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What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305892
07/28/07 03:47 PM
07/28/07 03:47 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 7,051
K
kenny Offline OP
7000 Post Club Member
kenny  Offline OP
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K

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 7,051
Don't worry, I'm not going to touch my pianos.
I'm just curious.

I think the pins are threaded and go into the wood pinblock like a screw.

Turn it one way and the string is more tight.
Turn it the other way and the string is less tight.

But, what is setting the pin?
Is it arriving at the correct pitch *only* by lowering the pitch, or *only* by raising it?
Or is it something else?

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Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305893
07/28/07 04:06 PM
07/28/07 04:06 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
M
mdsdurango Offline
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mdsdurango  Offline
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M

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
My guess as a carpenter.
"Setting the pin" means to drive it in just a bit so as to tighten the grasp of the pin "block" around the pin allowing for a more stable tuning.
I do not think that the pins are threaded (as a screw), but grooved, again to acheive "gription".

Am I right techs? Do I win anything?
or am I wrong and deserve lashing?

Mike


WHAT???????
Yamaha S6, U5C, P120
http://michaelstith.com
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305894
07/28/07 04:12 PM
07/28/07 04:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,770
Hamilton Twp, NJ
curry Offline
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curry  Offline
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Posts: 3,770
Hamilton Twp, NJ
Wrong.


G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305895
07/28/07 05:18 PM
07/28/07 05:18 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,815
West Coast
Craigen Offline
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Craigen  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,815
West Coast
"Setting the pin" is all part of the "Hammer" (tuning lever) technique that must be learned by all piano tuners. It is a process of overtuning the note and pushing it back to a stable position. It has nothing to do with hammering the pins into the block. There should always be enough "gription" inhearant in the block as it surrounds the pin.


Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305896
07/28/07 06:24 PM
07/28/07 06:24 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 42
Hong Kong
westland Offline
Full Member
westland  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 42
Hong Kong
I tried tuning a few of my strings some time ago, and gained a great deal of respect for the task of tuning a piano. You've got to have some experience to get it spot on. In fact, I only managed to take out of tune keys and make them even more out of tune. I thought, just by statistical odds, that I should get some of them spot on, but Noooo.

I eventually fixed it with a call to my piano technician.


_ _ _ _________________________ _ _ _
August Förster (Loebau) 145 c.1953 | Yamaha P120 | Hammond XM-2 | Rob Allen Deep 4 | Ritter Roya 4
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305897
07/28/07 08:30 PM
07/28/07 08:30 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 374
Tokyo, Japan
M
masaki Offline
Full Member
masaki  Offline
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M

Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 374
Tokyo, Japan
Put your parm or a comb on your head hairs. Move the hand all the way back or forward to feel the friction. Next, move the hand for a few inches in one direction and then move it to the opposite direction for fraction of an inch. You will feel a larger friction.
The pins are held not by solid wood but by bendable fibres of the wood. The tips of the fibre that are directly touching the pin are bent to the dirction the pin is turned.
You can set the pins by turning the them for some amount making the fibres bent for one direction and then turn to the opposite for a very few amount so as to stick the fibire tips into the pin.
This phenomenon occurs not only between the pin and the pin block, but also between the wire and the capobar and wire and the agraffe.

--
an amateur

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305898
07/28/07 08:41 PM
07/28/07 08:41 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
M
mdsdurango Offline
1000 Post Club Member
mdsdurango  Offline
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M

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
Quote
Originally posted by curry:
Wrong.
Which is exactly why I will never ever do any kind of technical work on my piano!

laugh
Mike


WHAT???????
Yamaha S6, U5C, P120
http://michaelstith.com
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305899
07/28/07 08:57 PM
07/28/07 08:57 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,130
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
Platinum Subscriber
Rich Galassini  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,130
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Before I go to bed, I set my tuning pins for 6:15 am.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
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Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305900
07/28/07 09:28 PM
07/28/07 09:28 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,386
Maine, U.S.
R
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member
RachFan  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
R

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,386
Maine, U.S.
This explanation pins it down nicely.

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305901
07/28/07 10:14 PM
07/28/07 10:14 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,343
Dallas, TX
C
ChrisKeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member
ChrisKeys  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,343
Dallas, TX
Man, whenever I don't set my tuning pins correctly, I feel like a blockhead.

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305902
07/29/07 12:04 AM
07/29/07 12:04 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 3,458
Albuquerque, NM
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Cy Shuster, RPT  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 3,458
Albuquerque, NM
Tuning pins are made of steel, about 2 1/2" long by 1/4" diameter. The top 1/3 to 1/4 of the length of the pin is unsupported by the pinblock as it goes through the plate:

[Linked Image]

Each string pulls on the top with about 150 pounds of tension, so the pin must be gripped firmly by the pinblock to resist this.

