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I recall suffering through this you tube video also.


PTG lists Defebaugh at:
http://www.pianotapes.com

Last edited by bkw58; 12/18/17 06:29 PM.

Bob W.
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Here's an old Spring & Loop over-damper piano that I 'tuned'. It was very unevenly out of tune, and around 150 cents low. The family were getting it tuned because their children were starting lessons.

Pianos with spring & loop actions are very old, and those actions never feel nice to play, in my experience. The piano had enough iron (though far from a full plate) to be reasonably stable, I felt, and the tuning pins though on the loose side, tunable.

I discussed the pitch raise option, but recommended against it. Something in me rebelled at the idea of the family, living in an expensive house in an expensive area, with expensive cars in the driveway, having their children make do with an ancient piano that was cheap when it was brand new.

So I did a single-pass tuning, 149 cents low, and left it at that, with the recommendation that they don't get it tuned again but immediately start looking for another.

Here are before
and after
:

(In the before video I had already tuned a few unisons to get a feel of the pins).

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My favorite pitch raise technique is the "one string" pitch raise. I did it aurally for many years, but have found that Tunelab makes it even more accurate using the spectrum display.

The idea with a pitch raise is to prevent drift when fine tuning. It can be efficiently counteracted by pulling up one string per unison sharp as much as the note is flat plus another 50 percent. The spectrum display allows it to be done visually. You look how far below the red line the unison is overall and pull up just the right string so that it is the same distance on the other side of the red line plus half again as much. I just try to get the peak to be between twice just as high and twice as high as the note was flat.

Then I just tune as I normally do, tuning unisons as I go. As I tune each note, two strings will come up to pitch and one string will come down significantly more than the others came up and the effect is to cancel out most of the drift. As you practice this method you will get a more refined feel for how far to go. In this picture the purple line represents about how sharp I would pull the string if the note were as flat as the black line.

This type of "pitch raise" can be completed in under 5 minutes. You do have to be careful on old pianos where string breakage is riskier. In those cases I do a modified version where I pull up two strings, and don't go as sharp.
[Linked Image]


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Ryan that sounds an interesting technique. What level of low pitch does it work for? 100 cents? More? Less?

I don't like Photobucket - for the initial free use you have to wade through LOADS of adverts, and then after a while it's not free and they want you pay LOTS of money (that's why your photo isn't displayed). There are better photo hosting services, I reckon.

Last edited by David Boyce; 12/19/17 06:22 AM.
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In recent years I have backed off on excessive overpulling due to elastic limit issues. No "proof" of anything...just a desire to not do damage I can't see (unknowingly). Therefore I simply move fast and go over it as many times as needed, but not overpulling more than about 10 cents. I think it's better for the piano. And yes, I get paid for the extra time. Also seems like a more stable outcome.

Just an opinion (although based on some reasonable facts).

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 12/19/17 02:50 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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I didn't know photobucket had become so lame! Anyways here's the pic again:
[Linked Image]

I only do this technique for moderate to mild pitch raises. Its especially nice when you are following your own work from the past but the whole piano has dropeed 10-20 cents. If it is a major pitch raise I just go through the whole thing first. This method is great when your initial pitch raise is off a bit (sharp or flat) or just one section is off.



Ryan Sowers,
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Originally Posted by rysowers
My favorite pitch raise technique is the "one string" pitch raise. I did it aurally for many years, but have found that Tunelab makes it even more accurate using the spectrum display.

The idea with a pitch raise is to prevent drift when fine tuning. It can be efficiently counteracted by pulling up one string per unison sharp as much as the note is flat plus another 50 percent. The spectrum display allows it to be done visually. You look how far below the red line the unison is overall and pull up just the right string so that it is the same distance on the other side of the red line plus half again as much. I just try to get the peak to be between twice just as high and twice as high as the note was flat.

