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Sunday, December 28, 2014

So you want to be a concert piano technician? (2)



A great performance by Yuja Wang, but something is amiss. Can you hear it? 

Friday, December 26, 2014

The best time to give your business a boost is last year. The second best time is today!

Piano Promos by Chuck Behm may be just the tool you need to bring some extra shop work your business!



Putting Piano Promos to work for you will:

1. Help you to secure contracts on more of the jobs that you propose!
2. Lead to greater customer satisfaction!
3. Enhance your bottom line, putting your business on a more solid footing!


Contact: Piano Promos

Friday, November 28, 2014

Old guy wearing S&S cap with wifey: What are they looking at?


a.  A guy who just appeared on stage asking: "Is there a piano tuner in the house?"

b. Two piano tuners having shown up are now arguing over who will tune the piano.

c. Bass string broke, shot across the stage, ricocheted off a cello and landed on the conductor's stand.

d. A "Shout House" performance.

e. Basketball game.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NY S&S never sounded as good. Superb!



NY Steinway & Sons rebuilt B ca 1940, by Piano Craft.

So you want to be a concert piano technician?



Listen to the cadenza from 4.47 noting especially 10.00 - 10.40 and
the finale from 29.13.

Is this a case of:

a. Pianist in a hurry and playing wrong notes?

b. Piano with unsatisfactory repetition and needs regulation?

c. Pianist exceeding piano capacity?

d. None of the above?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New duplex scale promises improvement in upper range sound and utility.

Patented "Fully Tempered Duplex Scale" published by World Intellectual Property Organization.

 "Disclosed below are representative embodiments of methods, systems, and apparatus for improving pianos and like musical instruments. For example, in certain embodiments, the improvements are in the structures of the piano (or like musical instruments) that affect the vibratory relationships between the struck string and other segments of said string..."

Read more of this amazing system from American Inventor Edward J. McMorrow:   Patented Fully Tempered Duplex Scale


Fazioli Factory Tour ファツィオリ工場ツア


The rare, innovative Fandrich piano.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Elderly Atlantic City Icon could lose His family home of 45 years to benefit a Bankrupt Casino



"Charlie’s house is not just a collection of bricks and mortar. It represents decades of memories and close ties to his family. Survivors of the Holocaust, who met in the Polish woods while hiding from the Nazis, his parents came to America after the war. The two were supportive of Charlie and his brother, who were child prodigy pianists. When Charlie was 13, he soloed with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Two years later, he performed in an audition judged by Leonard Bernstein. Over the years, Charlie played at recitals all around the world and later mulled becoming a music professor. But performing in such a competitive field took its toll."

Read the full story in Forbes

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Piano-tuning maestro.



Piano-tuning maestro Charles Ball has been hitting the high notes for 30 years as the head piano technician in the Butler School of Music. From an early age, Ball has been fascinated by the inner workings of pianos and had dreamed of one day working in music, with a fleet of fine instruments that he would prepare for concert performances.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fazioli F228 7'6" prepped for performance: Tuned aurally in Equal Temperament






Fazioli F228  7.6 prepped for performance by
 Bob Widding, piano technician,

in
Equal Temperament.

 Recorded before a live audience at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca. 2000.

Air with Variations (Harmonious Blacksmith)
from Suite in E Major,
HG II/i/5
G. F. Handel
Julie Cheek, concert pianist




From the CD
Julie Cheek Classical Favorites

Recording engineer:
Grady Trimble




For more information:

www.fazioli.com

www.juliecheek.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ca. 1930s outdoor piano recital.

Dr. Giroir, standing center.
Dr. Giroir, standing left, presents award.

My piano teacher, Dr. Marcelline Giroir "conducts" an outdoor piano recital, ca.1930s.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Larry Fine annouces Fall 2014 Piano Buying Guide now available!


