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Tuning my own piano (Read 3347 times)

Offline hamtaro

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Tuning my own piano
« on: September 02, 2002, 01:50:41 AM »
I was wondering if learning how to tune my own piano would be a feasible task.  How much skill does it take?  I know that it takes years of listening to music to be able to adjust the pitch by ear, but I could use an electronic tuner until then.

The reason I am asking is because it seems that my piano goes out of tune very easily.  Just a few months ago it was tuned and already the lower registers are off by a whole half step at some points.

Offline AmadeusPianoCo

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #1 on: September 03, 2002, 06:19:57 PM »
Well, I hate to break it to you, but you're better off paying a professional piano tuner to tune your piano now, rather than having to pay them for extra repairs as well.  Tuning a piano is not a difficult task, but only if you do it every day.  Otherwise, the ear-hand coordination is out of place, even for the experienced professional.  As far as your piano going out of tune, it's everyone's problem.  Your ears are just more sensitive.  The piano goes out of tune like a guitar, except the strings are harder to pull because the gauge is thicker.  The only thing you can do to stabilize tuning is to get the Humidity Control System Installed inside your piano ($600).  If you live in the New York area, our company would be more than happy to help you with that.  (800)33-TUNER.
Amadeus Piano Co specializes in wholesale piano services, including tuning, regulation, custom restoration, rebuilding, etc.
Preowned Yamaha U1's available imported Directly from Japan.  10yr warrant

Offline e60m5

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #2 on: October 28, 2002, 04:15:52 AM »
As a learning technician with nearly a year's experience, I have only one thing to say.

DON'T EVEN TRY TO TUNE YOUR PIANO.[/u][/i]

Tuning a piano is more than a skill; one might call it an art. It is not something that a person can just pick up in a couple of weeks, or even months. Sure, you can learn the basics in 15 minutes or less, but it will take up to a lifetime to learn how to apply them to give a decent tuning... well, not a lifetime.

But still... don't try. Hand over to a professional.

Offline markjpcs

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #3 on: December 31, 2002, 07:39:46 AM »
I am one of the crazy ones I guess. I do not do a full tuning but have no qualms about touching up a string here or there. I have my own tunning hammer and a very good ear.

Just two days ago I noticed the high F# was just a hair flat and adjusted it with no problem at all.

Now, as far as a full tunning? Yes, I will attempt it someday with the guidance of my technician of course!

I used to touch up my upright all the time. This was the first touch up I did on my new Grand.

No problem! ;-)

Mark

Offline Liadov

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #4 on: January 03, 2003, 03:59:39 AM »
Hamtaro,  Go for it! I have been tuning my own piano for many years. I learned on my own after reading several books including the classic "Piano Tuning and Allied Arts" by William Braid White. I found, however, the simplest and best instruction book to be "Piano Tuning - A Practical Guide" by Dennis E. Kurk (Catalog Music Supply, Wayne, NJ, USA). I think its still available thru American Piano Supply Co. Think about the previous advice given to you..."you're better off paying a professional piano tuner". How do you think one becomes a "professional" piano tuner? Only one way...by tuning pianos! Once you master setting the temperament everything else falls into place. Yes, it takes time and MUCH patience but it can be done. Let me know if I can be of help. Best of Luck, Liadov

Offline G.Fiore

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #5 on: January 03, 2003, 04:31:57 AM »
One learns tuning at a trade school,or as an apprentice,not on your own piano. To get the Kurk book you might try Schaff Piano Supply,American Piano Supply closed and is now owned by Schaff. :o                                    
George Fiore /aka Curry
 Piano Technician serving the central New Jersey area

Offline rachfan

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #6 on: January 05, 2003, 06:19:32 AM »
Setting the temperament of the scale is truly an art as previously suggested here.  I have tuned inexpensive uprights for a couple of my friends to good effect and without mishap.   At home though, I use my tuning hammer sparingly to take the "buzz" out of two or three stray notes between tunings of my Baldwin Model L grand.  I do some routine regulation on my own.  For example, I know how to properly clean the dust from the soundboard, level the hammers, tighten up the action, test the back checks, wipe minute rust particles from the steel strings, adjust the pedal mechanisms, touch up the fall board, etc.  But when it comes to tuning (even though I have perfect pitch) or more complex regulation, I put my own piano into the capable hands of the professional technician.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline stokes

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #7 on: February 17, 2003, 02:26:28 AM »
I am now taking a piano tech class at university and I would indeed recommend you to take some kind of class and learn how to tune. My teacher says the only way to learn is to get experience and after doing some tuning you will be able to figure out pretty much by yourself how it works, more and more. There are some other things that you also probably should learn, if you want to get in to this bussiness like how to change a broken string.

