Archive for the ‘Tuning Pianos’ Category

How to Tune Appropriate Stretch

This is often an elusive goal; how much to stretch the treble and bass so that large chords sound good.

Many aural tuners do it by feel; they just tune each octave more or less wider, and hope the end result is pleasing. I think it’s possible to get a feel for how much is too much and how much is not enough, but it takes a very long time; you only know if the final result is appropriate after you’ve tuned a whole piano. Then you have to wait until you tune another whole piano to try something different. And trying to remember the feel or sound of each octave you tuned and repeat or do something just a little different is almost impossible, unless you are gifted with something akin to perfect pitch.

Personally, being a more technical person, I have never liked that approach. I wanted a method that allowed to get the exact same stretch each time, and also allowed me to change the amount of stretch, if I wanted.

I believe I have developed just such a method. It uses Beat Speed Windows; listening to two beat speeds – a slow one and a fast one – and tuning a third interval that beats between these slow and fast beats, that make up the beat speed window.

One step that is required to use this method is to aurally measure the inharmonicity of the piano you are tuning. It is possible. I use the check notes for the 4:2 octave and listen to the size of the 6:3.


Example: A3A4

1. Tune a pure 4:2. To do that, we make the beat speed of F3A3 equal the beat speed of F3A4.

F3A3 = F3A4

F3 is called a Check Note.

Check Note Theory:

The definition of a pure 4:2 is that the 4th partial of A3 must be the same frequency as the 2nd partial of A4.

A3(4) = A4(2)

We use the check note, F3.

Playing F3A3 puts the 5th partial of F3 very close to the 4th partial of A3. This Coincidental Partial is close to the note A5.

F3 is tuned lower than that which would produce F3(5) = A3(4) which would produce no beating at A5. We would call that a pure M3, but we set F3 to be lower than that which would produce a pure F3A3.

Since F3(5) is lower than A3(4), there is beating. And what’s more, that beating is a measure of how high A3(4) is from F3(5); the faster the beating, the higher A3(4) is from F3(5)

Now, when we play F3A4, we also have a coincidental partial at A5 because F3(5) and A4(2) are both close to A5.

And what’s more, the speed of F3A4 is a measure of how high A4(2) is from F3(5).


if F3A3 = F3A4


A3(4) and A4(2) are both high from F3(5) by the same amount,

and therefore, they are the same frequency (or very close to it),

A3(4) = A4(2)

This is the definition of a pure 4:2.

NOTE: The check note is always two octave plus a major third below the coincidental partial. (1)

2. After tuning the pure 4:2, we listen to the different beat speeds produced by the 6:3 check note.

In the case of the A3A4,
the 6:3 partial is where A3(6) and A4(3) are found.
A3(6) and A4(3) are both close to E6.

In case your harmonic series theory is weak, here are the two harmonic series’ above each note:

A3: A3 A4 E5 A5 C#6 E6
A4: A4 A5 E6

From (1), the check note is two octaves plus a M3 below E6, which is C4.

So, we listen to A3C4 and C4A4.

If A3C4 = C4A4, then we have a pure 6:3.

Here are the possible sizes for the 6:3, once we have tuned a pure 4:2, and their respective inharmonicities, which I call Octave Scale. Note that each octave you tune can only have one inharmonicity or Octave Scale.

Aurally Measuring a Piano's Inharmonicity.001

After we know the piano’s inharmonicity, we can use beat speed windows to tune an accurate temperament, and also produce a consistent and appropriate stretch.

For example, on small scale pianos, where the octaves can be tuned as pure 4:2 and pure 6:3, we can have a stretch the produces pure 11ths (octave plus fourth), pure 12ths (octave plus fifth), pure 19ths (two octaves plus a fifth), and pure 22nds (three octaves) all at the same time, and all tuned by using beat speed windows.

I have not written a book on this method but I am open to producing one. Since it would be such a small production, the price would be high. What would you be willing to pay to have me write such a book?

Your other option is to have a personal one on one skype lesson where I teach this method to you live. The cost for that is $100 per hour (2016. Subject to change. CONTACT ME to confirm pricing). I estimate the lesson would take two hours.

I look forward to hearing from you.




1) Learn how to use the extremely accurate Go APE system. 

2) Use bisecting beat speeds windows to produce accurate and precise ET and stretch. 

3) Understand Stability. 

4) Develop your “Tuner’s Ear”; the ability to filter out all unwanted noise and hear beats clearly. 

This method is appropriate for beginners and experienced tuners. 


Two Sessions:

8am to 12pm, $350USD.($440CAD)

1pm to 5pm, $350USD.($440CAD)

Both sessions, $595USD.($740CAD)

These workshops will be given by Mark Cerisano, RPT, who has been teaching piano tuning and repair to hundreds of people since 2006. Read more and get free video lessons and resources at HOWTOTUNEPIANOS.COM

Electronic Piano On Trial

As some of you may know, I provide a temperament analysis service. (For more information, CLICK HERE) The first one is free.

