some fancy name for a method of tuning, you can pretty much bet the name and the method are useless.


Semipro Tech
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840826
04/20/19 08:06 AM
04/20/19 08:06 AM
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Quote
I’ve read and watched a video on tuning only muting one string of the trichord which was interesting, but I’ve not heard too much about not using any mutes at all.


I'm not clear about whether we might be talking of two different things here. The O.P. talks of "forgoing the use of the muting strip" and "open unison tunings". Does that mean tuning with no mutes at all, or tuning using individual mutes INSTEAD of a muting strip?

I take "open unison" tuning, to be tuning without any muting at all (as might be done in a quick-pass large pitch raise).

I take "unisons as you go" tuning, to be tuning with individual mutes instead of a muting strip, completing each unison as you go, before moving on to the next note. For both the temperament, and the entire piano.

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840834
04/20/19 08:34 AM
04/20/19 08:34 AM
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I'm 99.9% sure the OP is talking about just using 1 or 2 rubber (or whatever) mutes, each unison tuned fully before proceeding to the next note, as Keith described. IOW "unisons as you go" or "UAYG".

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: David Boyce] #2840848
04/20/19 09:17 AM
04/20/19 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by David Boyce
Quote
I’ve read and watched a video on tuning only muting one string of the trichord which was interesting, but I’ve not heard too much about not using any mutes at all.


I'm not clear about whether we might be talking of two different things here. The O.P. talks of "forgoing the use of the muting strip" and "open unison tunings". Does that mean tuning with no mutes at all, or tuning using individual mutes INSTEAD of a muting strip?

I take "open unison" tuning, to be tuning without any muting at all (as might be done in a quick-pass large pitch raise).

I take "unisons as you go" tuning, to be tuning with individual mutes instead of a muting strip, completing each unison as you go, before moving on to the next note. For both the temperament, and the entire piano.


I assumed the OP meant tuning the unisons without the use of mutes. Maybe he should clarify.

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: BDB] #2840865
04/20/19 10:15 AM
04/20/19 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Whenever anyone comes up with some fancy name for a method of tuning, you can pretty much bet the name and the method are useless.


Not sure exactly what you are referring to in this thread.

Is it not correct that in order to talk about phenomena we have to have terminology?

In my post in particular, I provided an actual experiment that anyone who can tune and has access to a piano with at least medium-long strings can try.
Is this not the scientific method -- to have experiments that allow anyone to verify whether an idea is valid or not?
Did you try the experiment (or have you done this in the past)?

There are many high-reputation technicians that have found these techniques to be the opposite of useless.

Again, I'd be glad to know the nature of the concern behind your comment. For myself, I've only been tuning for 55 years, so I'm still learning and still interested in new concepts.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840866
04/20/19 10:26 AM
04/20/19 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
I'm 99.9% sure the OP is talking about just using 1 or 2 rubber (or whatever) mutes, each unison tuned fully before proceeding to the next note, as Keith described. IOW "unisons as you go" or "UAYG".

Pwg


Actually it's both. Yes, it's "Unisons As You Go" but in order to account for the pitch differential of coupled unison strings vs. single strings, it may be necessary to "crack the unison" (a term I've been taught, but I'm open to something better) which is, indeed, mute-less unison tuning.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840875
04/20/19 11:00 AM
04/20/19 11:00 AM
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Quote
at times the "whole-tone" sound of the unison (to quote Virgil Smith RPT), is not quite the same pitch as any one of the individual strings. The blending of a unison tends to have a flattening effect, if it does anything.


Yes. I have quite often observed this. I tune unisons-as-you go (much more the general trend in the UK than in the USA) and generally use an ETD, formerly Tunelab, now giving an extended and enjoyable trial to Easy Piano Tuner. I pride myself on clean unisons. I have quite often seen that when I tune the unison clean, the ETD shows a slight flattening, after the reading was 'correct' with the single string.

Dr Capleton in his monumental book on Tuning, reviewed in the Journal a few years ago, approaches almost philosophical levels in his discussion of these coupling effects.

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2840914
04/20/19 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
[quote=BDB]

There are many high-reputation technicians that have found these techniques to be the opposite of useless.

Again, I'd be glad to know the nature of the concern behind your comment. For myself, I've only been tuning for 55 years, so I'm still learning and still interested in new concepts.