Tuning levers have a socket tip that fits over the top of the pin, above the coil. Their handles are typically 8" to a foot long.

With this setup, it's quite easy on most pianos to twist the tuning pin at its top, before the bottom of the pin moves in the pinblock (especially when pianos are new). This leaves the pin with stored energy like a wound spring, which will naturally unwind over time, moving the string either sharp or flat.

It's also very easy to bend the pin along its vertical axis, if you're not very careful. This is another type of stored spring energy that can cause tuning instability.

"Setting the pin" is ensuring that there is no residual twist or bend in the pin, so that the string stays at the pitch it's at. This was one of my first surprises at learning to tune pianos, after long experience with guitars, which in contrast is nearly as easy as adjusting the volume on a radio.

A similar tuning task is "setting the string". There's considerable friction whenever a string changes direction. There can be as many as three "bearing points" where the string rubs across metal, between the tuning pin and the part of the string that the hammer strikes.

[Linked Image]

To raise the pitch of a string, the tension in the segment attached to the pin must be raised to overcome the tension of the first bearing point, then the next, and so on, like a train beginning to move and taking the slack out of all the couplings. Lowering the pitch is often like pushing a rope! :-)

"Setting the string" is equalizing the tension in all the string segments, all the way back to the hitch pin. This is done largely by feel, by using loud test blows, and by trying to make as small an adjustment as possible.

This is one of the reasons why large pitch changes can leave a piano unstable. If a piano hasn't been tuned for several years, a second tuning within a few months can greatly improve stability for the next year or so.

--Cy--

P.S. My thanks to the kind people whose sites I've linked to above:

http://www.marksonpianos.com

http://islandpiano.com


Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305903
07/29/07 12:20 AM
07/29/07 12:20 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,461
Santa Fe, NM
J
jotur Offline
Gold Level
jotur  Offline
Gold Level
J

Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,461
Santa Fe, NM
You guys are too funny.

Cy et al, thanks for the tutorials - great information.

Cathy


Cathy
[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
Practice what you suck at - anonymous
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305904
07/29/07 08:45 AM
07/29/07 08:45 AM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
M
mdsdurango Offline
1000 Post Club Member
mdsdurango  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
M

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
Great, informative post Cy!
Thanks very much.

Mike (who can not "set a pin" but can "drive a nail")


WHAT???????
Yamaha S6, U5C, P120
http://michaelstith.com
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305905
07/29/07 10:57 AM
07/29/07 10:57 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 7,051
K
kenny Offline OP
7000 Post Club Member
kenny  Offline OP
7000 Post Club Member
K

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 7,051
Wow, thanks Cy.

I had no idea the pin *itself* twisted and could hold residual tension, in its rotation.

I wonder how many piano owners have a clue how hard it actually is to tune a piano.

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305906
07/29/07 03:19 PM
07/29/07 03:19 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 3,269
Midwest U.S.
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member
ChickGrand  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 3,269
Midwest U.S.
As difficult as it is to learn pin turning and setting technique to get stable and long-lasting tunings, that part's easier than the infinite artistic choices that confront one, amid temperament, octave, and interval width choices.

I find my tunings drift about an average of about 1 cent over a 6-month period (I measure, to gauge my skill improvement over time), which I think is fairly good for an amateur tuning only my own pianos amid reasonable environmental control. I'm actually more happy that I've begun to *notice*, by ear, at that 1 cent deviation. But it's a two-edged sword. Once you can hear it, you aren't willing to put up with it if a couple of hours with the hammer will put it right.

Setting the temperament and interval widths has taken a while to get to a point where I can reliably replicate my preferred tuning each time. Being intimately familiar with a given piano makes the process not quite as bad as some might imagine--you *do* learn to know its sound, *and* the feel of *its* pins.

But I shudder when I think about the very idea of starting the whole process with any other piano with the unique quirks it would have, aside from the doubtless *different* optimal tonal potential. I doubt techs have anything to fear from the handful of us who *do* tune our own pianos and aren't deluded into thinking one can make one piano sound *like* another, rather than just the best it *can* be.

Several people have asked me to tune theirs after playing mine and I've refused each and every time. It's not something I'd want to do often, much less several times a day. That being the case, one *does* learn what it takes to get stability, to avoid *having* to tune often.

PTG's archive is a wonderful resource for learning about such things as that bit of twist in the pin and how to properly relax it or even perhaps set it to work in your favor over time.) I doubt my skill will ever be as great as the industry big name who tuned the concert grand on delivery. His tuning lasted a rock-solid year before I noticed even the slightest drift. (Which is where I took over, after practicing on relative junkers, because he's too far away, too booked, and too expensive to call in from out-of-state.)

