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5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
#3050990 11/29/20 06:49 PM
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I heard only very small number of tech have the ability to voice properly but all techs I met voiced my piano.
I was never happy about the result. After voicing, always the tone was not balanced. Some notes are still bright, some notes are too mellow.

Tech said too mellow notes will be back very soon but they never returned as before perfectly. Even when I play fortessimo, it sounded soft and mellow .... like sound from speaker

Last edited by tony3304; 11/29/20 06:57 PM.
Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051004 11/29/20 07:15 PM
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Naturally it depends on what they actually did. It also depends on good communication between pianist and tech, and it also requires a degree of humility to admit that their abilities might be somewhat limited. Few like to admit this.

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051016 11/29/20 07:36 PM
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tony:

When you get to be as old as I am - if you ever do! - and your hearing is not as keen as it was in your youth, you may be very happy with whatever voicing your tech can do for your piano. How many were "...all techs I met..."? Where do you get that five percent figure? That seems to be so low as to almost be insulting to the many good techs there may be.

I am very happy with my tech's work on my piano, but with your ears you might not be.

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051023 11/29/20 07:53 PM
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It’s difficult to answer, and it depends on a LOT of factors. There are some techs who I’d only want to tune and make minor repairs (if that), some who I’d allow to do some conservative voicing/hammer work, and far fewer who I’d trust to do more involved hammer work on the pianos I either own or concertize on.

For the latter category above, it also involves a combination of the skill set and experience of the technician, their tonal aesthetic, along with their ability to communicate well enough with the pianist to understand their tonal goals for the piano. And there’s much more to it than that, including building trust and achieving the best possible result for the piano/situation. Based on past experiences, there are probably 4 techs I trust to do this sort of work on my pianos. One’s retired, two are 1,500 miles away, and the third is 2 1/2 hours from here. All of them have significant concert/recording experience, and 2 of the 3 also have some rebuilding experience. There might be a couple others who can handle the work near me, but it takes time to build that relationship when you have extremely high expectations...and these sort of techs don’t come cheap, especially when you figure in travel time!


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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051029 11/29/20 08:24 PM
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In my experience, many RPTs who are competent at voicing don't like to do it for pianos in someone's home. I think this is in part because there are too many ways it can go off the rails where the owner ends up being unhappy with the result, and it cannot be put back to how it was before voicing.

I think it is only reasonable to expect a few notes to be touched up as part of a regular tuning service. A given piano also has a limit of what can be done. If a problem is with a dead spot in the soundboard, such as from it starting to lose its crown, voicing cannot adequately address it.


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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051032 11/29/20 08:29 PM
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"Voice properly" is not at all clear in meaning. Voicing skill is not a yes or no thing, it's a continuum.

Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051035 11/29/20 08:59 PM
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Gee - your experience doesn’t match mine in the least. My past two piano techs did all the prep work for several dealership specifically because they had significant experience in tuning, voicing and regulation. I found it interesting that both were mildly impressed that I even knew about voicing and regulation.

It seems there’s several methodologies used for voicing so there’s always debate in what might please the ear of customers. Those two technicians prepped the pianos I fell in love with so I trust their determination of what voicing needs to be done. The way I ask for these services is maybe some touch ups as we go along so my tech learns what I like and what the piano needs each visit. We usually have a short discussion about what I noticed since the last visit before he begins.


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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051039 11/29/20 09:17 PM
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I prefer the conservative route also. That way I get a feeling for what is needed/wanted. I'll do a little here and there (evening out or a particularly weird note) and ask "so, do you like that?...are we going in the right direction?" If affirmative I am encouraged to continue. Too big a change can be too shocking.

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051049 11/29/20 09:48 PM
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I'd think the number of professional piano technicians, who do it full time, for a living, and are experienced at hammer voicing, and are good at it, is way more than 5%. Depending, of course, on the region, country, or geographical area you are talking about.

