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I ask this, because, every time I see youtubers explaining the process they end up confusing things and overcomplicating things. So I'll try to do a sum up
of what in practical terms we are going to achieve.

1) There is no perfection, equal temperament is already a compromise, but once you set the middle octave (F3 to F4) with a tuner or iPad, every other note will be a consequence of that middle octave.
2) Once F3 to F4 has been tuned, go by octaves up and down (by ear or tuner). These octaves are the most important thing, every other interval (3rd, fourth) is just a secondary thing. Because if you are satified with your ocatves, you can't be perfectly satisfied with a 3rd or a 4th. So, you will see youtubers checking the 3rd and 4th, but they never explain that this is just a secondary thing. Octaves are the priority.
3) The tuning hammer needs to be at 12 o'clock to avoid damaging the pin/string.
4) Whether you use your ear or your iPad, the octaves will end up being stretched, and that's fine.

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No you can’t.

Because piano tuning is not a simple task at all.

On the contrary it is a very complicated task.

Requires a lot of experience.

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Originally Posted by Hakki
No you can’t.

Because piano tuning is not a simple task at all.

On the contrary it is a very complicated task.

Requires a lot of experience.

If you had to sum up things, what would you write? Nothing.

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Bill Bremmer, RPT, has some documents in his website. You might check them.
He explains it throughly and usually gives a summary at the end of the documents.

But understanding the method does not mean a DIY person can apply it.

As I said, tuning a piano requires a lot of experience.

https://www.billbremmer.com/articles/

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Originally Posted by Hakki
Bill Bremmer, RPT, has some documents in his website. You might check them.
He explains it throughly and usually gives a summary at the end of the documents.

But understanding the method does not mean a DIY person can apply it.

As I said, tuning a piano requires a lot of experience.

https://www.billbremmer.com/articles/

The Bill Bremmers articles are very interesting. But I wanted to dedicate a thread about a sum up in a few lines. After reading all the books, practicing for many years, and watching all tutorials by experienced tuners, how would you sum up?

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There are many approaches and to summarise might require a large oversimplification.

For instance, you can’t say ‘F3 to F4’ because not every tuner does that. But then not everyone even sets a temperament. For instance if they’re using an ETD. And then some tuners like to use 12ths when tuning lower notes. Or using 12ths all over the keyboard. Etc.

So the only real simplifications you could make are:

1. Possibly set a temperament.
2. If a temperament was set, use that temperament as a basis for tuning the rest of the piano.
3. If using an EDT, follow the instructions, or modify them, to achieve the best tuning according to your goals.
4. If your tuning method doesn’t fit in the above, do that instead.

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Originally Posted by Hakki
As I said, tuning a piano requires a lot of experience.

Experience can be defined as being about 75% errors as part of the "trial and error" method.

In order to drastically reduce that error rate, really good and constant tuition and supervision is needed. Given that, it's fair to say that two years could be good enough to be allowed near a concert grand on a stage in preparation for a concert.

Unfortunately there is no institution that provides this kind of education right now.

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Recognize that whatever method you use, your initial results will be horrible, even though you may think the piano sounds OK. Once you have tuned a good number of pianos, your results will progress to bad, and you may still think the piano sounds OK. After many, many tunings your brain will become satisfied with a narrower and narrower range of OK.


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I'm no professional tuner, but have been tuning pianos for 10+ years, so I'll give my 2c anyway - as an indication of what I've observed and what has started to work for me. If one is truly interested in explaining tuning to others, then I think one should explain the dynamics and the thinking behind what has become best practice, rather than wanting to shoe-horn tuning into (overly?) narrow rules. Whether piano tuning can even be condensed into a "simplified DIY explanation", I find debatable.

That said, my humble perspective on your 4 points:

