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Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647880
01/14/09 12:40 PM
01/14/09 12:40 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,031
Chicagoland
RonTuner Offline
2000 Post Club Member
RonTuner  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,031
Chicagoland
Quote
Originally posted by LarryFine:

There is little doubt the Korg or similar device could be used for tuning a piano. The only issue is whether the frequency detector algorithm in the Korg is good enough.
Yes, and you COULD use a yardstick with only 1/4" markings to make a cabinet...(Where each 1/4" marking is only accurate to +/- 1/16") it just isn't the appropriate tool for the job, where you may need to measure to the 1/16th, or 1/32 of an inch. Even if you estimate based on the markings, you can't really be sure of the location of those markings.

There are not only frequency detector, but display resolution issues to deal with.

That being said, I DID start out tuning with the first generation Korg... the best way to deal with the stretch issue is to tune an Eb-Eb temperament - A is in the middle right at 440hz. The + or - stretch needed to make the Eb octave in tune will probably be too small for the resolution of the Korg. Check the octave and see if you can improve it by making the top a bit higher and/or the bottom note a bit lower. If it is measurable, then try to spread that measurable amount over the 1/2 octave from the middle A.

What I found time and time again when trying the LED meters was that I could move one note of the octave, hear a difference (better) between the two notes, but the meter didn't show any movement of the note I just changed...

As you expand out from the middle, it is important to keep referencing back to the temperament octave to attempt to make the upper and lower parts of the piano relate to each other, not just to the note an octave away...

Korg used to make the MT-1200 that was JUST within the requirements to set a decent temperament... In addition to a "real" needle, there was a setting to change the range of the meter - instead of +/- 50 cents, the meter could read +/- 25 cents, giving a much tighter resolution. Maybe that Korg could still be found on the used market.

Ron Koval

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Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647881
01/14/09 02:46 PM
01/14/09 02:46 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Much of the advice here is confusing. One guy says I must be within 1/10 of a cent on the base octave so I should through the Korg away. There is far more than a 1/10 cent difference between attack and decay. How would anyone ever get it right? Another says its only 1/3 cent.

One of Bremmer's papers says you only have to be within 1 cent on the PTG exam and nobody takes the exam.

Two guys say I need to stretch the base octave. Really? Ok I don't know how to do that. How may tuners really do that?


Everyone that understands how to tune; everyone that can hear the beats in tuning, stretches both the treble and the bass. This way, striking double and triple octaves, they will all be in tune. This is not something that is attainable or expected as a beginner. In fact, it is impossible to hear the fine tunings for 99% of all beginners.

Those that explain that it can be close enough, are wrong. It is either right, or it is wrong. Close enough only means, they can't hear it to get it any closer.

As for taking the exam. Many people take the tuning exam. Most pass.

Bill B is a head tuning examiner for the PTG which is very highly respected organization. Bill B is also very well respected. If anyone knows the exact allowances of tuning for the PTG exam, he does.


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647882
01/14/09 03:10 PM
01/14/09 03:10 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 252
Billings, MT
J
John Dutton Offline
Full Member
John Dutton  Offline
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J

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 252
Billings, MT
Quote
Originally posted by LarryFine:
How may tuners really do that?
All of them. Folks are trying to be nice but in the end you don't even know what you don't know. Worse, and fatal, is that you refuse to listen to the experts when we try to encourage you and feed you baby steps. Since you obviously already know everything you need to know then hang out your shingle.

Or you are a sock puppet.

suit on. :t:


Piano Technician
Pro horn player
Recording Engineer
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647883
01/17/09 01:31 PM
01/17/09 01:31 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 24
T
TheFakeLarryFine Offline OP
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TheFakeLarryFine  Offline OP
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T

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 24
I started this thread hoping to get some friendly advice on how to improve the very basic tuning technique as described on the web page. I have gotten some of that. Maybe I should have realized, however, the discussion might drift into whether a $20 device could compete with a skill taking many years of experience to perfect. That is not really the issue I wanted to get into.

I still have a question on how much stretch is needed on the base octave. One guy says it is 2-3 cents. But according to the Railsback curve at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_acoustics

the base octave stretch is very small. If I am understanding the curve correctly, there is around 3 cents stretch over the octaves one octave about or below the base octave but virtually none on the base octave.

Some tuners have asked whether I believe my own tune is good enough for me. The short answer is yes. It has been suggested I should compare my tune to a recording of a grand piano. There is little doubt that would sound better. My piano is not a 9 foot Boozendoofer which just received 8 hours of professional service. As a DIY tuner I an not going for that. I am trying to get it to sound acceptable after it has sat without tuning for 3 years.

I agreed I might record my piano for others to evaluate. I might still do that at some point. But after being scolded and having my hand slapper for thinking of doing the tune myself I am having second thought.

Very few people post examples of their playing at Member Recordings. Far more people should. Tuners could post recordings of their tunes as well. It might humble some of the heat on the site.

For the most part I thank you for your responses.

------------------------------------

Not the real Larry Fine.


