Author Topic: Tuning  (Read 4873 times)

Offline 5077

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Tuning
« on: March 07, 2011, 12:50:00 PM »
My question here is primarily for pianotuner_steveo, but anyone can answer (and even better, hopefully everyone can learn from the answer!).

I'm working on getting my '78 Mk I Stage in tip-top shape, and amongst the many things I'm doing to it right now, I'm tuning it in preparation for voicing.  Amongst other things, I'm a classically trained guitarist, so my ear for tuning isn't too bad, however, when I sat down to tune the Rhodes, I figured I'd go for the ultimate in accuracy and use a chromatic tuner (I even bought the Peterson Strobosoft app for my phone to do it!).  Afterwards, it sounded worse!  If anything, it wasn't perfect when I started, and I felt that I only increased the accuracy of the pitches, yet it still sounded worse. 

Then I found this thread http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=6114.0 where pianotuner_steveo suggested tuning by ear once A440 is established, which I have no trouble doing.  But before I get going on his instructions, I wanted to ask:

When I'm tuning by ear I notice that some notes are beating a little, so I obviously tune them to the point where the beating disappears, but isn't this essentially the same as using a tuner to get each note in tune independently of the others?  I mean, obviously not, or my Rhodes wouldn't sound so bad right now, but why/how is this happening?  I don't mind tuning by ear but using a tuner is faster, and with two kids under two, time is GOLD! ;)

Thanks.

Offline Rob A

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2011, 01:45:55 PM »
One tendency you should be aware of: in the lowest octave and a half or so, The pitch will not remain constant over time. The severity of that effect will depend on the distance to the pickup from the end of the tines as near as I can tell. You ought to see that pretty clearly (mainly going sharp as it decays) on a strobe tuner.

The official service manual recommends stretch tuning. I don't agree with that recommendation. I tune to strict equal temperament. I don't think there's a consensus in the enthusiast community however (I'm sure most people consider me wrong). You can certainly try and see yourself if stretch tuning improves your apparent perception of being in tune.


Offline Cormac Long

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2011, 01:54:04 PM »
The official service manual recommends stretch tuning.

But they state that the factory ships (shipped) them as equal temperament..

Text taken from service manual PDF..
NOTE
"RHODES Pianos are not stretch tuned at the factory.
Instead, they are tuned to equal temperament."

Regards,
   Cormac

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Offline 5077

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2011, 04:51:37 PM »
Thanks for the reply, guys!  I've thought about the stretch tuning thing before, and I may try it someday, but for now I'd like to get a decent handle on equal temperament!  :P  I know I've read an interesting thread on here before with some good arguments for and against stretch tuning, but as I said, I'll need to get better at tuning of any kind on this instrument...

Offline Rob A

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2011, 07:28:10 PM »
Whatever it's worth, I tune using tunelab pro.

I got tunelab specifically to measure the inharmonicity of Rhodes tines. I measured zero on two separate pianos, hence the case against stretch tuning.

More tuning blather here:
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=4580.0

Offline bumpyrhode

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2011, 09:11:23 PM »
Whatever it's worth, I tune using tunelab pro.

I got tunelab specifically to measure the inharmonicity of Rhodes tines. I measured zero on two separate pianos, hence the case against stretch tuning.

More tuning blather here:
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=4580.0


Having just read this tuning thread, I have the worst headache I have ever had in my life.
Please preface with a medical warning! ???

All joking aside, does this all just boil down to tuning by equal temperament or stretch
ultimately lies within the ears of the performer and the particular nuances of the instrument
being played? Do different playing styles, voicing and pickup settings impact tuning? I've
read tuning is easiest achieved with the harp vertical. Given the previous sentence,
duplicating the playing style can not be achieved with the harp up. I've tried adjusting the
springs with the harp down and I find it frustrating. Is that a developed skill?

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2011, 09:18:02 PM »
Like I said in that previous post, if you are going for speed, use the electronic tuner and tune all of the notes, with the harp up,then go back and tweak them by ear. Compare the 4ths,5ths, and octaves. You initially want to tune the note A440, which is the A above middle C. Then tune the A below it. Then 5ths and 4ths all around the octave F below middle C to F above middle C. Dont worry if you hear some beats as long as they sound good musically. You want SOME beats, but the amount varies based on what sounds best to you and other factors.In general, the bass should be slightly flat and the treble should be slightly sharp. Tuning all notes pure based on what the tuner tells you will never sound right. Most of the time, the only note I tune pure to the tuner is A440.
You need to keep flipping the harp up and down for tuning and testing. Playing style has almost nothing to do with Rhodes tuning. It does affect acoustic pianos some, but thats another story.

