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Piano lost magic after first tune?

Posted By: willpianist

Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 10:50 AM

Hi all

My new Kawai GX2 seems to have lost a bit of magic in terms of its tone after receiving it's first tuning. My wife is a non player and she agrees.

The piano was set up quite well before the delivery (although a bit bright when the lid is open), but the tuning seems to make every note a bit more dull after a week.

Is this possible or was I expecting too much after reading the first tune can make the piano sound much better?

If I were to get another tech in to assess the situation, what should I ask him? I mainly play classical music.
Posted By: sfhombre

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 11:35 AM

If you bought from a dealer, why not call and get the phone number of the tech that set it up the first time?
Posted By: Maximillyan

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 12:51 PM

Originally Posted by willpianist
Hi all

My new Kawai GX2 seems to have lost a bit of magic in terms of its tone after receiving it's first tuning. My wife is a non player and she agrees.

The piano was set up quite well before the delivery (although a bit bright when the lid is open), but the tuning seems to make every note a bit more dull after a week.

Is this possible or was I expecting too much after reading the first tune can make the piano sound much better?

If I were to get another tech in to assess the situation, what should I ask him? I mainly play classical music.


yes, it's dulling sound and mading sharp point for your ears feel strait of an unison sounding. It is a need which practice many tuners always
Posted By: wouter79

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 02:00 PM

Maybe it was out of tune and you got used to it?
Then after tuning,it sounds properly less sharp which might feel as dull), less inharmonicity (also 'dull' but now in the sense of 'less rich').

Another possibility is that the tuner tuned the piano slightly different from what the shop tuned. There are several 'parameters' and choices to be made when tuning, and every tuner chooses a little different. You might check with the shop where you bought it from who tuned it
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 05:56 PM

Of course there’s also the potential for mood changes. Somedays I think my piano sounds beautiful, then other days my mind fixates on weaknesses and isn’t quite as impressed by it smile

Though, as sfhombre said, it’s worth getting out the technician who did the last tuning you liked. Regardless of competency, different tuners make different decisions which you may or may not like as much.
Posted By: Hakki

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 06:08 PM

IMO one of the advantages of tuning apps might be that the tunings are similar each time.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/17/19 06:14 PM

1) What was the environment like in the store where you bought it? High ceiling/low ceiling, carpet/no carpet, large room/small room, etc.

2) Describe the room it is in now likewise please.

3) Are you ABSOLUTELY SURE that you received THE piano that you played and liked in the store? Did you check the serial number to verify? (Substitutions do happen sad to say).

4) Are you saying that it sounded great for a week once it was moved to your house, and then immediately after tuning you feel the luster is gone? Is that an accurate description?

5) Or, are you comparing the sound in the showroom to the sound in your home...period?


The following is not meant to be critical or condescending, but "store tuners" are not widely known for great expertise (This is not a universal statement). They are often (not always) newer techs in the learning phase (but they work cheap). Also, when a tech is sent out to do the "freebie" tuning he/she is often (not always) working at a cut rate, and we all know where this leads eventually.

OTOH, if the piano was in fact masterfully tuned in your home, but was less than masterfully tuned when in the store, and it happens that your ear prefers a somewhat "lively" unison tuning, whereas the tuner in the home nailed every unison and octave dead on perfect (unlikely but possible), then in fact the piano might sound "dead" to you.


I don't know...I wasn't there. These are some possibilities.

Pwg
Posted By: willpianist

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/18/19 09:57 AM

Thanks for all your response. The technician who set up the piano (going through the Kawai Dealer prep checklist) only works in the workshop of the shop and doesn't do private tuning. The piano sounds quite nice at my place for almost 3 months before I organised the first tune using someone else, in the hope of making the piano sound even better.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/18/19 11:05 AM

Originally Posted by willpianist
My new Kawai GX2 seems to have lost a bit of magic in terms of its tone after receiving it's first tuning. My wife is a non player and she agrees.

Fascinating. I read about this happening to a past PW forum member who wrote a non-fiction book largely about her piano losing its magic after its first tuning and how she ended up solving this. See this old thread.
Posted By: daniokeeper

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/18/19 12:19 PM

Was there a change in pitch, either sharp or flat? This can also affect the sound.

Did the tuner leave any comments on the invoice?
Posted By: Hakki

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/18/19 12:28 PM

It is most probably because of the way unisons are tuned.
But it might also be due to different stretch preferences between the tuners.
Posted By: adamp88

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/18/19 12:47 PM

Will, where are you located?

There are too many variables for us to provide any sort of decent diagnosis over the internet. Temperature and humidity variations, how in tune the piano was when it was first delivered, whether the piano needed a pitch adjustment pass or not, skill of the technician, etc. We certainly don't have enough information to say that it's most likely how the unisons were tuned.