Not that Larry Fine.
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Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647884
01/17/09 03:25 PM
01/17/09 03:25 PM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,011
H
Horwinkle Offline
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Horwinkle  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,011
I see things a bit differently.

Tuning takes skill. If you want to DIY, then you need to get REALLY good to produce acceptable results.

The pros can do that. It's really hard to come close without that skill.

A tuning that is "close" isn't really close at all ... it's terrible. Tuning just a "little bit off" doesn't produce sound that's a "little bit off". It produces horror.

Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647885
01/17/09 03:53 PM
01/17/09 03:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
C
charleslang Offline
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Was there really a time when pianists often tuned their own pianos? If so, did they often do a substandard job, or was anything different? Was tuning taught as part of piano lessons? I imagine that if tuning were part of piano lessons, the perception that it is out of reach for an amateur would not be so widespread.

It seems there are two extremes in views on amateur tuning. Either folks expect it to be as easy as tuning a guitar, or they think of it as something completely unreachable even for a talented do-it-yourselfer. It's got to be somewhere in between, right?

As far as I understand it, if you stretch the temperament octave the right amount, and then you get a feeling for how a minor third, major third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh are supposed to sound, you can produce very good results by combining and testing these intervals in various ways on each note, and by moving up and down the scale in these intervals.

I'm not ready to do a full tuning but in playing around I've found that sometimes if I feel like I have an octave right for a particular note, and I play a few pieces, I realize that the sixth involving that note does not sound right. Then I play around with the sixths in conjunction with the octave and other intervals until there is a compromise that sounds right.

By 'sound right' of course I mean that you learn to recognize the necessary beats and beating speeds.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647886
01/17/09 03:56 PM
01/17/09 03:56 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Supply  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Why are professional piano technicians even entering into a discussion with a chain jerker who wants to talk about

"how much stretch is needed on the base octave" ???

This thread belongs in one of the cheesy piano chat forums where DIYs argue amongst each other, no?

Never mind the whole name imposter question....

Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647887
01/17/09 04:03 PM
01/17/09 04:03 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
C
charleslang Offline
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Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
Base is of course not 'bass'. I mean the temperament octave.

You tell me why they're entering into the discussion.

I don't appreciate you calling me a chain jerker.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647888
01/17/09 04:23 PM
01/17/09 04:23 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
C
charleslang Offline
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Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
For those of you who are interested in discussing the question of how musicians can tune their own instruments: what is the situation with players of hammer dulcimers? It seems that they tune on their own and they have up to three octaves with at least two strings per note. Is a stretch required for three octaves?

Here is a tutorial that does not mention octave stretching, but does say that a performance tuning 'requires a bit of technique' in order to 'tune the instrument to itself':

http://www.ardiesdulcimers.com/html/hammereddulcimertuning.htm


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647889
01/17/09 04:36 PM
01/17/09 04:36 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Supply  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Who is calling Charleslang a chain jerker? I am talking about the thread initiator.

Most instruments are tuned by their players. Notable exceptions are pianos and organs. There are other forums for discussing the nuances of tuning harpsichords, clavichords, dulcimers, banjos and auto harps etc. I suggest taking those discussions there. It has very, very little to do with the realities of properly tuning pianos.

Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647890
01/17/09 05:30 PM
01/17/09 05:30 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
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charleslang Offline
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charleslang  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,201
Sorry, that was my bad. I should have read my own post again. Talking about the temperament octave as the 'base' octave sounded like something I might have written. shocked

I really do appreciate the input from professionals on this board so I don't at all want to give the impression that I don't. smile

I think anyone who is a professional in a field gets annoyed when lay people use technically inaccurate terms, and especially when they undervalue the work one has put into that field.

I think that anyone getting involved as an amateur in piano tuning needs to appreciate that they are doing it in the same way an amateur might design their own house (or some other project usually left to professionals for good reason). Occasionally a gifted amateur designs a good house, but most do not. The ones that do design good houses have spent a great amount of time and effort learning all about how to do it.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647891
01/17/09 07:07 PM
01/17/09 07:07 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 24
T
TheFakeLarryFine Offline OP
Full Member
TheFakeLarryFine  Offline OP
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T

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 24
No doubt, the best way to deal with a mere "chain jerker" is to ignore them.


----------------------------------

Not the real Larry Fine.


Not that Larry Fine.
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647892
01/17/09 08:27 PM
01/17/09 08:27 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Well the Neanderthals seemed to have made a pretty good instrument in this photo, but they didn’t seem to be very good at building houses……

http://picasaweb.google.com/silverwoodpianos/PianoOrigins?authkey=I8giAK3OWpA#5292421973720560466

not getting too much done in the shop today……………….

www.silverwoodpianos.com


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647893
01/24/09 04:18 PM
01/24/09 04:18 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 24
T
TheFakeLarryFine Offline OP
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In my previous remarks I misunderstood the definition of a cent. I realize now that it is 1/100 of a semitone, much smaller than I had understood.

In the wikipedia article on the cent

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_music
(link may not work)

is suggests that a ordinary person can hear a difference in pitch of 25 cents and the threshold of what a human can discern is 5-6 cents.

