Piano tuning on extreme high and low end

Discussion in 'Pro Audio' started by Danny T, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    To start with, I've been tuning my own piano for years because the
    tuners that I have hired suck so bad I had to do it over anyway. I
    noticed though, that over the years, my ability to tune low A is
    extinct. A# works for my ear OK but A is a guess. I can get it close
    but I know it is a bit out and just can't hear which way to tune it.

    I'm sure there are smarter folks here dealing with the same things -
    is there some way to get around hearing it? I'm getting the same
    problem coming on for the highest few notes too. I hate getting old
    but since I can't control that.......

    Anyway, I know this isn't a piano tuning forum but there is no real
    forum for that and figured If I'm tuning mine, someone else is
    probably tuning theirs too.
     
    Danny T, Sep 30, 2008
    #1
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  2. Danny T

    hank alrich Guest

    You can use an electronic tuner but not a cheap one intended for guitars
    and such.
    rec.music.makers.piano
     
    hank alrich, Sep 30, 2008
    #2
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  3. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    I do use the octave above but I can't seem to hear the beats that
    low..... I guess that rock bands I played in all those years ago were
    a little louder then they should have been :)
     
    Danny T, Sep 30, 2008
    #3
  4. "Danny T" wrote ...
    Last time I observed a piano tuner at work, he had a
    Palm Pilot (or something like that) with an attached mic
    and a rather nice application program running on it that
    showed a "strobe" of the piano note vs. the reference.
    I thought it was quite slick. Something like that would
    perhaps work for notes beyond what your ears can
    discern.
     
    Richard Crowley, Sep 30, 2008
    #4
  5. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    that's cool but if you can't hear the tone right it won't work. If you
    have never tried to tune the low A of a piano you probably don't know
    how aggravating it can be! I can hear great right down to the last A#
    then its all over. I'm going to need to get a tuner that can hear that
    low. I can fake it ok but it is really hard to get it dead on.

    Funny thing is that I've spent some time today looking for answers and
    what I have found is that most piano tuners tend to over stretch the
    bottom and top for the same reason and they do it worse then I do. I
    think that was one of the main reasons I started doing my own tuning -
    because the tuners could not hear how off they were.

    In the grand scheme of things, if I can't hear it there are few people
    that will. I'm just extremely picky on tuning. I've been using auto-
    tune to correct bass pitch for a long time even though I refuse to use
    it on vocals. (bass players - whadda-ya-want)

    Thanks for that tone generator though. I'm sure it will come in handy
    sometime.
     
    Danny T, Sep 30, 2008
    #5
  6. Danny T

    polymod Guest

    I'm a tuner (30 years and counting) and I'd be curious to know the
    following:
    1.) Make/model/size of piano?
    2.) Did you check the piano when the tuner finished and have him/her not
    stretch so much if at all. I'm suspecting the reason they're stretching is
    due to the design of your piano.
    3.) You really play songs with that low A?
    ;)
    FWIW I just ear it out the best I can. I'll play some type of pattern with
    A2 and A3, then hit A1 and adjust until it sounds the best it can. The
    smaller the piano, the more false harmonics make it harder to "hear" down
    that far.

    Good luck!
    Poly


    that's cool but if you can't hear the tone right it won't work. If you
    have never tried to tune the low A of a piano you probably don't know
    how aggravating it can be! I can hear great right down to the last A#
    then its all over. I'm going to need to get a tuner that can hear that
    low. I can fake it ok but it is really hard to get it dead on.

    Funny thing is that I've spent some time today looking for answers and
    what I have found is that most piano tuners tend to over stretch the
    bottom and top for the same reason and they do it worse then I do. I
    think that was one of the main reasons I started doing my own tuning -
    because the tuners could not hear how off they were.

    In the grand scheme of things, if I can't hear it there are few people
    that will. I'm just extremely picky on tuning. I've been using auto-
    tune to correct bass pitch for a long time even though I refuse to use
    it on vocals. (bass players - whadda-ya-want)

    Thanks for that tone generator though. I'm sure it will come in handy
    sometime.
     
    polymod, Sep 30, 2008
    #6
  7. Danny T

    John Connors Guest

    I have the same problem, along with some minor tinnitus as well......
    I'm a pianist and have always touched up my own pianos.
    I have perfect pitch as well which just aggravates things believe it or
    not.

    I just had an extensive audiology battery of tests run (more than the usual
    'hearing test') and I have a 30db valley at 6k and some small low frequency
    loss.

    I'm 48yo btw...

    Years of studio work and stupidity have brought me where I am today.

    The audiologist I used told me she is seeing people in their 20's with
    worse hearing than I have.

    Thank you iPod..

