Hear the Difference.. Piano Tuning by Ear

Which Piano Tuning Method is Better and Why Should You Trust Steven at Malicki Piano Service With Your Piano.

I prefer aural or ‘ear’ piano tuning because every piano is unique and tunes slightly different. Malicki Piano Service does the best job. There is also a level of subjectivity between tunings, and I happen to love the way my pianos render and blend harmony. I have nothing against tuners who use electronic devices. I know many technicians who do wonderful work with them, and with a bit less fatigue.

headerSo What is Aural or Ear Piano Tuning?

Traditionally, all instruments have been tuned by ear. After a reference note is established, piano tuners adjust the pitches of all the other notes relative to each other, based upon the reference pitch. Piano Tuners typically choose a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ temperament depending on the scale design of the piano to get kind of mesh that makes all 12 notes sound best together. This is usually done by using intervals to set and test proper spacing or distance between the 12 notes.
In other words, after the first note is determined from a reference (a tuning fork or an electronic pitch), a second note is tuned based on its relationship with the first note tuned. The third note tuned may be based upon the second note that was tuned, etc. A piano tuner needs a reference pitch source, traditionally provided by a metal tuning fork. With electronic tone generators, some things have changed.
The tools are only as good as the piano tuners skillset. Often overlooked and equally important aspect of piano tuning has to do with the setting and equalization of a variety of different tuning pins and pin blocks so that the piano will stay in tune. I sometimes think of them as the more sensitive and often stubborn cousin of a steel guitars tuning pegs.

What is Electronic Tuning?

Typically, the piano tuner uses the electronic device to take readings from several notes along the instrument. The machine calculates a reasonable tuning for that piano. Piano tuners may use some aural techniques to refine the tuning and it does not replace the ear. The best tuning aids are expensive and validated by the Piano Technicians Guild. The Sanderson AccuTuners and a few others are specifically designed for pianos. These machine also store tuning settings so they can be recalled at any time. This works well for recording studios, concert halls, and music schools as the tunings are consistent.

Aural Piano Tuning or Electronic Piano Tuning?

The biggest problems with piano tuning with electronic tuning devices is that the technician becomes dependent upon the device. Some individuals purchase one of the devices and some tools and hang up a shingle advertising tuning services. Known in the profession as “tooners” these individuals don’t really grasp exactly what it is they are doing. They rely entirely upon the the electronic tuning device and therefore can’t use their ears to “tweak” the tuning. There are other skills usually lacking that can also cause problems. Damage can go beyond a bad piano tuning and even cause broken strings and bent or broken tuning pins. They are out there collecting money for work that they are not yet skilled enough to perform on a professional level. Malicki Piano Service is your guaranteed professional.