This makes me wonder even more on how accurate a tuning needs to be. Does a 2-3 cent stretch on the temperament octave matter? How does a tuner achieve 1 cent accuracy if the limit on human ability is 5 cents?

I would like to thank Robert Scott, author of TuneLab, and others for their response. I did not realize I was getting this kind or response.


Not that Larry Fine.
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647894
01/24/09 04:41 PM
01/24/09 04:41 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
As an aspiring tech...just how accurate can we expect a piano to be "in tune" when just changing the temperature of a tuning fork by wrapping your hands around it can change it's frequency by 3-4 cents. just how long can one expect a piano to stay "in tune" when almost everyone dials their thermostats back and forth everyday. confused


Les Koltvedt
Servicing the Greater Atlanta Area.
www.well-lovedpiano.com/atlanta-piano-technicians/
PTG Associate
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647895
01/24/09 05:33 PM
01/24/09 05:33 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 339
Minnesota
R
Robert Scott Offline
Full Member
Robert Scott  Offline
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R

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 339
Minnesota
Quote
Originally posted by TheFakeLarryFine:
...wikipedia article...suggests that a ordinary person can hear a difference in pitch of 25 cents and the threshold of what a human can discern is 5-6 cents....This makes me wonder even more on how accurate a tuning needs to be. Does a 2-3 cent stretch on the temperament octave matter? How does a tuner achieve 1 cent accuracy if the limit on human ability is 5 cents?...
The ability to discern pitch depends on context. If you have not heard any music for a long time, and then you hear a single tone, your ability to discern the pitch of that tone will be very different from the case where you have just heard a reference tone, or related tone. Good singers can listen to a tone just before they go out on stage and keep that tone in their heads. Then, a few minutes later, they can all start singing on pitch without any instrumental accompaniment. The closer together in time two tones are the more accurately you can compare their pitch.

However there is more than pitch comparison going on here. When a piano is badly out of tune, people know it, not just because of the pitch error, but because of the beats. That is why we need a 2-3 cent stretch in the temperament octave. Not to make the pitch sound "right", but to stop the beating. And that takes better than 1 cent precision.


Robert Scott
Hopkins, Minnesota
http://www.tunelab-world.com
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647896
01/24/09 07:33 PM
01/24/09 07:33 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,220
Olympia, WA
rysowers Offline
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rysowers  Offline
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Olympia, WA
Well put, Mr Scott!


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647897
01/24/09 08:19 PM
01/24/09 08:19 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 252
Billings, MT
J
John Dutton Offline
Full Member
John Dutton  Offline
Full Member
J

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 252
Billings, MT
Quote
Originally posted by TheFakeLarryFine:
In the wikipedia article on the cent

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_music
(link may not work)

is suggests that a ordinary person can hear a difference in pitch of 25 cents and the threshold of what a human can discern is 5-6 cents
"It is difficult to establish how many cents are perceptible to humans"

This is the key quote from this article. It is important to remember that Wikipedia is not necessarily a reference upon which to rely. Sometimes the information is accurate and sometimes it only seems accurate. I do not think one can infer anything regarding what a human can perceive from this article. It is not a scientific article.

Additionally, there is the ability to perceive and the ability to reproduce. I know folks who can hear when a pitch is off from another but could not match that pitch on an instrument or voice. These are not professional musicians. Amateur musicians perhaps can match a pitch but take a significant amount of time to do so. A professional musician matches pitch fairly instantaneously. These skills can be refined within the potential of the individual.

A Korg tuner falls into the category of not being able to match a pitch. It just isn't good enough. To tune at an acceptable level one must be able to hear beats and then resolve those beats with a tuning hammer.

Once one learns to hear beats properly, then debating how many cents to stretch the temperament octave becomes an academic matter and/or personal preference.


Piano Technician
Pro horn player
Recording Engineer
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647898
01/24/09 08:37 PM
01/24/09 08:37 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
How close (in cents) can a unison on a piano be, and still be out of tune, to the ear of a well-trained RPT? (For example, assuming there's no false beats in the 2 strings being compared, adjust one so it's just ever so slightly off so you barely notice it, then use your ETD to find out how far off it is. I'd venture to guess that many techs here could hear a unison being out that's still better than within 0.1 cent.


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
Re: Piano Tuning: Deceptively Simple #647899
01/24/09 09:23 PM
01/24/09 09:23 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,016
Madison, WI USA
B
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,016
Madison, WI USA
Larry, as one very wise novice put it, "You don't know what you don't know". I'll say it again and mean it sincerely, a Korg type device is NOT adequate for tuning a piano! No ifs, ands or buts! If you must prove it to yourself the hard way, then go ahead and do it but don't try to justify it to us, we know better!

I only wish you could read the December article in the Piano Technicians Journal that explains in very basic terms how one of the modern Electronic Tuning Devices (ETD) calculates a tuning for the piano. If you could see the math involved, you might better understand what we're all trying to tell you. Basically, you'll end up with a piano that sounds like a calliope, not a piano.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
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