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Quantifying a Pitch Raise

  • 1.  Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-08-2019 17:27
    Hello all,

    I'm wondering if there's an official way of quantifying a pitch raise, or even just a generally accepted way. For example:

    "Today I did a 50 cent pitch raise."

    Does that mean A4 was flat by 50 cents initially? Does it mean the flattest note in the piano was 50 cents? Does it mean something else?

    Thanks if you know,

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


  • 2.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-08-2019 17:37
    I would not say my way is official. When I do a pitch correction, I note it as follows: "Pitch raise 15-40 cents." Generally, the low tenor will be the most out, followed by the upper treble, and then the bass. In the example above, the bass would be out 15 cents, the upper treble around 40 cents, and the middle somewhere in between.

    To me, it doesn't really matter where A4 is except to know what offset I will need to use during the pitch raise. As long as I have the range of pitch correction, that's enough for me.

    ------------------------------
    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany MS
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-08-2019 17:57
    I use Veritune and am able to quickly and precisely assess how far out the different sections are and I strike an average, using just one note like A4 can be deceptive. It's pretty much an intellectual exercise anyway as it's probably not going to affect my process. In most cases if A4 is -50cents the 6th and 7th octaves will be down past 80 cents by the time I get up there. I have a 2 tier rate for tuning and if the piano is really flat I often spend more time than I'd like but I absorb the extra labor rather than introduce a 3rd tier that the customer probably won't fully understand. I don't want my customers to feel they're getting up-sold.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 06:42
    Steven R. wrote: "I have a 2 tier rate for tuning..."

    Meaning that you have a charge for a one-pass fine tuning (and touch-up) and a separate charge if an additional, pitch-raise, pass is needed? I also use Veritune and if my characterization of your two-tier rate is correct, I also do the same. I charge approximately 50% of my tuning fee for a pitch raise - you?

    I'm curious what is your range of pitch adjustment you are comfortable with where you do not do a pitch raise? I would say mine ranges from not more than 5 cents (preferably less) for a run-of-the-mill university-setting concert tuning (pretty much the most demanding setting I encounter) to maybe up to ten or fifteen cents in the lowest-standards setting (stereotypically hard-of-hearing "little old lady" on a fixed income). I also find that how much pitch adjustment I am comfortable with on a one-pass tuning depends on how consistent the pitch is off. That is, if every note is exactly ten cents flat, I find it very easy to do a very accurate pitch adjustment, if however the low tenor is ten cents flat, the high tenor is ten cents sharp, the treble is flat...... (you get the idea), then even a ten-cent pitch adjustment like that can be difficult to get a desirable end product in one pass.

    Am I going too far off topic?

    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 20:33
    I chuckled at this because my initial reaction was exactly the opposite of John’s. I literally thought “A is all that matters.” And then scrolled to see his response. :o)
    Always enjoy seeing a variety of great ways to approach the task at hand.

    For me, I find out what pitch A4 is at, and briefly listen to the rest of the piano to see if it’s relatively in the same place. As an aural tuner, I only measure in Hz. (When I worked at the Colburn School of Music we tuned everything to 441.5, their standard at the time.)

    So for me to quantify a pitch raise, I refer to the only thing that “matters” - A4.

    If you want me to unpack it deeper, where A4 is 433-436Hz, I pull the pitch up to 443Hz, pulling in unisons asap, stretching the octaves as I go. Everything roughed in as quickly as possible for stability’s sake, ideally <30 minutes.

    Second time around, piano will have settled at A440Hz, and should be relatively close to in tune. I do expect though certain sections may need a brief 3rd pass, like at plate struts.

    So if I pull a piano up from A415Hz to A445Hz and tune it to A441Hz is that 104¢ ? 120¢ ?

    I honestly don’t know.
    Which may explain my approach - even if it Hertz. ;o)

    Elizabeth




  • 6.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 06:54
    Benjamin - I don't think there is any "official" way to describe a pitch raise. For my own notes, I do exactly what John stated in his response. FWIW, I also most commonly find the exact pitch deviations he describes.

    However, when trying to communicate pitch deviations with a customer not familiar with the units of cents (like maybe 99.9% of them), I state the piano's pitch deviation as a fraction of a half-step (or whole step when appropriate). That is to say that if the entire piano is 50 cents flat, I will describe that to the customer as a half of a half-step, or for those that may not know what a half-step is, half a note. If the pitch ranges from zero to 50 cents flat I will describe that as perhaps "the piano ranges from right up to the proper pitch in the mid tenor to half a note flat in the treble".

    Raised/trained as a scientist, I have little tolerance for describing pitch deviation as a percent, i.e. a piano that is 50 cents flat as the piano is 50% flat. What the $#%* does THAT mean? It has NO meaning! I can still hear my high school chemistry teacher saying (over and over), where are your units - this means nothing without the correct units!?!?!?!?!?

