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Newbie tuning and regulation questions #2850909
05/21/19 10:52 PM
05/21/19 10:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 38
Indianapolis, IN
O
opus64 Offline OP
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opus64  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 38
Indianapolis, IN
Hi all,

As I start to think about the first tuning/voicing/regulation of a new piano, I've also been thinking about all the different observations during my piano shopping. While I played many brands, specifically I played quite a few Steinways and noticed some trends which I'd like to as the experienced folks about:

(1) The pianos that are brand new, barely played recently out of the crate seem to have a 'softer' sound i.e. not as bright. They also seemed to require significantly more key velocity to achieve a sfz sound. One theory is that the hammers are not broken in and as they get played more they compact and maybe makes the piano brighter? However I suppose a similar effect could also be caused by regulation if somehow the hammer velocity on these pianos is lower for a similar key stroke(do not know if this is physically possible). I don't think I imagined this effect though, and it seemed that very clearly the ones that where >2 years old and more specifically, played more seemed to get progressively brighter (up to a point).

(2) I have heard the phrases such as 'concert level voicing and regulation'. is there such a thing as a standard for concert pianos that dictates action regulation and voicing parameters? I've even heard different "levels" mentioned in terms of how a piano adjusted, is this actually documented somewhere?

(3) Does it make sense to start by just tuning the piano and wait until it is more broken to do any regulation/voicing, or should it all be done right away as needed?

(4) Perhaps because I have only been playing digitals, I was very surprised by the fact that out of ~30 pianos I played only 1-3 sounded in tune to me. More surprising were a few that were 'just' tuned and still sounded out of tune. They all seemed to go out in the upper register. This made me think that I might want to get a tuning more frequently than usual. However, I have also heard that tuning too often can be bad, something about not letting things settle causing the piano to go out of tune more. Is there any truth to this, or is it fine to tune as often as needed.

(5) I realize this one might have no clear answer. I am amazed by how incredible the concert grands(mostly D's) in recordings sound. For example, I use the Vienna Symphonic Library Steinway D-274 library often, and even the closest mic perspective which has the least of the 'room' effect sounds remarkable. Are these concert grands voiced differently or are they just that good 'out of the box'? I don't understand how if a D has similar hammers and strings to other Steinways why would it sound so different unless something(hammers?) were treated differently?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Newbie tuning and regulation questions [Re: opus64] #2850915
05/21/19 11:16 PM
05/21/19 11:16 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,658
Georgia, USA
Rickster Online content
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Rickster  Online Content
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Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,658
Georgia, USA
You have a lot of good questions there, opus64. smile

That's a good thing!

I'm no expert but if all or most of your piano experience in the past has been digital pianos, you are in for some surprises, some pleasant and some not so pleasant in regards to acoustic pianos.

First off, a concert tuning is basically a very high quality tuning usually done by a concert piano technician. A concert piano tech is basically a piano technician with a great deal of experience and technical skill. They can tune and regulate a piano (concert piano or other) to a very high level.

Also, in regards to pianos going out of tune, it begins (going out of tune) immediately after being tuned. A high-quality acoustic piano can be tuned well by a good tuner and some of the unisons (multi-string notes) will start to get twangy very soon afterward, especially if played hard. A really good piano tech (concert tech) can achieve a higher level of tuning stability than a less experienced tuner or a tuner who doesn't take the extra time and effort to achieve the good tuning stability.

Even so, concert pianos at music halls and concert venues are tuned often, usually daily at least and sometimes multiple times a day after each pianist performance. Same with recording studios... the pianos are tuned frequently, usually before each recording session.

So, it is somewhat normal to expect that some notes will sound a bit out of tune if your piano is play hard and often.

And, yes, you can find a concert piano technician to tune, regulate and voice your piano, but keep in mind they usually charge more than the average tuner; but are usually worth the difference.

Hope this helps, at least to some extent.

Happy piano playing!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Newbie tuning and regulation questions [Re: opus64] #2850916
05/21/19 11:21 PM
05/21/19 11:21 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,752
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Oakland
(1) That theory is true.
(2) No to both questions, although there are some who will disagree.
(3) Yes, it does make sense. Keep in mind that the history of the piano before you get to it is usually not known.
(4) One should always tune as well as possible. "As possible" allows for a lot of variation which can be due to the condition of the piano and the skill of the tuner.
(5) Not being able to hear what you are hearing, I cannot answer this.


Semipro Tech
Re: Newbie tuning and regulation questions [Re: opus64] #2851040
05/22/19 09:20 AM
05/22/19 09:20 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,590
Southwest
j&j Offline
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I’m no expert but have been told by concert level techs that concert pianos are tuned for every performance. And are used very hard for each performance. I was told this tends to shorten the piano’s concert life. I’m just guessing here but Steinway’s signature piano is the D and the size of the rim and plate, length of strings and strike point of the hammers have a lot to do with its signature sound. In trying new pianos of the same brand, bigger is nearly always better. This is why it can be financially dangerous to play bigger pianos than you can afford or don’t have room for. Best of Luck shopping and learning.


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Re: Newbie tuning and regulation questions [Re: opus64] #2851064
05/22/19 10:31 AM
05/22/19 10:31 AM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 733
Indianapolis
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GC13 Offline
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GC13  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 733
Indianapolis
Piano tuning and regulation is part science and part art. Just like a piano performance, it all depends upon the skill, ear, and talents of the individual tuner. Each piano has it's own nuances and character that come into play. I was told by a highly regarded Steinway trained technician that when he was recruited to work in NYC, he had to be retrained in the Steinway system to develop the skill to service the concert fleet of pianos. It's my understanding that while Steinway NYC is now shipping pianos that are more consistent than in decades past, they still expect some final prep to be done by the local dealer. Therefore, the condition of even a brand new out-of-the-crate Steinway depends on the skill of the person who did the prep (tuning and any voicing/regulation) after it was uncrated. It also depends upon the dealers budget - how much time and money they put into the prep of a piano. Then it depends on how much time has past, how often it has been played, and the environment fluctuations with in the facility.

As others have said, pianos used in concerts and recordings are tuned before each performance. Often, the piano technician is paid to be on stand by to step in and make any adjustments that are needed during the performance and recording session, especially when the work is focused on the piano and it's a high-profile performance/recording.

Re: Newbie tuning and regulation questions [Re: GC13] #2851085
05/22/19 11:21 AM
05/22/19 11:21 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,752
Oakland
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Originally Posted by GC13
As others have said, pianos used in concerts and recordings are tuned before each performance. Often, the piano technician is paid to be on stand by to step in and make any adjustments that are needed during the performance and recording session, especially when the work is focused on the piano and it's a high-profile performance/recording.


Well, perhaps ideally, but budgetary issues come into play.


Semipro Tech

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