Keith,

55 years? You're just a punk kid upstart. What do you know? 🤣😆😅😂😉😨🤡

All in jest -

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840936
04/20/19 02:05 PM
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This question of tuning unisons as you go vs. using temperament strips has been discussed many times on this forum - sometimes with an excessive and, in my view, uncalled for rancor. There are some very fine technicians who strip mute the entire piano and there are others who do not. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.

I too am a newbie - only been doing this for about 40 years - strip muted the entire piano for about 10 or 15 years. After that I strip muted only the temperament area and tuned the rest unisons as you go - this was tuning aurally. For the last 3 or 4 years I've been using an ETD and no longer use a strip mute. Using a strip mute for the temperament area had the advantage of allowing tweaking of intervals without having to tune all the unisons again. Once the strip mute was removed and unisons tuned the temperament could be checked again for accuracy before proceeding. I find the strip mute to be unnecessary when tuning with an ETD. But, again, there are some very good technicians who strip mute even when tuning electronically.


Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840951
04/20/19 02:40 PM
04/20/19 02:40 PM
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Let me toss out something:

Consider the aural approach to setting A4 from a fork. At one time, it was common to sound the fork, then simply tune one string of A4 - same as how most of us approach unisons... functional, "beatless", perfect - though some may have noticed a tiny bit of 'width' or wiggle room on just what made a functional unison.

As tolerances tightened (possibly in response to increasing precision from ETDs?) it was determined that the old method didn't always produce precise results. Strategies were implemented by using check notes (F2 most often) to compare between the fork and the string to make sure the tuned string REALLY matched the fork.

All well and good! However, how many technicians use check notes to make sure each string of a unison REALLY matches the others in the same way the check notes are used to match the fork??

All of this to say that after very careful study and testing at the limits of what I could achieve, I found no repeatable, predictable coupling effect happening on the pianos I had available. Sometimes there was flattening, sometimes sharpening, often no difference. What I did discover early on, was that my functionally pure unisons - really clean - really weren't... Also, I found that slight movement of one string often had an influence on the pitch of an already tuned string, skewing the results of the unison pitch.

Again, this was way at the edge of what I could measure, repeat and produce - so not a big effect. Your mileage may vary!

Ron Koval

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2840965
04/20/19 03:17 PM
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I am just a toddler at 44 years myself.

Once I learned and proved to myself the "Weinrich effect" I set out to see if I could harness it to my advantage. This was largely in response to Virgil Smith's lack of thorough explanation as to precisely what he was listening to when he was "satisfied" with a unison. Since he openly acknowledged that he was NOT tuning all three strings EXACTLY to the same frequency, the question was: just what was he doing with these three strings and what was he listening for?

I found that I could consciously influence the pitch of the first string by the way I tuned the second string, and that I could further influence that pair by how I tuned the 3rd string. I could influence it up, down, or stay the same as I tuned it essentially harnessing the power of the coupling as I want it to go. At the same time I noticed that I could simultaneously affect the sustain of a note (in a high % of cases) by carefully manipulating the middle string only, finding a sweet spot that sounds best.

It has been proven that absolute dead on perfect same frequency unisons actually do not sound as good as unisons "tempered" slightly. Some will argue this till the cows come home, but there are plenty of good tuners who privately understand and employ this technique regularly, some of whom are on this forum.

Of course, I too am open to suggestions from the adults here.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2841002
04/20/19 04:47 PM
04/20/19 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by P W Grey
I'm 99.9% sure the OP is talking about just using 1 or 2 rubber (or whatever) mutes, each unison tuned fully before proceeding to the next note, as Keith described. IOW "unisons as you go" or "UAYG".

Pwg


Actually it's both. Yes, it's "Unisons As You Go" but in order to account for the pitch differential of coupled unison strings vs. single strings, it may be necessary to "crack the unison" (a term I've been taught, but I'm open to something better) which is, indeed, mute-less unison tuning.


Learning a lot from the terrific discussion in this thread. My understanding of open unison tuning is exactly as Keith describes, which is unisons as you go, but with the need to crack the unisons without a strip mute.

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841042
04/20/19 07:33 PM
04/20/19 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Originally Posted by kpembrook
[quote=BDB]

There are many high-reputation technicians that have found these techniques to be the opposite of useless.

Again, I'd be glad to know the nature of the concern behind your comment. For myself, I've only been tuning for 55 years, so I'm still learning and still interested in new concepts.


