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Tuning a Steinway upright? (Read 11118 times)

Offline Ann_W

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Tuning a Steinway upright?
« on: September 22, 2001, 05:42:29 PM »
I have a Steinway upright that was moved in to my flat two years ago. It was tuned before the moving didn't need to be tuned after. And still after two years it's almost perfectly in tune. I'm only using it for practice a few days per week, but anyway. Isn't that amazing? Is it only Steinway pianos that can keep up with that or do you know any other pianos that keeps the tuning so well? (Or do yo have a Steinway that is not staying in tune?)

Offline martin_s

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #1 on: September 22, 2001, 06:33:15 PM »
As from what I have heard from a few piano technicians that I know, Steinway upright pianos are among the most difficult to tune, I little bit of tuners nightmare actually! Although, once you get them in tune they will stay tune forever.  
Apparently that tuning difficulty has to do with Steinway pianos having a very rich sound with lots of quite unusual harmonics and a rather stupid construction of a pressure bar in the treble that will make the strings stick to it when you try to tune the piano...

it's funny, as pianists we seldom realise that tuning can be more difficult on certain pianos. Where I used to study in Sweden we hade to Steinway model D pianos in the conservatoire concert hall of which one (the newest of the two) was said to be very difficult to tune while the other one wasn't. And then I am not talking about problems with stabilising the tuning but problems with determining what overtones to listen to whilst tuning...


so they say...


Offline Ckarrlozs

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #2 on: September 27, 2001, 01:50:29 AM »
I wish I had a Steinway that doesn't stay in tune!  ;)

In my student life I come across lots of Steinways and non Steinway pianos that do not stay in tune. I own myself an upright Schimmel that stays very well in tune, at least for a few months with a regular practice schedule of a few hours a day.

Most quality pianos are built I believe to stay reasonably in tune for a while. Discussing with piano technicians, one learns that many parts in a piano need to be replaced after a while for the instrument to be in good shape. Hammers for instance, but even pins and strings. A piano that has been tuned many times, or a piano that has been moved many times to different regions, or just a brutal piano tuner... one or all of these can make the difference between a piano that stays in tune and another that doesn't.

Offline Achord

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #3 on: January 26, 2002, 10:46:01 PM »
I have a Steinway Upright, and it seems to need tuning just as much as other pianos I have had. There seems to be a connection with heat and cold and humidity more than brand name. Is the temperature and humidity constant in the room where you keep your Steinway Upright?

Offline STS

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #4 on: June 27, 2002, 06:29:44 PM »
IN proper conditions and humidity, a Steinway will hold their tune as good as any or better.  It really comes down to where you store your piano or what conditions it is subjected to.  A steinway going out of tune is due to climatic conditions, and not due to the pinblock, as the Steinway has a high-quality block.


Offline Maestro

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #5 on: October 11, 2002, 07:30:28 PM »
Unfortunately Steinway uprights never were as good as Steinway grands.  I know countless piano technicians and most of them detest tuning Steinway uprights because of the difficulty dealing with their overtones.  The best technician for the Detroit area worked on 90% of the Steinway grands in all the venues including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and privately for many pianists and teachers.  Even Rubenstein and Horowitz asked for him and he prepared pianos for most of the other great pianists of the world.  But if you asked him to tune a Steinway upright, he would politely decline.  I know of another excellent tuner who feels the same way.  Two others charge double for the privilege of tuning a Steinway upright.  Otherwise they are fairly good instruments, but considering how much dealers get for them, often over suggested retail price, there are many other great alternatives that are worth more and often can be bought for less.   There are some makes that cost less than half as much that can be a superior instrument.


Offline e60m5

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #6 on: October 28, 2002, 04:10:57 AM »
A piano staying perfectly in tune for 2 years is not scientifically possible.

However, the difference between perfectly in tune and acceptable in tune is a difference that is not apparent to nearly all non-piano-tuners.

A piano can easily retain a playable temperament over many years, given the right surroundings in regards to humidity, temperature range etc. and with a decent pinblock.

The same piano in a less perfect environment will doubtless go much worse out of tune, if the factors contributing to the piano holding its tuning are less than satisfactory.



As for Steinway uprights... I've found in my experience as a tuner, they are rather troublesome to tune. Then again, so are all uprights in comparison to grands. A lot of the Steinway upright tuning phenomenon is overplayed, though, in my opinion; it's an upright piano, and any respectable tuner must deal with troubles as and when they pop up. When called to tune a Steinway upright, I don't shy away, and I don't see why other people do. After all, it's a piano...

Offline rachfan

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Re: Tuning a Steinway upright?
«Reply #7 on: January 06, 2003, 04:40:48 AM »
The single biggest reason why tuners dislike tuning Steinway uprights is that there are no plate bushings around the pins to support them where they enter the plate.  Think of the bushing as sort of a collar around the pin to support it in position.  In the absence of that bushing, when you turn the pin and try to set it, it is not held rigidly in perpendicular position, meaning there is some side play in the pin.  That means more trial and error trying to set the pin just right.  That involves more time (sometimes an extra hour or so) to tune a Steinway upright, and time is money.  Many, if not most, tuners charge extra for the service.  Any tuner I've spoken to about this dreads doing those particular jobs.  
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