1) Any temperament is a compromise, not only ET.
2) Octaves might be most important to you. To me, they aren't. (Nor apparently to many composers, if you look at their music.) They are just one of several intervals I use to try and achieve the most harmonious and progressive expansion into the treble and the bass. I use various compromises of octaves, P12, double octaves, progressive M10 / M17, etc. For me, the octave is not cast in stone. Firstly, I find there is a considerable "marshmallow zone" before it starts rolling. Secondly, some octaves (especially in the bass) are basically impossible to get beatless anyway, if you consider the whole partial envelope - which I always try to do. Thirdly, if beatless octaves give me objectionable P12s or double octaves, especially expanding into in the melodic section of the piano, and if referring back to the temperament doesn't show up the error, I won't hesitate to widen the octave, even to the point of slight rolling. On some pianos, this is the only way I've managed to get octave 5-6 into tune with the temperament (not saying it can't be done with beatless octaves, but it couldn't be done by me). Similarly, if a beatless octave gives me an objectionable M3, P4 or P5 when expanding into the bass, I'll include the octave in my compromise.
3) I don't know where you got this, but personally I disagree. Ergonomics on every particular piano play a role, as do a good deal of different motions (besides the simple pin-turning), e.g. using the thumb as a fulcrum, or a combination of gentle bending/flagpoling and "motorcycle throttle twist" for fine rendering or stability tests. I would submit, the lever needs to be in a position where the hand can actually perform all these motions. It also depends on the rendering of each particular piano, e.g. tightness of pins relative to friction of the termination point and/or capo felt between the termination and the pin. I tune uprights ambidextrously for comfort and fatigue prevention, and have found that the best position for all the required motions and finesse differs from the one hand to the other - the left is generally before 12 o'clock, the right generally on, or after. Sometimes I spontaneously change hands (and thus lever position) on a note that is difficult to render correctly. And then there are grands... 12 o'clock on an upright corresponds to 6 on a grand. I use about 4 o'clock for the right hand, and the left is still learning.
4) Beatless octaves on a piano are "stretched" only in a mathematical sense, as inharmonicity makes the frequencies of a string's partials higher than exact whole-number multiples. A5 is not tuned to 880Hz, but beatless to the second partial of A4, whatever that may be. Even though A5 may be at 881 or 882Hz, the octave is not stretched in terms of beatless coincidental partials. If by "stretched" you mean "tuned wide of beatless", I don't agree that this will always be the case.

Perhaps I'm overcomplicating things, like those youtubers to whom you'd like to give the straight 'n simple. But to me, realistically, it doesn't get much simpler without falling prey to incorrect assumptions, tail-chasing and rabbit-holes.


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I know there are different approaches, but I would say that when a pianist wants his piano being tuned, he expects an equal temperament, not something else. Don't you think?
Another example, the digital pianos I suppose are samples recorded from a great acoustic piano which has been tuned by an expert tuner. And there is no difference between digital pianos, they are all tuned the same way, using equal temperament, and the octaves being stretched (unlike an electric piano or harpsichord).

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Manipulate the tuning lever in such a way as to not damage the pin or pinblock. (bonus if you hold it in a way that doesn't damage your body as well!) The goal is to influence the tuning pin to change and stabilize the tension of the speaking length of the string to the desired pitch.

Unisons are the fundamental interval to tune. All other intervals come from temperament choice and manipulating stretch to match the middle of the piano outwards to create an improvement in the sound of the piano.

The choice of methods to determine temperament and stretch will determine the best path forward. (Aural or ETD assist - then to the specifics of which particular app or tuning 'recipe' to learn.)

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How's this for a simple explanation for a DIY tuning:

1. Mute the outside strings of all the notes in an octave in the middle of the piano.
2. Tune the center strings of all the notes in that octave with a chromatic tuner (this might get you close enough for a beginner tuning).
3. Tune the outside strings of each note in that octave to the center strings.
4. Tune octaves out from the middle, trying to get pure octaves by ear, muting and tuning as above. Don't use the chromatic tuner as you move out because it will be wrong - more wrong the further out towards the high treble and low bass you go.
5. Continue as in (4) out towards the high treble and the low bass (where you won't be able to judge the octaves well, if at all).
6. Once you have tuned all the strings for all the notes, go back to (1) because all of the notes will have moved from where you put them.

Cycle through the above several times. You will eventually end up with a pretty bad tuning, but it might be acceptable if you are OK with a beginner result. The tuning will be unstable until you have learned to set the strings and the pins.

If you get a real ETD (electronic tuning device) meant for a piano, that considers inharmonicity, then the process will be a lot easier. Get an ETD that will enable you to do a pitch raise and you will save yourself a lot of frustration. It will still require a lot of practice to get a good, stable tuning.

If you want to learn how to do it all by ear, count on a couple of years of study and practice.


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Originally Posted by bobrunyan
If you get a real ETD (electronic tuning device) meant for a piano, that considers inharmonicity, then the process will be a lot easier.
If you want to learn how to do it all by ear, count on a couple of years of study and practice.

Yes, I took it for granted, but it's useful to repeat.

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Originally Posted by pold
I know there are different approaches, but I would say that when a pianist wants his piano being tuned, he expects an equal temperament, not something else. Don't you think?

I would say that ET is indeed the norm if the client doesn't specify anything else. However, I would also say that many piano players would hardly recognise, reliably, the difference between ET and a mild well temperament (or mildly unwell, for that matter). Also, there isn't a single "correct" ET. Just like treble and bass octaves, the temperament octave itself can have different amounts of stretch.

