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Joined: Mar 2021
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Hi everyone! I want to learn how to tune my piano for the fun and challenge of it. I’ve done some research and know what I’m getting myself into. Expecting bad, unstable tunings and possibly a few broken strings.

Impact tuning really intrigues me. What I’ve read suggests that beginners can get more stable results with impact compared to slow pull. It is also less likely to damage a pin or break a string if I’m not mistaken.

I’m targeting the Reyburn Cyberhammer. However, my piano is a recent Yamaha U1. This post says the hammer tip doesn’t reach because of the flange surrounding the pin block. It is 2 cm thick and protrudes as much as the tuning pins. Or is it because the lid only opens partially and overhangs the pin block by 3-4 cm? Yamaha also has a reputation for very tight tuning pins.

With these issues, is the Cyberhammer still a good choice for the U1? I am thinking a longer hammer tip, and possibly a weight riser might overcome these problems. But if the Cyberhammer is not the right tool for my piano, please let me know. Thanks for any advice you can provide!

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How old is your U1?

If it is within the warranty period you should definetely not touch it.

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You don't have to use a slow pull technique with a conventional tuning lever. Bumping a conventional lever to move the pin in tiny increments can give you some of the same benefits as using a dedicated impact lever. It's especially effective with tight pins. Sometimes you find a piano where the pins move smoothly with a slow pull technique. This is the exception.


Bob Runyan, RPT
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Thanks for the replies Hakki and Bob. I’ll have to check if my piano’s warranty is still active. And I’m warming to the idea of using impact technique with a conventional lever. That explanation was really helpful. A Fujan with a wooden knob handle seems like a good choice here. It would also be suitable for slow pull if I wanted to try it.

I’m still hoping someone with Cyberhammer experience will chime in. If all pianos were Yamaha U1s would it still be your tuning lever of choice?

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I'm a DIY tuner myself, for about ten years plus. I purchased a (Rayburn) impact hammer many, many years ago. It has a "Y" shape, and adjustable weights on the double arms of the hammer. I purchased it SPECIFICALLY to prevent any sideways pin movement, in my case on a new Hailun 218 (which I still own and absolutely love). The hammer works beautifully for me, but--out of the box-- the "Y" configuration would not work on the outside edges of an upright. I can imagine various mods that would solve the problem, but Rayburn has probably got a solution.

I read that the more in tune you can keep a new piano, over the first year of ownership, the more in tune it will likely remain over its lifetime. So I kept the Hailun VERY precisely in tune for the first year or so. The dividends are clear: my tunings since then have remained fantastically stable over time.

For me regulation and voicing are AS or almost as important as tuning. If you have the time and the inclination, it pays to learn how to adjust let-off, etc., etc... And voicing--that is an art--but hugely important, obviously.

You want to Damp Chaser that Yamaha, or better still, keep the space around it at a more or less constant 40-45 RH. Again, hugely important. I don't like Damp Chaser for grands, but it seems to me that the system would work beautifully for uprights (since everything is inside a "box," that is, the wood shell of the upright; so humidity can be very precisely controlled.)

Gasp... finally.... I use Verituner, which I think is fantastic. But I purchased "Pianotuner" for my cell, much cheaper, and perhaps a good second-best alternative. It appears to calculate inharmonicity for every note in advance of producing a tuning target. You want that. (Also pays, of course, to understand the theory and practice of aural tuning.)

My two cents. I stand to be corrected, of course, by the pros: I'm no expert.

Last edited by johnlewisgrant; 03/08/21 10:40 AM.
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Well, you have certainly done well by your nice Hailun, johnlewisgrant!

It's sad to consider how many new pianos get pretty much the opposite kind of treatment, and consequently NEVER become stable.

