Tuning with 8:4 Windows in the Lower Octaves – Advanced Technique

Recently, someone asked me about 8:4 windows.

I have added a sound file below that is a recording of me using the 8:4 window to tune D#3 on a Steinway grand. This was taken from an actual tuning. I.e. I tuned the whole piano this way and wasn’t doing anything special just for the recording.

Basically, the check note for an 8:4 octave is the note a m6 above the bottom note, and a M3 below the top note of an octave.

For D#3, the check note is B3. (m6 above D#3, M3 below D#4)

For the D#3D#4, it is most definitely a narrow 8:4. That means for a narrow 8:4, the test will confirm m6 > (beats faster than) M3. In our case, D#3B3 > B3D#4.

The 8:4 window, which produces a pure triple octave, (D#3D#6 in our case) is:

M3 <= (beats the same, for a pure 4:2, or slightly slower than, for a median 4:2/6:3) M10 < M17 = m6 below. Specifically, B3D#4 <= B3D#5 < B3D#6 = D#3B3 The tests confirm the following: M3 <= M10 confirms a pure 4:2 or median 4:2/6:3, your choice according to the scaling of the piano. M10 < M17 confirms a wide 2:1. M3 = m6 below confirms a pure 22nd (Triple octave) The real power of this test, and what you will hear in the recording, is that, in the process of confirming the fitting of all those intervals, it is possible to hear where some of the inner intervals (M3, M10) don't fit because one note has drifted, or wasn't set properly to begin with. Using Double String Unison (an open unison technique), I am able to shim those notes until their beat speeds fit within the window, and when that happens, all the larger SBI will be virtually beatless. Listen at the end when I play all the octaves (D#3D#4, D#4D#5, D#5D#6) all the double octaves (D#3D#5, D#4D#6) the triple octave (D#3D#6) and all the D#'s together (D#3D#4D#5D#6). It's uncanny because sometimes I can't tell which octave interval I am playing when they are tuned well; each note seems to belong to the harmonic series of the other(s). Here is the recording. You will hear me adjusting many of the notes within the window, not just the D#3. [audio mp3="http://howtotunepianos.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Steinway-grand-200192-D3-DSU-pure-22nd.mp3"][/audio] 0:00 Cleaning up E3 0:20 Cleaning up D#6 DSU 0:49 Raising D#3 1:10 Cleaning up D#5 DSU 1:30 Lowering D#3 1:43 Lowering D#3 2:10 Lowering D#3 2:40 Playing, in order: D#3D#4, D#4D#5, D#5D#6, D#3D#5, D#4D#6, D#3D#6, D#3D#4D#5D#6.

7 Responses to “Tuning with 8:4 Windows in the Lower Octaves – Advanced Technique”

  1. Cara says:

    Please excuse my poor english.

    Almost 3 minutes to tune D#3. How long it took you to tune the whole piano?

    • Let me explain.

      This technique is not for standard tunings. It is for concert level tunings. I can tune a piano in 40 minutes, but if you notice, I did not tune just D#3, I tuned D#3 and cleaned up and checked D#4, D#5, and D#6. Didn’t you hear that they needed cleaning up? Using a standard technique would mean that those rolling unisons would still be there.

      Regular techniques with mute strips allows the technician to leave unisons not pure. This open unison technique forces the technician to tune clean unisons because you cannot confirm clean SBI like compound octaves and fifths if one of the unisons are not pure.

      Also note that the four notes comprise 12 strings. At 227 strings, that would be 227/12 x 3mins = 56 minutes. But it is not exactly like that. A high level tuning of this calibre takes me about one and a half to two hours. Also, I believe this may have been a pitch raise.

      Thanks for the question.

  2. Roger says:

    Hi Mark,

    ” this technique is not for standard tunings” ? Why wouldn’t you use it for standard tuning, or is the time differential too great?


    • Hi Roger,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I should have said, the technique is not for beginners, or tunings where you do not have time.

      Yes, it takes longer, by in my opinion, if you have the chops (skill), it is well worth the extra time. I often use this technique for my own satisfaction, even if I think the owner may not hear the difference.


  3. Demian says:

    This is genius Mark! Thanks a lot. But do you think this could only be achieve in grand pianos? I’d normally tune up to 6/3 octaves on an upright, more than that makes the sound a little bit fuzzy.

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