That said, I also think the number of highly skilled piano technicians is getting fewer and fewer, as the older, experienced techs retire. Also, I don't think there are many younger people, who are interested enough in piano technology, getting into the business, although I could be wrong.

I know there is only one RPT in my area, and I think he has enough work to keep him busy, but is having to travel further and further out to service client's pianos.

Like terminaldegree, I'd be really particular who I let stab my hammers with voicing needles, or spray a chemical solution on them.

Rick


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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051058 11/29/20 10:20 PM
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I haven’t been an active tuner for well over 20 years and I can say I was a better tuner than a voicer. But there are many things affecting tone. Uneven strings, badly worn or misshaped hammers. Strings not bedded in the bridge pins. Corroded strings or agraffes.

So I was pretty good at solving “bad sound” issues, refacing hammers,and getting the strike line to hit all three strings evenly. I had to address pianos with almost no felt left or had hammers “reshaped” to look more like triangles than teardrops.

I had success replacing hammers on a dozen or two pianos and bringing uprights “back to life”. I also successfully restrung a few.

While all these practices help a piano sound great, when it comes to fine voicing I would defer to others with proper expertise and skill. I was never that good.


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
WBLynch #3051107 11/30/20 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by WBLynch
There are many things affecting tone. Uneven strings. Strings not bedded in the bridge pins. Corroded strings or agraffes.

Pay attention to Bill Lynch. The hammers may not be the problem whether they are "badly worn or misshaped" or not. They should be the last port of call not the first.

Last night I wrote in another thread, From my experience with older pianos, Peter Gray's pluck test sometimes reveals a string not vibrating as it should. Dealing with the termination points (and everything else) can reduce the need for voicing.

"Everything else" includes tightening the plate bolts (not over-tightening and cracking the plate) and various screws holding things together. Cleaning the strings (without direct contact with your fingers) can help too.


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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
Rickster #3051170 11/30/20 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick
Like terminaldegree, I'd be really particular who I let stab my hammers with voicing needles, or spray a chemical solution on them.

Rick

Unfortunately for most piano buyers/owners, we don’t have the knowledge or the hearing to do our own voicing so it’s hard to be as picky about who stabs, files, or adds chemicals to do the voicing. For someone like me and most every new piano owner, all we have to rely on is references and experts on rating that technician. Apparently I’ve been blessed to find great techs that do great work to make and keep my piano sounding like it did in the showroom.

Too darn bad my first tech retired at the start of the pandemic. I guess after a 40 year career, schlepping around with masks and hand sanitizer everywhere gets old.

Last edited by j&j; 11/30/20 10:12 AM.

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
j&j #3051179 11/30/20 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by j&j
Originally Posted by Rick
Like terminaldegree, I'd be really particular who I let stab my hammers with voicing needles, or spray a chemical solution on them.

Rick

Unfortunately for most piano buyers/owners, we don’t have the knowledge or the hearing to do our own voicing so it’s hard to be as picky about who stabs, files, or adds chemicals to do the voicing. For someone like me and most every new piano owner, all we have to rely on is references and experts on rating that technician. Apparently I’ve been blessed to find great techs that do great work to make and keep my piano sounding like it did in the showroom.

Too darn bad my first tech retired at the start of the pandemic. I guess after a 40 year career, schlepping around with masks and hand sanitizer everywhere gets old.

There is no substitute for a piano tech with lots of experience, and is good at what they do. They have the skills needed to make most pianos sound the way they were meant to sound, unless the piano is just worn out. Nevertheless, a good piano technician can always make the piano sound and play better, and in some cases, a lot better.

I think most people here know that I tune and service, and yes, voice, my own pianos. I know there are techs out there that are 10 times, or 100 times better at it than I will ever be. But even the best of techs had to start somewhere, and they had to learn themselves.

The way I see it, if I mess up or ruin my own hammers, or anything else on my pianos, anything man made can be fixed or replaced. If I paid someone to work on my pianos, and they messed up, or ruined my hammers, or broke something, I would be very upset.