The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for

Buying New, Used, and Restored Acoustic Pianos and Digital Pianos

A piano is one of the most expensive purchases a household will ever make, and buying a piano can be difficult, confusing, and time consuming. Piano Buyer is a free, 280-page, semiannual piano buying guide that will help you make a fast informed decision concerning the purchase of a piano or digital piano.
Editorially independent of any manufacturer or dealer.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Get into the Piano Tuning Business!

Vintage ad ca1920

Vintage photo: What's the "tech" doing?


Lester piano. Real or fake?


Every piano tech's nightmare can be avoided.


Newspaper Music Review

“Pianist _______ blew out the room
 -- and some of the lower pitches on the piano, 
unfortunately -- in an awe-inspiring performance 
with the orchestra of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2… “
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Every piano tech's nightmare. It can be avoided.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Yikes - The Piano Tuner is coming!

A number of months ago I posted this and thought it might be helpful to do so again. We are always welcoming members who are new to piano ownership. These are a few considerations to help ensure that you receive a first-rate tuning.

Before Arrival:
  • When scheduling your appointment, remember to mention any mechanical problems such as sticky keys, squeaks, and minor adjustments so that extra time can be scheduled.

  • Make sure that the lawn/snow crew or carpenters are not scheduled at the same time. All Tuners Need Quiet!

  • Clear all objects from the top or lid of the piano. Family Photos - Plants - Candles - Grandma's Ashes - Everything!

  • Make sure that there is adequate lighting. Remember, you will have already removed any piano lamps that either clip on, or are placed on any surface of the piano. This includes the music desk of a grand as it needs to be removed for tuning. Provide a free standing floor lamp if necessary.

  • Dust the piano! Clean the keys!

Upon Arrival:
  • Always treat your tuner with a cordial and mannered disposition. He/She is a professional and should be treated as such.

  • Escort your tuner to the piano, offer a beverage, and make them aware of the closest facilities.

  • Politely excuse yourself and let your tuner do the tuning in private and without interference. Exceptions may be accommodated by your tuner. Ask first - Don't assume.

  • Keep Quiet. This is not the time to do the dishes, run the laundry, blast the TV or stereo, or mow the lawn.

  • Corral the kids. A tuner is not a babysitter or an amusement for your children. The same concept applies to pets.

  • Sometimes sounds we are accustomed to can be distracting to a tuner. The chiming and ticking grandfather clock or a noisy bird can affect the outcome of your tuning.

After Tuning:
  • Check the tuning by playing music you have memorized and are comfortable playing. Extended scales, of various types, serve the same purpose. Now is the time to listen to the tuning, not your performance. If you are not a pianist, it is best to assume that the tuning is fine.

  • If your tuner plays the piano, there is nothing wrong with asking him/her to do a little playing so you can stand back and listen to the tuning. It is not a recital for your enjoyment. It is for you to listen to the accuracy of the tuning.

  • If you notice any problems with unisons or intervals, now is the time to have them corrected. It is your responsibility to evaluate the tuning, at the time of service, to give your approval or ask for corrections.

  • When you are satisfied, pay for the service, and conclude the session.

Optional:
  • Tip for the service. I always do, but many do not.

  • Provide a snack or cookies. Hey, we're all human!

  • Have a TV-table(s) available for the tuner's tool kit and/or beverages and munchies.

  • Get to know your tuner. There is nothing wrong with being sociable.

For many of us, we know the routine. However, we always have many newcomers in the forum and I offer these as a general guide.

By all means, please add your own comments and additions. These guidelines are just the basics, as I see them, and it would be great to hear your opinions.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota in the Piano World Forum

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fazioli F228 7'6" prepped for performance






Fazioli F228 7'6"
Prepped by Bob Widding, piano technician
Tuned aurally in equal temperament

Recorded before a live audience at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca.2000



Chopin Polonaise A-flat major

From the CD
Julie Cheek Classical Favorites




Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wladyslaw Szpilman's "Concertino" (Composed in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940.)


