My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

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Bernie29
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My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Bernie29 »

I've bought a Bentley compact for £100. It mostly works ok, I fixed a couple of sticky keys and adjusted the pedals, and came to realise what a weird old-fashioned sort of thing a piano is, all that felt and buckskin and chunky bits of wood.

I did a first tuning using the free PianoMeter app. I have some questions about that. Firstly, the app is said to work out the correct "stretch" by recording every note on the (slightly out of tune) piano. I don't understand how that works, with the piano being out of tune when the recording is made.

Then I tuned the middle strings in each set of three in the midrange of the instrument using the PianoMeter, then tuned the unisons to the middle strings by ear. I think I'm doing ok with setting the pins, at least according to the app. The notes are pretty much lined up with the curve the app suggested.

But the piano doesn't sound good. It's not terrible, but it's not perfect. I'm not sure what to do next. Should I keep trying to get everything right with the app, or do I really have to learn to do all that stuff with counting beats? Is there a simple procedure that will get me there? I have the Haynes Piano Manual but the procedure using beats described there is very complex.

What about tuning the wooden piano using my electric piano as the reference? Just doing that by ear, note by note?

Another question: I have improved the action somewhat by raising the capstans to take up lost motion but on some notes there is still misbehaviour. I think the jack is bobbling about on the hammer butt. I'm wondering what I could adjust to rectify this. I could possibly send a video if that would help.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Barrie Heaton »

Bernie29 wrote: 30 May 2022, 11:25

I did a first tuning using the free PianoMeter app. I have some questions about that. Firstly, the app is said to work out the correct "stretch" by recording every note on the (slightly out of tune) piano. I don't understand how that works, with the piano being out of tune when the recording is made.
Don't use an electronic tuning device so I can't advise, what I do know is the stretch is very important.
Bernie29 wrote: 30 May 2022, 11:25
What about tuning the wooden piano using my electric piano as the reference? Just doing that by ear, note by note?
You have the same problem the stretch would not be the same,
Bernie29 wrote: 30 May 2022, 11:25
Another question: I have improved the action somewhat by raising the capstans to take up lost motion but on some notes there is still misbehaviour. I think the jack is bobbling about on the hammer butt. I'm wondering what I could adjust to rectify this. I could possibly send a video if that would help.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
If you have done lost motion, look at the keys they probably dipped in the middle because of use, so you need to level the keys, needs to have 9.5 to 10 mm depth touch. Or is the Americans call it dip.

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Bernie29
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Bernie29 »

This is what the tuner app PianoMeter shows, after tuning the mid range but before doing the bass and treble: Image

I've now got the bass and treble more or less lined up with the curve, but the piano doesn't sound quite right to me. Then in the Haynes manual for the piano

Image

I read this:

(After you have tuned the piano by ear using beats:)
"You can now play the major triad G, C, E in the middle of the piano. You may notice how horrible it is - a revelation that for many is a lifetime first. Indeed people with a good musical ear who have never tried to tune a piano before may feel that they must have gone wrong because it sounds so unpleasant, even though it's actually correct."
I find this a little baffling!

But anyway, I have a chart showing frequencies for all notes for equal temperament, and today I'm going to try tuning the mid range to those frequencies using the app, just out of curiosity. If that doesn't sound good, I'll try doing it by counting beats.

Final question, for today anyway: this is a Bentley Compact 85 piano. It sounds rather "jangly", resonant. I've been playing electric piano for years, and I think maybe the pedal technique is different on a wooden piano, as the unstruck strings all resonate, which doesn't happen with an electronic instrument. Does that ring true? And should I expect a compact piano to sound more echoey?
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Barrie Heaton »

Bernie29 wrote: 03 Jun 2022, 11:03


But anyway, I have a chart showing frequencies for all notes for equal temperament, and today I'm going to try tuning the mid range to those frequencies using the app, just out of curiosity. If that doesn't sound good, I'll try doing it by counting beats.
Tuning to theoretical pictures doesn't work because you haven't got the stretch human ear automatically calculates the stretch.