    There, I feel better now. Thanks.

    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 09:27
    What is so difficult as explaining that there are 100 cents between half steps, 1200 cents in an octave? Fifty cents flat is 50% of where the note should be.

    ------------------------------
    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 09:33
    I agree with Larry. Customers understand percentages. They don't understand "cents".  I just tell them the piano is 50% flat. I can even show them that figure on my SAT.  

    But I don't tell them I am going to do a pitch raise.  I tell them the piano will get a pitch adjustment.  Much easier.  

    Wim 

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 9.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 09:59
    I sometimes use the "50 percent flat" phrase also. It's not exactly accurate, but it is far easier than explaining cents to people who are thinking "dollars and cents."

    Nearly all of my "standard tunings" these days are two-pass tunings. I decided last year to tune all of them twice. I quit adding a pitch correction fee unless the piano is more than 25-30 cents flat. With an ETD, one can get very close the first pass, and then do a fine tuning the second pass. It doesn't add much extra time to my appointments, and I would rather not fight the piano with just one tuning. Even tuning aurally, I can get close enough to make it work on the second pass.

    The benefit for me is I get familiar with the piano on the quick pitch correction pass, and the second pass seems much easier. I also don't have to fight with it to try to make a single pass tuning actually sound good.

    The benefit for the customer is they get a tuning that is much more stable.

    ------------------------------
    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany MS
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 16:17
    For many years now I have not changed extra for minor pitch corrections, finding it better to build the cost into my basic tuning fee. I suspect that fewer than 5% of my typical tunings are close enough to tune in one pass. I do charge extra for major corrections requiring 2 1/2 to 3 passes. Think about it. If a piano is just 3 cents flat it will end up at least one cent flat without a pitch raise. BTW, I use CyberTuner and can usually do a ten cent correction, sometimes more, in one pass with acceptable results using the amazing start tune mode. Why anyone would continue tuning aurally is a mystery to me. Twenty years was enough. I'll never go back.

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    Paul Rice
    Asheville NC
    207-721-2659
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  • 11.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 10:36
    Following Ranndi Potter’s lead, I measure all the As, record those readings, and notate the pitch correction as the range between the highest and lowest. I find this is most helpful not so much as an absolute quantifier of pitch correction as a key to see how a particular piano changes pitch in between tunings. I use that data, combined with the humidity readings at each tuning, to guide me at each tuning.

    Bob Anderson, RPT
    Tucson, AZ




  • 12.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 10:36

    If you are looking for an official explanation, go to the PTG web site and search pitch raise. Information posted there for years.

     

    Keith Kopp

     

    801-235-8077

    pianokopp@comcast.net

    KG7PHU

     






  • 13.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 10:51
    50 c is a quarter tone. Most people understand that. I explain the % each section reacts to the added tension and the overpull adjustment needed. But what they don't understand is that when I'm done, the piano is in a position to be tuned.  That leads to another whole explanation on the initial tension reaction and the resultant reaction over the coming week with possible back scale creep and string frame/case structural compression. I suggest a follow up tuning when it's within their budget.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@pianocapecod.com
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 15:32
    I generally use term "pitch correction" when discussing this matter.

    I charge by the hour until the piano is in "maintainable" condition. I will often ask to listen to a number of notes over the phone (if it's a phone call obviously), and assess what I think will need to be done and why. Then I inform them of my 1st hour rate and my subsequent hour(s) rate, and estimate about how long I think it will take based on what they've told me and what I've heard. Then I let them do the math.

    Pwg

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



  • 15.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 17:48
    When I explain large pitch corrections, I try to avoid talking about cents or quarter-tones. If the piano is 50 cents flat I say "This A is halfway down to being an A flat!"

    ------------------------------
    Peter Stevenson RPT
    P.S. Piano Service
    Prince George BC
    250-562-5358
    ps@pspianos.com
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 18:14
    I never mention the word pitch raise. I say pitch adjustment, and it's part of my full service fee, which is 50% higher than my basic fee.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 20:12
    Peter said: "I charge by the hour until the piano is in "maintainable" condition".

    Kudos to Peter, as this is the ONLY approach that makes any kind of sense to me.  For those that say "I charge 50% above my standard fee when doing a pitch raise, I gotta wonder:

    What about a 40 cent pitch raise?
    What about a 80 cent pitch raise?
    What about a 120 cent pitch raise?
    What about a 180 cent pitch raise?

    Do you really do a 180 cent pitch raise for 50% above your standard fee? Really?

