Counting to 100: 41 - 49

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(If you're new to this series, I am writing about my tuning journey, counting my first 100 tunings. Check out previous posts here: 


(Piano Tunings 41 through 49 all happened during the summer months - if anyone is following along, I'm playing catch up again) 

Tunings 41 and 42 were in Maine. I tune a few pianos there every summer when I am visiting family. This is the third year I've come back to these pianos, which gives me a good look at how I am doing better and what I still need to work on. In general I tune a lot fast than I did when I started. Most jobs take me less than two hours now. Tuning #42 is a piano that has one broken part. I've pushed it back into place before, but that isn't cutting it anymore. I'll need to see if I canibring a part and replace it next time.

Tunings 43 and 44 were two grand pianos at a church in PA. Tuning grands is similar to uprights, but different enough to make it take a bit longer for me. The strings and tuning pins are vertical instead of horizontal, there tend to be more strings, and there is usually a better tone making it easier to hear accurate pitches on the lower and higher notes.

Tunings 45 and 46 were both pitch raises. The pianos had not been tuned in some time and both were about a half step flat. I had to go through the tuning sequence several times to pull the string up to pitch. I will need to visit these pianos again soon. Getting a piano back to stable tuning takes a while and several tunings. 

Tuning 47 was a piano I've tuned before, now in a new home. It was nice to see it still holding up well. If you sell or give away a piano, let the next person know who your technician is so they can receive continued care. 

Tuning 48 is a friend's piano. I've seen this piano many times now as well. 

Tuning #49 was my own piano. This is a new Cunningham piano that I purchased in the last year. It's last tuning was done for free with purchase price, so I was surprised to find it fairly sharp when I started tuning it. I don't know how much of that was environment, or the previous tuning. I bought the piano right before we started some renovations so it has been living under an AC unit. (NOTE: This was foolish. Do not buy a brand new piano right before ripping up the room it is supposed to live in and then stick it under an ac unit. Buy the piano AFTER the room is done. However, we didn't plan for this to happen- does anyone?  I do love my new piano very much and am glad I didn't have to wait another year to purchase it.) 

 

 

 

 

Counting to 100: # 11

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through my first 100 tunings. For previous pianos, check out these:

Piano: Otto Altenberg (Everette Piano Company)

Remember the first pitch raise I did? Well, here it is again, as tuning # 11. Usually technicians will encourage you to get your piano tuned at least 2 times a year. This is due to changing weather and humidity and it's effects on tuning. If the circumstances are right (or wrong, I suppose), you'll want to get the piano tuned more often. Since I did a pitch raise last time, I knew this piano would go out of tune more quickly than normal. So I scheduled a tuning four months later, instead of the usual six. I went in fully expecting to have to do another pitch raise. Much to my surprise, I actually did my fastest tuning yet! (Just under 2 hours!) I was really glad to see my pitch raise had done it's job the first time. 

Counting to 100: # 8

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through my first 100 tunings. For previous pianos, check out these:

Tuning # 8 was an Otto Altenburg piano, manufactured by the Everett Piano Company. Often piano manufactures would make "private label" or "stencil" pianos. Essentially, the same piano sold under different names. So, while the Altenburg name has little meaning now, the Everett Piano Company was once a well respected company. 

This piano was in good shape inside, nice looking felts and stings, however the fall board was broken. I didn't have tools with me to do woodworking, so I just examined and suggested how to fix the fall board, but didn't do any fixing myself. I'm really not a cabinetry person, but I may try more in the future. 

Anyway, this piano did have a new problem for me (which I suppose isn't saying much because pretty much everything at this point is new). It was almost a full 1/2 step flat! This means that an A on this piano would sound like an Ab on any other piano.  It disparately needed a pitch raise. 

When piano strings are stretched far beyond what is normal, they tend to pull back, so when a piano is really flat the strings have to get stretched several times before they will stay at the new pitch. There are basically two ways to do this, but one way involves a tuning device that I did not have, so I had to do this the long way. First, I tuned the piano once as quickly as I could. I didn't worry about everything being perfect, I just went through and pulled all the strings up to pitch. After the first tuning, many of the notes were still significantly flat because they had relaxed back close to their norm.  So I tuned the entire piano again. This time the strings held better and I was able to do a "fine tuning" (meaning, taking care to make sure that everything sounded good this time). This process of tuning a piano multiple times to get it back up to pitch is called a "pitch  raise".  Since I was already a slow tuner, the entire process took a long time, but in the end I was happy with the result. First pitch raise, done!   

 

 

Counting to 100: #4

 

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through tuning my first 100 pianos. For previous pianos, check out these:

 


Piano #4 was a small Estey piano (probably considered a spinet, not constructed in the usual spinet way). The Bluebook of Pianos (yes there is such a thing!) has high praise for these pianos:

Estey grands, period grands, reproducing grands, pianos and player pianos are manufactured by The Estey Piano Company, an old established and distinguished house of high standing throughout the trade. These instruments are well and favorably known in practically every corner of the earth, Estey being one of the best-known musical names in the world. The pianos represent the highest grade of construction throughout, and have been endorsed by numerous prominent musicians for their wonderful tone quality. Source 

This particular one was made between 1960 and 1965 and still was in decent shape. Playing your piano often is one of the best things you can do for it (other than getting it tuned and keeping it away from water and heat). It belongs to a family friend, and I tuned it for free while chatting (mostly listening to my mother and this friend chat) and enjoying grandparent babysitting in return. It was a fun way to tune a piano, although not quite as productive or easy to hear. I essentially did a pitch raise in the middle because it was roughly a 1/4 step too low. (Music lesson: The distance between any two consecutive notes is described as a 1/2 step, so a 1/4 step would be in between those two pitches.)  When I was all done it sounded much better across the whole piano! I hope to go back eventually and see how well the tuning held.