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Estonia Pianos
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Originally Posted by Scott Cole, RPT
"So I expect every nuance of clicks, bings, rattles, etc etc - whatever you want to call them, should be
eliminated and tuning needs to be exact."

Just a word of advice:
Be careful not to drive away your technician. While I attempt to hold myself to a high standard, customers who demand an unrealistic degree of sonic perfection from their piano can be a technician's nightmare. Especially for an old and/or inexpensive or poorly rebuilt piano.

I have one customer that I have fired, and at least two more that are asking for it. In the first case, the piano is an old Mason and Hamlin that has an terrible amount of string path friction, including the agraffes. I've suggested he needs to get it restrung, and in fact, several other technicians have said the same thing. But he waffles and wavers, and the piano is practically untunable.

The other customer has a very nice German piano which is also very difficult to tune due to friction. But worse, the customer is a beginner who can only hear and obsess about any little fault, whether false beat or unison. So he lingers over my shoulder while I'm tuning it. I don't think he can really actually play it.

Customer #3 has an old, cheap grand with lots of funky noises. I've tried string leveling, but there is still noise that bothers her.

Recently, I struggled with a Steinway B at a church. It had been restrung, but with overly tight pins. I simply could not get the locked-in unisons that I want. The same applies to every Steinway vertical that I've tuned.

In fact, I would say that very few pianos are capable of absolute concert-level tuning and tone. People who have to have this and can't tolerate the minute imperfections of the typical piano are often better served with the sterile, "perfect" sound of a digital keyboard.

I always try to go out of my way to do my best for my customers, but sometimes enough is enough.


Made me giggle, in the sense of reminding me of reasons to be happy to retired.

The absolute worst clients were those who thought that false beats were a fiction I made up as an excuse for impure unisons.

THERE ARE EVEN CONCERT PIANISTS WHO DON'T/CAN'T/WON'T GRASP WHAT FALSENESS IS AND EXPECT THE LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

"NO, THAT UNISON ***IS*** CLEAN, THAT'S A FALSE BEAT"

(suspicious look, like I'm just flat out lying)

AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH

(sorry i yelled lol)

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I will try in the future to give a happy medium. LOL


1961-1964: Lester or Emerson Upright
1969-1992: Westbrook Spinet
1991-2021: Schomacker Model A (1912) "Schoowie"
2021-Present: Steinway Model A (1912) "Amalia"

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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by RobAC
Actually I'm primarily a choral conductor. I work both with children in an intensive choral program and with professional adults. When singing with organ (or piano in rehearsal) we have to adapt to ET, but we aim for much closer to just intonation in unaccompanied music. I'm also an organist; I do not like ET but have resigned myself, more or less, to the fact that it's a reality of my life.
The nice thing with ET is you can let your singers warble all over the place and it won't sound any worse than the ET M3s. wink

I say this in jest only. I tune my piano mostly in a nice stretched ET.

I once did a DFFT analysis of a King's Singers disc from the 1960s. Exquisite tuning, pure harmonics and false sub-harmonics. Wonderful sound. They sang in ET, almost perfectly when I checked interval widths. I was amazed that my ears/brain thought they were singing in just intonation. I think the answer is that the voice produces true harmonics with the resulting purity of pitch congruence, unlike the piano which has to fight with inharmonicity, making the tuner's job challenging, to say the least.
Fascinating about the King's Singers. They of course had their origins at King's College Cambridge, when David Willocks was Director of Music there, from the 60s to mid 70s. And I recall an interview with him where he expressed some mild regret for aiming for higher 3rds, in an effort to avoid the flatness still very common in British choirs of those days.


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We have tried a few technicians who lacked attention to detail and had to immediately fire them, in some cases along with a few strong words.

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One of the things that I enjoy when getting my piano tuned every 6 months is I get 2 to 2 1/2 hours to discuss my piano (no secret here, my favorite subject) and piano stories (second favorite topic). My last two technicians always had stories about extremely demanding pianists as clients. It’s a professional’s badge of honor.

I think my technician enjoys tuning the Estonia because he thinks it’s a beautiful piano when it’s freshly tuned. He is a pianist himself, so I enjoy listening to him play as he checks the balance of the tuning and action.

My musical ear has improved immensely since taking classes, but I still don’t have the sensitivity to do anything other than completely ruin any piano I would try to tune. I’m somewhat OCD about things like my insulin pump but then I have to be. I’ve always used piano technicians with years of experience so I just make an appointment when they think it will need tuning. I do check the tune every time I sit down so I can see how it’s changing.


