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I wonder why the tuner described their tuning as "tempered."

Maybe I'm not phrasing it quite as he did, but I think he's referring to this concept:
Reference to temperament in piano tuning.

I was observing his tuning process and following along with an app on my phone called "Pano Tuner". He indicated that such apps do not reflect correctly tempered tuning at the lower and upper ends of the keyboard. I don't clearly understand it myself, but as MY level of learning/playing will not be making use of those keys any time soon, I suspect it won't make a difference to me.

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Originally Posted by PHC Joe
Maybe I'm not phrasing it quite as he did, but I think he's referring to this concept:
Reference to temperament in piano tuning.
Are you sure he wasn't putting a non-equal temperament on the piano? Equal temperament is the standard way to tune, unless a customer requests something tempered differently, for historical purposes or colors or something. If what he was tuning didn't lineup with what your equal-tempered software was indicating, then that is probably the reason why.

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Originally Posted by piano411
If what he was tuning didn't lineup with what your equal-tempered software was indicating, then that is probably the reason why.

The tuning software the OP is referring to is just a straight chromatic tuner-- it doesn't do temperaments.
PHC, what you should see is the middle of the piano being pretty close to accurate and the treble octaves progressively more sharp, with the bass octaves becoming progressively more flat...within reason (1098's are notoriously difficult to tune cleanly or well).


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(1098's are notoriously difficult to tune cleanly or well)
This piano is a 1959 Steinway Model 45, which I believe IS nearly identical to the newer 1098 (which has a middle pedal, while the 45 does not). That's interesting to know.

Yes, as I followed his tuning with the simple software on my phone, the middle keys were well-centered in the "green" while the lower keys showed the (orange) target indicator increasingly off to the left and just the opposite off to the right which is consistent with what one would expect, along the lines of the Wikipedia reference mentioned above.

He was using an apparently much more sophisticated tuning meter (sorry, did not catch the name/brand: it looked like a small blue plastic lunch box that opened to show a small backlit LCD display and a circle with flashing red lights, which I assume he understood how to interpret, being as qualified/experienced as he is). Conceptually interesting, but like I say, MY use of the piano will make little actual use of the lowermost/uppermost keys any time in the near future.

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Oh, that sounds like this thing (https://www.accu-tuner.com). I don't know if that thing uses stretch or not, or even how it works, but it seems like the software you were using doesn't have any stretch and is a straight chromatic tuner, according to terminaldegree. Tuning the piano requires stretch. That is probably one of the things he was trying to explain.

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...and now I think I solved the annoying "buzz" I was talking about: I noticed while playing familiar things (to get used to how different this piano sounds) that even when I released the damper pedal, the notes/buzz I was hearing kind of sustained. It was noticeable and very annoying. I found a suggestion in Stack Exchange that this could happen if the damper pedal is out of adjustment. So I opened the bottom of the piano, found what I figured to be the correct nut and loosened it several quarter turns. Much improved!
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I wonder why your tuner didn’t catch that and adjust it? Anyway, glad to hear you got it lined out!

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I am surprised too. However, as I mentioned, that overall "buzziness" is something I have heard in a number of Steinway and Yamaha uprights (that did not appeal to me, so I tended to avoid these and spent most of my hunt looking for a better Hamilton/Baldwin). So maybe it was a familiar quality to him. I emailed him about this fix that seems to have worked for me and will see if he replies. (I've also made an appointment to check out/possibly CA glue/retune the Hamilton in a couple of weeks.)

I took a risk on this Steinway because of the price and how really good it looked to my untrained eye. When I "auditioned" it, the buzz seemed to be most pronounced on just a few notes (which I suspected was due to being neglected/way out of tune). My perception of the underlying overall buzziness may have been masked by the prominent buzz of those particular notes. That, and more than a bit of wishful thinking/hoping that I had found a real bargain.

Although my learning to play is still painfully slow, I think I have learned a lot about the engineering of and care for pianos. I appreciate all of the replies and ideas you all have provided me with here. Thank you so much! I may start a new thread about the Hamilton after the tuner's visit, regarding the CA gluing process and eventual replacement of the keytops.

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[quote=piano411]Are you sure he wasn't putting a non-equal temperament on the piano? Equal temperament is the standard way to tune, unless a customer requests something tempered differently, [....][ /quote]


Who said ET is the go-to temperament?
Is that a law? Tradition?

Equal Beating Victorian Temperament sounds even better than ET.


