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A440 electronic tone generator?

  • 1.  A440 electronic tone generator?

    Member
    Posted 25 days ago
    Can anyone recommend an electronic tone generator to use instead of the tuning fork for the tuning exam?
    TIA,
    Eric

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    Eric Schell
    ericschellpiano@gmail.com
    Austin TX
    512-363-6236
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  • 2.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 25 days ago
    I used a Korg electronic metronome.

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 3.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 25 days ago
    I used the Sanderson AccuFork. Not sure if they're still available.

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    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany MS

    Something just ain't right with all this.
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  • 4.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Posted 25 days ago
    Hello Eric.
    I have the Sanderson accu-fork and I think you can use that during the exam but I'm not 100% sure about that.
    Peter

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    Petrus Janssen
    Peachtree City GA
    678-416-8055
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  • 5.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago

    You might download TuneLab for your phone.  The free version is very accurate, it just doesn't run long enough to tune a full piano.  But there is a tone generator function which I use for doing chip tuning newly strung pianos.

     

    https://www.tunelab-world.com/

     

    Don Mannino

    Using Mail for Windows 11

     






  • 6.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Member
    Posted 24 days ago
    One thing to watch out for when using any electronic tone generator for tuning A4 is that the tuning exam rates you on how accurately you tune the fundamental (440).  But most tone generators produce overtones at harmonic frequencies, like 880, 1320, etc., in addition to the fundamental.  The easiest waveform to produce electronically is a square wave, and square waves have very strong odd-numbered harmonics.  If the piano string for A4 has a strong 3rd partial, it will beat with the 3rd harmonic of the tone generator.  If you are not careful you might find yourself tuning the 3rd partial instead of the fundamental.  But if you tune the 3rd partial to 1320, that means the fundamental of that note on the piano could be as much as 4 cents flat.  It depends on the degree of inharmonicity in that particular string.  Bill Bremmer wrote of this phenomenon many times.  The reason this problem does not come up when using a tuning fork is that tuning forks produce an almost pure sine wave with no harmonics.  There is no temptation to tune to any partial other than 440.  If you can be assured that your electronic tone generator is producing mostly the fundamental with very little harmonic energy, that is another way around the problem.  Or you can just train yourself to listen for the fundamental and ignore the higher partials, even if they are beating with your tone generator.

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    Robert Scott
    Real-Time Specialties (TuneLab)
    fixthatpiano@yahoo.com
    Hopkins MN
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  • 7.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago
    Accuforks are still available. I borrowed one for my exam. I loved the wave it put out, which sounded much like a square wave to me. I wanted an electronic tone with strong upper partials. The 3rd partial of A on a piano is sharp from the third partial of A on in a typical electronic tone. If you ignore the fundamental and tune the 3rd partial to 3-4 BPS, you'll nail A. Rick had me practice it until I could do it consistently in 20 seconds. That way, I added 4 min & 40 seconds into my midrange tuning time. :-)  As Bob mentioned, a tuning fork won't work with this method, and the inharmonicity in a string can affect how many BPS you need. With exam pianos, there is a certain degree of quality you can count on. I've seen others use this method with equal success.

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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
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  • 8.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Member
    Posted 24 days ago
    Hmm.  Accufork.  It would be nice if the higher partials were suppressed.  I did read the Bill Bremmer article about hearing the beats in the 3rd partial between A4 with inharmonicity and the tone generator without.

    And I do have Tunelab and I use it regularly.  The only issue in the exam is that the tuning spectral display is there which would allow one to cheat.  Maybe mask the display with tape, but leave the tone on-off button unmasked.  I need to be able to turn the tone on and off.

    Probably will use the Android app "Simple Tone Generator" that distinguishes between sine, square, and sawtooth waveforms. However looking at the spectrum in another android app, it is also generating strong 2nd and 3rd partials.  So listening for the 3rd partial beating is still important.

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    Eric Schell
    ericschellpiano@gmail.com
    Austin TX
    512-363-6236
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  • 9.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Member
    Posted 24 days ago
    Eric, I would not give up entirely on simple tone generator apps.  Maybe you got a bad one.  Also, the volume level can affect the degree of harmonic distortion.  If you tested that tone generator app at a lower volume level you might find it to be not that bad.  Maybe even look into listening with wired earbuds.  Any distortion in the audio generation creates harmonics, so just try to minimize distortion.

