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Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

  • 1.  Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Posted yesterday
    For 20+ years I have just about always tuned a piano the same day that I had done a pitch raise on it - regardless of the amount of pitch raising. The past few months, without really planning on it, I have been scheduling the tuning for a couple weeks after a large pitch raise (lets say greater than 50 cents). The reason being that the couple week wait will give the piano a chance to stablize somewhat and the resulting tuning will hopefully last longer.

    My general understanding is that was the standard way to do it in decades past. In the last few decades, my understanding is that waiting a couple weeks to tune has gone into disfavor and most techs will tune the piano the same day the pitch has been raised.

    What do you folks do? Do some schedule a delayed tuning on a large pitch raise?

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    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
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  • 2.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday
    Hi Terrance:
    I like to leave the piano sounding as good as possible when I leave. Unless I am unable to put a final tune because I'm late or need to leave for some reason. I've come across pianos that were recently tuned, but the owner was unhappy with the tuner. They said he would come back and tune it again soon. I got the sense that they didn't understand what was happening, that the "pitch raise" wasn't the final tuning. Anyway, that's what I do. I tell the owner that the piano may be a little unstable, and it will need tuning again within a few months or even sooner.
    My Way.
    Paul McCloud
    San Diego


    Terrence Farrell
    For 20+ years I have just about always tuned a piano the same day that I had done a pitch raise on it - regardless of the amount of pitch raising. The past few months, without really planning on it, I have been scheduling the tuning for a couple weeks after a large pitch raise (lets say greater than 50 cents). The reason being that the couple week wait will give the piano a chance to stablize somewhat and the resulting tuning will hopefully last longer.

    My general understanding is that was the standard way to do it in decades past. In the last few decades, my understanding is that waiting a couple weeks to tune has gone into disfavor and most techs will tune the piano the same day the pitch has been raised.

    What do you folks do? Do some schedule a delayed tuning on a large pitch raise?

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

    R




  • 3.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Member
    Posted yesterday
    I think it depend on the client's goals.

    There are pianos like your Wurly, which was tuned at the factory, and never tuned again. These clients are not requesting a tuning fully stabilized at pitch. So, I would just do a two or three pass tuning with standard overpulls in one session, as it simply doesn't matter to the client if the piano sinks in pitch, as it most definitely will, even with the multiple passes. It will sound pretty good when you leave, and okay in a couple of months. It you educate the client about how nice a stabilized piano sounds all the time, you may have them request that tuning service, but these folks right now sound as if they just don't want it to sound horrible.

    Then there are customers with ears and who play all the time, for whom a stable tuning means, stable at or near pitch, and stable in the sense that the tuning never really even gets close to sounding bad. I show up, as I did, for a post covid tuning (I did not tune at all during the pandemic), 1.5 years out from the last excellent stable tuning. Because I have been allowed to stabilize the piano over a number of years, its a full service customer, I literally, 1.5 years out, mostly only had to ease strings gently over the friction bearings...very little pin turning. The piano was pretty damn close to where I put it 1.5 yrs ago.  Yes is it s nice grand, DC & undercover, but the previous stabilizing I was allowed to install was what allowed me to get it to the point where pins are almost not turned at all, or they are turned in very very tiny increments...no pin rotational excursions looking for pitch target locations. This sets the NSL tension levels up that are known, and non-ambiguous, leading to a very stable result. But real stability is a process that takes a while to install in any piano.

    I think the answer to your question is,  that it depends on what your client s is asking for musically, and depends on how you have educated them.

    I like your idea of going back after a couple of weeks to try and stabilize the thing. I would do a two or three pass tuning the first day, then go back a couple of weeks out, if they were of a mind to start the stabilizing process. Another stability biggy, and this applies to nice, well cared for grands as well, especially European grands, is to do a regular tuning, and go back a week out or so to fix stragglers. This will results in my most stable tunings.

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 4.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday
    I do the same thing as Paul.

    With any good ETD, it is possible to leave a piano in at least decent shape with a couple of passes. UNLESS...it's well over 100 cents flat, or you get extremely lucky with the second pass of the ETD. If 100+ flat, then it's three passes, but it'll at least sound good.

    I always tell the customer it will need tuning again soon.

    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany, MS





  • 5.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Posted yesterday
    Hello Terry.
    Even though there's no doubt in my mind that letting the piano settle after a large pitch correction and make a separate appointment for fine tuning after a couple of weeks, I do the pitch correction (s) and tuning during one appointment.  I will discuss with the piano owner that a retuning will most likely be necessary after 1 to 6 months.
    I used to do pitch corrections in one appointment and then schedule a fine tuning after two weeks but several times, the fine tuning appointment was canceled, leaving the piano, in my opinion, not tuned properly which is sub-standard and not good for building a good reputation.
    Peter

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    Petrus Janssen
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  • 6.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday
    If the piano has been in the home for years and suddenly needs a pitch raise I already know that the owner is not that critical. I do the pitch raise, followed immediately by a fine tuning and then explain why the piano MAY go out sooner than expected, which should be considered normal, and to call me if it gets too far out before the next scheduled tuning. Most of the time the customer understands. When I, more often than not, when I come back for the next tuning in, say, six months I am usually amazed at how well the piano held. I almost never experience the drift I was taught to expect from a pitch raise. But then the weather on this other coast is a bit more stable than Florida, which probably helps.

