Pianotech

Subject: Spongey Tuning

1.  Spongey Tuning

Posted 23 days ago
Hello all,

Just wondering if you have any suggestions on tuning pianos that have that spongey feeling in the pins. It's not that I can't tune them; it's just very frustrating, and I suppose I'm looking for a better way.

Thanks,

------------------------------
Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
------------------------------


2.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 23 days ago
Hi Ben:
I'm going to suppose that the pins are moving, but the pitch isn't following the movement of the pins. No? Or, the pins are tight and they twist a lot before they move in the block.
What you want is to have no twist (or very little) in the pin when you've reached the right pitch. And a good blow doesn't move the pitch at all. I could tell you how I set the pins, and that discussion would go on forever with everybody describing the way they do it. Just try to create a situation so that the above conditions are met. My most accurate method is by keeping the tuning hammer as parallel to the string as possible, so that bending (flagpoling) the pin doesn't affect the pitch. Beyond that, you'll have to develop your own "chops" to tune the piano, set the pins, etc. Maybe you could use some Protek on the string terminations (not bridge) to help the strings render through the agraffes and under the capo bar. That would help the string follow the movements of the pins. Just a thought..
Good luck.
Paul McCloud
San Diego

Hello all,

Just wondering if you have any suggestions on tuning pianos that have that spongey feeling in the pins. It's not that I can't tune them; it's just very frustrating, and I suppose I'm looking for a better way.

Thanks,

------------------------------
Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
------------------------------

R




3.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 23 days ago
Be sure, as you are testing the pitch, that your hand is literally not touching the tuning hammer.

------------------------------
Susan Kline
Philomath, Oregon
------------------------------



4.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 23 days ago
I'm gonna guess that by spongy you mean that you have to turn the pin a lot before you notice a pitch change. When I was learning how to tune I was still learning about the tuning pin spring effect and so I tuned everything by the slow-pull method. Sponginess proved to be problematic on most pianos. Eventually I learned how to jerk-tune and that spongy effect is now almost entirely absent in most pianos for me. Yes, there are still pianos I encounter with too much friction and too tight pins that will drive you crazy. There are also those pianos where the pin doesn't move incrementally but instead just sort of creeps along smoothly without providing you that useful tick feedback to let you know that you have actually moved the pin. I'm sure many here will agree that technique is the key. And learning the technique that will work for YOU is, unfortunately, a trial and error learning curve. You know what your goal is, and you know the physics of how to achieve that goal. You know the most efficient way to hold the hammer in relation to the pin. That we can teach. After that, every one of us will have personally developed a different approach, or technique, on how we physically achieve that goal. Ya can't teach that. You just have to practice until you get that AHA! moment where it all comes together and works. You understand what you did, and you can repeat it. That's a tough one to teach. Just keep at it. It will come. And with it will come not only speed but better tunings.

------------------------------
Geoff Sykes, RPT
Los Angeles CA
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5.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 23 days ago
Benjamin,
This ain’t the only way to set a pin. It’s generally my way. Tune on the attack. Pull,push, snatch, or karate chop slightly above the pitch and settle down , on the attack to the pitch. THEN , quickly and slightly WIGGLE the hammer back and forth to make sure the TWIST is removed from the pin. It’s not necessary to test with gorilla blows. Hopefully this helps. Of course for me, this is a very general description of what I do. I must say I have to remind myself of the wiggle. I tune right handed and left handed. Depending on the piano and pin tightness I pull, push, snatch, karate chop and slap the tuning hammer.
Again, this ain’t the only way.

Sent from my iPhone




6.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 23 days ago
Thanks for the tips everyone! They're appreciated.

I looked back at my original post and realized that I didn't describe my problem very well. My apologies. By spongey I meant I can feel the top part of the pin moving with the pitch, but have very little feeling, if any at all, of the foot of the pin. The whole thing just feels ... spongey.

Ive been able to tune it successfully for the most part, but it feels like I'm constantly guessing, whereas I normally know exactly what I'm feeling. Trying different o'clocks works sometimes, sometimes not. Like I said, it's mostly guesswork at this point.

------------------------------
Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
------------------------------



7.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 22 days ago
Ben -
Make some assessment of the accumulated friction between tuning pin and speaking length, with specific attention to the capo sections that employ understring felt, behind (proximal) the front duplex.  If there is not enough damping friction, by which I mean resistance (impedance?) to very small changes in the tuning pin orientation, there can tend to be an inordinate degree of tension/pitch change in speaking length before any issues of actual pin turning, twisting, bending, can be addressed.   SOME friction is good.

