Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why Does My Piano Need a Pitch Raise?

Pitch Raising (or Lowering)

It's a very high probability if your piano has suffered some neglect and hasn't been tuned in a while, your piano will need a pitch raise before fine tuning can begin. A piano that is 5-10% or greater out
of tune is a little like a water bed...when you push down on one corner, the corner on the other side pops up. With around 15 tons of pressure internally, all the piano strings need to be very close to in tune before final tuning can begin because the intense pressure will move around while tightening or loosening strings. Piano tuning can actually pull the other piano strings out of tune if a pitch raise is not performed, which leads to tuning the piano over and over and over again until the whole piano is close enough to being in tune start final tuning. A pitch raise will save time by bringing this pressure into balance so final tuning can begin. According to Inventronics, Inc:
"...Pulling up adjacent strings affects the pitch of the strings that have already tuned. The settling process on a string is not complete until another octave or so has been tuned. Aural unison tuners should be aware that pulling in two outside strings to the tuned center string will affect the pitch of the center string. The amount is roughly equal to one-fifth of the net pitch change. As a result, when there is more than a few cents pitch change involved, tuning unisons aurally can actually leave them out of tune in the end! To avoid getting into this situation, give the piano a quick pitch raising (or lowering) before trying to do a fine tuning. If the piano is more than five to ten cents flat, it will actually save time to do a quick pitch raise before attempting to fine-tune the piano."
This quote describes how we tune most of the piano. We tune one string to our electronic tuner then tune the other two strings or other string by ear. If the piano is too far out of tune, the resulting string pitch will be out of tune with respect to the rest of the piano.

New pianos also need a pitch raise. New pianos need 4 piano tunings over a one to

two year period of time once they leave the factory before they will hold a tune. One exception to this statement is Steinway pianos. Steinway will tune their pianos every month over a year period of time before selling their pianos because they understand what is needed for all of the parts of a new piano to settle. Pianos need time for the wood, harp, screws, tuning pins, pin block, strings, and bridge to settle before the piano will hold a tune. Recently, I changed out a broken string for a new string. Only 30 days later, it was 100% (or a full note value) out of tune. Imagine having a new piano with all new strings. A new piano will need pitch raises until it will hold a tune.

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