Bernie29 wrote: 03 Jun 2022, 11:03 Final question, for today anyway: this is a Bentley Compact 85 piano. It sounds rather "jangly", resonant. I've been playing electric piano for years, and I think maybe the pedal technique is different on a wooden piano, as the unstruck strings all resonate, which doesn't happen with an electronic instrument. Does that ring true? And should I expect a compact piano to sound more echoey?
It's the other way round electronic pianos cannot at present reproduce the sound of an acoustic piano truly, because of sympathetic vibrations you get when using the pedal.

Most people like you who played digital piano all their playing life, when they play a decent acoustic piano they tend to go wow! I get it, I want one.. I see it all the time.

And I'm afraid, even when the Bentley compact was new it wasn't a great piano.


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Bernie29
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Bernie29 »

Here's the result of my first attempt at tuning.

https://audiomack.com/just-friends/song/youre-blase

Far from perfect I'm sure, but it's not painful to my ears.
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Barrie Heaton »

Not bad for your first attempt but it is out. Keep practising a better electronic tuning device would help you immensely.

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chrisw
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by chrisw »

"You can now play the major triad G, C, E in the middle of the piano. You may notice how horrible it is - a revelation that for many is a lifetime first. Indeed people with a good musical ear who have never tried to tune a piano before may feel that they must have gone wrong because it sounds so unpleasant, even though it's actually correct."

I also find this statement rather baffling ! I suppose they are referring to the G being very slightly out of tune with the C and the E being much more out of tune again with the C in equal temperament. I can't recall without looking it up how many beats different.

However ,surely, an electronic tuning device should be able to set the pitch of these three notes accurately in the middle octave without need for stretch etc so if they sound bad is it not the unisons that are not quite right ?

My experience with electric/digital pianos is that the damper pedal is much more forgiving than it is on an acoustic. Keep the damper pedal down for too long on an acoustic and you just get mush. Perhaps top of the range digitals should have solved the problem but it would be something to test out if I ever buy one. If digitals still have forgiving damper pedals it makes occasional transitioning to an acoustic very difficult.
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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by Barrie Heaton »

chrisw wrote: 05 Jun 2022, 15:49 "You can now play the major triad G, C, E in the middle of the piano. You may notice how horrible it is - a revelation that for many is a lifetime first. Indeed people with a good musical ear who have never tried to tune a piano before may feel that they must have gone wrong because it sounds so unpleasant, even though it's actually correct."

I also find this statement rather baffling ! I suppose they are referring to the G being very slightly out of tune with the C and the E being much more out of tune again with the C in equal temperament. I can't recall without looking it up how many beats different.
The Haynes book over complicates tuning when the book 1st came out the trade didn't have very money kind words for it, but I would imagine that will be the same for the Mechanic version and electricians version in the plumbers version.
chrisw wrote: 05 Jun 2022, 15:49 However ,surely, an electronic tuning device should be able to set the pitch of these three notes accurately in the middle octave without need for stretch etc so if they sound bad is it not the unisons that are not quite right ?
The middle of the piano is the most important part, this is where the stretch is calculated so if you don't get that right the scale is bad and the rest of the piano is bad, the rest of the piano is just a mirror image of the scale.


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Re: My piano tuning nightmare has begun.

Post by dbpiano »

Hello, this is a late response to the O.P.

PianoMeter is an excellent piece of piano tuning software. (For those who don't know, different pricing levels are available, with different degrees of funtionaility).

It is not necessary to measure every note; just a selection across the range. It may be better to measure a single string, in the trichords or bichords, rather than all three (or two) sounding together..

Your matching the squares on the curve looks very good - as if you have decent technique with the tuning lever.

I think your main problem is unisons. Whichever professional Electronic Tuning App is used, you really need to be able to hear, and to achieve, 'clean' unisons by ear.

Have you tuned again since your original post? I think with practice you could become really proficient!
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