------------------------------
David Skolnik
Hastings-on-Hudson NY
914-231-7565
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8.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 22 days ago
Benjamin,

The "karate chop" or "slapping" technique (which is basically a somewhat more controlled "impact" method), practiced enough can (amazingly) produce an extremely fine turning of the entire tuning pin (with very little physical effort).

This has been discussed here by Bill Bremmer, Susan Kline, and others like Tom above. I want to state that when I was first exposed to this (Bill Bremmer video) I thought he was nuts. However, being open-minded I decided to give it a try. Wow!  I'm glad I did because it has gotten me through some very difficult tuning situations very similar to what you describe.  It takes some practice, and I am still developing my ability with it, but I believe that if you try this and work on it, you will be equipped to deal with spongey tuning pins.

It helps to have a ball or egg shaped end on the tuning hammer so you can vary the force and angle better. At first you will probably overshoot a lot. But if you keep it up you can develop the ability to turn the foot if the pin in microscopic increments. You will hear it snap, and it's done.

Thanks to those of you who use this technique and exposed me to it. It is a real energy saver, and when nothing else works, this does! Don't ask me why...it just does. Like Bill Bremmer stated: 'I don't know exactly how I do it, but I just do it'.  I understand this now.

Pwg

------------------------------
Peter Grey
Stratham NH
603-686-2395
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
------------------------------



9.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 22 days ago
Thanks for the feedback, Peter. I first got wind of this way of tuning in a seminar by Jim Coleman, Sr. As I worked with it over the years, my use of it gradually expanded, and I varied the physical angles and the firmness of blows to suit individual situations. By now it accounts for almost all tuning on uprights which I do, and a similar approach with different use of my right hand and arm dominates my tuning of grands as well. This is particularly true of concert grands which are extremely close to being in tune to begin with. For these, avoidance of more than the most minimal motion of the tuning pin is crucial to tuning stability when the tuning has to face the challenge of very heavy playing.

I'm very glad that I gradually adopted this method of tuning, since given my age and fibromyalgia it now is a crucial aid to my physical well-being.

One of the golden aspects of impact-style tuning is that there is no advantage to contorting oneself to keep the tuning hammer lined up with the string. A small blow, slap, or nudge applied in an appropriate direction will not twist, bend, or flagpole the tuning pin, wherever on the clock face the tuning hammer is put. Therefore, the physical convenience for my right arm and hand determine the angle of the tuning hammer.

------------------------------
Susan Kline
Philomath, Oregon
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10.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 22 days ago
Yes Susan,

I am finding the exact same results. Never would have thought of it myself.

Pwg

------------------------------
Peter Grey
Stratham NH
603-686-2395
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
------------------------------



11.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 22 days ago
Hi, Peter

I didn't think of it myself either. (THANKS, Jim Sr.!)

I did have the sense to try it out and then to expand and adapt it, but I probably wouldn't have figured it out by myself.

------------------------------
Susan Kline
Philomath, Oregon
------------------------------



12.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 22 days ago
Thanks for the tip! I've been trying my hand (albeit timidly) at whacking the tuning lever (whenever I'm tuning a grand; I use an impact lever with uprights). I've heard sereval times about Bill Bremmer's demonstration of the karate chop technique, but when I looked on YouTube today I couldn't find it. Would someone mind posting a link?

Thanks,

------------------------------
Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
------------------------------



13.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 21 days ago
I have been waiting for someone to describe what I would call 'spongey,' and it hasn't happened. Benjamin appreciates the feedback but I am not sure we have addressed his question. The problem is that it is hard to describe. Not too tight or too loose, hard to feel the pin move, but surely it moves because somehow the piano gets tuned. Pins are not jumpy or creaky. Spongey is how it feels. Now if I could only add some advice!

Virus-free. www.avast.com





14.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 21 days ago
Lucinda,

I thought Benjamin did a reasonably good job his second time around.

I would describe it as when you feel required to move the top of the pin an inordinate amount before the foot of the pin is willing to move, and then even when it does move, it is not clearly felt but must be deduced by other external criteria.

A really tight foot and sloppy topside with plenty of flagpole, perhaps a lot of string friction too...fun, fun, fun.

Pwg

------------------------------
Peter Grey
Stratham NH
603-686-2395
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
------------------------------



15.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 21 days ago
I thought I had described it in that big long post I wrote to Benjamin after he asked about devising his own aural temperament. I called it the "marshmallow zone". Different pianos have different amounts of it. It comes down to whether the changes in string tension render instantly (which is terribly hard to tune and get stable), fairly quickly, or very gradually, which we've been calling spongy. Well, I leave the e out, anyway, and spell check agrees.