In my area (or anywhere in the midwest, really), 3 months is more than enough time for a piano to go quite noticeably out of tune. Your ears might not notice it happening, but once intervals start drifting, it can make the piano sound more... lively than a properly tuned piano - due to intervals stretching and/or compressing beyond their regular width. It is possible that having the piano freshly tuned simply quieted that liveliness. This new technician might use a less appropriate stretch on his tuning than the initial tech who tuned it prior to your purchase. It could be possible that you might prefer a piano tuned in something other than equal temperament, but again - it's hard to provide a decent diagnosis over the internet.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/18/19 02:10 PM

If this is a brand new instrument, and it was not tuned in the home for three months it would be a pretty sorry sounding thing by that time, as well as flat in pitch. From what was said, I would deduce that the OP prefers he sound of mildly out of tune. This is not unprecedented as there are some very good musicians who also like this sound over a good tight fresh tuning (which sounds "dead" to their ears, or lacks "singing" quality).

I know this is anathema to most of us piano technicians but it simply is true. I was exposed to it early in my career but it took me years to actually catch on to the phenomenon (as it is totally opposite to what my ear wants).

My advice would be to wait about a month or two and see if the "magic" comes back.

Pwg
Posted By: willpianist

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/23/19 12:30 PM

Thanks everyone. I have decided to check out a few piano technicians in about 1-2 weeks time. I am quite a serious player so unsatisfactory tune frustrates me a lot. Will report back.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/24/19 01:34 AM

Looking forward to your findings.

Pwg
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/24/19 05:10 AM

Originally Posted by willpianist
Thanks everyone. I have decided to check out a few piano technicians in about 1-2 weeks time. I am quite a serious player so unsatisfactory tune frustrates me a lot. Will report back.

If you find that you actually prefer a slightly detuned piano sound, you should ask your next piano technician up front to purposely ensure all the unisons are adjusted so you can get that sightly out-of-tune quality instead of too clean a sound.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 03/24/19 05:18 PM

You might also ask him/her BEFORE tuning: "How do You find it right now? What problem areas (if any) do you find? What is its pitch level? How are its unisons?" Ask for a demo.

Make a note of what was said.

Pwg
Posted By: willpianist

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/07/19 02:17 PM

Reporting back two weeks after the technician visit. Was told that he found some of the bass notes a bit off too, and the higher notes should have been tuned a bit sharper (more brilliance) as these notes tend to sound flat.

The tech didn't want to do any voicing to the piano because 1. The piano is too new and 2. Voicing is not reversible and my living room is not acousticly very good so I will regret doing voicing.

The piano sounds quite nice after the tuning and the tune still holds up with average 1 hour of playing time per day for the past 2 weeks.

I know my piano is not Steinway but I think the piano is now performing as good as it should be so I am happy now.

Thanks guys for your input.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/07/19 03:32 PM

Glad that you are happy, although the reasons not to ‘voice’ seem strange without knowing what kind of voicing the technician was talking about. Seems to me that the piano being new is reason to voice it, and voicing it for the acoustics of the room is also reason to voice.

But since you’re happy then maybe there’s no reason to pursue it smile
Posted By: Hakki

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/07/19 03:42 PM

Originally Posted by Hakki
It is most probably because of the way unisons are tuned.
But it might also be due to different stretch preferences between the tuners.


Will I am glad that the problem is solved by tuning as I had guessed.
This is one example showing that proper tuning is important.
Posted By: Peter K. Mose

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/07/19 04:42 PM

Will, I would have two or three recommended piano techs each tune your piano in succession over the next 4 to 6 months. Ask each of them their thoughts on voicing at the same time. Live with each of their tunings, and then decide if some voicing remains your preference.
Posted By: WhoDwaldi

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/07/19 05:07 PM

Originally Posted by willpianist


I know my piano is not Steinway but I think the piano is now performing as good as it should be so I am happy now.

Thanks guys for your input.



I thought the charm of Steinway's tone comes from a certain amount of "dirtiness" in tuning/tunability/scale? 😁
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/07/19 06:38 PM

Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Will, I would have two or three recommended piano techs each tune your piano in succession over the next 4 to 6 months. Ask each of them their thoughts on voicing at the same time. Live with each of their tunings, and then decide if some voicing remains your preference.



I respectfully disagree with this. If you like what you are hearing (for the most part) and trust the tech's judgement in the matter, it is better to stick with this person and develop a working relationship. There is some wisdom in postponing voicing work. This allows some compaction of the felt as well as "breaking in" of the action (which can then be adjusted for prior to the first voicing appt. He is advocating some patience vs instant gratification. This is usually a better MO. I think you found the right person.