Reolon Gdansk Philharmonic Orchestra Kateryna Thereshchenko - Piano, Publisher Boosey & Hawkes New York

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

From my Harpsichord Service Archive: William Dowd

String guide for the William Dowd Concert French Double Harpsichord. Two manual, transposing.  A truly great instrument used by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

Built in Boston after a 1730s instrument by François Etienne Blanchet

ca.1984

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pianotek Supply Company demonstrates the Spurlock Hammer Shank Clamp



Pianotek Supply Company demonstrates the Spurlock Hammer Shank Clamp, a simple and fast way to gang-clamp hammer shanks securely for a number of tasks (hammer hanging, shank trimming, filing, tail shaping, voicing, etc.) that would normally put undo stress and possible damage to the action centers if not otherwise locked into position.

(Note: Pianotek sells to the trade only.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Proper Service and Maintenance for a New Piano (1): Importance of Regular Tuning

There is more to tuning than deriving a pleasant aural benefit. When done in accordance with the responsible manufacturer's recommendations for a new instrument - frequent in-store tunings plus a minimum of four in-home tunings during the first year and twice per year thereafter - in the hands of a knowledgeable and capable piano technician the integrity of the strings is maintained.

New piano string is elastic.  When delivered to the buyer the strings are still stretching. The four in-home tunings are required for the piano to remain at pitch with two tunings per year thereafter to ensure that it stays there. Stretch slows and then becomes negligible.

Slight bends form in piano strings from sidebearing where they contact bridge pins. When the new piano is tuned frequently as mentioned above, these bends can move to the speaking segment and smooth out rather well due to this elasticity. However, if a couple of years have elapsed since the first in-home tuning and the piano has fallen substantially below pitch, the required huge pitch raise(s) will force these now less-than-elastic bends into the speaking segment of the string and create false beats -  and even cause permanent deformation or "wild strings" in extreme cases.

What may be done? The damage is not necessarily irreparable.  Neither is it always expensive to repair. Sometimes a good tech can smooth the bends and minimize or "hide" false beats.  A string may need replacing.  The cost here is modest.  Many pianists and even some piano tuners may not be bothered by false beats because they cannot hear them.  Accordingly, for these individuals there is no problem to correct.  Or so it would seem. However, depending upon the extent of the problem it could get quite expensive to remedy. Consider the following:


"When tuning has been neglected for an extended period of time, the strings in the tenor, mid-range and extreme treble have often dropped in pitch much more, in comparison with the bass strings which have also dropped in pitch. The string tension has decreased so much and unevenly, that the soundboard and bridges have warped out of shape, placing tremendous strain on wood and glue joints, risking severe damage." 

“…pianos are designed to be at a specific tension. When the tension is allowed to go flat the soundboard may flatten resulting in less downbearing on the strings and an increase in the chance of wild strings, cracks in the soundboard and case and frame parts separating."
 -  Cited from the Randy Potter School of Piano Technology, Inc. by  Randy Potter, Registered Piano Technician,  chapter 1.8 pg.16.   

"If the piano has fallen substantially below pitch (i.e. from not having been tuned frequently enough), the process of pulling the strings back up to pitch often brings these little bends out into the speaking segment of the string without having had the opportunity to straighten out gradually. A competent tuner can usually remove these unwanted bends in the string, but it's additional work, and you may get charged more. Some tuners who are not so competent just leave them and hope they'll straighten out over time. And sometimes, no matter how good the tuner is or how hard he tries to remove a false beat, you're stuck with it.
- Piano Finders®

"Can the Piano Be Damaged by Not Having it Tuned?

"To keep a piano untuned for many years could do permanent damage to the piano. The strings are under a great deal of tension and tend to loose their tension over time. If the piano is kept untuned for too long you run the risk of the total pitch of the piano dropping. To bring the piano back to standard pitch may cause, at best, the necessity for several tunings over several weeks (at a higher cost) or, at worst, string breakage, and split bridges. Not only that, but playing on a poorly tuned piano can cause a potential musician to subconsciously not enjoy playing and hence, not wish to play."