Then I just tune as I normally do, tuning unisons as I go. As I tune each note, two strings will come up to pitch and one string will come down significantly more than the others came up and the effect is to cancel out most of the drift. As you practice this method you will get a more refined feel for how far to go. In this picture the purple line represents about how sharp I would pull the string if the note were as flat as the black line.

This type of "pitch raise" can be completed in under 5 minutes. You do have to be careful on old pianos where string breakage is riskier. In those cases I do a modified version where I pull up two strings, and don't go as sharp.
[Linked Image]


Concise. Thanks! When Rick and I worked the sales at the Baldwin factory, the tuners on-the-clock marveled at how fast we tuned the pianos (new and used). This is essentially it. ( Aural and impact technique.)

Last edited by bkw58; 12/19/17 04:58 PM.

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Originally Posted by Hemloch
Really interesting to read how experienced tuners approach tuning and pitchraising.

Bill Bremmer, I do use strip mutes but I don't poke the muting strip down under the dampers in the treble section; how can this be an advantage to efficient tuning?

Bill and I both make extensive use of the sostenuto pedal in tuning, the strip under the treble dampers works in a similar way on an upright without sostenuto.
Each undamped treble note will ring long enough to be tuned while the key striking hand strikes a tenth or seventeenth (or double octave, twelfth, etc.) below immediately after striking the undamped note and the appropriate beat rate between the two established.
That way the tuning hand never leaves the lever and the other hand never leaves the keyboard.
The tones don’t bleed into each other as much as might be thought, (or becomes easily ignorable with experience) so that the treble can be tuned rapidly and accurately.
This technique, and the similar sostenuto technique is particularly useful in noisy circumstances.




Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


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Thank you for acknowledging me with some respect, this time, RXD. Yes, I have long used the sostenuto pedal in both tuning and regulation. While there are a few pianists who know how to use a sostenuto pedal effectively (Dick Hymen comes to mind) many never touch it, even if it is indicated in the score.

Therefore, it becomes a technician's pedal. Most verticals do not have one. If the 8-10 or however many there are, dampers in the treble section are lifted and the strip mute tucked underneath, it facilitates the tuning of wide intervals such as double octaves or octave-fifths. During pitch raises, it allows the technician to go from one string to the next, (or in whole steps) uninhibited, without the need to move wedge mutes.

There are a few pianos where the damper stop rail prevents lifting the damper very far, so it is sometimes difficult to tuck the strip beneath them. A few 80's Asian made pianos also have very fragile damper felt, so trying to tuck a strip under them can easily tear them. In those cases, I do not try to tuck the strip. I can still use the sostenuto pedal technique using the damper pedal in the same way as I would use the sostenuto pedal: play the keys first, then press the pedal. There will be a little extra resonance but what is needed to be heard still can be.

If one is tuning electronically, having those strings under the dampers strip muted will be more efficient, the same as the rest of the treble section. Otherwise, two wedge mutes or a Papps mute must be used. That slows one down through that part of the piano. Otherwise, I do not even understand why someone would ask why it is more efficient. Isn't that obvious?


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Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
After having read the thread I remember having seen this guy doing a pitch raise. I was a bit afraid to do as he does and I think it is probably not exact enough.
It starts around 12’30”.

https://youtu.be/xMXwhPKVMM0

Is there a video of George Defebaugh available? That would interest me very much. Thanks.


I watched just a little. The way that guy pulls on strings is the surest way I can think of to break strings during a pitch raise, especially on that type of piano.

Toni, I read your private message on Facebook but I get so many messages, I have not had time to get around to answering it so I will do so here. Also, I read your comment in an e-mail about a typographical error in one of my articles on my website. Many people have reported the same errors. The problem has been that I do not have direct access for editing but I am, in fact, working on that presently.

I have raised the pitch of many common, small vertical pianos, some by great amounts, 1/2 step or more without a single string breaking. As you well know, I use an impact type technique which you have said, you had much difficulty trying to master. Any technique takes practice, of course.