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I've been using a Fujan for a few years for basically all my work and I can definitely recommend that. I've had my eye on the Reyburn impact lever for about as long. I had a chance to try it out the newest model and it seemed very straightforward going from my personal blend of slow pull/impact to full impact. I was surprised by the level of control I had...that was unexpected. The primary thing that's held me back from purchasing one is the cost. My current technique works well on grands and uprights. The primary benefit I see from the cyber hammer would be the reduction of stress on my right shoulder. For that reason I probably will end up buying one in the future. But that probably doesn't apply as much to the OP here who's just tuning their own piano every few months (as opposed to 4 pianos in a day). If all pianos in the world were uprights I'd probably own one already.


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I’ve been continuing to search for answers about Cyberhammer compatibility with the U1. Based on limited information, I think Jerry's comment is really about the non-folding part of the lid getting in the way. That said, it still seems it should be usable, though maybe not in a vertical orientation. Here’s a picture of the Cyberhammer on a Yamaha U30A, which has a similar lid design. It’s inclined about 30 degrees relative to the horizontal, though it might be a photo op instead of an actual action shot.

My remaining concern is about how well the Cyberhammer works on tight tuning pins. There's a variety of opinions on this forum, from easier: 1, 2 to harder: 1, 2, 3, 4. I think the Fujan is the safer choice here, but Cyberhammer seems like it should also work given enough patience?

Those who are new to piano tuning like me, might appreciate the Piano Tuning Game app for iPhone/iPad. It's helped me discover that my ear is not that sensitive and cannot distinguish an error of 6-14 cents depending on the interval. I’ve also tried the game while running Pianometer on a second device, and that enables me to tune within 1 cent quickly and efficiently. There’s no game mode for tuning unisons, so I practice by tuning adjacent keys to the same pitch. The standard advice is to tune unisons by ear, but I’ll be using an ETD for the first pass after seeing my results.

johnlewisgrant, I appreciate the advice. Your results as a DIY tuner are very encouraging! Good to know that a non-professional can get stable, accurate tunings with proper tools, technique and piano maintenance. Reyburn’s impact hammer for upright pianos is an "L" shape with a single arm. Gravity makes the second arm unnecessary.

Anthony, thanks for providing an informed, trusted perspective. You’re correct that ergonomics are not really a consideration for this amateur. Almost all of the benefits I’m seeking are a consequence of using impact technique as opposed to a specific design of tuning hammer. Though for first-time tuners, I'm guessing a dedicated impact hammer has less risk of damage since it imparts a pure torque to the tuning pin.

On another note, Pianometer is awesome! The app is intuitive with a display that’s quick and accurate. Excellent work!

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I got the Cyberhammer and carefully tuned my piano in 6 hours without breaking any strings. Here are the answers to my original questions.

Tool fit: The Cyberhammer is compatible with the geometry of the Yamaha U1. The concerns I had were mostly unfounded. I was able to tune most of the piano with the Cyberhammer at 12 o’clock. However, those with big hands may find their fingers bumping the lid hinge and would need to be more thoughtful about hammer orientation and grip. There is some maneuvering needed when tuning the bottom pins of B7 and C8, which are close to a knob.

Tight tuning pins: Increasing pitch requires so much torque, especially the bass notes where a strong yank on the hammer is needed to get the tuning pin to move. The recommended techniques do not generate enough impact. Throwing the weight against the pin is futile. For the trichords, torque is a little lower and it becomes effective to use a wrist motion instead of pulling with my forearm.

When increasing pitch, I would gradually intensify the impacts without effect, until suddenly the pin would snap and move the pitch up 10 cents all at once. Is this normal? This behavior is consistent across all pins.

Decreasing pitch requires much less torque by comparison. The recommended techniques did work for me here. After overshooting the target pitch I would gently toss the hammer in the other direction to get back on pitch. With a little practice I could put the pitch exactly where I wanted it.

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piano fish, I really don't think you need this. You can spend that money on other regulation tools to get your piano in tip top shape. The hammer isn't going to be more/less precise, and it won't meaningfully improve your efficiency because you're not doing this for a living. You also shouldn't go into this expecting a broken string, you should not be anywhere near pulling that much.

Last edited by EinLudov; 04/14/21 01:26 PM.

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