  - Carl Radford, RPT

"Distortion in sound. In rare cases major tuning work can bring bends into the speaking length of the string causing distortion in the sound. Restringing is the only solution in this case."  - Daniel Berg, RPT  excerpt from  Results from years of neglect.

"Take care of your piano by not neglecting it for extended periods of time.  Piano strings stretch over time, and if left untuned for long enough, a piano will require a major pitch raising when it is tuned again.  A major pitch raising is not good for the health of your piano; it increases the possibility of breaking some strings and/or may introduce a permanent out-of-tune sound known as 'false beating.' "Gooch Piano Service
 

"Does Piano Tuning Neglect Harm Your Piano?

"To my knowledge, all professional piano tuners agree that neglecting regular service does harm pianos. When piano problems begin to develop, a professional piano tuner, who regularly services your piano, can help with advice and solutions. Pianos do not last forever, and those that receive regular tuning and service uphold their value better than neglected pianos.

"Even if, no one is playing your piano, the weather is playing it 24 hours a day, and it needs regular tuning.

"With over 20 tons of string pressure, manufacturers design pianos to be maintained at A440 standard pitch and when pianos drift off-pitch the curvature of the soundboard changes and the whole structure of the piano shifts. The strings in the piano produce about 18 to 22 tons of tension. The cast iron plate supports this tension, but the rest of the piano is mostly wood, which makes the piano extremely flexible.

"Everything in a piano is either made of wood, or depends on wooden parts to function.
In wet, humid conditions, the piano swells; and in dry conditions, it contracts. This bending and shifting is not productive for the health of your piano. In Physics, the piano as a whole is a ‘flexible’ structure.

"Allowing the piano to cycle through periods of neglect, or ‘hit and miss’ service, combined with changes in humidity ~ the seasonal bending and changing of the soundboard and overall structure ~ can damage the piano. Allowing it to go through such cycles of neglect, in my mind, is like bending a green twig; at some point, it is going to break."
 -  Chuck Littau Piano Services

"The false beat is one of the tuner's worst enemies. This is a beat within a single string
that you can't eliminate by tuning. A string with a false beat sounds like two
strings that are out of tune with each other. False beats occur most commonly in the
upper middle register of the piano, from the treble break up to the middle of the top
octave.

"Other causes of false beats include rusty strings, kinked or twisted treble strings, and
strings that were stretched too much during stringing, pitch raising, or tuning. If you see
a kink or bend in the speaking portion of a string, try to straighten it by burnishing with
a steel rod. If this doesn't work, loosen the string and straighten it carefully with smooth
pliers. If it still sounds bad, replace it."  


- Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding, 
Arthur A, Reblitz, RPT



BOB WIDDING
PIANO TECHNICIAN

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mark Cerisano offers a new Basic Piano Tuning Manual.


 
"This manual describes the theory and practice of tuning a piano by ear. It accompanies the course given by Mark Cerisano . You can read more about this and other courses at howtotunepianos.com and mrtuner.com"

From Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc. (Mech. Eng,)
 
 
For more info:


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Photo Art Old Upright Pianos Abandoned Schoolhouse







All photo art by Bradley Widding


Cardon Bottoms, AR
Click photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The action itself should not have a sound of it's own.

"The action itself should not have a sound of it's own - in that regard (in theory) it does not contribute to the tone of the piano at all. However, the action has a HUGE affect on how the pianist makes tone, and anyone who has prepared fine pianos for artists has experienced the difference that apparently non-tonal changes can make to the sound of a piano! Again, these changes do not, in themselves, change the sound of the piano, but they demonstrably will change the ability of the pianist to create the sound they are looking for in the music."

KawaiDon in PW Forums.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The best Rach 3 since Lazar Berman: Hae-Sun Paik





Rachmaninov Piano Concert No.3  

Hae-Sun Paik  

Mikhail Pletnev's RNO

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Comedy: Lum decides to become a piano tuner!

http://home.hiwaay.net/~ajohns/retro/SOMEONEWAITING.htm


Lum and Abner, an American radio comedy which aired as a network program from 1932 to 1954, became an American institution in its low-keyed, arch rural wit. One of a series of 15-minute serial!


