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Schuman piano very hard to tune
#2909779 11/08/19 08:18 PM
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Hi

Have just come back from service call to a Schumann piano, probably about 40 years old. Any reasons why this is so hard to tune? Some of the notes I had to tune and retune up to 4/5 times each, and I'd still get a bad unison. Some notes after being tuned twice still moved up to -8 cents by the time I had completed tuning the 8ve above. This was not a pitch raise, piano was around -4c, and has been tuned around 6 months ago. Bridge pins seem fine and I tightened the plate bolts.

Does the string stretch when it is near the end of its life? Is the sound board moving? Or is it just difficult bearing points? I'm usually able to get a pretty steady unison reliably after at most 2, and possibly 3 passes on virtually all pianos I tune, but this one was super difficult, and I left it with several dirty unisons that were beyond me. I'm toying with telling the owner it's time for an upgrade. It's probably the worst sounding tuning I've done in the last 2 years tbh, and I tune a lot of old pianos here in Ireland - 3/4 birdcages every week!

all ideas appreciated!
best

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Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909809 11/08/19 09:55 PM
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Maybe piano is just end of life.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

Casio GP-400
Schimmel SP-182T
Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909840 11/09/19 12:17 AM
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Some pianos are just a challenge to tune. They just do not want to go where you want to put them. The more experience you have the better you are at dealing with these problem pianos.
Yesterday I tuned a grand piano that 95% of the pins were jumpy making it extremely difficult to tune. I was able to get a decent tuning in an hour and fifteen minutes though it was no fun. In my earlier days it would have taken me much longer would not have come out as well.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909857 11/09/19 01:17 AM
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I wonder if there might be some sort of structurual issue, like the pinblock not being properly fitted to the plate. I imagine it as the pinblock rocking around slightly as you tune.

Originally Posted by Michael Laffan RPT
Does the string stretch when it is near the end of its life?

Technically yes...there's a big stretch a fraction of a second before the string breaks :-) OK, seriously, no, that's not anything I've ever seen and I can't think of a reason why it would do that.


Anthony Willey, RPT
PianoMeter
Willey Piano Tuning
Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909865 11/09/19 01:55 AM
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Sometimes there is too little friction because the capo bar is not putting enough pressure on the strings, so the slightest manipulation of the tuning pin creates an audible change in the pitch. This makes stabilizing the string very difficult. Or sometimes the friction is too great, and you turn the tuning pin, and there is no audible change in pitch. Then, when it does change, it changes too much.

In the later case, lubricating the bearing points with a non-oily lubricant like Protek Prolube and really facilitate tuning. If there is not enough friction you could try lowering the capo bar. I've never done, but I've thought about it. Maybe someone on the forum has done it and had good results and can share their experience!


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909882 11/09/19 04:45 AM
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Quote
I wonder if there might be some sort of structurual issue, like the pinblock not being properly fitted to the plate. I imagine it as the pinblock rocking around slightly as you tune.


That was my thought as well. It's an issue I've found with the really old Spring & Loop action birdcage uprights that are still around in my area (not so far from you Michael). Those pianos were cheap when new in 1885, and have very little supporting structure. I always advise against spending money on attempting to tune them now. Time and again I've found that the pins feel tight enough, but the whole structure is just spongey. It's like trying to mould The Three Graces out of a bath sponge!

If called to that piano again, and it's -4 cents, you could consider just tuning it at that pitch, perhaps.

I second the thoughts too, about lubricating the bearing points with Protek Prolube. Also the under-string bearing felt/cloth, if there is a wide expanse of that, and the strings have bitten in deeply, and/or are in any way corroded.

Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909896 11/09/19 06:25 AM
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Good ideas folks - I thank you - it's a wealthy hotel, so I am going to advise on the upgrade anyway, but if they inevitably say they don't want to, then Protek on bearing points and bearing cloth is the next thing to do. Is a badly fit pin block easy to diagnose? Not much I can realistically do about it, but interesting to know about it.

The tuning wasn't consistently -4c, so tuning up or staying put at -4c won't have much difference in (failing to) tune clean unisons, I don't think.

Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909924 11/09/19 08:42 AM
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Did you tighten the plate bolts before starting tuning?
Is it possible that you altered all the stress points and the piano needs to settle before tuning?
Nick


Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2909926 11/09/19 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Laffan RPT
Good ideas folks - I thank you - it's a wealthy hotel, so I am going to advise on the upgrade anyway, but if they inevitably say they don't want to, then Protek on bearing points and bearing cloth is the next thing to do. Is a badly fit pin block easy to diagnose? Not much I can realistically do about it, but interesting to know about it.

The tuning wasn't consistently -4c, so tuning up or staying put at -4c won't have much difference in (failing to) tune clean unisons, I don't think.


hi, Michael
is very little friction every pin there?
see from 0.28

Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
N W #2910167 11/09/19 07:55 PM
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I checked all the plate bolts about mid-way through tuning, just in case that was the issue, but it wasn't - they were very tight.

Pin tightness was fine, they didn't feel loose to me.

No, I really think the pin block fit might be the main culprit - if not that, then something else structural

Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2910202 11/09/19 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Laffan RPT

Pin tightness was fine, they didn't feel loose to me.

No, I really think the pin block fit might be the main culprit - if not that, then something else structural

if your pin is tight, then what is the problem there? It's must to keep wire stability long time, I'm think

Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2910245 11/10/19 04:19 AM
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If there's a problem with the piano holding tune overall, then it's possibly structural.

But, if it's only a few problem unisons, then maybe a different approach is called for...

There can be strings that just demand a different hammer technique. What you described in your original post sounds alot like really bad string lag.

You could try using the impact method on just those strings. There are a variety of methods currently being called impact tuning. I'm suggesting the method I was shown many years ago.

The key is struck firmly. At the exact moment the hammer strikes the string, you make a sudden rotation of the tuning hammer.

The idea is that you move the string while it's in its most energized state, giving you the best chance of equalizing the tension in all string segments. If you're a left-handed tuner, this should be easier for you when tuning a vertical.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
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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: Schuman piano very hard to tune
daniokeeper #2910350 11/10/19 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by daniokeeper


But, if it's only a few problem unisons, then maybe a different approach is called for...

There can be strings that just demand a different hammer technique. What you described in your original post sounds alot like really bad string lag.

The key is struck firmly. At the exact moment the hammer strikes the string, you make a sudden rotation of the tuning hammer.

The idea is that you move the string while it's in its most energized state, giving you the best chance of equalizing the tension in all string segments. If you're a left-handed tuner, this should be easier for you when tuning a vertical.

Thanks, Joe.

Re: Schuman piano very hard to tune
Michael Laffan RPT #2910372 11/10/19 12:46 PM
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I need to make a slight correction to my previous post....

Rotate the *pin* the exact moment the hammer strikes the string. If there is play in the tuning hammer tip, or if you have a hammer that has looseness designed into it, you need to practice to get your timing exact.

Thanks Max,
Impact tuning is not my preferred method. But, I'm glad I was introduced to it.


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

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