Blogs

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I love mental techniques. The brain is a powerful tool, one that can work for us, or against us. This week’s tip is about teaching your mind to work for you. Tip 7: Pre-Condition Your Mind One day, I overestimated the travel time involved to get to my appointment. I got there about 15 minutes too early to go to the door, so I pulled over into an empty parking lot. Like all good technicians, I don’t like to waste time, so I checked my email, posted to my.ptg.org, did all the ins and outs of being self employed, looked at the clock — still 8 minutes before I’d feel comfortable going to the door. So, I pulled up a game on my phone. Watching little aliens go ...
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As a ride on to last time’s tip, here’s yet another for preserving your body. Who knows, it may even increase your speed as well. Tip 6: Tune Ambidextrously The fact of the matter is, in tuning one piano, we hit the key about 10,000 times, give or take a few hundred. If you’re tuning within the first half of a second, that means you’re also trying to make a tiny movement with your tuning lever about 10,000 times per piano. That’s a lot of little tiny, super stressful movements. No matter how good your technique is, it has the potential to cause physical damage. My father works in corporate America, and tells me many of his coworkers often develop joint problems ...
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“What do you mean I have joint problems? I’m too young to have joint problems!” Like many of you, I began tuning as a teenager. After an intense year and a half of study, practice, study, practice, tele-mentoring, practice, hands-on training, practice, in person mentoring, practice — did I mention a ton of practice? — I was ready to begin tuning for pay. Less than a year later, I began experiencing extreme pain in my fingers, caused by playing using them for tuning and test blows. Tip 5: Protect Your Fingers To solve my problem, I began wearing rubber fingertips. This helped with the pain in my fingers, but ultimately didn’t help with my joint issues. It got ...
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Ok, the last two weeks of tips haven’t been the funnest, but this week’s tips are about something we all can do to improve our efficiency. Tip 4: Move Your Mutes Efficiency The late Charlie Huether, RPT, claimed that only 30% of the time we spend tuning is spent on tuning; the rest of the time is spent manipulating our tools. Most of the time we spend on tools is spent on the tuning lever and mutes. Translation: if we can move our tuning lever more efficiently (last week’s tips), and move our mutes more efficiently, then our 70% of tool time grows smaller, the tuning time grows bigger, the job time grows smaller, and our profits grow larger. The most effective ...
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Hello all, This week’s tips have to do with the other part of the tuning lever: the head and tip assembly. Tip 3: Use a Head / Tip Assembly that fits tightly Let’s look at the head first. What good does an ultra stiff tuning lever do if the head has a lot of slack in how it fits? The answer: no good at all. Carbon fiber tuning levers are awesome, but if combined with a head that doesn’t fit well, the overall efficiency will only be nominally better than a traditional extension lever. Ideally you want a head that will screw on the lever for the full length of the tread. Too little, and the shaft will have a lot of flex where it contacts the head. One thing ...
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Hello all, Here’s part 2 in my list of tips for efficiency in tuning. After posting the first tip, I had quite a few technicians comment, both publicly and privately, and add their tips for efficiency. Hey, this was supposed to be my list ... (clear throat and act offended)... Just kidding! I appreciate all the input, and can always learn something new. My goal through posting these tips along is so everyone can benefit. Most of the comments I received had something to do with the tuning lever, so that’s what this week’s tips will be about. Tip 2: Use an efficient tuning lever. What is an efficient tuning lever? By my definition, an efficient tuning lever ...
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Hello all, Over the past several months I’ve been studying how to tune more efficiently. TT&T, old Journal articles, my.ptg.org discussions, etc. I’ve found quite a few tips that have literally changed my (tuning) life, and want to share them here — one at a time, of course, so stay tuned! (Pun intended) Note: none of these are original, nor do I wish to take credit here in place of the authors. This is simply my collection that I would like to share. Tip 1: Tune within the first half of a second of sound. Many of us listen to the sound for far too long. From beginners to experienced pros, we tend to listen much more than is necessary.​​ After tuning a ...
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Geoff's question about string tension brings to mind a question that has been unclear to me since day one. How do we define high tension scales verses low tension scales etc.? In the past, the answer given to me has been defined by the amount of string tension (in pounds) on a particular unison. I've always defined (in my head) high tension/low tension scales by the tension relative to the breaking point of a string. Why? The percentage of breaking point defines the "harmonic key" of that string, hence the overall tone quality of the piano. I've heard of string tension as low as 45% to a high of 67% throughout any given scale. Would not the average % throughout ...
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Tuning Hammer Technique

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The following posts on hammer technique come from a very long thread on Pianotech in early 2014, entitled “What’s the Secret to going faster” (Somebody posed that question, and the thread evolved into use of an ETD and hammer technique). From that thread, I have selected mostly posts by David Love and myself, describing what we do in great detail – we are pretty much in agreement. The full thread is at http://my.ptg.org/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?GroupId=43&MID=634052&CommunityKey=6265a40b-9fd2-4152-a628-bd7c7d770cbf&tab=digestviewer - bm104 There was a shorter follow-up thread at http://my.ptg.org/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?GroupId=43&MID=634268&CommunityKey=6265a40b-9fd2-4152-a628-bd7c7d770cbf&tab=digestviewer ...
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Hurricanes and pianos