Enjoy listening!  Lum decides to become a piano tuner

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tuning a piano by ear. There is no better way.

"Why does Jurgen tune pianos by ear?  Simply put, because he can. Tuning aurally (by ear) is the time-honoured way to tune pianos.  Aural tuning involves listening closely to the individual strings, the unisons, and intervals such as octaves, thirds, fourths, fifths etc.  The piano is a polyphonic instrument, meaning that numerous notes are made to sound simultaneously.  All these simultaneous notes interact and have to blend in specific ways to create lush tone colours and dynamics.  In an aural tuning, these intervals are used to dial in the perfect pitch of every note, according to how it sounds in conjunction with others.  For Jurgen, it makes little sense to tune individual notes outside of a musical context with each other, which is what an electronic tuner does. While it is possible to achieve a good tuning with modern high-tech aids, all too often the 'black box' machines are used as crutches by those who did not benefit from the extensive training required to learn the skill set required for aural tuning. In the end, the human ear must be the final judge, so why not let ear direct the process from the start? Most of my distinguishing clients – professional musicians and teachers – appreciate the method and care I use to tune their instrument and prefer my work because I tune aurally."

Excerpt from:

Piano Forte Service and Piano Tuning



Friday, June 20, 2014

What is a test blow?

This is a problem of terminology. For many people, "test blow" means something quite brutal. It should mean a sharp, staccato blow at FF to FFF, musically speaking. This does not mean with all the force your body is capable of, it means about the loudest the note will be played in a musical context. A large number of steady F blows will show stability (or lack thereof) very well, so there is no need for the higher volume and force, except in circumstances where there is a bunch of friction and you know you have turned the pin enough for pitch to change, and it hasn't."

-Excerpt from Fred Sturm, RPT, in the PTG Discussion Digest

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A great advertising opportunity for piano dealers!

Piano Dealers in Canada, UK, & Australia:

Over the years we've had a number of inquiries from piano dealers (and tuners, teachers, etc.)from outside the U.S. about advertising on Piano World.

Now You Can!

We've been hard at work updating our Ad Management System to support ads from other countries. We started with Canada, UK, and Australia, although technically we should be able to support ads from any country.

Right now we're looking for a Piano Dealer from each country listed above to try our system and give us feedback in return for 90 days of free advertising (no strings attached).

If you are interested, please email me frank@pianoworld.com subject line: Dealer Ad Test.

Below I've included some stats for Piano World for an average 12 month period.
I suspect as we increase the ads from other countries our visits from these countries will go up.

Unique Visitors to Piano World Over 12 Months

1 United States 5,186,954
2 United Kingdom 757,738
3 Canada 570,021
4 Australia 332,289
5 Germany 168,241
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Congratulation Paolo! You've come a long way in 35 years!

 

Five of six finalists choose the Fazioli at the 14th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition!

 

 First, second and third place all go to pianists on the Fazioli!

Paolo Fazioli at the distributor's showroom, N. Little Rock Arkansas ca.1999

Steinway (Hamburg) Concert Piano Tech: "...we do not use [ETD's] at all..."




Comments starting at about 3.01.00 and 3.26.00

The 2014 Rubinstein competition

Additional information:
Is this the most powerful man in classical music?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Memories of a piano technician (5): Searching for Rachmaninoff


The composer at his desk ca1941

How does one search for the dead? Sometimes a trip to the cemetery, a hunt for a headstone,  plodding through census records. I took a different path and arrived at a more fulfilling destination.

My search for Rachmaninoff began when my sister acquired the Concerto for Piano in C minor featuring Van Cliburn on piano and the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner. It was 1961. And I was hopelessly hooked.  My parents had rented an old stencil upright from the local Steinway dealer and I was taking piano lessons everyday at elementary school. For our graduation recital  I was tasked with learning and memorizing the composer’s Prelude in C sharp minor. It took most of the school year devoted to one piece. My hands were small, and so I had to improvise a bit, but for the most part the recital went fine.