After five years, my tunings have gone from 5 hours and lasting 3 months to that irritating 1 cent deviation, to 2 hours and 6 months. It *is* doable, with a lot of study and patience.

The experience has hardly diminished my regard for the job *good* techs do. It's only made me appreciate their skill all the more. But it's also made me quite aware of the number that are hacks moreso than some of us amateurs. I hate to use that word "hack", but there are some. I've met them. *Good* tuners are rare around these parts. Depending on your area and your expectations, sometimes *learning* is your only good option to sit down at a perfect piano regularly out here "in the sticks". If there's a good tech in your area that you can afford, you've saved yourself a lot of work and a steep learning curve.

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305907
07/29/07 05:45 PM
07/29/07 05:45 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 3,886
San Francisco
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member
whippen boy  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 3,886
San Francisco
Quote
Originally posted by kenny:
I wonder how many piano owners have a clue how hard it actually is to tune a piano.
So true, but it could be much worse!

Organ tuners have to deal with ladders, catwalks, and ledges - dead birds too! They sometimes have to lean very far over the pipes they tune (a back-killer for sure). The pipes are sensitive to the point where the tuner's body heat will alter the pitch - so they can't get near the pipes.

Speaking of pitch, an organ's pitch is constantly drifting with the ambient temperature so tuning one can seem like an exercise in futility.

Compared to a piano's 250+ strings, an organ may have thousands of pipes - each one droning incessantly while it is tuned.

Organ tuning is almost always a two-person job. The note holder is usually bored silly, while for each pipe the tuner must shout "next" at the top of their lungs until they nearly lose their voice. At any distance it is often hard for the note-holder to hear instructions; misunderstandings are common and irritability is almost guaranteed.


M&H "A" at home
Bösendorfer Imperial
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305908
07/29/07 05:56 PM
07/29/07 05:56 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 947
Texas
RickG Offline
500 Post Club Member
RickG  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 947
Texas
Cy,
Thanks for such a great tutorial!

WB,
Organ tuning is hard work. That is why we spend close to $500 per tuning at our church. The tuner comes from Dallas. And it is tuned twice a year. It does use cone tuning which helps it stabilize when the temp comes up to about 72 degrees.


RickG
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305909
07/29/07 08:07 PM
07/29/07 08:07 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 616
Monterey, Ca
Zormpas Offline
500 Post Club Member
Zormpas  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 616
Monterey, Ca
Thanx Cy - a very nice, clear explanation!

I've done a few unison touchups - I have nothing but respect for those who do this full time. Even setting a unison right is difficult - I can't conceive of trying to tune the whole instrument.

Thank Goddess for my tech!


-Zorba
"The Veiled Male"
http://www.doubleveil.net
1918 Hobart M. Cable "H"
"No-one would knowingly provide Franz Liszt with a mediocre piano." -E. M. Good
Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305910
07/30/07 12:54 AM
07/30/07 12:54 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,094
England
S
swingal Offline
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swingal  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
S

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,094
England
May I ask what might be a silly question. When the piano tune goes flat, is it due to the pins turning anti clockwise or the strings loosing their tensile strength slightly.?

swingal

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305911
07/30/07 06:24 AM
07/30/07 06:24 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,343
Dallas, TX
C
ChrisKeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member
ChrisKeys  Offline
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C

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,343
Dallas, TX
Quote
Originally posted by swingal:
May I ask what might be a silly question. When the piano tune goes flat, is it due to the pins turning anti clockwise or the strings loosing their tensile strength slightly.?
(Caveat: I'm a pianist, not a tech. But I do listen to the answers my tech gives me.)

For a good stable piano, probably neither. I seriously doubt that strings lose their strength, even slightly, over such a short period of time. I believe the most likely cause is changes in temperature and humidity, especially humidity. If the humidity decreases, it may cause the soundboard to shrink ever so slightly, causing the crown to drop slightly. This would loosen the tension on the strings, causing them to go flat. Of course, it also depends on how the change in humidity affects other components besides the soundboard. Felt, leather, and wood all change as humidity changes, an not necessarily all at the same rate of change.

Experts will correct me where I'm wrong! smile

Re: What is "setting" the tuning pins? #305912
07/30/07 12:58 PM
07/30/07 12:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 373
Mesa, AZ
Mark Purney Offline
Full Member
Mark Purney  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 373
Mesa, AZ
Chris, you can put a piano in a perfect environment (constant temperature and humidity), and it will still go out of tune. Steel under tension will stretch, and the strings (steel wires) under hundreds of pounds of tension are no exception.


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