Keith,

55 years? You're just a punk kid upstart. What do you know? 🤣😆😅😂😉😨🤡

All in jest -

Pwg




laugh smile
Well, I got an early start. First paying customer at age 14. My dad would drop me off at one customer, go tune another, come back and I'd just be finishing up. He could check over and make corrections as occasionally necessary.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841048
04/20/19 08:30 PM
04/20/19 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
I
It has been proven that absolute dead on perfect same frequency unisons actually do not sound as good as unisons "tempered" slightly. Some will argue this till the cows come home, but there are plenty of good tuners who privately understand and employ this technique regularly, some of whom are on this forum.
Pwg


Greetings,
hmm, "as good". is where I run into trouble. It may depend on context, but the totally clear unison seems to appeal to jazz players, perhaps because of the complexity they seem to find irresistible . The perfectly dead-on unison will usually exhibit less sustain than one with enough phase difference to physically create a more solid termination at the bridge. However, the dead-on strings still have dissipated the same amount of energy, just in a shorter amount of time and what is deadness to one is perhaps clarity to another. I have customers that notice my tuning sounds "better" a day after I did it, and others that find something in an extremely fresh tuning worth paying for every day, (that is in the recording studios). A piano with this sort of unison has its place, so I am inclined to begin there. Seems that the .1 or .2 cents or so that it takes to offset phasing distractions in the unison will come of its own in the first day or so of use. This can be due to board movement, I think, since the deviation from where I left them seems to be fairly consistent, i.e. all the right hand strings being the same amount "off" from the center, and in the same direction. From the practical perspective, the closer to exact I begin with, the longer it will take before it calls attention to itself, so in the interest of durable tuning, I start them as close to dead-on as I can get them. Above the fifth octave, that can often become subjective, but in the lower scale, I want things to be very, very, still.
Regards,

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Ed Foote] #2841070
04/20/19 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by P W Grey
I
It has been proven that absolute dead on perfect same frequency unisons actually do not sound as good as unisons "tempered" slightly. Some will argue this till the cows come home, but there are plenty of good tuners who privately understand and employ this technique regularly, some of whom are on this forum.
Pwg


Greetings,
hmm, "as good". is where I run into trouble. It may depend on context, but the totally clear unison seems to appeal to jazz players, perhaps because of the complexity they seem to find irresistible . The perfectly dead-on unison will usually exhibit less sustain than one with enough phase difference to physically create a more solid termination at the bridge. However, the dead-on strings still have dissipated the same amount of energy, just in a shorter amount of time and what is deadness to one is perhaps clarity to another. I have customers that notice my tuning sounds "better" a day after I did it, and others that find something in an extremely fresh tuning worth paying for every day, (that is in the recording studios).


Not that I’m at all trying to start a discussion about how to tune unisons, but I appreciated what Ed wrote here. The first time I encountered someone talking about deliberately ‘off’ unisons was the technician at the conservatory I attended who would sometimes tune unisons subtly ‘off’ depending on the room acoustics, for sustain reasons (he’d tell me Wigmore Hall benefitted from that). But I like clear unisons so much I never adopted that technique despite his influence on me. Clear unisons have a crystalline and sweet and simple sound which is appealing to me, even as a strictly classical player.

Last edited by jsilva; 04/20/19 11:43 PM.
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841151
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True true true.

Yet, if you closely scrutinize each one of your "perfect" unisons electronically you will find that very few, if any, have all three strings at EXACTLY the same frequency.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841171
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
True true true.

Yet, if you closely scrutinize each one of your "perfect" unisons electronically you will find that very few, if any, have all three strings at EXACTLY the same frequency.

Pwg


As I was pondering things I was imagining that might be the case ... smile

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841202
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In fact, if you use use an ETD to forcefully tune unisons "perfectly", dead on exact same frequency, you will find (as you listen to them) that some of them "sound" out of tune, and many (if not all) can be "improved" with tweaking aurally.

It must be remembered that we are dealing with a structure that is inherently imperfect, no matter how well it is designed and made. The many large and small anomalies present in any piano, coupled with physical and acoustic laws that are not FULLY understood yet, create a situation that defies the digital segmentation abilities of modern electronics to bring the best out of it. It is the vastly superior human brain and the dexterity of well trained ears and hands that are capable of coaxing the best out of any piano.

Those nice clean unisons that most people like the best, when put under a "microscope", are in fact not as "perfect" as we might think. They are a compromise made good bybthe requirements of the unit we are working on and various tastes in music and sound. In the end it becomes a matter of degree...just like temperament in and of itself.