One of my subscribers sent me a recording of the temperament on his electronic keyboard. You can read and hear the interesting results HERE.

FREE Meeting – Piano Tuning

You are invited to a free meeting where I will be presenting some of the elements of my aural piano tuning method I call the Go APE method. It was developed to provide an Accurate, Precise, and Efficient way for beginners and experienced tuners to tune pianos aurally. It is easy to follow but demanding on the specific skills needed to tune a piano to a high standard.

Here are the details:

WHERE: Ottawa Pianos, 1412 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 20th. 7pm – 9pm. (TOMORROW!)

Just show up.

This is a regular meeting of the Ottawa Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.

The Piano Technicians Guild is an invaluable resource for anyone wishing to advance their skills, no matter their level. I strongly encourage all of you to attend if you are within driving distance.

Hope to see you there,

P.S. You do NOT need to be a member of the PTG to attend!

New Lesson on Measuring Equal Temperament

Use this method to super train your piano tuner’s ear!

CLICK HERE for the free lesson.

New Lesson on Unisons

This lesson gives you insight into how clean a unison should sound and how to listen to tell if a unison can be cleaner.

It also is an introduction to the resolution possible with Double String Unison, a technique where the tuner mutes one string of a trichord, and moves the resulting double string up or down as needed.

CLICK HERE to view the lesson.

Piano Tuning and Repair Workshops in Montreal, Quebec. April 11 – 15, 2016

I’m looking for people who are interested in a live course with me, on the topics of aural piano tuning and basic piano repair and regulation.

The course will be given at Westend Pianos in Montreal Ouest.

Each course is 20 hours long, and while you will not be a piano tuner after 40 hours, you will have a great headstart and be able to start practicing using some excellent methods.

Get more information below:
Piano Tuning Workshop
Piano Tuning Tools
Piano Repair Workshop
Piano Repair Tools

If you are interested, please contact me as soon as possible because I need to prepare your tools.


What You NEED to Know to Tune Pianos Aurally.

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I have been teaching piano tuning since 2006 and in that time I have constantly struggled with this question: What do people really need to know in order to tune pianos aurally.

I have boiled it down to three skills:

1. The ability to set pitches and have them stay. (Stability)

2. The ability to make fine adjustments to pitch and have them stay.

3. The ability to hear beats clearly. (Beat Speed Clarity)

(Tuners must also identify small differences in beat speeds, but my research has shown that if we can hear beat speeds clearly, this is actually easy. So, it is the ability to hear these beats clearly that is the bottleneck; get to the point where you can hear beats clearly, and tuning aurally becomes much easier.)

#1 and #2 can be learned through study but #3 is the only skill that can not be rushed; the brain and ear must change and that takes time and practice. (See the study that measured the brains of aural tuners.)

Many piano tuners today use electronic aids to help them tune pianos. Many use them as a tool, but many more use them as a crutch. I believe the struggle to hear beats clearly is what has caused many of these tuners to give up on the idea of learning to tune a piano aurally.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Historically, learning to tune a piano has been a very difficult process. But now, with the help of technology, we can speed up the process. We can learn what the beats sound like and measure them.


In order to help people improve their Beat Speed Clarity, I have designed a tool that shows you what your beat speeds sound like and helps you hear them more clearly.

You simply send me a recording of each note in your temperament, and I put them together and measure the beat speeds of the M3, P4, etc, and show them to you in a graph.

I then ask you to confirm what I’ve measured.

I also analyse the tuning to find notes that could be improved; notes that if they were changed slightly, would smooth out the beat speed progressions, and move the tuning closer to ideal Equal Temperament. The logic of these analyses is explained clearly.

Some of my subscribers have already taken advantage of this free offer and you can listen to their tunings HERE.

Click the link above and you will see a list of different tunings that I have analysed for others. See if you can confirm my findings.

I am very excited that this method may be a tool that can improve your beat speed clarity and therefore reduce the time needed for people to learn to tune pianos.

I wish this resource was available to me when I started learning how to tune pianos aurally.

Your comments are welcomed.


3-DAY PIANO TUNING WORKSHOP in TORONTO, March 15/16/17, 2016

I will be in Toronto next week to give a piano tuning workshop. Participants will learn to use the powerful and easy to follow “Go APE” method for improved Accuracy, Precision, and Efficiency. 

The method is easy enough for beginners but powerful enough to produce concert level tunings. 

I only have two places left. Please contact me as soon as possible if you are interested. 

Workshop fee: $800 for 20 hours. 

One of My Tunings

Tuned using double string unison, trichord verification, bisecting beat speed windows, non-speaking length tension analysis, and P4 windows.

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