Overview of Tuning Procedures.

In practice you come across pianos is various states of out-of-tuneness. Pianos which haven't been tuned for many years, pianos recently tuned but with a set of new bass-strings, pianos recently tuned but with the middle section collapsed due to weather changes. The ideal piano to tune is one which is tuned regularly, perhaps monthly, or every term. For teaching purposes we use a pattern similar to the ideal tuning: the piano is tuned up by 5 cents three or four times, and then down to the starting point. With a standardised tuning the learner is able to observe the reaction of the piano to the tuning and to perfect his technique.

The Japanese teaching method involved a system of discovery and reward for the individual, and an environment of cooperative competition among the class. The minimum amount of information was given for a new procedure, and if the student had a question, then it seems that the answer would have more meaning if he felt the need to ask the question.

Some of the procedures got to be boring after several attempts, and the carrot on the stick was that you would be able to go on to the next step once you mastered the current one. When a student got the trick, he would be pressured to share it with the others.

The stages to be mastered were:

  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3

Once the student was doing full tunings, they were scoped if the time taken was less than 1½ hours. The aim was to get the time down to 1 hour, or less. Graphs were done of the tunings, and it was shown that the faster the tuning, the more accurate.

The graph had a line representing the ideal tuning for the model of piano — a Yamaha U1 — and the cents by which the pitch of each note deviated from this ideal were added up. A total cents deviation of 70 was considered unbeatable, and 150 "lost points" acceptable. Most good tunings were between 80 and 100 cents.

These days the newer computerised scopes can calculate an ideal tuning for individual pianos, so in the most recent Con tuning course a different scoring system was used.

Next:  Temperament, 1

Contact nick@a440.com.au or Mobile 0417 046688.