    For me, the beauty of the hourly wage is that there is no built in BS; in other words: the customer knows EXACTLY how long you were there to accomplish the goal, and therefore has an understanding of the work involved, and the subsequent costs. This has worked for me for 40 years, and seems the most honest and fair to all, including the technician.

    Mark Potter
    West Jefferson, OH





  • 18.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-09-2019 23:15
    Terry, my approach is similar to you. I charge about 30% more for the pitch raise. I agree that even a 5 cent change (or less) could use some overpull. The one thing I do that apparently most tuners do not is that I spend a lot of time on my first pass of a pitch raise. Typically I'll spend about 40 minutes, I really try to hit the overpull target precisely and solidify the pin etc. If you get through your first pass and there are strings that are still +/- 5 or more cents off then you've spun your wheels to an extent because you have to compensate for the disparity in your second pass. If everything goes my way, the whole piano is pretty much right where it's supposed to be within a cent or two where you don't have to move the pin much, and the second pass goes quickly, maybe a half hour, though both passes can take up to an hour and a half if things don't go my way. If it goes longer, as I mentioned earlier, I just absorb that relative to my hourly target rate.
    I do have customers that tune their pianos once every 5  or 10 years whether it needs it or not, as well as tunings where I know the piano isn't likely to get tuned again until the next time a pencil gets stuck in the action. You're not always doing the customer a favor by recommending a pitch raise and destabilizing the seldomly tuned or played  piano, it might be better to just tune it where it's at so it will stay in tune. On 60 -100 cent raises I tell the customer that will start to go out of tune pretty quickly and they should tune the piano again sooner than later and that the piano will probably stay in tune normally after that follow up tuning. The more you tune a piano the better it stays in tune, they seem to get that.
    Btw, I will tell people the piano is a certain percentage of a half step off, that is not incorrect, is it?
    I agree with Wim, "pitch adjustment" is a good term, some pianos might be generally up to concert pitch but still require a 2 pass tuning because they are so far out of tune with themselves.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-10-2019 01:43

    All,

    I no longer charge extra for a pitch raise.  I have raised my rates so that every tuning is charged as if it were a pitch raise.  At this point in my career I no longer see pianos that are ever more than 50¢ flat.  This way I tune every piano to 440.  I don't have to ask, I don't have to explain pitch raises, I can quote my fee for tuning without having a caveat that it may be more.

    Charge more!  It makes everything go better.

    ------------------------------
    Carl Lieberman
    RPT
    Venice CA
    310-392-2771
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-10-2019 08:54
    Yes!  And newcomers to the profession can have those pianos that need pitch corrections!

    Thanks for being the engine pulling the rate train - 

    There will always be folks shopping for the lowest cost - fine, that's where folks just starting can build skill while surviving. Most of my clients are referrals and don't care or only ask as an afterthought   They want ME. 

    Ask yourself whether you are an engine or a caboose (I know, they don't use those anymore ). If you are working so much and hard you have trouble taking time off or feel you can't afford your dues-I'd suggest working on your business model...move toward that engine!

    "PTG - Expand your horizon - Share the vision:
    Providing Quality Service for the World's Pianos

    Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest, 'til the good is better and the better is best."

    To schedule an appointment online click here http://bit.ly/2ErRaav

    George W.R.(Bill) Davis, RPT, SERVP
    The Piano Place GA
    2315 Rocky Mountain Rd NE
    Marietta GA 30066
    (770) 778-6881

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 21.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-10-2019 09:30
    1) If you're doing a full-service call, the pitch adjustment is covered in the full-service charge.
    2) If this is a new customer, explain when you make the appointment that unless the piano care is up-to-date, a first service call will cost a bit more than a simple tuning. Give a loose estimate of the cost.
    3) If the potential customer argues with these explanations, perhaps you'll do best to decline making an appointment.
    4) If you know you're going to be paid fairly, you'll be happy and generous in your work. Why choose unhappy work?

    ------------------------------
    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-10-2019 12:50
    As Carl, Bill, and Ed have said, explain a full service fee up front, which should be at least 50% - 60% higher than your normal fee, that it covers pitch adjustments, minor repairs and regulations, most customers accept that.  Don't go in with a low fee and then try to explain what a pitch raise is, and how much extra it will cost, and that you need to adjust lost motion or replace one of two bridle straps, and how much that will be.  To the customer that sounds like a bait and switch and they will feel like they get "nicked and dimed".  Customers don't like that.