My love of Rachmaninoff’s music never diminished. I added his third concerto and the second symphony to my list of favorites.  Other works too.  I also wanted to know more about the man. Eventually I read two good biographies and gained much insight thereby.  I was especially moved by the events that led the composing of his second piano concerto. 

A midlife career change placed me at the piano - not performing, but tuning, regulating and repairing. After tuning I often tested my work by playing a few bars of the Prelude as well as other pieces. It was during one of these little exercises at a Little Rock client’s home that an elderly relative in town for a visit asked me if I could play the entire Prelude or just snatches of  it. She went on to tell me about attending a performance of Rachmaninoff's in Chicago.  My appreciation for the composer being quite high, I really wanted to know more. However, I had a packed schedule that day and after exchanging a few words, I left for the next appointment.

I regretted not taking the time to learn more of the composer through her eyes. Eventually I shared my feelings with a client-piano teacher.  With a rather puzzled expression she asked: “What could she have told you?”  “That’s just the point,” I replied. “I’ll never know.” But all was not lost. Little did I realize that a better day was coming.  And this time I would seize the opportunity.

A few years passed. Late one afternoon before tuning for a regular client we engaged in a little chat about art and memorabilia.  I sat down to tune and he left the room. When finished he reappeared in the doorway with an old scrapbook in hand.  “I have something to show you,” he said.  Inside the book was an original hand signed 1932 program along with a review from the local newspaper.  It was all about Rachmaninoff’s recital at a high school in a little swampy Arkansas town across the river called North Little Rock. The autograph was his. The event was sponsored by the Little Rock Musical Coterie. I asked to hold the book. I wanted to read and to touch both program and signature. It was a wonderful experience. But the best was yet to come.

I wanted to know more about the recital. I had no idea that the composer once performed in the area, but maybe others might.  One-by-one I asked coterie members if they had knowledge of Mr. Rachmaninoff's performance.  It was news to them - even among the oldest members.  But I had one last client to visit with.  Pat was a piano teacher - quite elderly  - just old enough to remember.  My appointment to tune her two Steinway pianos was a month or two  away.

The day arrived. After tuning both pianos I asked her about the coterie event.  “I’m sorry,” she said. “We were living in California.”  No doubt she saw my disappointment.  But it was soon allayed and for good reason.  “But I did know Mr. Rachmaninoff.”  Talk about unexpected. My jaw dropped to the floor.  She then shared her story -  at least some of it.

Going back to the days of her youth in California, walking through the neighborhood, strolling up one street and down another,  she often saw an elderly man through a window either seated at a desk or standing.  (I do not recall which.) As she walked by he would wave to her, and she to him.  This went on for some time when her interest piqued and she asked her mother about the gentleman.  “Who is the man down the street who always waves when I walk by?”  Her mother replied, “That’s Mr. Rachmaninoff.”

At this point, Pat’s husband interjected. “I can’t believe Rachmaninoff came to North Little Rock.  Back then it was mostly woods and swamp." The conversation moved to the less interesting.  And then it was over. Was there more to the story? I do not know. She passed away shortly thereafter.  However, for me it was enough.  My search was complete.


BOB WIDDING
PIANO TECHNICIAN
2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Memories of a piano technician (4): Lee Luvisi and David Itkin

From the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra program. Lee Luvisi and David Itkin.

Review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Note to Piano Technician (me).

I do have a story to accompany this, but I haven't written the piece for number 3 yet. Meanwhile, there is a thread about Mr. Luvisi here: Piano World Forum: Lee Luvisi

Can tuning neglect damage a piano? Quotables.




"When tuning has been neglected for an extended period of time, the strings in the tenor, mid-range and extreme treble have often dropped in pitch much more, in comparison with the bass strings which have also dropped in pitch. The string tension has decreased so much and unevenly, that the soundboard and bridges have warped out of shape, placing tremendous strain on wood and glue joints, risking severe damage." 
  - Guus van den Braak, Registered Piano Technician (Australasian).

