The right tone in unisons

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano, Melodytune

Post Reply
napicola
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Jun 2011, 19:15

The right tone in unisons

Post by napicola » 17 Apr 2013, 22:07

I have an upright piano 49”. I use a software to set the temperament and stretching and I tune the unison aurally. I have many difficulties to achieve the right tone in unisons in three chords in the middle range. Often there is something wrong in any key and sometimes I think it is impossible to achieve the right tuning. Why it happens this? Maybe I have to use aural tuning? Thanks

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3873
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by Barrie Heaton » 18 Apr 2013, 19:24

napicola wrote:I have an upright piano 49”. I use a software to set the temperament and stretching and I tune the unison aurally. I have many difficulties to achieve the right tone in unisons in three chords in the middle range. Often there is something wrong in any key and sometimes I think it is impossible to achieve the right tuning. Why it happens this? Maybe I have to use aural tuning? Thanks
No an Expert on ETD but you need to set the stretch also, if it has false strings ETD do tend to struggle so I been told. The ones I have seen are are naf at tuning unisons


Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by vernon » 18 Apr 2013, 19:34

Hire a tuner who is experienced in dealing with the manifold vagaries encountered in tuning.
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by vernon » 18 Apr 2013, 19:34

Hire a tuner who is experienced in dealing with the manifold vagaries encountered in tuning.
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

napicola
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Jun 2011, 19:15

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by napicola » 18 Apr 2013, 22:45

Barrie Heaton wrote:
napicola wrote:I have an upright piano 49”. I use a software to set the temperament and stretching and I tune the unison aurally. I have many difficulties to achieve the right tone in unisons in three chords in the middle range. Often there is something wrong in any key and sometimes I think it is impossible to achieve the right tuning. Why it happens this? Maybe I have to use aural tuning? Thanks
No an Expert on ETD but you need to set the stretch also, if it has false strings ETD do tend to struggle so I been told. The ones I have seen are are naf at tuning unisons


Barrie

Can you explain "if it has false strings ETD do tend to struggle"?
Thanks

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3873
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by Barrie Heaton » 18 Apr 2013, 23:28

napicola wrote:

Can you explain "if it has false strings ETD do tend to struggle"?
Thanks
Piano Strings age they stretch this plus other factors makes the string give off a False beat its an impure sound from the string. ETDs (electronic Tuning devices ) tend to struggle with this, particularly in the Bass and 6 octave. I don't use one, but I am going off what others who do use them say.



Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1836
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by Colin Nicholson » 19 Apr 2013, 15:11

No one will know here the condition and age of your piano and its strings. Simply saying "upright/ 49 inches in height" means nothing. Over a period of about 40 years onwards (or could be sooner) - treble strings on a piano change shape; instead of being spherical throughout, some strings in certain spots become "pear" shaped and flat due to stretching. This also has an effect on the condition of the strings if they are tarnished/rusty/corroded? Longer treble strings tend to suffer the most. Also, a build up of dust & debris around the bridge & bridge pins has an effect, or perhaps the piano is losing downbearing.... this all contributes to false beats, and some single strings from their unison have this beating all of their own.
In most cases, the strings need to be replaced - but this is a lengthy job, and some mechanism work would be involved aswell.
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

napicola
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Jun 2011, 19:15

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by napicola » 22 Apr 2013, 00:37

I think the subject wasn't properly suggested...
Nowadays there is some piano tuning software and it's clear it isn't enough to follow the instructions but, is it possible to achieve a good tuning only with electronic Tuning device? ETD can replace a piano tuner or aural tuning?

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by vernon » 22 Apr 2013, 08:51

A large part of tuning well is the manipulation of the tuning lever and the correct setting of the wrest pins. If your etd tells you that the note is correct then you have to set the string. That will entail your raising the pitch a bit to drop into set. The etd only tells you what your ear can hear.
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3873
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by Barrie Heaton » 22 Apr 2013, 20:07

napicola wrote:I think the subject wasn't properly suggested...
Nowadays there is some piano tuning software and it's clear it isn't enough to follow the instructions but, is it possible to achieve a good tuning only with electronic Tuning device? ETD can replace a piano tuner or aural tuning?
in a word No

All the makers of ETDs tell you its a tool (a very good tool) to help but you have to listen to the end results to achieve good tuning. as Veron as pointed out that is only part of the job.

