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EBVT Tuning

Posted By: William_dup1

EBVT Tuning - 09/02/02 04:43 PM

Bill Bremmer, I just took a look at your website. It a nicely designed site on quite an interesting topic. Excuse me if Iím going to sound a little stupid, but Iím no piano tech so I might or might not have any idea what the heck Iím talking about. Most techs tune equal temperament right? And the standard pitch is A440. Now if Iím not mistaken, A440 means the A above middle C vibrates at 440 cycles a second. Now I didnít understand most of the stuff on your website but the EBVT makes the notes vibrate at different sections (cycles?) on different parts of the piano? This is quite an interesting tuning technique. And thanks for the recommendation of the tech in NJ who does the EBVT tuning thing.
Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: EBVT Tuning - 09/02/02 07:20 PM

Thanks for your interest and by the way, my name is William too, it's just that in business, "Bill Bremmer" seems to stick. When I'm listed as a performer in a program, I'm usually called by my rightful name, William.

I'm really glad to read about you and your Steinway D. Just toss off all that crap that developed on a tangent. You're buying the piano the right way and there's nothing to be ashamed of.

One thing I would recommend, however, is that you get a full and complete Humidity Control System installed in it. For a piano of that size, it will probably cost at least $600 if not more and take a technician a half day alone to install it well, securely and properly. There is nothing you could do better for the instrument than that.

New York has a climate which goes from one extreme to the other each year, the proverbial, "too hot in summer, too cold in winter", except that as far as the piano is concerned the temperature is not what affects it so badly, it is the Relative Humidity. It gets very humid in summer and very dry in an inside, heated environment in winter. The New York Steinway can handle that to a point but if you want to *protect* your very valuable instrument from the cumulative effects of these cycles over the years, a humidity control system will do the job.

What's more, your piano cannot possibly stay in tune through these cycles. As a piano technician, I am very sensitive to my own piano's tuning. Without a humidity control system, I'd be very frustrated with it just about all of the time.

Now, as for the way I tune. Understanding the difference in what I do will be a long process just like learning to play music and understanding all the conflicting opinions you'll read about your piano purchase and which piano is the best, etc. The truth is that piano tuning is both an art and a science just as is piano building. The Steinway piano continues to be built the way they do it because their practices have worked for them as a company.

There are any number of people who have opinions about how the Steinway might be better made. I have my own. I have rebuilt pianos in the past and thought that the exact gauge of strings that Steinway uses is not ideal and many others think that too. So, when I rebuilt the Steinways I did, I always "rescaled" them and was always pleased with the results. But Steinway will never take the advice of any one technician or rebuilder about how it could improve its pianos. I've been told that by Steinway company people more than once and about more than one topic. They get unsolicited advice every day and never heed a word of it. Never have, never will. What they say is that they respond to the desires and opinions of piano artists (very few if any of whom could offer any technical information, only subjective comments).

The Steinway factory and Steinway Hall train its tuners to tune by ear and to try to tune as smooth and equally tempered scale as possible. They shun the use of Electronic Tuning Devices (ETD). They do have printed instructions but will always say that to become a good tuner, it just takes lots of practice, which is quite true. Tuning by ear and trying to please all of its customers individually, however, means that each tuning has its own individual qualities, usually quite excellent but sometimes mediocre, even poor in some unfortunate cases, just like their pianos themselves.

So, not all tunings by Steinway technicians will always fit a firm description or stand up to electronic scrutiny. In fact, most would never allow their tunings to be electronically documented nor scrutinized. They are what they are, hopelly superior and musically excellent but not necessarily consistent. Again, just like their pianos, themselves.

There is a lot of controversy about the art of tuning these days. I've been at it a very long time and have studied and practiced many diverse ideas. It takes a well rounded body of knowledge and skills for a person to be able to create his own set of standards. I'm at the point of my life and career (will be age 50 next week) where I claim the right and really the responsibility to set the state of the art in piano tuning practices.

The difference in what I would offer and what one of the local Steinway techs would do is, in the end, very small and very subtle. Most people who hear my work in public don't recognize what that difference is but always confirm that the "piano sounds great!". Good, sensitive pianists however, who experience one of my tunings for the first time are often in ecstasy over it. It's all a matter of perception just as being able to recognize truly great musicianship and performance over the mediocre. Many people couldn't but among the ones who can, there is a lot of positive emotion which comes forth.

I recommended Sylvester Sammartine RPT because he is quite a unique individual who has an understanding of what I do. But still, he is not me and I am not him. He is local however and I suggest that you give him a try. If, after you have your piano, have got it properly settled and climatized and would like a unique, state of the art tuning, I would be interested in coming to New York to tune your piano. I can even create a custom, electronic program that another good technician could use to duplicate exactly what I did. The cost of having me travel to do this would seem to me to not be very significant to a person of your taste and means.

There has been a lot of interest in my writing recently and so I have yet this morning, written another detailed response to a person who is keenly interested in the theory of Equal Temperament practice. He has an interesting website too which I would like to provide a link to on my own. I will post his question and my answer to him on a new post.

Don't expect to understand all of the technical mumbo jumbo and all the math (I sure do get lost in some of the tuning theory math I see) but if you read the articles on my site as you'd study a reference book, you'll gain a lot of knowledge and insight.

I am and will be most interested in all you'll have to say about your upcoming purchase.
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