    When I explain my full service fee, some are even "proud" to say they know their piano needs more than even my full service fee, and are more than happy to pay extra.  It makes it easy to charge more.  To me it's "ca-Ching". Easy money.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-10-2019 11:27
    Carl,
    I'm with you on this one. I just tuned a piano that was 100% low. I tuned it to standard pitch (via two quick tunings) within the same time I would tune a piano that is at pitch – just not as accurate or stable. Any pitch raise will need a follow-up tuning whereas I tell my customers I reserve the accuracy tuning for the second appointment.
    Having learned tuning before the ETD's with pitch raising programs I developed a pretty reliable method of executing my "silent" tuning process where I test all the "A"'s for pitch feel and turn all or some of the tuning pins quickly (without listening) by feel only and find that when I'm in the last half of the tuning process I'm not pulling up the unisons much or at all, thus preventing instability issues in the final home stretch.
    Roger





  • 24.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 06:29
    Roger G. wrote: "I just tuned a piano that was 100% low."

    Not trying to beat a dead horse, BUT.......   I'm guessing that the statement means that all or some notes were 100 cents flat. That's my guess because I am familiar with piano tech lingo. If I place myself in amongst the English, to me this sounds more like every (100%) note on the piano was flat relative to the pitch it should be at with A=440. But says nothing about how flat - five cents, two semi-tones?

    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 11:07
    Terrence,
    Your correct – 100% can be misleading. I would have indicated 100 cents as you described but my computer doesn't have the cents (indication of money cents) key on the keypad. Also, I'm sure most us know when we indicate a certain cent(s) low, it is understood that the end notes are not as flat as the midrange.
    Roger





  • 26.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 11:31
    Roger ¢ on a smart phone hold the dollar sign, on a lap or desktop alt. Key and dollar sign

    ------------------------------
    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 06:47
    Steve R. wrote: "The one thing I do that apparently most tuners do not is that I spend a lot of time on my first pass of a pitch raise. Typically I'll spend about 40 minutes, I really try to hit the overpull target precisely and solidify the pin etc. If you get through your first pass and there are strings that are still +/- 5 or more cents off then you've spun your wheels to an extent because you have to compensate for the disparity in your second pass. If everything goes my way, the whole piano is pretty much right where it's supposed to be within a cent or two where you don't have to move the pin much, and the second pass goes quickly, maybe a half hour, though both passes can take up to an hour and a half if things don't go my way."

    I do much the same Steve. I don't in any way want to argue that my way is better, but rather that it is the only way I am comfortable doing it - or only way I know how to do it - and do it well. I'm probably opening myself up to ridicule, but a typical 50-cent pitch raise and tuning usually takes me very close to two hours - 45 minutes on the pitch raise and 75 minutes on the tuning.

    I think it may have been Phil Bondi that might have taught a class on doing a "blind" pitch raise - just turn the pins without striking keys (sorry if that wasn't you Phil!) - or at least some sort of very fast pitch raise. I didn't attend that class - I would very much like to - next time I see something like that I will. I just can't make sense of the likely results of a blind pitch-raise pass. That may just be me though.....

    "Btw, I will tell people the piano is a certain percentage of a half step off, that is not incorrect, is it?"

    I think my chemistry teacher would be comfortable with that. You have identified the unit (a half-step) to which you are referring some percent of.

    "I agree with Wim, "pitch adjustment" is a good term, some pianos might be generally up to concert pitch but still require a 2 pass tuning because they are so far out of tune with themselves."

    Absolutely.

    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 02:22
    I'm not sure what you mean by "quantifying" a pitch correction.

    I charge flat rate for tuning (2 hrs rate of pay) and I charge flat rate for pitch correction (1 hr rate of pay). If a majority of the notes are above or below A435 or A445 I'll charge for correction.

    I have had one piano that was subject to much humidity from a swamp cooler that A3 was at A4=455. That was the only major pitch lower I've done.

    I often come to school pianos that I tuned the previous semester, but are very near in need of a pitch correction just because of the swamp coolers and heating systems. I don't charge for those because they are still between 435-445 Hz.

    ------------------------------
    Cobrun Sells
    cobrun94@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Quantifying a Pitch Raise

    Posted 02-11-2019 13:06
    Thanks for the replies all. Interesting to see how everyone deals with a pitch raise differently. For the record, I've tried to adopt the full service business model over the past six months or so. Now I charge for a two hour appointment. If the piano needs a second pass (pitch raise), I have time. If it doesn't, I work on regulation and voicing. So far I've never had anyone complain, and regularly receive comments like "Oh wow, I like that!"

    A small but important benefit to me is that I don't have to try and explain what a pitch raise is. Like Carl and others said, it helps avoid the glazed over look resulting from a technical explanation.

    To answer Cobrun's question, what I meant by "quantifying a pitch raise" is this. We say I did a 100 ¢ pitch adjustment. Does that mean A-49 was 100 ¢ low of 440 Hz? Or does it mean the piano varied from 75 ¢ off to 125 ¢ off, which averages 100 ¢?

    From the answers here, I'd say the answer varies by technician.

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