“…pianos are designed to be at a specific tension. When the tension is allowed to go flat the soundboard may flatten resulting in less downbearing on the strings and an increase in the chance of wild strings, cracks in the soundboard and case and frame parts separating."
 -  Cited from the Randy Potter School of Piano Technology, Inc. by  Randy Potter, Registered Piano Technician,  chapter 1.8 pg.16.   

"If the piano has fallen substantially below pitch (i.e. from not having been tuned frequently enough), the process of pulling the strings back up to pitch often brings these little bends out into the speaking segment of the string without having had the opportunity to straighten out gradually. A competent tuner can usually remove these unwanted bends in the string, but it's additional work, and you may get charged more. Some tuners who are not so competent just leave them and hope they'll straighten out over time. And sometimes, no matter how good the tuner is or how hard he tries to remove a false beat, you're stuck with it.
- Piano Finders®


"Can the Piano Be Damaged by Not Having it Tuned?

"To keep a piano untuned for many years could do permanent damage to the piano. The strings are under a great deal of tension and tend to loose their tension over time. If the piano is kept untuned for too long you run the risk of the total pitch of the piano dropping. To bring the piano back to standard pitch may cause, at best, the necessity for several tunings over several weeks (at a higher cost) or, at worst, string breakage, and split bridges. Not only that, but playing on a poorly tuned piano can cause a potential musician to subconsciously not enjoy playing and hence, not wish to play."

  - Carl Radford, RPT


"Distortion in sound. In rare cases major tuning work can bring bends into the speaking length of the string causing distortion in the sound. Restringing is the only solution in this case." - Daniel Berg, RPT  excerpt from  Results from years of neglect.


"Take care of your piano by not neglecting it for extended periods of time.  Piano strings stretch over time, and if left untuned for long enough, a piano will require a major pitch raising when it is tuned again.  A major pitch raising is not good for the health of your piano; it increases the possibility of breaking some strings and/or may introduce a permanent out-of-tune sound known as 'false beating.' "Gooch Piano Service
 



"The false beat is one of the tuner's worst enemies. This is a beat within a single string
that you can't eliminate by tuning. A string with a false beat sounds like two
strings that are out of tune with each other. False beats occur most commonly in the
upper middle register of the piano, from the treble break up to the middle of the top
octave.

"Other causes of false beats include rusty strings, kinked or twisted treble strings, and
strings that were stretched too much during stringing, pitch raising, or tuning. If you see
a kink or bend in the speaking portion of a string, try to straighten it by burnishing with
a steel rod. If this doesn't work, loosen the string and straighten it carefully with smooth
pliers. If it still sounds bad, replace it."  


- Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding, 
Arthur A, Reblitz, RPT

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Do you set the temperament using the 4ths/5ths sequence? If so, please pay attention!



The manual I first studied from, a correspondence course (whose name I will not write on here but which is still very commonly purchased), gives that same 4ths & 5ths sequence but provides NO information regarding Rapidly Beating Intervals (RBI). None of the checks that we all supposedly should know but instructions to "back up" when the sequence doesn't work out.

The most recent book on tuning does the same thing in its simple version of temperament. All the checks that should be known are much later in the book.

Quite often, I have seen technicians write that they had a problem discerning the RBI's but could easily hear 4ths & 5ths. A sequence that begins with a set of four Contiguous Major Thirds (CM3) seems so difficult to many but that 4ths & 5ths sequence seems easy, so that is what they use.

So, as hard as you may find it to believe, most (I would say 9 of 10) technicians who find the RBI's too difficult to discern, begin each time they tune a piano, to tune a Well Temperament (WT) exactly a** backwards. (The "a** backwards" title is what my father used to call what someone did who did not know what they were doing. Put the part on upside down or backwards and leave it that way and not ever know the difference and not even care that they didn't know the difference and would resent anyone who may point that out.)