J & J
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Originally Posted by j&j
I’m somewhat OCD about things like my insulin pump but then I have to be.
That's the thing though. It's not OCD to be extremely attentive to the functioning and dosing of an insulin pump. Your health and longevity depends on getting it right. Likewise being very fussy about piano tuning is usually not OCD. Even being obsessive about some things does not equate to having OCD. OCD is a term thrown around too casually, in my opinion. The vast majority of people who say they are OCD about this or that are actually not. OCD is a clinical diagnosis in which a person's life is significantly impacted by their obsessive thoughts - thoughts which drive one to commit compulsive actions to manage the anxiety.

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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by j&j
I’m somewhat OCD about things like my insulin pump but then I have to be.
That's the thing though. It's not OCD to be extremely attentive to the functioning and dosing of an insulin pump. Your health and longevity depends on getting it right. Likewise being very fussy about piano tuning is usually not OCD. Even being obsessive about some things does not equate to having OCD. OCD is a term thrown around too casually, in my opinion. The vast majority of people who say they are OCD about this or that are actually not. OCD is a clinical diagnosis in which a person's life is significantly impacted by their obsessive thoughts - thoughts which drive one to commit compulsive actions to manage the anxiety.
I agree with you, and as I mentioned in my opening post, I actually have a clinical diagnosis of OCD and manage the condition with meds and therapy, as I have for many years.


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Originally Posted by j&j
One of the things that I enjoy when getting my piano tuned every 6 months is I get 2 to 2 1/2 hours to discuss my piano (no secret here, my favorite subject) and piano stories (second favorite topic). My last two technicians always had stories about extremely demanding pianists as clients. It’s a professional’s badge of honor.

I think my technician enjoys tuning the Estonia because he thinks it’s a beautiful piano when it’s freshly tuned. He is a pianist himself, so I enjoy listening to him play as he checks the balance of the tuning and action.

My musical ear has improved immensely since taking classes, but I still don’t have the sensitivity to do anything other than completely ruin any piano I would try to tune. I’m somewhat OCD about things like my insulin pump but then I have to be. I’ve always used piano technicians with years of experience so I just make an appointment when they think it will need tuning. I do check the tune every time I sit down so I can see how it’s changing.
Sometimes I am a little envious of those who have ears not quite so sensitive to intonation. It makes me good at my job, but also can be a great liability.


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Originally Posted by RobAC
Originally Posted by j&j
One of the things that I enjoy when getting my piano tuned every 6 months is I get 2 to 2 1/2 hours to discuss my piano (no secret here, my favorite subject) and piano stories (second favorite topic). My last two technicians always had stories about extremely demanding pianists as clients. It’s a professional’s badge of honor.

I think my technician enjoys tuning the Estonia because he thinks it’s a beautiful piano when it’s freshly tuned. He is a pianist himself, so I enjoy listening to him play as he checks the balance of the tuning and action.

My musical ear has improved immensely since taking classes, but I still don’t have the sensitivity to do anything other than completely ruin any piano I would try to tune. I’m somewhat OCD about things like my insulin pump but then I have to be. I’ve always used piano technicians with years of experience so I just make an appointment when they think it will need tuning. I do check the tune every time I sit down so I can see how it’s changing.
Sometimes I am a little envious of those who have ears not quite so sensitive to intonation. It makes me good at my job, but also can be a great liability.


Yes, I imagine that could be a liability for listening to your kids learning piano or violin. If I had your hearing I’d be continually frustrated the last month or so before the next tuning.


I know I’m not diagnosed with OCD, but the medication I take for neuropathy is normally prescribed for anxiety so I have experienced similar symptoms to OCD.


J & J
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I am thoroughly enjoying this thread. It is normalizing my experience. I have been a musician (bass, cell) my entire life but am a beginner on piano. I intend to get my piano tuned 3 or 4 times a year as I feel particularly sensitive to tuning. I have a very thorough tech who regulated and tuned my piano and have already had him back once for adjustments. I am going to leave him alone for a couple of months before I bother him again smile

For me, there is nothing like the thrill of playing a well tuned piano!


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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
Oh My God
I was just thinking this exact conversation over the last week.

I feel this way:
I am holding my Steinway Model A II to a higher standard than my previous piano.
So I expect every nuance of clicks, bings, rattles, etc etc - whatever you want to call them, should be
eliminated and tuning needs to be exact.

Hence, he has said he did not hear some things I have heard (which actually makes me a little worried/uncomfortable)
BTW - my tech/tuner is a very reliable technician & artist.

But was thinking this same thing after this week's 3 month tuning!

brdwyguy

I de-tune my digital and widen the unisons to make it more acoustic sounding . . . smile I can't manage a squeak on the pedal though. . .


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