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Wim, I'm hearing on the evening news there's a hurricane heading your way. After it blows over and you come out of your cubby hole, be sure to give us a full report on "Hurricanes & Pianos." Roge
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Verdigris

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About 6 months ago I used, as an experiment, a common chemical sold as "Break Cleaner"* on a set of Steinway flanges for cleaning verdigris. I removed the pinning and vigorously sprayed the flanges using the tube supplied with the can -- about 3 cans for 88 flanges. These flanges are still in good condition. Has anybody used this product with long term success? * Sold at auto supply companies as break cleaner. The ingredients listed are: Methyl Chloroform 71-55--6, Tetrachloroethylene127-18-4 I believe this is commonly known as carbon tetrachloride. Roger Gabl
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I attended a workshop recently that at first glance sounded like it might be a bit boring. The title included "Bloom's Taxonomy" - something near and dear to the hearts of education professionals - and a topic that can be done many ways. In this case, the presenter really practiced what she preached. Her goal was to impress on us the value of breaking training into small segments called micro learning and she did just that during her 45-minute talk. There is lots of research out there that confirms an important truth for educators. What people remember the most is what they learn through experience. Whether it's on the job, or in a more formal learning experience, ...
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Grand Piano case rails

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I have an information blind spot. What is the purpose of the two long rails attached to the flat side of the case on large grand pianos? Steinway, Baldwin and Bosendorfer frequently installed these. I originally thought they were used instead of skid boards for moving, but they seem to be too impractical for that purpose. Roger Gabl
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I've been reading and learning a lot lately about how to maximize workplace learning. The question is how to effectively train people in the skills and knowledge they need to perform well at their jobs. So many training factors affect the outcomes: time, location, content, methods, audience readiness, follow-up, technology, etc. I really like the problem-solving approach to presenting new knowledge and skills. The instructor has to put a little thought and planning into organizing the setting so that learners have what they need to discover the answer, but I've found that the retention rate is higher and students more able to apply what they learned to other ...
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Grand Piano Bass leg

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A customer has a Ridgewood grand piano with a damaged bass leg. The leg was damaged in a move. The Ridgewood piano is no longer being made. It appears that I'm going to have to find someone to custom reproduce this leg. Does anyone have a suggestion?
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2015 Denver Technical Institute instructors will be working on their classes and presentations throughout the coming months. One of the most frequent audio-visual requests is for a projector. I bet you can remember the best - and the worst - PowerPoint presentations you've ever seen. A great visual presentation conveys information to the group in a way that holds their attention. It enhances a lecture, emphasizes key points and accommodates different learning styles. Below are some tips for developing and using PowerPoint (or any visual slides) to maximize learning in your class. Contact me at kathy@ptg.org if you need more ideas. Font and Size - Your ...
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The Journal

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Sure miss the Tips Tools & Techniques. Was one of the first things I looked at when I received Journal the past 35 plus years, if the TT&T section goes back that far. And thanks to Yamaha for remembering the season on the back cover. Don Bee, RPT
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How Am I Doing?

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How did your class go? Ever have someone ask you that? It's a meaningful question whether you were in the class as the instructor, or as a student. Sometimes it is hard to answer from an instructor viewpoint. If the class was short in length like a workshop or many of the classes we have at our convention institutes, regional conferences, or even at the chapter level, you haven't had time to work in a formal student assessment activity. Below are a couple of ideas you can easily incorporate into your next teaching opportunity. They not only give you a chance to see how well students are processing the information you are presenting, but also help you ...
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Plate Refinishing

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Does anybody have a recommendation for cleaning and prepping a plate for refinishing? We normally use naptha and have few problems. I have a plate in the shop with terrible fish-eyes. We have used Naptha... Lacquer thinner... and Acetone. Nothing seems to work. We are using the canned lacquer from the supply houses. I realize we can use fish-eye killer mixed in with premixed lacquer but I don't have any premixed at this time. Just hoping for a quick fix since we are using spray cans. Thanks for your help!
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I have studied Lehman's theory very thoroughly, and have concluded that it is essentially analogous to the book The Da Vinci Code: it has enough historical speculation to appear plausible, but it is pure and simple fantasy. Let us start by stating Lehman's claims. According to Lehman: 1) The decorative design on the title page of the Well-Tempered Clavier is, in fact, a tuning diagram. 2) That diagram should be interpreted in a certain way, the way that Bradley Lehman has set out in an article in Early Music and on his web site. There are some related arguments/hypotheses that bear strongly on Lehman's claims. 1) Lehman believes ...
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