Here is a link to a video (under 2 minutes) that shows exactly how it occurs. You will note that all of the 4ths & 5ths I tune sound apparently "good". The one and only check that I did (the only one some people may know, if they know any at all), shows the F3-A3 M3 beating very similarly to the F3-D4 M6. They are both too fast but if a technician had never learned all of the RBI checks, that check may have sounded just fine!

Bill Bremmer, RPT, on "Reverse Well."
From Piano World Forum

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It pays to use a qualified professional (2): The Antique Dealer

Then, there is the prospect who purchased a used console. It looked great. The antique dealer thought it was a good piano as well. So the person laid out almost enough cash to buy a new one.

Later, when the piano tuner came by to service the instrument, he, too, couldn't believe how nice the piano looked. It was as if the thing had been in a time capsule. That is, until he looked inside.

Was something wrong? It would be easier to ask if anything was right. Nothing was right. Nothing. Yes, it looked like a piano. Sure enough, it even had 88 keys. But that was about it.

The cost to make the piano tunable exceeded the price of a similar new instrument. Add this to the money already invested, and there is only one word to describe the situation: Sad.

For this prospect the lesson was hard-learned. It doesn't have to be so for others.

BOB WIDDING
PIANO TECHNICIAN 

Much more here: CLICK HERE

Monday, May 12, 2014

It pays to use a qualifed professional (1): Piano moving.


One case comes to mind where a pianist wanted to move his grand piano from the den to the living room. With an open floor plan it looked easy enough. He even called the piano store that sold him the instrument and asked if it could be done without having to pay piano movers. "Sure," the salesman said. "Just roll it in there."

And so, he did, leaving some 20 feet of ruts in his brand new hardwood floors.

If it pays to use a qualified professional, it doubly pays to first call the right one.

BOB WIDDING
PIANO TECHNICIAN

Much more on this topic: CLICK HERE

Monday, April 28, 2014

More on "the wolf"



For more on "the wolf" in piano temperament click here.


And here.

Update: Company loaning pianos to those afffected by the tornado!

June 4, 2014. Richard Deutsch, owner of Piano Kraft in Little Rock, joined forces with Yamaha Corporation of America to provide $36,000 worth of Clavinova digital pianos on loan for a year to churches and schools in the tornado-ravaged areas of Mayflower and Vilonia. Story here:.Log Cabin Democrat news story

Massive tornado  crossed I-40 last night at Mayflower 9
 miles south of Conway and tore through Vilonia.

PHOTO BY BRADLEY WIDDING
PHOTO BY BRADLEY WIDDING

GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS. PHOTO BY BRADLEY WIDDING

Devastating. Much loss of life and property. Our prayers go out to the families in all areas affected especially Vilonia (pictured above) which was also hit in 2011.


 More photos: 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Oldest extant piano Bartolomeo Cristofori

I took this photo in 1997 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 




Dongsok Shin performs the Sonata in d minor, K.9 by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) on the earliest known surviving piano, made by the instrument's inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731), in Florence, 1720. Scarlatti's keyboard compositions were performed on both the harpsichord and the early piano.

Piano Tuning Advertisement in Jerusalem!




The Parkinson's Shuffle






Piano tech in retirement. Building a homemade elevator with expected results.  :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spontaneous Carbon Fiber Syndrome

Upon contact with the keys, it first spread through his
finger tips and ultimately carbonized the entire body.

Read about this curious malady in the
Dr. Jon Kohl's new book:

Technological Terrors and
the Modern Pianist.


Dr. Jon Kohl's revised theory of quantum piano temperament.

Can you tell where the change has been made?

Short film about Marc Manceaux, the owner of the oldest piano shop in Paris.


La Mer de Pianos from Wriggles & Robins on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Comprehensive Historical Survey of Equal Temperament.



 

  Tuning and temperament
     a historical survey.

 James Murray Barbour, Ph.D., Cornell University

  Bibliography: p. 205-217.

 Library of Congress ML3809 .B234
Michigan State College Press (1951)
Number of pages228 

Read online gratis here:

Tuning and Temperament : A Historical Survey