[ back to Tom 7 Radar ]

p
e
r
s
o
n
a
l
Tuning is to cause a piano to emit them with the utmost exactitude (10 Mar 2006 at 17:18)
Tuning is to cause a piano to emit them with the utmost exactitude
In preparation for making an album this weekend I am finally trying to tune my piano. Here's a picture (click for a larger version) of me with the thing splayed open and my wrench out. I contemplated writing some software to help with this, but it is more fun to be entirely low-tech: I'm listening to reference tones and muting strings with my finger and turning the pegs with a wrench. After all, a large part of this is the do-it-myself value, so why not go all the way? (If you are a real piano tuner, please don't tell me all the mistakes I'm making, at least until I'm done. ;))

I'm currently 1/12 of the way done. I hope I get faster at it, or my arm is gonna be really sore soon...
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Anonymous (dsl254-022-218.sea1.dsl.speakeasy.net) – 03.10.06 17:56:23
that chair is INSANE!
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (h-67-100-132-203.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 03.10.06 18:13:33
Hehe. It just looks that way because I am slouching over and the wide-angle lens distorts stuff.

I tuned the Cs, Es, and Gs, but then they went out of tune again. We may be looking at another guitar/keyboard album...
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Cortney (ip24-255-236-69.ks.ks.cox.net) – 03.10.06 19:22:01
You are hot (and adorable). I hope it goes well -- are you going to write any special songs, like, "Pittsburgh won the Superbowl" or "Fire Santorum"?
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Jessica 8 (c-67-171-71-227.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 03.10.06 19:50:24
Yes, he's totally going to write "Princess of Justice" so he can enter this contest. http://www.princessofjustice.com/index.cfm?type=contest
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Anonymous (ip68-97-127-98.ok.ok.cox.net) – 03.10.06 19:53:40
Hell, yes -- he's tuning a piano and he's got a 40-ounce of his favorite malt liquor opened to help him out. Rock on, brother.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (h-67-100-132-203.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 03.10.06 21:23:52
Well, official AAD rules disallow me from pondering ideas before the day. But tomorrow I'll be taking song title suggestions! (Maybe I will track down a couple more theme song competitions to enter. ;))

LOL, okok: That's actually San Pellegrino. Some "LASER" sure would have helped, though, man, piano tunin' is rough...
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Cortney (ip24-255-236-69.ks.ks.cox.net) – 03.11.06 17:42:58
Song titles:
mango zen baby (from Fran)
parsley & cheese
chemo sabe
lasagne noodles
sleep purr
sunny day
brio
vigor
mabel, maybe not
paucity
brain coral (or even brain corral!)
mango salsa
sate

I just prepped lasagne and am going to eat leftover indian food and I'm hungry, hence the food related titles. I hope this helps!
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Max (69.240.205.11) – 03.12.06 00:25:09
Nice piano!
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Max (69.240.205.11) – 03.12.06 13:18:23
Since you are probably done by now, I hope you know that it is important to NOT tune each string to correspond with the exact pitch supposedly represented by its key. This is called "Just Intonation" and actually makes the piano sound really out of tune.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Adhesion (adhesion.rh.rit.edu) – 03.12.06 16:20:37
That doesn't make sense. Wouldn't just intonation be tuned by tuning all the intervals to being "perfect" in a certain key?
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (h-67-100-132-203.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 03.12.06 19:11:19
No, I didn't finish--I gave up because the strings I had already tuned starting going out of tune again. It's hard! I'll give it another shot soon. Alas, no (real) piano on this album.

PS. I interpreted any posts in this thread as song title suggestions.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Sophia (c-24-218-58-208.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) – 03.13.06 14:07:33
I think that Max is right about tuning it "wrong". I remember once learning that there's something odd about the way that a piano sounds with reference to itself between various octaves that makes it sound more in-tune with a somewhat out-of-tune scheme. Tom, if you're still working on your piano, you may want to look up that scheme (if you haven't already). Or maybe you ought to just hire someone to tune your piano, if it's daunting enough to prevent you from finishing yourself?
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (gs82.sp.cs.cmu.edu) – 03.13.06 15:53:45
I could totally hire somebody. Given how much time it would probably take, it would be easily worth the money. But I still feel like doing it myself at least once would make me feel self-empowered. Like changing my car's oil myself, you know...

Everything I've read says that pianos are tuned with "stretched octaves," that is, that the higher notes are tuned sharp and the lower ones tuned flat. Since I was mostly doing it by ear anyway, I don't think mathematical precision would be the cause of my downfall. I just wasn't prepared to tune a couple dozen strings and then have them start going back out of tune again! I'm going to give it another shot this week (Spring break, woo)...
p
o
s
t

a

c
o
m
m
e
n
t
[ Tom 7 Radar  •  Tom 7 on Google+  •  on Twitter  •  on Facebook ]