Think PI, think "the golden angle"...etc.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841265
04/21/19 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
In fact, if you use use an ETD to forcefully tune unisons "perfectly", dead on exact same frequency, you will find (as you listen to them) that some of them "sound" out of tune, and many (if not all) can be "improved" with tweaking aurally.

It must be remembered that we are dealing with a structure that is inherently imperfect, no matter how well it is designed and made. The many large and small anomalies present in any piano, coupled with physical and acoustic laws that are not FULLY understood yet, create a situation that defies the digital segmentation abilities of modern electronics to bring the best out of it. It is the vastly superior human brain and the dexterity of well trained ears and hands that are capable of coaxing the best out of any piano.

Those nice clean unisons that most people like the best, when put under a "microscope", are in fact not as "perfect" as we might think. They are a compromise made good bybthe requirements of the unit we are working on and various tastes in music and sound. In the end it becomes a matter of degree...just like temperament in and of itself.

Think PI, think "the golden angle"...etc.

Pwg


Yes.


Also, on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the keyboard (approximately), the ETD is not listening to the fundamental, or maybe not even close. For instance, at C2, it's probably comparing a 6:3 octave. So, on C2 it's listening at the 6th partial. If you tune the strings of C2 with an ETD, they should be beatless at the 6th partial.

Edit: In the very high treble, you can often get very good results tuning individual strings with an ETD because you're tuning based on the fundamental. But even there, the ear is the final decider.

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/21/19 06:55 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841298
04/21/19 10:43 PM
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This is why tuning is still an art, despite the ETD revolution.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: daniokeeper] #2841300
04/21/19 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by daniokeeper


Also, on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the keyboard (approximately), the ETD is not listening to the fundamental, or maybe not even close. For instance, at C2, it's probably comparing a 6:3 octave. So, on C2 it's listening at the 6th partial. If you tune the strings of C2 with an ETD, they should be beatless at the 6th partial.


Just because that's where the ETA (let's adopt the British usage Electronic Tuning Aid) is listening to doesn't necessarily mean that's what it's tuning. ETA manufacturers have not revealed their proprietary algorithms (another reason why ETAs -- while no doubt useful -- are not scientific instruments) but it is possible -- and by this point, even likely IMO-- that they have calculated some sort of offset of what the lower partials might be based on what the ETA is hearing at the 6:3 pitch. In other words, it could be that the ETA calculates its display to show "in tune" at some 6:3 beat rate that would leave the other lower partials more in tune. ETA makers are smart and are continuing to improve.

Of course, the other obvious point to note is that the ETA is not tuning the 6:3 coincident partial because it is not listening to both notes. Rather, it is assigning a pitch value for the display to show "in tune" based on certain assumptions -- which by this point are really quite good.

--(Maybe Ron Koval could offer insights to this point).


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841309
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
In fact, if you use use an ETD to forcefully tune unisons "perfectly", dead on exact same frequency, ...
<snip>


Not sure that I buy the idea that ETAs can provide the "true" perfect unison. We don't know what they are listening to exactly nor how the algorithm crunches the imput to provide an "in tune" reading to the display. We don't know what deviation, error or offset is present in the ETA compared to how the human ear/brain works.

Although my outlook is basically "pro-gadget", I'm skeptical that ETAs yet have the resolving power of a trained/experienced human ear/brain.
I'm open to correction anytime ETA makers care to reveal what's actually happening inside their devices.

Last edited by kpembrook; 04/21/19 11:50 PM.

Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2841316
04/22/19 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by daniokeeper


Also, on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the keyboard (approximately), the ETD is not listening to the fundamental, or maybe not even close. For instance, at C2, it's probably comparing a 6:3 octave. So, on C2 it's listening at the 6th partial. If you tune the strings of C2 with an ETD, they should be beatless at the 6th partial.


Just because that's where the ETA (let's adopt the British usage Electronic Tuning Aid) is listening to doesn't necessarily mean that's what it's tuning. ETA manufacturers have not revealed their proprietary algorithms (another reason why ETAs -- while no doubt useful -- are not scientific instruments) but it is possible -- and by this point, even likely IMO-- that they have calculated some sort of offset of what the lower partials might be based on what the ETA is hearing at the 6:3 pitch. In other words, it could be that the ETA calculates its display to show "in tune" at some 6:3 beat rate that would leave the other lower partials more in tune. ETA makers are smart and are continuing to improve.

