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I'm using TuneLab
#613033 01/28/07 04:38 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 574
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I've just started using TuneLab (free version) and tuned my piano with it the other day. It needed it badly (after months of sporadic and frustrating aural tuning practice) and is vastly improved and more pleasurable to play again. (Yes, I do use aural checks.)

It was interesting to notice, several times, that as I dropped the pitch down to set the string, it would continue dropping after I stopped. I have been working hard on my hammer technique, essentially practising nothing but unison tuning for the past several weeks, to try to get them to hold better. I've also tried the Fujan hammer and hope to get one when I can afford it, because it is clearly much better than my student hammer!!

I had a lot of trouble with the high treble and it seemed to take forever. I followed Robert's advice and didn't leave it til the end when I'd be more tired. One problem is muting; I guess with practice I'll be able to do it without mutes by using the spectrum display but found it confusing the first time, and the spring came off my Papps mute and got lost, making it unusable... woe is me.

Any further advice gratefully received.


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
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Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613034 01/28/07 05:07 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
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I cannot give advice about TuneLab, since I do not use such a thing, but I can address your other problems.

When setting pins, you should go just a bit over pitch, and then a light twist down, to take out the twist that you put in the pin going up. You should get so you can feel these things. Sometimes if the note is very flat, it is good to go above pitch, then slightly below, before the final set. You also need to hit notes especially hard or fast. My fingernails are always a mess! It goes with the job.

You need a good tuning hammer. A good extension hammer, not for the extension, but for the rigidity of the shaft, is a must. A plastic handle is fine if you want to save money. You cannot feel the pins properly if the shaft is bending.

I use a muting strip in the center of the piano, and then rubber wedges everywhere else. For grands I use 3/8" wide wedges, which I also use with handles (skewers used for holding turkeys together when roasting from the grocery store) in the bass on uprights. For the treble of uprights, I use 1/8" wide wedges with handles.

I set the temperament, tune upward to the top, and down to the bass. When I run out of temperament strip, I use wedges and tune all three (or however many) strings before going to the next note. I finish by tuning the side notes where the temperament strip is.

The extreme ends of the piano's range are always a challenge. Eventually you get a feel for them. Sometimes it helps to check individual strings in the top by plucking them with a plucking stick. Carve the tip of a hammer shank to a wedge, and sort of round it off so you do not always break off the corner. This will enable you to pick each string lightly so you can compare them and see whether one is sharp or flat.


Semipro Tech
Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613035 01/28/07 06:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
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Anne, I agree with BDB, you need to get a good tuning hammer. I'm still rookie enough that I remember exactly what you're going through and a good hammer will make a world of difference - promise. Buy the best one that you can afford for now, you can always upgrade to the Fujan later.

An EDT is an excellent tool to help you understand and not only hear, but also see what you're listening to. It also helps to diagnose false beats and other voicing issues. Try not to fall into the trap of relying on it too much and neglect your aural skills, it's hard to go back (I'm guilty as charged).

What course are you taking? You're address says Toronto, are you maybe going to U of Western in London, or a correspondence course? If you're taking a correspondence course, I highly recommend you get a mentor if you don't already have one.

Hope this helps.
Norma


Piano Tuner/Technician
Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613036 01/28/07 07:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
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A string will sound sharper just as you hit it, then gradually flatten in pitch as the tone decays a bit. You can see this on the tunelab display. I try to let the string ring, and set the pitch where it flattens a bit and stays stable, rather than setting the pitch at the strike. It takes a bit longer this way, but the pitch seems to be measured more accurately from note to note. Also, I use multiple test blows to flatten the string till it stops moving. If I knock the string flat, I'll pull it up and do more test blows till it holds. The result is a solidly set string, right at pitch.



Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613037 01/28/07 08:07 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
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Dear Anne, BDB said it best but here's my spin on what I believe to be the most difficult pin setting situation, i.e. new or newly restrung pianos.

If I focus on twisting the base of the tuning pin into what I think will be it’s final resting position when the string is in tune, the top of the pin will be right of center and the pitch of the string will be higher than where it should be. Lets say the top of the pin is at 1:00 o'clock, the base of the pin is at 12:00. (exagerated for sake of clarity)

I will then turn (wiggle) the top of the pin back and forth between 11:00 and 1:00 a couple of times without moving the base of the pin, taking the pitch flat and sharp of where it should be while firmly playing the key to equalize the pressure over the full length of the string.

I then leave the top of the pin in the center of this arc both by ear and feel, which should be 12:00 o'clock. If I guessed the position of the base of the pin correctly the first time, the twist is nolonger in the pin, and the pitch becomes correct as I ever so slightly tip the pin towards the pull of the string while firmly playing the note. You could call it a minuscule biasing of the pin towards the direction of the pull of the string, which naturally occurs over time.

This same approach works to a certain degree on older pianos but the base of the pin is more apt to move as you explore the swing of the arc.


Piano Sales, Piano Technician, "Tuning pianos for a song"
Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613038 01/29/07 11:01 AM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 574
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Thanks all, for your advice. Bob, I have noticed what you describe, but wasn't sure if it was ok to leave the string where the attack seems a bit sharp. I'll try that next time. (In playing I've noticed my whole treble range seems to have dropped somewhat, though I haven't tested it with TL yet.)

Norma, I'm taking the Potter course and have a mentor in a rebuilding shop where I've been working two days a week for almost a year. Over the summer tuning took a back seat, unfortunately, and at a certain point my mentor convinced me that I could not expect to be tuning strictly aurally for clients anytime soon with the limited time I have available for practice. Hence TuneLab.

BDB, I wasn't aware that stick mutes came in that narrower width you describe. I will invest in some of those.

Thanks again,
Anne


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613039 01/29/07 11:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 252
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Some further thoughts on tuning hammer technique. First, most beginning tuners pound the keys to help set the tuning pins. Hitting the note really hard will always cause the initial articulation to be slightly askew. Second, the condition of the hammer felt (grooves, uneven wear, moth damage, really old, soft) affects directly the sound quality of the note and the initial articulation as well. Thirdly, an ETD like Tunelab when used conscientiously does not stop your aural skills from developing. Use it to help train your ear to know the difference between too much stretch or not enough stretch. An ETD can also help your tuning hammer technique in that it will register very quickly if the pitch is stable indicating the pin is set at the base and not torqued.

How stable pitch is when you leave a piano is completely dependent on that piano and its environment. Steinway did a test once where they put a bunch of pianos in a temperature and humidity controlled room. The longest they could get a piano to remain in 'perfect' tune was 12 days-and that was without anyone playing it.

Always continue to develop your aural skills. ETD's are great but they are best when using our ears as the final arbiter. In the end, it is the quality of sound that is important and contributes to musical effect.


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Re: I'm using TuneLab
#613040 01/29/07 03:52 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 78
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Quote
Originally posted by John Dutton:


Steinway did a test once where they put a bunch of pianos in a temperature and humidity controlled room. The longest they could get a piano to remain in 'perfect' tune was 12 days-and that was without anyone playing it.

John, thanks for sharing this.

Dave


Piano Sales, Piano Technician, "Tuning pianos for a song"

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