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    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
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  • 7.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday
    Like Paul, I want the piano to sound as good as possible when I'm done, so I stick with pitch correcting until I can fine tune with the pitch within just a few cents. I'm not comfortable leaving a piano incompletely tuned. And as Petrus said, I would be concerned that a followup appointment is not a sure thing, and if it is cancelled, neither I or likely the customer are going to be satisfied. In addition to these considerations, it is a more efficient use of my time to do the job properly in one visit.

    I do explain to the customer that today's tuning is likely to not be as stable as it otherwise would/will be with regular tunings. I strongly recommend retuning at 6 months or sooner if the customer wants it.

    I should add that I've always been a part-time tuner, so I have the luxury to schedule a new tuning as the last tuning I do that day. That way I'll have ample time since I'm not pressed to get it done before another appointment or I don't have the time I need.

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    David Bauguess
    Grand Junction CO
    970-257-1750
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  • 8.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday
    I believe it's best to do the raise and fine tune at the same time with no break at all between the first and second pass.  I charge for an extra 30 mins over my basic tuning rate, it's a lot more economical than charging double for 2 trips.  It seems to me that most of the change takes place within about 20 minutes of tuning a given string so by the time I start the second pass the wires themselves have done the Hook's Law thing and the second pass is adjusting for discrepancies in the various segments. If you wait a couple of weeks, or even a couple of hours, these discrepancies bleed out into other segments and you actually lose ground. 
    That said, the piano is likely to change noticeably with a 50+ pitch raise over time. We are shooting at a moving target,  a good tuning is one in which the piano tends to fall into tune rather than fall out of tune so I'm not so concerned if certain sections are a little out when I finish if I feel that it will sound better in a week than if I hew to a strict tuning at that minute. And I don't race through the first pass, I try to hit my targets and pay attention to pin setting and equalizing the segments, then the second pass goes quickly and if there's a problem area I know it's not because it's something I glossed over in the first pass.
     Often I'll tell the owners that it would be best to tune the piano again sooner than later but I guarantee that I won't charge the pitch raise fee if they tune the piano again within a year. Of course it's a safe bet that it won't get that far out again in 12 months.  My speech these days goes something like: the more you tune a piano, the better it stays in tune; everything in the piano has a memory (as well as the whole system). If the piano hasn't been tuned in a long time the system is in  a chaotic state and will tend to want to return to the chaotic state after it's been tuned. On the other hand, if you tune the instrument regularly, it will tend to stay in tune (all the elements in a state of harmony) even if, after many regular tunings you miss a year, it won't have that much of an affect. People seem to get that.

    I also have some customers who get their piano tuned every 10 years whether it needs it or not, basically when a pencil gets stuck in the action or whatnot. I don't see the point in burdening the customer, myself, or the instrument with the stress of a pitch raise. It won't stay in tune as well and they clearly can't tell the difference. For some people, playing the piano is more of a kinetic experience than an aural one. So be it.


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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 9.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 23 hours ago

    I suggest another tuning after the next change of season is well established. I say that the next tuning will last better, but this one will make the biggest difference.

    I do between two and three passes, depending on the part of the scale. I'm not allergic to work the first time I see a piano. It gets the relationship off to an excellent start, which promotes trust and cordiality from then on. It's also a chance to deal with any little problems the piano is having, and to answer questions and deal with concerns the owner may have.

    One thing about being 75 and semi-retired: I never need to rush to another job.






  • 10.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 20 hours ago
    I like what Steven says here. There is something that has helped me deal with pitch changes, whether they happen after a pitch correction, or whether they happen seasonally. That is to always do two passes, with the exception for those pianos already so close that the extra pass truly doesn't make sense. If you're always doing two passes, it's just as easy to do a small pitch correction of ~25 cents as it is for only 5 cents. Either way, you're not having to continually explain the "need" for charging extra for those small pitch corrections. Just build your service around doing two passes for every normal tuning. The end result is better stability, and it doesn't really take longer than trying to create a stable tuning with only one pass...only to find out at the end you've got to futz with it again anyway. Most of my 2-pass tunings I'm in and out in less than 1.5 hours.

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    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany MS

    Live not by fear or lies.
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  • 11.  RE: Pitch Raise & Tune in One Session

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 hours ago
    I always do the pitch raise and fine tuning at the same visit.  I just had to tune a piano that was more than 100c flat and was to be used for an in home recital.  Took me three+ passes (two pitch correction passes, a final fine tuning and then another pass for unison checks).  Piano sounded just fine for the recital.

    I don't generally feel that a follow up tuning is necessary or that it's necessary as a practice to separate the pitch raise from the fine tuning.  But I advise customers in that situation that they need to be more conscientious about tuning it twice a year going forward and if it seems to need tuning prior to 6 months I wouldn't be surprised given how far I moved it.  Often the tunings in these situations (or certainly for less of a correction) seem perfectly stable.

    That being said it's important that the preliminary pitch raises get the piano very close to in tune before the final fine tuning, within a couple of cents--the closer the better.  The CBT pitch raise function allows you do accomplish that pretty painlessly and very quickly.  If your pitch raise is only getting you within 5-10 cents or if the sections are unevenly "out of tune" then your final fine tuning is not going to be very good.  Aural pitch raises are much more difficult to get close or take more passes.

    The biggest argument for separating the pitch raise from the fine tuning is fatigue.  If you're an aural tuner and raising the pitch 100c then it just takes a lot out of you to get things close enough to where you feel comfortable doing a fine tuning and trusting that the typical 15-30% correction that happens with any pitch adjustment won't be enough to render the fine tuning unacceptable.


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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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