Originally Posted by pold
Another example, the digital pianos I suppose are samples recorded from a great acoustic piano which has been tuned by an expert tuner. And there is no difference between digital pianos, they are all tuned the same way, using equal temperament, and the octaves being stretched (unlike an electric piano or harpsichord).

Have you actually tested some digital pianos? Compared one type to another, in order to say that they are all tuned the same way? Or is this just an assumption of yours?

I, for one, try to test the (default) temperaments on digital pianos whenever I get an opportunity, and in several instances, I have found them to be noticeably non-ET.


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Ok I found a video that might be interesting.


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Originally Posted by Mark R.
Have you actually tested some digital pianos? Compared one type to another, in order to say that they are all tuned the same way? Or is this just an assumption of yours?

I, for one, try to test the (default) temperaments on digital pianos whenever I get an opportunity, and in several instances, I have found them to be noticeably non-ET.

I haven't tested thoroughly, but on my Kawai I like layering different pianos, and the tuning is always the same. I can tell the difference (non-stretching) only when I use the electric piano/harpsichord. On the VST I heard is the same, they use the same old method when tuning. And if there was a different tuning you would have thousands posters complaining here on the forum grin. Can you be precise and tell me which digital pianos were non-ET?

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The first thing I had the few beginners do that I tried to help, prior to any coaching was to mute the left string of a plain wire trichord (unison perfectly tuned by me, in the temperament octave so beats are more audible) then put the hammer on the right string, take it sharp slightly and listen to the beats and be certain that it’s taken sharp enough to feel the pin move and then put it back as good as it was originally. (Not concerned with pin setting, just a bestless unison)
As I watch I can make some assumptions that are reasonable about weather or not this person has what it takes to really learn how to tune.
You can try this on your own.
If you do well at this then the door is open to hundreds of things to be learned in order to develop the skills necessary.
Simple? Certainly if you really want to learn. So what if it takes a few years, if you want it it’s worth the effort.
No shortcuts that I’m aware of.


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Originally Posted by pold
Originally Posted by Mark R.
Have you actually tested some digital pianos? Compared one type to another, in order to say that they are all tuned the same way? Or is this just an assumption of yours?

I, for one, try to test the (default) temperaments on digital pianos whenever I get an opportunity, and in several instances, I have found them to be noticeably non-ET.

I haven't tested thoroughly, but on my Kawai I like layering different pianos, and the tuning is always the same. I can tell the difference (non-stretching) only when I use the electric piano/harpsichord. On the VST I heard is the same, they use the same old method when tuning. And if there was a different tuning you would have thousands posters complaining here on the forum grin. Can you be precise and tell me which digital pianos were non-ET?
I've tested loads of electronic keyboards and never found one tuned to a proper et with decent beat rates on thirds. More than that, the unisons are poor as well. I mean it, I wouldn't dare leave a piano in the state I find these keyboards.
I tested a couple today just to refresh my memory.
A good few years ago I asked two major manufacturers why this was so and at the time they both said that when they had marketed pure unison sounds players had complained that the instruments sounded too bland! So maybe all our efforts are wasted...? Or at least maybe it's the errors we leave unintentionally that players like?


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Piano tuning is the process of adjusting the tension of the strings so the resultant intervals allow free modulation from one key center to any other without altering the pitch of any note. So that both the tempering required by the Comma of Pythagoras and the string inharmonicity, (which raises the pitch of the partials from whole number multiple relationships), are best accommodated by reducing the discord in tempered intervals and allowing for some very slight, almost imperceptible beating in octave relations. This is achieved by comparing the beats between selected coincident partials of any interval in question against other intervals to assess if the proper relation between beat speeds is achieved.

Then the multiple string unisons must also be as beatless as possible. Then the stability of intonation should be such that notes do not change pitch in response to vigorous playing. Stability is the most difficult standard to meet for those learning to tune pianos.


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Originally Posted by N W
I've tested loads of electronic keyboards and … the unisons are poor as well. I mean it, I wouldn't dare leave a piano in the state I find these keyboards.
I tested a couple today just to refresh my memory.
A good few years ago I asked two major manufacturers why this was so and at the time they both said that when they had marketed pure unison sounds players had complained that the instruments sounded too bland!

I’ve noticed that about digital pianos as well. I wonder if the comparatively poor audio systems (as compared to an acoustic piano) contributes to their artificial sound if they are tuned ‘perfectly’. And that the sustain pedal sounds terribly fake probably doesn’t help (physical modelling helps a ton but still isn’t quite right). I played a high end Yamaha digital piano—$20k+, forget model #—and the action felt really good and it sounded decent, but even that didn’t give the same sound impression of an acoustic grand.

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