Even if you cannot manage to use an impact type technique in fine tuning, you may still be able to use it in a large pitch raise such as is described in that very clumsy video. I have a fairly loose fitting (#3) tip, so I literally "throw" the tuning hammer onto the tuning pin with a counterclockwise movement employed. That, in itself serves to flatten the pitch of the string initially, so it does not take me a significant amount of time to do that first. It is done simply by putting the hammer on the pin.

Now, I understand that as a more or less amateur tuner, you may not have the skill to do that, especially if you use a tight fitting tuning hammer socket. In that case, place the socket on the tuning pin as you normally would and simply strike the tuning hammer lever gently counterclockwise. All that is needed is a very slight amount.

That releases the built up friction and inertia that there has long been upon the bearing points of the piano wire. If one simply puts the hammer on the tuning pin and begins turning the pin slowly, that friction and inertia may well be enough to create enough excess tension upon the top segment of the wire to cause it to break. It will inevitably break if that is the case, right at the tuning pin coil.

I will call that first counterclockwise movement, the "release" phase of the manipulation of the tuning pin. The excess friction and inertia have been released and defeated. Some technicians apply a lubricant to help with this but I NEVER do that. It is time consuming, sloppy and contaminating.

Now, with a string significantly below the desired pitch, a gentle tapping movement upon the tuning hammer lever or ball end can be employed. Try the gentlest tap that will move the pin at first. Some older pianos can still have fairly tight tuning pins, so whatever amount of force it takes will become immediately evident. It is with the pianos that have the tightest tuning pins that the most careful movement is needed.

A piano with lower torque tuning pins can have the wire withstand a slow pull easier than a piano with tight tuning pins. So, the tighter the tuning pin, the more that you will want to gently tap the string up to pitch. In the case of a piano with tight tuning pins, the one instance that you forget to use an impact type technique may well be the time that a string will break.

So, even if as a technician, you feel that you do not have sufficient control to fine tune a string using an impact type technique, you can still manage to raise the pitch of a string roughly up to pitch by doing so. Raise the string in question to just above where you want it at the moment. Give the key three sharp test blows. It is how fast you strike the key, not how hard you pound it that will settle the residual inequalities in tension across the bearing points. Think of a rattle snake strike rather than a sledge hammer blow. The fast strike will also be easier on your finger, hand and wrist joints than a hard pound will be. A striking tool can also be used.

Once you have the string sufficiently up to pitch, you can then use your usual hammer technique to fine tune it.

I know that what I very commonly do by raising a string to pitch with a single stroke looks amazing to many piano technicians. They ask how I do it. The answer seems facetious: I listen to how flat the string is and that determines how hard I strike the tuning hammer. "However flat it is, that's how hard I hit it, he he."

I would not expect any novice or amateur tuner to be able to do that. It comes with nearly 50 years experience and 1000 or more tunings per year. If you consider that I have tuned every piano twice or more at each sitting, we are up to the 100,000 tunings amount. Experience counts for most of the ability. I simply have the feel for it that only comes with experience and from going from one piano to the next, day in and day out.

If I were to pick up Itzak Perlman's violin and bow and draw the bow across a string of that violin, what do you suppose the difference in tone that I would make as opposed to that which he would make? I say that to illustrate the point that tuning hammer technique is a very specialized skill that only comes with years of practice and thousands of pianos.

Some people are simply more adept than others. I would not consider myself to be any more mechanically adept than average. Probably less than average if you ask me but over time and with the finished results being the goal to earn a living, it is a great motivation to learn to get the desired results.


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Originally Posted by rXd
Originally Posted by Hemloch
Really interesting to read how experienced tuners approach tuning and pitchraising.

Bill Bremmer, I do use strip mutes but I don't poke the muting strip down under the dampers in the treble section; how can this be an advantage to efficient tuning?