Of course, the other obvious point to note is that the ETA is not tuning the 6:3 coincident partial because it is not listening to both notes. Rather, it is assigning a pitch value for the display to show "in tune" based on certain assumptions -- which by this point are really quite good.

--(Maybe Ron Koval could offer insights to this point).


It's calculating the position of the lower note of the octave by comparing it to the upper note. If we're discussing the Verituner, it has an automatic smoothing function that kicks in at transition points. That is, it won't suddenly transition from 4:2 octaves to 6:3 octaves. It will sort of blend the octave types. It also allows multiple octave types to be selected with use-selected weightings. I think TunelabPro allows you to select octave types.

Regardless, the location of C2 is based on comparing it to C3. The fundamental of C2 isn't used for comparison purposes, whether its placement is based on matching one or several partials other than the fundamental. If the left string of C2 is tuned using a device, then the right string, there is likely to be a slight discrepancy at the fundamental unless the inharmonicity of both strings are absolutely identical.

Further, afaik, all ETAs or ETDs recommend in their instructions that when fine tuning, tune one string by device and the remaining strings of the unison to that string by ear. The only exception I'm aware of in Tunic Only pure software, which recommends tuning all strings of a unison by device.

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/22/19 12:51 AM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841319
04/22/19 01:08 AM
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Correction:. "Tunic OnlyPure"


Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: daniokeeper] #2841347
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That's illuminating, Joe.
Thanks.


Keith Akins, RPT
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USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: daniokeeper] #2841392
04/22/19 10:18 AM
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Quote
The only exception I'm aware of in Tunic OnlyPure software, which recommends tuning all strings of a unison by device.


Yes, I have Tunic and that's the recommendation. I can say that Tunic does deliver on that. Even though I tune with an ETA I tune all of my unisons by ear and if I have a problem I'll tune each string separately and it may not be perfect but it's the best compromise. At least that's my experience. There's usually some false beats so it will never be perfect. But I'd certainly agree that the ear is the final judge.


"That Tuning Guy"
Scott Kerns
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841396
04/22/19 10:48 AM
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And since unisons is what the typical musician/client hears first and foremost, the "most important" part of the tuning is still considered best done by ear (with the exception of OnlyPure).

Octaves would be second on the list (at least this is commonly understood). Typically, unless the octaves are wildly out and/or inconsistent, the average player will accept a wide range of octave widths as being "good". Tuning UAYG does affect the final outcome of these octaves so it is a consideration how they are done.

I like tools and I think the current generation of ETD/ETA's are nothing short of amazing (and cool too!). I WILL begin using one as soon as it becomes evident that my brain/ear is giving out. However I feel that if I were to use an ETA when my brain is still in good shape, I would actually be accelerating the demise of my aural skill. I also feel that those who start using an ETA from the get-go largely (though not universally) will not develop significant aural skills, except for unison tuning. I also feel that this is NOT in itself bad, as long as they thoroughly understand the unit, best usage of it, AND have a procedure for checking themselves through the process.

Hopefully by that time ETD's will so smart that I won't really need to do much of anything to get a good job (TIC).

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 04/22/19 10:50 AM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2841506
04/22/19 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
That's illuminating, Joe.
Thanks.


Thanks.

You also make a valuable point about the various ETDs/ETAs being closed source, proprietary software. We can never really be 100% certain what's happening under the hood, and we should be mindful of it.

But like always, there is one exception....
Entropy Piano Tuner is Free & Open Source Software. You can download, inspect, and even alter the code to suit your needs.

http://develop.piano-tuner.org/index.php/getting-started

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/22/19 06:24 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841535
04/22/19 09:04 PM
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Hi everyone - I've been scarce on the forums for quite a while, but like to pop in from time to time. This is a topic that is close to my heart!

I remember the first time I decided to forgo the strip mutes and just use rubber mutes. To be honest, I "decided" by leaving my temperament strips at a previous appointment! So I found myself needing to pitch raise and tune a piano with just the wedges. Since I had been dependent on the strips for several years, I found it somewhat excruciating to tune without it! Nevertheless, I made it through the tuning, and a lightbulb went off in my mind. I had an insight into why some high level tuners choose to use this method.

Gradually I gave up the strips 99% of the time. Occasionally there are reasons I still use a temperament strip, so they still ride with me, but they are not part of my regular procedure.