PM me if you are confused or need more info.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 09:26:05 PM »
Rob, you can tune the same piano with equal temprament AND stretch the octaves........ You tune the tenor section to equal temprament, then stretch as you go up and reverse stretch as you go into the bass. Most of the time, equal temprament refers to the tenor section only, (called the temprament octave) but you can temper the entire piano as well. That takes a lot of time to tune this way though. I agree,this sounds better,especially on acoustics. But even then, I still stretch the high treble, because your ears perceive treble as sounding flat when tuned to exact pitch  and bass sounds sharp when tuned to exact pitch. (IE Paul McCartney's Hofner usually sounded sharp. i own a Hofner copy and it sounds better when tuned slightly flat)
« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 09:35:02 PM by pianotuner steveo »
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline 5077

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2011, 03:53:55 PM »
Ok, this tuning thing is driving me CRAZY! 

I tried tuning by ear, using the method laid out in "Piano Tuning" by Fischer, and I've realized that my ears aren't as good as I thought they were  :-[  I kind of gave up and contacted a local Rhodes maintenance guy to come in and tune the thing, but in talking to him on the phone, I found out that all he does is tune each tine to a guitar tuner, which is what I tried in the beginning!!  I then asked a friend who has a Rhodes what he did, and he said he did the same thing (with a guitar tuner).  Maybe I'm crazy, but just using a guitar tuner doesn't sound quite right to me...

I have an acoustic piano that needs tuning, so I'm just going to ask the tuner to do the Rhodes as well, and hope that he can do it.

I guess my question now is, how many of you tune your Rhodes just using a guitar tuner for each key, versus how many of you tune it using a standard acoustic piano method?

Offline Rhodesman88

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2011, 12:16:20 PM »
Tuning a Rhodes has always had it followers in two camps; to stretch or not to stretch.  Personally I use a tuner to do the range from about A 220 to A 880...then use my ear to tune the octaves, which turn out to be closer to equal temperment than stretch.  Everyone's ear is different, but I think that tuning to equal temperment octaves is the best for a Rhodes. Then on the other hand, is the Rhodes set up primarily to fundimental tone settings, or do you have a lot of overtones dialed in?  That also affects the tuning to some degree.  

Remember that stretch tuning is used for accoustic pianos due to the nature of the way an accoustic piano vibrates, and the sympathetic vibrations of the un-dampened strings affect the final sound. Also and accoustic has multiple strings throughout most of it's entire range.  This affects the way we hear sound pitches.

A Rhodes is an electro-mechanical instrument with one sound generating source per note so equal temperment seems to be the prefered tuning method.  After all, an organ or synthesizer are not stretch tuned.



« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 12:19:01 PM by Rhodesman88 »

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2011, 08:23:00 AM »
I always say that it will never sound right if you just go by what the lights tell you to do on a guitar tuner.
After I do my quick tuning with the tuner with the harp up, I lower the harp and LISTEN to the octaves, 4ths,5ths, etc, and tweak as needed using the methods used in acoustic piano tuning. As it turns out, some notes will be dead on from the quick tuning with the tuner, but NOT ALL.

If you lived in my area I could tune both for you. There are not very many piano tuners that will even touch a Rhodes. I am the only one within 90 miles or so in my area.

There is a very expensive electronic tuner for pianos called the Sanderson Accutuner. This is basically a fancy guitar tuner. I HATE the way piano tunings sound when done with this machine if the person tuning just follows what the lights tell them to do.

Most electronic tuners just tell you to tine everything beatless, which does not sound right when playing a song. Octaves should be beatless, 5ths should be narrow, and 4ths should be wide.

I may have just opened up another can of worms, narrow and wide may be new terms to some of you...

If you need an explanation, maybe I should start a new thread on it.

« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 08:31:38 AM by pianotuner steveo »
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2011, 08:32:21 AM »
Haha...tine everything beatless...that should say TUNE....
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline 5077

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2011, 06:53:35 PM »
Well, I have a tuner coming in on Monday who said he'll look at the Rhodes.  Hopefully he'll 1) tune it and 2) show me how he's doing it as he goes.  In the meantime, I've been re-voicing the keys and really digging the sounds I can get out of this thing...

I was also thinking about the tuning section in the Rhodes manual which suggests tuning only in octaves.  Has anyone had success with this method?

Incidentally, I got a book out of the library on piano maintenance by Reblitz--fascinating stuff.  Among many other things, he shows you what metronome markings to use when discerning the amount of beating for different intervals.  Very cool!



Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2011, 07:03:13 PM »
 No, tuning only by octaves will really sound bad! It would sound roughly the same as just following the lights of a guitar tuner.
you really need to compare the octaves, 4ths,5ths ,plus the 10ths or 17ths in the bass in order for it to sound correct.

The Reblitz book is very good, but it is old and unless newer printings are updated, the section on electronic tuning is pretty outdated. Mine is so old it has a small section on Rhodes and Wurlis!

Did your tuner quote you how much he would charge for tuning the Rhodes? Has he ever tuned one before?

1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...