Offline steve_van_nattan

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #8 on: February 21, 2003, 09:35:38 AM »
Some sort of study course is needed in order to learn the theory. Piano tuning is more mathematical than musical, and there is no other skill like it as a foundation-- You have to learn a new thing from square one.  The best book I would think is Arthur Reblitz book, "Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding." You can order it on Amazon online. Do not try tuning without studying some book or course on the subject-- You will mess things up badly if you just start turning tuning pins without knowing the strategy of tuning.

Professionals like to make piano tuning sound very spooky and mysterious. Many of life's skills are like that until you take the dive. I had a high school teacher who could look at a boulder for a while, and then he would smash it with one hefty blow at some mysterious point, and the thing would break in two. "Reading the rocks." He showed me the secret, and after some practice, I was doing pretty fair at busting boulders. There are these secrets....

Actually, this skill is one that can keep you busy learning for the rest of your life, and it is never boring. But, you will soon find that you are crashing the gates to a very private world of tradesmen. Be humble, take advice with grace, and someone may let you in one day :-)

Then you should practice on your own piano, and later, on any old pianos friends will allow you to try. Your friends must understand that you may mess up the tuning. You MUST learn about old pianos and how not to break strings that are old. You should also try to find a mentor in your area who is open minded and will help you, though these sort of men are rare. You should be willing to pay them, or do something for them for their trouble. If you ever tune for anyone else, as a courtesy NEVER enter your mentor's territory.

Piano tuning is not easy, but it is not impossible for the novice to learn. My first tuning took me all day long, and then some. There are some fine points though which will be very hard for you to master without some skilled teaching. But, you can get your piano very close and keep it tolerable between professional tunings. I have a good number of customers who are now tuning their own pianos with what they feel are good results. An experienced piano tuner would find their tuning very deficient of course, but the novice tuner has a right to learn just like anyone else. There are no laws or Federal codes that say you cannot tune your own piano :-) There is also no assurance you will get it right either. You may end up humbly asking a tuner to rescue you. But, how would you know if you don't try?

One valid shortcut to consider is a good tuning meter, but they are quite expensive. A cheap meter will NOT get you even close to right.

Offline stokes

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #9 on: March 01, 2003, 06:36:16 AM »
As a matter of fact, it IS against the law, at least in some parts of Europe, to tune and adjust your own piano if you do not have a technicians license. At least some pianos like Steinways, Bösendorfs, Bechstein and some others....

Offline rachfan

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #10 on: March 02, 2003, 02:48:14 AM »
Hi Stokes,

Luckily I don't live in Europe.  Today, I didn't fully tune my Baldwin (see my admonitions above), but I did feel compelled to reach for my tuning hammer and take the curse off of three notes in the middle range.  The piano's next tuning isn't for four months or so, and that did the trick.  And the good news is that afterward I didn't have to hire a lawyer or post bail!
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline JamesCreasy

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Re: Tuning my own piano
«Reply #11 on: March 11, 2003, 08:43:32 PM »
i tuned and worked on my own pianos for years.  i used to play fortepianos (vintage pianos) that required tuning virtually everyday.  

its not a big deal, but if you dont do it regularly its hard to do a good job, esp setting the temperment.  i learned tuning while in music school and also apprenticed with a piano technician.   a professional tuner will do a much better job.  other than breaking a string you cant get into too much trouble.  ive also shaved hammers and voiced, which can get you into more trouble.  

you can tune completely by ear (you need a tuning fork for the reference).  its not that hard if you can hear the overtone beats.  also, if your piano is going out tune that often id guess there is some other seriosu problem, such as a worn pin block or extreme variations of temperature or humidity.  if the tuner doesnt do a good job of setting the strings it will also go out of tune (the unisons will go out).

have fun.

james creasy
berkeley, ca