There has been many Tune offs betwixt ETD and Ear The times in the USA that the ETD was voted a better tuning it was when the tuner used both ETD and the Ear.

in the UK they have not come first


Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

Withindale
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 176
Joined: 06 Oct 2011, 14:30

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by Withindale » 22 Apr 2013, 22:08

By force of necessity I touched up a unison for the first time the other day using a freebie on my iPhone. It took me ages but I produced a healthy sustain in the end. However the attack is quite different from its neighbours and there is no way I could begin to make it the same.

I found it impossible to set the pin in the way Vernon suggests because the string would go flat as soon as the pin saw the hammer coming from above.

Mind you, I am sure I'd improve with lots and lots and lots of practice. Perhaps I'd be able to produce tolerable tunings with something like Dirk's Tuner. Even then I am quite sure my results would not be anywhere near those of a good aural tuner.

napicola
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Jun 2011, 19:15

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by napicola » 23 Apr 2013, 12:01

There are many professionals who use a ETD in unusual circumstances, for example when they have to do their work on stage and they are surrounded by noise produced by the public, etc. and producing a positive result.

rxd
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
Posts: 52
Joined: 29 Mar 2009, 15:02
Location: london

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by rxd » 24 Apr 2013, 15:35

napicola wrote: I have many difficulties to achieve the right tone in unisons in three chords in the middle range. Often there is something wrong in any key
There may be a terminology problem here. I assume you mean the word chords in its usual meaning of using notes in combination. Check the unisons as single notes first. Sometimes an almost perfect unison can seem good alone but a slight flaw can show up when that one note is played simultaneously with another note.

You must also understand that every chord on the piano, whether tuned electronically or by ear is deliberately out of tune by a measured degree so that we can play in all keys.
Your problem may stem from a difference in tone colour of just one note caused by differences in string level, hammer hardness or many other causes that may make one chord sound more out of tune than others There are many parameters that can make one or two chords sound different enough.

I have never been satisfied with the explanation of aproaching a note from above in order to 'set' the pin. It is far more involved than that and much depends on the type and condition of the pinblock plus the friction poInts on the wire on its way from the tuning pin to the speaking length and the heat generated by the friction over those bearing points if the string is manipulated too much. Each pin/string combination on each piano feels slightly different and a slight adaptation of technique is required never moving the pitch any more than necessary. All the time feeling the difference in tension between the portion of the wire as it comes off the pin and the perception of tension in the speaking length as heard in the pitch as it changes while perceiving how one follows the other.

All this (and more) cannot be thought through while the string is being tuned, it has to become almost aa though instinctual.

I will use electronics whenever feasible, mainly for a single tuning pitch raise or matching multiple pianos The display on any electronic tuning device is far more easily confused in a noisy environment than the experienced human perceptions are, even with a contact mike.

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: The right tone in unisons

Post by vernon » 25 Apr 2013, 21:54

I agree that tuning down to set the pins is more complicated than I said but as this is the Advice Forum and not the Technical one we can't go into finer detail.
When rxd says setting the pin is "instinctual" I would go further and say psychological- metaphysical almost. Don't switch off . Hold on.
When fine tuning a note and one approaches a perfect unison, the pressure on the lever is infinitesimal and one can "will" the string into unison. Obviously, this exertion of mind over matter is illusory but your brain subconsciously urges you to apply the exact pressure for success. One can't teach it ; you can only " feel the musiv."
Incidentally,
I think the thread has fallen foul of the dreaded musical nomenclature..
In music, simple English words mean different things and I feel our poster means "wires" when he says " chords" May be wrong.

See the British Standard Definitions.
eg Tone = quality of one whole note
string = wire, chord, cordes,

Touch= weight to depress key,lightness or otherwise of key
key= piece of firewood that pushes the works up or the level up or down that the music is played relative to ,say, C. =metal thing that locks the fall but is missing.
Set-off = let -off (USA) = gaseous effusion under the kilt in Scotland,drop back of hammer in UK in grands
Pitch=scientific description of a vibration of an object at 68degrees Fahrenheit at mean sea level at A 440 hertz generally called Concert or BS Pitch. Perfect pitch is what most customers have .Relative pitch is the approach from a close relative for a loan.
Lost motion= the play between the back of the key and the action that must be removed to allow positive lifting.= acheing in the :oops: region of ageing piano tuners.
Touch= sensitivity of key response=ability to resist advances from amorous customers. gentle application of tuning lever to customers who require advances from amorous tuners

Drop= amount hammer drops on grand after set off == large glass of whisky in Scotland
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

Post Reply