I'd rather break it or ruin it myself, and learn something in the process, than pay someone to mess it up, and have them learn something at my expense.

So far, I have not broken or ruined anything on my pianos. I have, however, overvoiced a few of my own hammers, and learned something in the process.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051193 11/30/20 11:08 AM
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I am following in your steps Rick, and I encourage others to do so as well. With a little care, it's very possible and highly rewarding to learn to maintain and optimize your piano. Plus, you're guaranteed never to run out of stuff to do when you retire.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 11/30/20 11:10 AM.

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
Emery Wang #3051236 11/30/20 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
I am following in your steps Rick, and I encourage others to do so as well. With a little care, it's very possible and highly rewarding to learn to maintain and optimize your piano. Plus, you're guaranteed never to run out of stuff to do when you retire.

Emery, you are going to make a lot of people here mad at us... smile

As for not running out of stuff to do when retired, I really need to clean up my piano tool case.

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
Emery Wang #3051252 11/30/20 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
I am following in your steps Rick, and I encourage others to do so as well. With a little care, it's very possible and highly rewarding to learn to maintain and optimize your piano. Plus, you're guaranteed never to run out of stuff to do when you retire.
I think the problem of tuning and maintaining one's own piano is that even after 10 years of doing that one will have much less experience than a full time tech has after just one year, and that doesn't even include the considerable training the tech probably had before he started working. And that training would have been under the supervision of excellent techs while most people working on their own pianos will have relatively little supervision.

So I think the chance that one's piano is tuned, regulated, and voiced at a level that an excellent and experienced tech would achieve is very small. Of course, one will have saved quite a bit of money.

Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051268 11/30/20 01:25 PM
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Ha! Rick, you've gotta get you one of these, it's an electrician's toolbag. Mine is an Amazon Basics bag, so pretty cheap. It has pockets you can put your long tools in on each side of the bag, plus a big center section for the big stuff and items that don't fit elsewhere. I have a clear fishing tackle bin inside there, where I keep all the small stuff. Much more easy to find things now. For the first time, I now have extra space in my piano toolbag. That, however, is likely to only be a temporary situation wink

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
Emery Wang #3051269 11/30/20 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
I am following in your steps Rick, and I encourage others to do so as well. With a little care, it's very possible and highly rewarding to learn to maintain and optimize your piano. Plus, you're guaranteed never to run out of stuff to do when you retire.

Actually I am retired and am kept completely busy improving my piano playing chops to even be remotely capable of bringing out the beautiful singing voice of my piano. Plus I’m plodding through music theory books to understand all the complexity of music theory so I can better understand how and why the composer did what s/he did and why. If I decide to learn how to maintain my piano, I’d get a free old piano to learn on.


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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
tony3304 #3051276 11/30/20 01:34 PM
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You mean like one of these? I highly recommend that too wink

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Re: 5% of piano technicians can voice properly?
Emery Wang #3051289 11/30/20 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Ha! Rick, you've gotta get you one of these, it's an electrician's toolbag. Mine is an Amazon Basics bag, so pretty cheap. It has pockets you can put your long tools in on each side of the bag, plus a big center section for the big stuff and items that don't fit elsewhere. I have a clear fishing tackle bin inside there, where I keep all the small stuff. Much more easy to find things now. For the first time, I now have extra space in my piano toolbag. That, however, is likely to only be a temporary situation wink

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Your piano tool bag is much better organized than my old briefcase, Emery. smile

But I can usually find what I need by rambling a bit.

As I get older, I seem to enjoy playing my pianos more than working on them. But I've enjoyed learning to tune and service them, even if not at the highest level of excellence. But it is good enough for me. Heck, my playing is not at a very high level, but I still have a lot of fun! smile

I guess you and I are certainly not in that 5% bracket, or at least I know I'm not... smile

Rick


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