Pwg
Posted By: OE1FEU

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/20/19 09:01 PM

Originally Posted by Hakki
IMO one of the advantages of tuning apps might be that the tunings are similar each time.


If that were the case, an unbalanced soundboard and bridges, loose pins, bad strings, too high and low tensions in the whole acoustic assembly at one point or another would be irrelevant as long as the pitches conform to what an ETD tells you.

You know, there's a lot more to piano tuning than just getting the correct pitch of a string.
Posted By: Lakeviewsteve

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/21/19 08:21 PM

Originally Posted by jsilva
Glad that you are happy, although the reasons not to ‘voice’ seem strange without knowing what kind of voicing the technician was talking about. Seems to me that the piano being new is reason to voice it, and voicing it for the acoustics of the room is also reason to voice.

But since you’re happy then maybe there’s no reason to pursue it smile


JSilva: What kind of voicing are you talking about?

My piano was brand new when I purchased it. I have been on tours to the factory where I saw their voicing process first hand and all the work they put into it. It can take a week to voice one piano. I have no idea why anyone would suggest voicing a piano on the first tuning because I think it would override the excellent voicing they did at the factory.

Also the op said their piano was brand new and sounded like magic when they brought it home. JSilva, are you suggesting the voicing can go bad in a few weeks? I've never heard of that.

Thank you / Steve
Posted By: Lakeviewsteve

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/21/19 08:26 PM

Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Hakki
IMO one of the advantages of tuning apps might be that the tunings are similar each time.


If that were the case, an unbalanced soundboard and bridges, loose pins, bad strings, too high and low tensions in the whole acoustic assembly at one point or another would be irrelevant as long as the pitches conform to what an ETD tells you.

You know, there's a lot more to piano tuning than just getting the correct pitch of a string.


Excellent point oe1fe2.
Posted By: Hakki

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/21/19 09:37 PM

Originally Posted by willpianist
Reporting back two weeks after the technician visit. Was told that he found some of the bass notes a bit off too, and the higher notes should have been tuned a bit sharper (more brilliance) as these notes tend to sound flat.

The tech didn't want to do any voicing to the piano because 1. The piano is too new and 2. Voicing is not reversible and my living room is not acousticly very good so I will regret doing voicing.

The piano sounds quite nice after the tuning and the tune still holds up with average 1 hour of playing time per day for the past 2 weeks.

I know my piano is not Steinway but I think the piano is now performing as good as it should be so I am happy now.

Thanks guys for your input.



So it was just the tuning. This thread was about a brand new Kawai GX-2 that lost magic after first tune and regained it after another tuner tuned it again.
Posted By: kpembrook

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/22/19 03:27 AM

Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve


My piano was brand new when I purchased it. I have been on tours to the factory where I saw their voicing process first hand and all the work they put into it. It can take a week to voice one piano. I have no idea why anyone would suggest voicing a piano on the first tuning because I think it would override the excellent voicing they did at the factory.

Also the op said their piano was brand new and sounded like magic when they brought it home. JSilva, are you suggesting the voicing can go bad in a few weeks? I've never heard of that.

Thank you / Steve


Yes, voicing is like tuning or regulating -- both of which change over time and may not be done to the highest level at the factory. In my experience, new pianos are commonly neither regulated nor voiced to their optimum capability.
Reasons that a new piano may need voicing shortly after delivery include:

* piano received a "generic" voicing in the factory resulting in generally acceptable sound but not meeting a particular individual's preferences
* voicing continues to change with usage. If the factory didn't have an extensive "pounding in" facility, the first 30 hours or so of usage can result in dramatic changes to voicing.
*If the factory made liberal use of stiffeners in a "voicing up" approach, the material can continue to harden for months and longer with the result that a formerly middle-of the road or mellow voicing can become quite harsh and bright.

As an aside, a week of voicing is indicative of problem hammers. As a former prominent S&S factory technician once said: " Voicing means bad hammers". Good hammers should not require days and weeks of voicing.
Posted By: willpianist

Re: Piano lost magic after first tune? - 04/24/19 11:26 PM

I agree one should not try to undo the sound of a new piano, especially if the piano is expertly voiced to bring out the characteristic sound of that brand at the factory.

My piano is a Kawai regular thought so I am not sure how complete is the factory voicing. Kawai Australia requires dealers to go through the checklist before sending their pianos out, but not sure whether specific instructions are given about voicing. pre delivery checklist I heard rumours from a few tuners here that dealers don't really do much to their pianos, therefore I expect I will need to get a tech myself.

I suspect some work has been done on my piano before delivery, as there are carbon print marks on the hammer. I understand this is to do with a tech making sure all strings are strikes equally.

And back to the original topic my piano still sounds quite nice after a month.

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