------------------------------
Susan Kline
Philomath, Oregon
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16.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 20 days ago
Ben,
To me, "spongey" means that the pin moves without any feeling of friction; there's no perceptible "click" of release. Since steel is flexible and shock-absorbing (hence its continued appeal in bicycle frames), I felt that I had a harder time with a traditional steel-shaft hammer. However, since acquiring a Fujan hammer, I feel that I can now feel the tiniest click of release as the pin moves in the hole. So, depending on what hammer you're using, pianos that previous felt "spongey" may feel differently if you try a lighter composite design.
Scott

------------------------------
Scott Cole
Talent OR
541-601-9033
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17.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 20 days ago
Susan,

LOL! I originally spelled "spongey" as you suggest; however, my spell check keeps changing it to it current spelling. Oh these computers! When will they ever agree?

------------------------------
Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
------------------------------



18.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 20 days ago
I still cross-reference by "does it look weird to me?"

Consulting Dr. Google, search "spongy" which looks like the real deal, and then search "spongey". Dr. asks if you meant "spongy", but then there are a few references to "spongey" as an alternative spelling. So, the spelling police won't haul you off to jail, but my weird meter seems to be working well.

------------------------------
Susan Kline
Philomath, Oregon
------------------------------



19.  RE: Spongey Tuning

Posted 20 days ago
Hi,

It's also possible that someone's spellcheck is set for UK/English
English, and not the American variety.

Kind regards.

Horace


On 11/27/2017 2:30 PM, Susan Kline via Piano Technicians Guild wrote:
> Please do not forward this message due to Auto Login.
>
> I still cross-reference by "does it look weird to me?"
>
> Consulting Dr. Google, search "spongy" which looks like the real deal, and then search "spongey". Dr. asks if you meant "spongy", but then there are a few references to "spongey" as an alternative spelling. So, the spelling police won't haul you off to jail, but my weird meter seems to be working well.
>
> ------------------------------
> Susan Kline
> Philomath, Oregon
> ------------------------------
> -------------------------------------------
> Original Message:
> Sent: 11-27-2017 11:06
> From: Benjamin Sanchez
> Subject: Spongey Tuning
>
> Susan,
>
> LOL! I originally spelled "spongey" as you suggest; however, my spell check keeps changing it to it current spelling. Oh these computers! When will they ever agree?
>
> ------------------------------
> Benjamin Sanchez
> Professional Piano Services
> (805)315-8050
> www.professional-piano-services.com
> BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
> ------------------------------
>
> Original Message:
> Sent: 11-26-2017 19:29
> From: Susan Kline
> Subject: Spongey Tuning
>
> I thought I had described it in that big long post I wrote to Benjamin after he asked about devising his own aural temperament. I called it the "marshmallow zone". Different pianos have different amounts of it. It comes down to whether the changes in string tension render instantly (which is terribly hard to tune and get stable), fairly quickly, or very gradually, which we've been calling spongy. Well, I leave the e out, anyway, and spell check agrees.
>
> ------------------------------
> Susan Kline
> Philomath, Oregon
>
> Original Message:
> Sent: 11-26-2017 09:00
> From: Peter Grey
> Subject: Spongey Tuning
>
> Lucinda,
>
> I thought Benjamin did a reasonably good job his second time around.
>
> I would describe it as when you feel required to move the top of the pin an inordinate amount before the foot of the pin is willing to move, and then even when it does move, it is not clearly felt but must be deduced by other external criteria.
>
> A really tight foot and sloppy topside with plenty of flagpole, perhaps a lot of string friction too...fun, fun, fun.
>
> Pwg
>
> ------------------------------
> Peter Grey
> Stratham NH
> 603-686-2395
> pianodoctor57@gmail.com <pianodoctor57@gmail.com>
>
> Original Message:
> Sent: 11-26-2017 07:53
> From: Lucinda Strehlow
> Subject: Spongey Tuning
>
> I have been waiting for someone to describe what I would call 'spongey,' and it hasn't happened. Benjamin appreciates the feedback but I am not sure we have addressed his question. The problem is that it is hard to describe. Not too tight or too loose, hard to feel the pin move, but surely it moves because somehow the piano gets tuned. Pins are not jumpy or creaky. Spongey is how it feels. Now if I could only add some advice!
> Virus-free. www.avast.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>
>
>
> Original Message------
>
> Thanks for the tip! I've been trying my hand (albeit timidly) at whacking the tuning lever (whenever I'm tuning a grand; I use an impact lever with uprights). I've heard sereval times about Bill Bremmer's demonstration of the karate chop technique, but when I looked on YouTube today I couldn't find it. Would someone mind posting a link?
>
> Thanks,
>
> ------------------------------
> Benjamin Sanchez
> Professional Piano Services
> (805)315-8050
> www.professional-piano-services.com
> BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
> ------------------------------
>
>
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