    Getting back to your OP, find a tuner with a good ear to touch up your work
    and then spread the word to every professional you can find so he gets
    business.
    These guys are getting very difficult to find.
     
    John Connors, Sep 30, 2008
    #7
  8. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    I can't find a tuner! I'd love to be lazy and have someone clean up my
    piano from time to time but the guys I have found (recommended from
    piano stores) suck big time! I don't know where the old school guys
    are. They all claim to be guild member so I have to assume that they
    guild is nothing more then a dues collector anymore.

    I have perfect relative pitch but I'm not sure it if is really just
    perfect pitch. I can make mistakes sometimes. Either way, you're right
    about making matters worse. I just got done tuning my piano after
    moving it. I had a tuner tune it and I could not stand to play it
    until I redid everything. He had it pitched down a bit and I have not
    played it because of that since I moved it here in April. I've been
    sticking to my roland keyboard instead. Now that I pitched it up to
    440 I love it.

    My ears have a bit of that tinnitus too. The ringing will completely
    go away most of the time but sometimes when it is really quite it
    haunts me. Mine is dead on pitch of a C, 3 octaves above middle C. I
    can tune to it when it comes around - funny if you think about it. I
    think I got mine mostly from throwing short fused firecrackers when I
    was a kid but I am sure that years of touring in rock bands helped a
    bit too.... come to think of it, being married for 22 years may have
    contributed as well - at least to the willfully deaf part :)
     
    Danny T, Sep 30, 2008
    #8
  9. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    I've been meaning to get one like that anyway but the problem is that
    Low A is actually not in tune if it is in tune. When you tune a piano,
    the higher octaves are pitched slightly high and the bass end slightly
    flat. I dead on pitch piano sounds very ugly and there is no way to
    pitch it to a specific frequency either. Pianos are pitched to 440 on
    the 440 A only. From there, all other notes are just slightly off but
    pitched to itself. It has to be tuned to itself across the keyboard
    and each piano is unique in itself. '

    I thought I might try to get a great sampled piano and tune to the
    notes there but of course there are 2 problems to that: I couldn't
    hear that low note anyway and the note would only belong to the piano
    that was sampled and not mine.

    For now, I think I am going to have to be content with close is good
    enough
     
    Danny T, Sep 30, 2008
    #9
  10. Sadly I believe like with most associations, this is indeed the case.
    I played a gig where the piano was 1/2 step low and it drove me nuts!!
    My internal pitch mechanism was screwed up because of it.

    Mine is about 10khz I believe.
    It's worse when rain or snow is in the forecast or if I am under stress.

    One other thing you can try is local churches, big ones.
    Ask if you can try their piano and if it sounds good to you, ask who they
    use.
    Local venues, again larger rooms that attract near top tier talent are
    another source.
    Check with some larger studios in your area as well, especially if they
    cater to classical or jazz recording.

    That's really all you can do because these people, the talented ones, are
    becoming slowly extinct.

    The problem with tuning a piano completely with an electronic device is
    that when you are done, you will have a perfectly tuned piano that will
    sound like crap (in most cases).
    Piano tuning and even more so voicing is an art.
    It's like painting while following one of those artists on TV.
    Sure you can duplicate each brush stroke, but your picture will
    will still lack in the finer details that a talented artist's picture will
    have.
    --
    Moshe Goldfarb
    Collector of soaps from around the globe.
    Please visit The Hall of Linux Idiots:
    http://linuxidiots.blogspot.com/
    Please Visit www.linsux.org
     
    Moshe Goldfarb., Oct 1, 2008
    #10
  11. Danny T

    Ben Bradley Guest

    I barely know enough to be dangerous, but I think I can point you
    in the right direction. If you get it properly configured for the
    temperament you want/use, this will help you with those extreme notes
    (this is real piano tuning software):

    http://www.tunelab-world.com/tl97.html

    If you don't like that particular program but machine-assisted
    tuning appeals to you, there are lots of more modern programs that run
    on Windows and various palm-pilot/blackberry/cellphone platforms as
    well as on dedicated tuning computers. I'm not familiar with them but
    you can ask on the list below.

    While I'm on tuners - the above isn't appropriate for reguar old
    guitars and basses, as it's much too sensitive. It might work well for
    electronic organs, I haven't tried that. I use G-tune, it's plenty
    accurate enough, and works great for tweaking the bridge temperament
    on fretted string instruments and such:

    http://www.jhc-software.com/gtune.htm
    I've sometimes had a hard time hearing the pitch of piano notes
    below E (I think my ears are hard-coded from rock to ignore anything
    below the low E on an electric bass), but I can usually hear the 4th
    harmonic beating with the note two octaves up. That's usually easier
    than the 2nd beating with one octave up. But mostly I try to use that
    tunelab97 program.

