The best way to tune an instrument is to call the piano master
Much has been said that the piano tends to lose its structure over time, and, in addition, other problems may arise that negatively affect the sound quality of the instrument and, accordingly, the quality of the music you play.
I must say right away, in this case, I highly recommend calling a wizard who can fix everything perfectly. But, perhaps, you yourself decided to delve deeper into this topic, considered that your level of hearing is already quite sufficient to deal with this yourself, and that you are suitable for this work. In any case, knowledge is never superfluous, and I cannot refuse to obtain it as far as my modest possibilities are.
For this article, I specially had to talk with a very experienced master-tuner, because in this case, really remarkable skill and developed hearing, which will be as close as possible to the absolute, are necessary. But, if you just started playing, do not have much musical experience, then please do not do it yourself!
I warned you, it’s difficult to break the strings, of course (only if you drag them at least an octave), but if this happens, it will be much harder to get them than the guitar ones that can be purchased at any music store.
This material will give you a general idea of tuning the piano, because in order to learn the intricacies of this process, the very tuner suggested sending me a parcel with a couple of “books” the size of each volume of Marx-Engels.
What told me an experienced master who wanted to stay incognito
The tuning of the piano consists in matching all the strings with each other, and so that they correspond to the ideal system.
The action begins by adjusting the so-called temperament zone. Johann Sebastian Bach invented temperament, in support of which he wrote “48 Preludes and Fugues for a Well-Tempered Clavier” (all stringed keyboard instruments were called the clavier in the 17th and 18th centuries). It is thanks to this invention of the great composer that the piano keyboard is the instrument we are used to today. Everything is tricky enough ... If temperament were not invented, then playing would be extremely inconvenient and the possibilities in terms of the game would be very limited. Simply put, temperament is a deliberate slight distortion of the system of intervals from pure, for the sake of the convenience of musicians. Without it, the black keys would not be permanently located in the same places, and one line of octave keys would be wider than the other.
As for tuning at the physical level, the main part of the piano that tuners work with is the wiredbank. Wirbel - these are special pianos that have micron threads, with which a little movement is enough to change the tension of the strings; it is made of sticks glued from different types of wood; they are located in the viralbelbank at a slight angle. Virbelbank is a special chopping board that keeps the string in a tuned state due to the friction force. To adjust them, a special tuning key is used, which becomes the master’s best friend: many have become so used to their personal instrument over the years that if they are given a similar other one, they will cope worse. Having installed the key on the wirbel, the master, with very careful movements, either increases the system by pulling the peg, or lowers it, weakening it.
Of particular difficulty is the fact that each note can have from one to three strings - one thick string in the lower, bass, register; 2 in the middle register part, and three in the middle of the keyboard. The strings that belong to one note are called a chorus - the strings of one chorus have the same thickness, are tuned equally, but they differ in length, choruses are needed to increase the duration and saturation of the sound.
The main problem is that the piano strings are located at a very small distance from each other, less than 5 mm, and it makes it difficult to check the tuning of each string one at a time. Blades are used to solve this difficulty. They are used to stub the extreme strings from the tuned string, while tuning always starts with the middle string in the choir. The blades are a simple pointed triangle cut out of rubber; wooden blades are used to stub the thinnest strings for convenience. Instead of blades, they also use a dense rubber band, it works in a similar way, but the tuning process slows down, because it is more difficult to drown out the strings.
The very process of tuning the strings is much more subtle than you can imagine, tuning all the strings in a row is wrong and unprofessional, there are special techniques.
First of all, the question arises, with the help of which an absolutely pure note is extracted, which is subsequently oriented. The oldest tool used for this is a tuning fork . The tuning fork is made in the form of a fork with two teeth, there is a ball at the end of the handle, first the tuning fork is beaten on a hard surface, and then they are leaned against a well-resonating material (but, in principle, any hard surface is also suitable). The tuning fork begins to resonate with her, and he produces a sound that corresponds to the note of La of the first octave. Also, some masters use modern expensive tuners, cheap chromatic for the guitar are not suitable for this. But all the same, the most correct is the tuning by ear, after one stroke of the tuning fork, the piano tuner uses only hearing for the final tuning.
There are several techniques by which the piano is tuned.
The first is called quarto-quinto - the most accurate and often used, beginners usually start with a quinto-octave . In any case, the tuning starts from the note я of a small octave to the note я of the first temperament.
The process of quarto-quint tuning is as follows:
- First, with the help of a tuning fork, an octave is built between the small octave and the first.
- Single string tuning: two extreme strings are isolated with blades. Then, from left to right, the extreme strings of the choir are tuned.
- Actually, why the method has such a name: tuning goes by alternating quarts (4 semitones) and quint (5 semitones): for example, after right to left (I remind you that tuning goes one octave), the re-quint setting goes, after the re goes the fifth to Salt (from left to right), from Salt goes to Do (fifth, from right to left), from To up to Fa, from Fa to C sharp and so on. Everything should go clearly at intervals - this ensures maximum quality settings.
- Again, I remind you of temperament - on a quart, the sound rises by “one beat per second” (the term refers to sound waves), on a fifth, respectively, there is a decrease by one beat per second.
- Checking the quality of settings - you need to check by small thirds (contains one and a half tones), by a custom method (quart-fifth), play complex things on the piano, for example, “Ave Maria” or any Bach piece (here, in principle, it’s not so important - what’s important - how - an inexperienced pianist is unlikely to be able to reveal all the new features of the built instrument).
In the quarto-octave tuning, all the steps, except the third, are similar to the quarto-fifth, but the process is carried out using another interval principle. First, there is a climb up the fifth, and then down an octave: the fifth — from La the first octave to Mi second, then the octave from Mi – the second octave to Mi first octave, from the first to La flat and so on. This method is simpler, but more inaccurate, because the wider the interval, the more errors there will be.
Each setup takes a different time. According to the master, his very first setup took 5 and a half hours, now he will spend 35-40 minutes on an extremely urgent setup, usually he spends 1.5 hours on it. He also talked about the Soviet tuner by the name of Volkov, who was a virtuoso of his craft - he tuned piano workshops in 20 minutes and did not use any plugs, which, however, did not affect the quality of the tuning. By the way, this person once invented a design in which the piano would be tuned only once during its manufacture, but this method did not find a response, since metal parts had to be actively used, and this would affect the acoustic properties of the instrument (consider this urban legend).
Detuning the piano is the master’s main occupation, but this is not the only problem that he will encounter and, of course, solve.
Intonation - some mallets are used more often and compacted better than those that are used less often, their felt (felt on hammers) is shifted. It must be compressed or, conversely, weakened. The hammers are sealed with an intonation needle, and the felt is sealed to the center.
Often there are also problems with the spiller - this is the “pusher” of the malleus, when you press a key it jumps back and sets the hammer in motion. The spring, which is the driving mechanism, can break, fall out of the loop, because of this, the keys can cling to each other, sink, which, of course, really hinders the game.
The strings, although rare, are torn. By the way, did you know that their tension reaches 18 thousand kilograms "> Also, the tuners clean the pianos from the inside, carry out a general diagnosis and, as problems are identified, correct them, so you can safely consider them music doctors. Therefore, appreciate these people - this not the most common profession, but without them, pianists would be as without hands.