Bill and I both make extensive use of the sostenuto pedal in tuning, the strip under the treble dampers works in a similar way on an upright without sostenuto.
Each undamped treble note will ring long enough to be tuned while the key striking hand strikes a tenth or seventeenth (or double octave, twelfth, etc.) below immediately after striking the undamped note and the appropriate beat rate between the two established.
That way the tuning hand never leaves the lever and the other hand never leaves the keyboard.
The tones don’t bleed into each other as much as might be thought, (or becomes easily ignorable with experience) so that the treble can be tuned rapidly and accurately.
This technique, and the similar sostenuto technique is particularly useful in noisy circumstances.



thumb


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Good post Bill. Great to get an understanding into the detail of impact tuning.

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Bill, I agree with everything except the Lube - CLP applied at the pressure bar on uprights, bass terminations, agraffes, and understring felts helps turn a poor rendering piano into a tunable one - and further reduces string breakage, especially in the bass. I use a tiny paint brush, dipped into a 2 oz bottle of CLP and apply sparingly right to the friction points. There is no mess and I refill the bottle once a week.

I agree that impact method reduces string breakage, and improves stability with tight tuning pins, which are all we have in Orlando. The average pin torque due to constant 50-70% RH is 150 inch pounds, and several pianos a week approach 200 inch pounds. One was 250 inch pounds this week. I could hardly turn the pins with an 18 " Fujan lever. The reason impact works, is the pin does not deflect as much. I can deflect these sub 1/0 Asian pins by 90 cents before it turns in the block on a slow pull. Once deflected, the pin has to be "unflexed" or it won't be stable. Impact reduces that.



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Thanks Bill for answering. The first thing I have to say is, that I don't tune pianos as an amateur or semi professional, 70%+ of my income is from tuning and maintaining pianos for over 12 years now. The rest I work as a piano teacher in a local school. I have a slow pull technique that gives me really stabe tunings. I know this from feedbacks of really hard piano players and pianists.

I use your technique for pitch raises for a longer time and it is quiet easy to use and very efficient. So I am happy to have that technique for pitch raises. Because I never tune a piano only in one time, mostly two times, even it is very close to pitch, all it nees are really minor pitch corrections that I can handle with my technique very easy. And I also know that it takes time to learn a technique if it is new.
What I am missing is the following: if you fine tune, lets say in a range of a cent, do you do this by very light taps on the lever? Another question is: if you have the lever at about 2 o'clock in an upright, can you tell me from your experience, that the pin has really turned in the block if the pitch has changed? Or, is there no need to turn the pin if everything is close to 1 cent? When I fine tune in that range there is sometimes no need to turn the foot of the pin as long as it is able to hold the string in place (no slipping under the v bar).

The reason I ask for more details is, that I have a beginning problem with my forearm muscles, I can manage it, but having a second technique witch I can rely on as my slow pull technique, was very helpful during time of nearly too much work. You know how many pianos should be tuned before Christmas!

That's why I am very thankful for any tips. I think learning a new (or a second) technique is more difficult to master than a new one, because I am probobly biased on how it should work and what I should feel while tuning.

Anyway, I am thankful for all your help and comments.

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If you are having arm or shoulder issues, you are not alone. They come with the profession. Here is my advice:

1. If the pins are tight, use an extension hammer, fully extended or a long, stiff hammer like a Fujan. Use a longer handled hammer to make up for the extra pressure of tight pins. An extension hammer flexes when extended, while the Fujan does not.

2. Change up your hammers - I have a Schaff Extension and two Fujan's - 14 inch and 18 inch. I switch off between them to change things up.

3. Learn to work with both arms - to rest your dominant arm sometimes.

4. Use the hammer technique that works best for the pin you are tuning. Don't expect one technique to fit all

5. Change up your tuning position. You have more leverage standing on both uprights and grands, so there is less arm strain. The worst thing you can do is tune very tight pins with your arm above your head. Stand up for those.

6. Use fingers, or wrists only to move the hammer and rest your elbow somewhere if the pins permit

7. Whether you hit the keys hard or not, use a key knocker for the firm blows. Saves your finger joints. You can also use the side of your palm.

When moving the string a cent or less, you may be able to massage the pin and string, without turning the pin in the block. It just depends.



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