    But I haven't done much piano tuning since my church moved a year
    ago, and that awful thing with pins that slipped badly in winter (it
    got to where I tweaked it every Sunday before service - I finally had
    the idea of putting cups of water in the bottom, which helped humidify
    the thing), it got sold in the church moving/yard sale for $50. I
    really feel sorry for whoever bought it.

    I've got the exact forum for you. Subscribe here:

    http://www.ptg.org/mailman/listinfo/pianotech

    It's a really active list, you don't need to be a PTG member or
    anything to subscribe and post questions. I've been lurking and not
    even reading it all for a few years now. A lot of the questions are
    just like yours. The people on the list appear to both know and care
    what they're doing, and have no problem helping new folks. Maybe they
    can even give you the name of a GOOD tuner in your area.
     
    Ben Bradley, Oct 1, 2008
    #11
  12. Danny T

    Danny T Guest


    I don't know what happened... I posted saying I downloaded and joined
    - yada yada...

    I'm lacking energy to retype so please know I am very grateful for all
    the info.

    Thank you Ben
     
    Danny T, Oct 1, 2008
    #12
  13. Danny T

    polymod Guest

    We're still out there. You just have to look a little harder!

    Poly
     
    polymod, Oct 1, 2008
    #13
  14. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    Hey Poly
    The piano I was speaking of/tuning is a spinet I was given when I
    turned 8 years old. For a spinet it is very good but it's still a
    spinet. It has a wurlitzer harp and the body was made by Summer &
    Sons. It's a mid 60' piano that has been kept up well since birth but
    like I said, it's a spinet.

    The last tuner that I paid to tune this showed up with some kind of
    scope. I wasn't around to watch him or see what he was doing. The
    piano was in my office and I had to leave but when I came back I sat
    down to play it and was horrified. I had already written out the check
    for the guy so I just sent him packing and tuned it back myself. I
    have had 2 or more pianos in my house since I was 2 years old and the
    tuner we used as a kid taught me every time he came over which was
    about 4 piano tunings a year. From that point on I just started doing
    the entire tuning my self. Before that I fixed things all the time but
    never took on the entire piano.

    As for using low A, I can't really think of a time I do but the
    harmonics of the piano are at stake with a note out. When you're anal
    you need to just go with i geritol :)

    What you say you do with the note is what I have been doing. I figured
    there is a good trick to it but I guess not. I do have to say I am
    worried. I never thought I would get to the stage where I could not
    hear the note. I am feeling my age more then I ever have in the past.
    My birthdays meant nothing but not being able to distinguish the note
    is making me feel rather.
     
    Danny T, Oct 1, 2008
    #14
  15. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    Care to drive to Lafayette LA :)
     
    Danny T, Oct 1, 2008
    #15
  16. Danny T

    hank alrich Guest

    I've neverheard a spinet with much of a low A note. It's working against
    you from the gitgo. Can't you just Autotune it in post? <g>
     
    hank alrich, Oct 1, 2008
    #16
  17. Danny T

    hank alrich Guest

    Hey, I know a terrific tuner who lives in Carson City NV. We line up a
    handful of folks who need their pianos tuned and he comes to visit for a
    couple of days.
     
    hank alrich, Oct 1, 2008
    #17
  18. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    I need to get my kids a new piano - I know... but they cost a bit more
    then I can squeeze out of my beer budget :) I keep waiting for
    someone to their "old" unwanted Steinway.

    I have a good friend that is a charter captain, took someone out for a
    3 hour daysail and as a tip got a C7 with full midi because the lady
    was painting her living room and it was no longer going to match! I
    get a little sick every time I think about that.....
     
    Danny T, Oct 1, 2008
    #18
  19. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    That's not a half bad idea. I knew a flight instructor that did the
    same sort of thing and did really well that way.
     
    Danny T, Oct 1, 2008
    #19
  20. Danny T

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    There are a lot of those out there, mostly owned by people with more money
    than sense who don't actually play the piano. The bad news about them is
    that they often have not been tuned for many years and can take a lot of
    time to settle down into a stable tuning.

    I once had the chance to buy a Bosendorfer for $300. It had been painted
    with pink enamel paint (with lots of brush strokes), but the soundboard was
    intact. I didn't have the room for it, but I still feel bad about having
    lost the chance.

    There are a lot of good pianos out there in ratty cabinets, being sold cheaply
    by people who care more about the cabinet than the stuff inside. As long
    as the soundboard is intact, the piano can be restored to good condition.

    Oh yeah.... and avoid anything that came out of a church. Unless it started
    out as a really high-end piano and it is basically free.
    --scott
     
    Scott Dorsey, Oct 1, 2008
    #20
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