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Hello! I’m just starting my training to tune pianos through my job and online as well. I’m hoping someone more experienced could help me, forgive my as I try to articulate what I’m hearing.

Of course in examples I can hear beats in the sound because it seems like a lot has been filtered out. When it comes to actually tuning a unison to eliminate beats there are tons of extraneous noises that I know I’ll learn to ignore. Right now I’m of course hearing the foundation note with beats when things are drastically out of tune, but the finer I get in detail the fainter it is. That is with the exception of some of the overtones. I can hear what is either an extremely high pitched overtone or a ringing sound as I tune one string to another and it seems to present beats as well. Is it advisable to tune two overtones together or should I train my ear to ignore them and focus on the actual note I’m working on?

Thanks!

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For fine unison tuning you need to minimize any beating as much as possible. The higher harmonics, or partials, will beat faster than at the fundamental frequency and is normally what is heard in unison tuning. To my ears, slowly beating higher partials manifest as a kind of whooshing sound which is what I try to minimize.

The process is complicated however because different strings in the one unison may have significantly different inharmonicity. In that case different partials will match at slightly different fundamental requencies. It is then only possible to get the best compromised match possible and that may be at the most prominent partials.

The process is also complicated by false beats. In that case the best unison may be more subjective. It is often possible the reduce the effect of false beating by tuning a unison beat that somewhat cancels out the false beat.

In general, all tuning involves compromises, and unison tuning is no exception. We need to just get the best that we can despite the complications.


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Much appreciated! I’ve just gotten my hand-me-down Accutuner repaired, I’ll take some time to listen to the beats in each partial and the fundamental note as I get closer to in tune and recognize patterns.

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If I'm not mistaken, in some of the old steinways the unison strings in the mid treble were intentionally different lengths, so that they had different inharmonicity. Such unison will always be slightly out of tune in one way or another, tuner have to be aware of such things

Last edited by ambrozy; 02/05/21 10:30 PM.
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Everything is a question of tolerances. Get your unisons as close as you can. The next time you will be better.


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Many uprights have unequal unison speaking lengths, especially in the bass unless they use agraffes and notch the bridge as opposed to a single bevel.
A look at the curve in the pressure bar and the bridge notching tells the story.
I can usually get very clean unisons on these uprights.

Last edited by Gene Nelson; 02/05/21 11:07 PM.

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Of course there are many other things, I was just giving an example, the point is that the tuner needs to be aware of these effects and that the difficulty in achieving a clean unison may not necessarily be his fault. I myself lost a lot of time with my first tunings of low quality pianos because I was not aware of false beats, wound string imperfections, etc.

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I'm a seriously amateur tuner that uses Verituner on my iTelephone to tune my own piano mainly, but I've started getting brave and tuning unisons by ear (which really really speeds things up). Would it be wrong to say that when the unisons are properly tuned it's like you're suddenly in the centre of the storm and it's dead quiet?


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Originally Posted by jkellner1
I'm a seriously amateur tuner that uses Verituner on my iTelephone to tune my own piano mainly, but I've started getting brave and tuning unisons by ear (which really really speeds things up). Would it be wrong to say that when the unisons are properly tuned it's like you're suddenly in the centre of the storm and it's dead quiet?
Yes! That’s why the sound of a unison coming into tune is my favorite sound in the entire universe!


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Originally Posted by jkellner1
I'm a seriously amateur tuner that uses Verituner on my iTelephone to tune my own piano mainly, but I've started getting brave and tuning unisons by ear (which really really speeds things up). Would it be wrong to say that when the unisons are properly tuned it's like you're suddenly in the centre of the storm and it's dead quiet?

That's very close to making it sound dull, dead and soulless.

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Dull, dead and soulless, or pure, sweet and virtuous?

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I am also learning to tune unisons. This video was very helpful. Listen with good headphones and you will hear partials and beats very well. He is starting with tuning the middle octave first with fifths, fourths and so on and later tuning octaves and unisons.

Last edited by Walkman; 02/06/21 08:01 AM.
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Don’t know if it’s still available but Jim Coleman marketed a beat locator that helped focus hearing on coincident partials when tuning intervals and it helps much the same with unisons.
It’s a simple marked up piece of cardboard that rests on the keys up against the fall board.


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