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    Robert Scott
    Real-Time Specialties (TuneLab)
    fixthatpiano@yahoo.com
    Hopkins MN
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  • 10.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago
    The best one for Android that I've used is called Tone Generator PRO. I think it's free to download, and you can upgrade it for more features for like $2.50 or something. I started using that exclusively after I discovered that some of the free metronome-like apps I was using before weren't actually giving me what I expected. The UI isn't the best...It's more complicated than most other apps because it has a LOT of functionality packed into it. For example, to generate a pure 440 Hz tone, you either have to use the "sweep generator" with starting and ending frequencies both at 440, or the "multi-tone generator" with just a single 440 Hz tone.

    As with any app, the pure sine wave tone will distort if you turn the volume up to high. You can usually hear when this happens because it stops sounding like a flute and gets a harsher more piercing quality to the tone. It's not the fault of the app. Blame the tiny speaker on your phone.

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    Anthony Willey, RPT
    http://willeypianotuning.com
    http://pianometer.com
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  • 11.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago
    I am assuming no device that can carry a tuning app can be carried into the exam.

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 12.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago
    Last I heard (and this may be out of date) if you want to use a smartphone for setting the A, they leave someone in the room with you to observe.






  • 13.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 23 days ago
    Anthony is correct. You can use any tuning app tone generator, but someone must stay in the room in those cases. Honestly, though, if you are using the M3M10 method to set A, that third partial isn't going to be an issue. I would like to add that I turned the volume WAY down to set A.

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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
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  • 14.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 23 days ago

    For an aural tuner, using the fork has the advantage that one has practiced using it thousands of times.






  • 15.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago
    Yes, you are not allowed a visual tuning device in the exam room - but an electronic tone generator is fine. Many people have done great with a metronome that produces an A440. The technique described by Maggie is the way to go for sheer accuracy and ease. Don't make this more difficult than it needs to be! Remember, you get be up to 1 cent off and get a perfect score. Each .1 cent after that is a point off. So you can be a maximum of 3 cents off and still pass with an 80 percent.

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    Ryan Sowers
    Olympia WA
    360-705-4160
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  • 16.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 24 days ago

    I just used my ordinary tuning fork. If a fork has been checked against an ETD and is known to be accurate, I really don't see what all this fuss is about.






  • 17.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Member
    Posted 23 days ago
    Yes, I am working on two things:  1. Temperature stability of the reference tone--the tuning fork is problematic.  and 2.  just being able to hear and set the A4 accurately, which as Margaret Jusiel pointed out, is just a matter of practice.

    Thanks for all your replies!
    Eric

    Eric Schell
    Schell Piano Service
    512-363-6236





  • 18.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 23 days ago

    Since I use the fork every time I tune, I know how to make it about the right temperature. Too cold from being in the car -- hold it till it is about room temperature (not 98.6 F). Too hot -- put it on the piano plate while putting in the temperament strip.

    Well, it worked for the test, anyway.






  • 19.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Posted 23 days ago
    The fuss is in shooting for 100%. If us test takers shoot for 80% we may get 85% we may get 70%. Susan you mentioned getting the temperature "about" right. Test takers aren't looking for "about." We are looking for spot on. That's why there is this fuss about the nitty gritty. (And I do plan on the body temperature method via underarm if I do decide on using the fork for the exam)

    The other fuss is for those of us not comfortable with using a fork all the time. I've veen putting mine in my mouth between my teeth while tuning A4 (before using F2 or B1 as a check). Then when I do use either check note I put the fork on a vibrant surface (not my teeth).

    How is everyone else using their fork to tune? In the teeth? On the key slip? By the ear? Do tell.

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    Cobrun Sells
    cobrun94@yahoo.com
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  • 20.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 23 days ago

    I did get 100% on setting the A.

    I whack the fork on my left leg just above the bent knee, holding it fairly loosely but not enough to drop it, and I put the end of the tuning fork just in front of my left ear not too far from the jaw joint.?? The tone gets conducted into the ear from there. I've tried putting it on a key or case part, but I hear it better by conduction up near my ear.







  • 21.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 23 days ago
    I used a Korg harmonic tuner on my exam, with the needle area covered in black tape.
    Deadly accurate.

    By the way, if anyone wants to submit the method for altering pitch on a tuning fork to TTT, I think it would be valuable for many readers. It's not difficult-you just need a digital thermometer, your ETD, and a fine file.
    (Check at ptg.org/ttt to make sure it hasn't already appeared recently.)

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    Scott Cole, RPT
    rvpianotuner.com
    Talent, OR
    (541-601-9033
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  • 22.  RE: A440 electronic tone generator?

    Posted 23 days ago
    What is TTT in your recent post?

    "By the way, if anyone wants to submit the method for altering pitch on a tuning fork to TTT, I think it would be valuable for many readers. It's not difficult-you just need a digital thermometer, your ETD, and a fine file."


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    Cobrun Sells
    cobrun94@yahoo.com
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