I agree with those that state that an open unison's pitch does not always equal a single strings pitch - not based on actual Hz, but on how the intervals sound. Sometimes a 3rd or 6th seems to slow down or speed up when listening to an open unison relative to a single string. It is also true of 4ths, 5ths, and octaves as well. On some pianos the effect is negligible, and on others it is fairly noticeable.

Another advantage to the open approach is that it forces you to be pickier about your unisons, because if they are slightly off it becomes harder to use the note as a reference. Also, if a unison does slip a little, you catch it more quickly.

The unison "cracking" or "shimming" technique is an integral part of how I tune. For me, it is the only reliable way to make barely perceptible pitch changes to an entire note. It only makes sense to use this method if you are tuning unisons as you go.

Finally, I think this method does force you to up your game. The clarity you get from using a temperament strip is tempting, but, to me it feels like a crutch. When you are learning, and it is hard to hear the beats, it is very helpful. But as listening skills develop it is important to learn how to hear through the more complex sound of an open unison. Your ability to hear through "junk" will improve with open unison tuning.

Contrary to everything I've just said, I do find that using an ETD to tune unisons in the very top section can be helpful. Sometimes if I'm struggling with false beats, the ETD can quickly find the sweet spot.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841893
04/24/19 09:28 AM
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Great to "see" you Ryan! As always, very insightful and helpful comments. Thanks!


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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2843192
04/28/19 10:45 AM
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My recent experience is that I’m still learning even after partial retirement.
This unison thing cannot be taught, it can only b learned. Any attempt to explain it gets misunderstood and that misunderstanding gets taught to others.
Being physically unable to sling around grand actions any more I have spent the last 20 or so years doing mainly tunings as part of a team. Grand tunings take no more effort than sitting down to a good meal. Especially when that piano was last tuned only 3-4 hours ago.

All my colleagues tune clear beatless still unisons.

This is relatively easy in the lower reaches of the piano, sometimes checking the complete unison with its octave where dodgy covered strings are involved.
As Ed said, in the fifth octave, things get interesting and it is mainly in this region that tells me which of my 4-5 colleagues tuned that piano last.
While the unisons and octaves are totally beat free, there are extremely subtle differences within that beat free envelope that give the tuning enough character to be identifiable. I check with the recent names in the security book at the stage door to verify my opinion. Once I identified a particular tuner but when I checked, the last one to tune it was me a few days before and I didn’t think at that time that my tuning had changed much but my colleagues assured me that it had even within the confines of an ‘absolutely’ clear unison. They could recognise it too. They had been doing that kind of work for 20-30 years longer than me and I was beginning to ‘fit in’
When I meet my ex private customers at concerts, or socially they tell me it is the unisons and octaves that sound like unisons that make the difference.
I used to try to explain this in terms of a note beating once every 5 seconds or 8 seconds. In the fifth octave, that note has evaporated long befor the beat but it could make a difference. That gets too easily misunderstood and it’s not necessarily correct.
The tuning that I diagnosed as someone elses, I found out later that we both tune quieter than the others, depending on similar tricks of pinsetting. I had never observed any of my colleagues tuning until recently except that the stage staff at each venue could identify each of us unseen by the way we tune including how loud or how many repeats of a note at various volumes. Some of them doing a good imitation at the piano.
The answer to this is that we don’t know exactly what is making the difference but it is definitely identifiable within, and I repeat, a clear, beat free, still unison.
We all tune octaves as unisons but even there, each of us has an extremely subtle difference in bass stretch when measured cumulatively. Our trebles are remarkably similar. On one occasion as a demonstration, I and another tuner each tuned one string each of a very false top f# from its lower octave. We produced a two string unison the was so good that we joked that neither of us could have got it that good alone.
Some of the pianists who regularly use our pianos can identify some of us.

Go figure smile


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.


Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2844778
05/03/19 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Maximillyan
[quote=Grandman]



It has been established scientifically that the pitch of of a multi-string unison will be different with all the strings sounding than with a single string. This is because of a phenomenon they call "bridge coupling". The same principle is present in adjacent pendulums swinging from the same pivot.


That's why it is good to develop the skill of "cracking the unison". That's very slightly opening the unison with one string and then tuning the other string so that you have slightly changed the pitch of the 2-string unison to be beatless with the octave.




I just exchanged emails this morning with Bernhard Stopper regarding this identical topic!

I'm using his program OnlyPure noticed the once I get all 3 unisons identically in tune they go flat once played together. He just defined it as "jumps in bridge impedance". He recommended the I can correct this by adjusting the final string to compensate.




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