Archive for the ‘Tuning Pianos’ Category

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!)
COST: FREE!

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,
Mark

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.

Mark

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.

BEAT SPEED TEMPERAMENT ANALYSIS TOOL

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.

Mark

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.

Unison Drift

“When you tune a string and add other strings and tune a unison, the pitch changes.”

This is a comment that is shared by some experienced technicians and refuted by the vast majority of other technicians.

Virgil Smith wrote about this in “Techniques for Superior Aural Tuning”

Professor Gabriel Weinreich wrote about it in “The Coupled Motion of Piano Strings”

Yet many technicians still say, vehemently, that it doesn’t exist. In fact, I have measured this effect and have found:

  • A string’s pitch change by as much as 1.5 cents due to being tuned to another string in unison.

  • An interval’s beat speed change by as much as 13.7%, a drastic change in progressive beat speeds if we are trying to tune beat speeds of 5.9% for Equal Temperament.

So, there is no doubt in my mind that this occurs and is significant. In my opinion, the only possible valid, logical, and scientific responses a tuner can have to this information are:

1. “I will have to judge the final trichord before moving on if I want to be efficient and not have to retune drifted intervals” or,

2. “I do not need, wish, or care to tune to that accuracy”

A response of “This doesn’t exist” or “You are a liar”, in my mind, shows to me the weakness and insecurity of these people.

Unfortunately, 90% of the technicians I speak to about this, have this response.

Here is a video showing intervals changing beat speed simply by adding and removing a mute. But of course, I could have altered the video and recordings. I encourage you to do the same experiments. But take a few samples. I have found that about 10% – 20% of the notes experience unison drift when tuned to other strings.

Efficient Piano Tuning

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Are you frustrated at how much refining you need to do to tune a piano? I was. That’s why I developed my Go APE method.

(WATCH VIDEO on the Go APE Method.)

I recently posted a reply on the PTG website forum that tries to explain why I did it. Here it is:

“Thanks for all the comments.

I apologize for the vagueness. I will try to explain.

When I started tuning, I used the method most people start with; cycle of fifths with landmarks along the way. (F3A3 = 7bps, the White Anchor, etc)

Then in 2006 I started teaching piano tuning. I was frustrated that I couldn’t answer questions like, “How much faster should F3D4 beat compared to F3A3 when tuning a wide P4? My response? “Not too fast??” These answers did not make me feel like such a good teacher.

Also, as my ear got better at hearing beats and small beat speed differences, I became aware that the piano was laughing at me. That’s right, the piano was actually laughing at me. Perhaps you recognize the sound:

“Ha ha ha. You set that beat speed to what you are sure is the best for this piano eh? And now you come back and it’s changed? Ha ha ha. Now you’re refining it? I can’t wait for you to come back later and check it. Loser!”

I was getting really ticked off at how much refining I had to do. I decided to find out, if I could, what was going on.

I started writing programs to test assumptions and graph curves. I learned about inharmonicity formulas. I designed methods to accurately measure beat rates. I enlisted the help of other technicians through online audio surveys. I am writing articles for the Journal and taught two classes in Denver.

The result is now I have an aural method that I am very happy with, a very accurate, precise, and efficient method. But I am getting little or no favourable response from other technicians.

This post was an attempt to find out why. One question that I am asking is, “Do technicians generally not use the m3/M3 test, and that is why my method is too foreign?”

My experience talking to many techs is that the vast majority use ETD’s. Even the ones who can tune aurally. Why? Most techs acknowledge that experienced aural tuners can do a better job than an ETD in many cases. The PTG remains adamant that an aural skill be kept as part of the exam.

My answer? Current aural methods are not easy to learn. There are too many vague ideas that are not at the root of the problem. My March article deals with one of these assumptions specifically. How many techs will ignore my research and say it doesn’t matter? How many other aspects of my method “don’t matter”? At some point, does all this “doesn’t matter” add up to one BIG MATTER!

One assumption I used to believe: Put the pitch “close” and then do a lot of refining. Like the old comment “A piano has to be in tune before you can tune it.”

One effort I’ve made is to figure out what that final pitch is, set it at the beginning, and try to reduce as much as possible any reason why that pitch might drift during the tuning. I am very close now.

In determining the final pitch of a note, I needed the m3/M3 equality.

Here’s an example:

1. Tune A4 from Fork

2. Tune A3A4 (Get the octave spread and hence, the m3/M3 equality from that)

3. Set F3A3 approx. 7bps

4. Tune F3F4 (Confirm octave spread and m3/M3 equality. Not always the same on poorly scaled pianos)

5. Set C#4 so F3A3<A3C#4<C#4F4 changes smoothly.

Aside: Try my online test for tuning C#4 this way HERE!

6. Check A#3C#4<C#4F4

7. Change F4 if it is not

8. Retune F3 from F4

9. Check F3A3<A3C#4<C#4F4

Now I use a Bisecting Beat Speed Window temperament sequence. (See the June Journal) All beat speeds are set exactly between two others. In this way, there is no guessing at where the pitch needs to be. Just set the beat speeds to be Slow-Medium-Fast, where Medium is exactly between Slow and Fast.

10. Tune D4 so that F3A3 < F3D4 < A3C#4. This is using G3B3 = F3D4 and setting up a F3A3 < G3B3 < A3C#4 eventuality.

Now comes the m3/M3 equality that bridges the F3A3C#4F4A4 to other parts of the temperament.

Assume we have a small octave spread AND we have tuned the F3F4 and A3A4 as a pure 4:2.

This sets up F#3A3 = B3D#4

11. Now I tune F#3 so that A3C#4 < F#3A4 < C#4F4. F#3A4 = B3D#4 sets up the eventuality of A3C#4 < B3D#4 < C#4F4.

I can also check the size of F#3C#4 just to be sure.

The entire temperament is finished this way. I have discovered reasons why these pitches drift, and have done my best to reduce their effect. (Who’s laughing now, eh?)

The result is a progressive temperament, from which a stretch can accurately be chosen and applied.

(This brings up another confusion of mine. Why do people think the size of the temperament octave affects the stretch? Look at the Rails Back curve. There is little to no evidence of stretch in the temperament octave compared to the extremes. Choices you make WHILE tuning the extremes is what determines the stretch.)

Sorry for the long winded post. I just have no idea how to explain these findings in less time. I am expecting criticism.

I am available for an online Skype meeting for anyone really interested in this stuff.

You can also text me at 514-978-8637″

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