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Originally Posted by Herr Weiss
Who said ET is the go-to temperament?
Is that a law? Tradition?Equal Beating Victorian Temperament sounds even better than ET.

I said that, and, so it is.
EqT is the go-to temperament, just like 440 is the go-to pitch level.
432 and 443 great pitch levels, but I wouldn't do that to a customer's piano without prior consultation, nor would I put a Vallotti temperament on a piano without discussion.

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Originally Posted by piano411
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss
Who said ET is the go-to temperament?
Is that a law? Tradition?Equal Beating Victorian Temperament sounds even better than ET.

I said that, and, so it is.
EqT is the go-to temperament, just like 440 is the go-to pitch level.
432 and 443 great pitch levels, but I wouldn't do that to a customer's piano without prior consultation, nor would I put a Vallotti temperament on a piano without discussion.


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Originally Posted by Herr Weiss
Nothing remains constant; not even your anonymity.
Tuners shouldn't go around tuning EBVT at 432, without consulting with the owner of the piano, otherwise, it could cause problems. It is common decency to have a discussion. EqT at 440 is what people expect these days. Everything else can be done, but it should be done with consent.

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Although EBVT is an excellent alternative (which I use regularly), it is likely that he tuned ET and the "tempered" discussion had to do with the fact that you were "following" him with a non-tempered app, although the actual tempering is done throughout the tuning and the major deviation would be in the "octave stretching". There is only so much you can get into with a client on the first visit when there's lots to do. "Tempering" is a REQUIREMENT of a fixed tuning instrument resulting from the difference between the fact that 12 tones make the octave on a keyboard, whereas in fact there are 66 true just tones in one octave. Compromises must be made and that is where the tempering comes in.

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The OP is not sure about many things.

To assume that his tuner was in any form negligent or devious while fulfilling the contract, it is not only absurd but slanderous as well.

And with you hiding your true identity, it makes me wonder if there is some kind of a 'personal beef' going on.


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No one has any idea who OP hired to tune the piano. It wasn't me.

"Tempered" is a strange way to put it, since every tuning has to be tempered. A non-equal temperament is the only thing that came to mind. It later came out that it was equal temperament, but the difference was between the software that was used and the amount of stretch.

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Rank beginner that I am with respect to playing piano, I would only want something regarded as a fairly "standard" (I guess that has something to do with 440 pitch?) tuning.

I believe that this tuner, who I understand to be VERY experienced (40+ years doing this), well-trained (by the Steinway factory), and highly regarded in this area (he tunes for university departments, high-end venues and concert events, and orchestras). I've had other tuners in past years, primarily because this gentleman is in such high demand it is often difficult to get an appointment with him.

I suspect this piano has been fairly neglected over it's 60+ year lifespan and following his ministrations of a couple of days ago it is once again sounding good and I am enjoying playing on it. There are perhaps a few subtle flaws that my undeveloped ear seems to detect, but I expect the as my "relationship" with this piano grows over the coming years, this (and perhaps other) tuners will iron those out.

Thanks again to everyone for their discussion and ideas. I'm picking up a lot of information!

P.S. Also, seeing as I am a big fan of Tom Waits, my tolerance for non-standard sounds of junkyard, barroom, and/or whorehouse pianos is probably pretty high! laugh

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PHC Joe, if you wanted to try something fancier, next time you might want to consider a non-equal temperament. EqT(equal temperament) attempts to achieve a color-less difference among the 12 different key areas, which means we are trying to get them all to sound the same. With a non-equal temperament, you can get various amounts of color shifts as you move in and out of the different key areas. Essentially, each key will have it's own flavor. In the olden days, every tuner had their own unique approach to temperament that it gave the piano more personality. Today, people just want an equal sound without hearing the personality of the composer or the tuner. In modern times, people play all sorts of genres.

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Originally Posted by piano411
No one has any idea who OP hired to tune the piano. It wasn't me.

"Tempered" is a strange way to put it, since every tuning has to be tempered. A non-equal temperament is the only thing that came to mind. It later came out that it was equal temperament, but the difference was between the software that was used and the amount of stretch.


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OK. Well, it seems OP got a trusted tuner to put a standard 440 equal-tempered tuning on the piano. Everyone should be happy with that.

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Originally Posted by piano411
...you can get various amounts of color shifts as you move in and out of the different key areas. Essentially, each key will have it's own flavor.

Not to mention some pianos will have their own flavor on every single pitch in the first pressure bar section of the treble, by virtue of the design or construction (before even getting to how we're tuning it!). laugh


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