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MMD > Archives > March 1998 > 1998.03.10 > 11Prev  Next

Piano Tuning by Ear
By Gary Rasmussen

[ I hope our skilled piano tuners will comment on tuning by beats
 [ versus using a machine.  Can the machine properly stretch the
 [ tuning for the best results with different piano designs?
 [ -- Robbie

I no longer consider myself a skilled piano tuner because I no longer
do it every day but I have some comments on this.

In the early 70's, when I was 12, I wanted to learn to tune pianos so
I acquired a Conn Strobotuner (still have it!).   With that machine,
and the instruction book, I "learned" to tune piano's.  The Conn book
has specific instructions on how to measure the amount to stretch the
octaves, and do it, in my opinion, quite accurately.  By the time I was
15, I was the hot rod piano tuner, driving my muscle car around Fargo
to tune pianos for $6 each (you could legally drive in North Dakota at
age 14!).

In my opinion, I did a "reasonable" job tuning pianos.  98% of my
customers thought I did great, but by age 16 or 17, my ear had become
sufficiently trained that I felt the Strobotuner was no longer accurate
enough.  At that time, arranged to spend a couple of hours with a very
kind local piano tuner, Doug Lindemann, and he taught me how to set a
temperament using 4ths, 5th's, 3rd's, 6ths and etc.  Once I learned
this, I never set a temperament with the Strobotuner, and I essentially
never it again.

I would think the electronic tuners of today are far more accurate than
my old Strobe', but in my opinion, electronics could never replace the
ear for a good, accurate tuning.  An example of this, outside of music,
is a twin engine aircraft.

Generally, after you are cruising, the controls may say that both
engines are running at exactly the same RPM, yet you hear beats. Then
the pilot "tweaks" one of the engines to "tune" it to the other.

Just my opinion.

Gary Rasmussen

(Message sent Tue 10 Mar 1998, 16:00:53 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ear, Piano, Tuning

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