Author Topic: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes  (Read 4938 times)

Offline Student Rhodes

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Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« on: September 30, 2013, 11:29:53 PM »
Okay, I've been playing a lot through headphones lately, and I'm noticing odd sounds and overtones on certain intervals in the mid to upper register that I don't notice as much playing though the Suitcase cab.  Leads me to wonder if stretch tuning might help with that issue. 

Anywayt, I've decided I need to start tuning my own pianos.  And now I ask, what do you guys suggest for a cost efficient tuner.  Do I shop around ebay and try to pick up an old Peterson strobe unit?  Or do you suggest something else?

Also, any tips or techniques to get more out of the process are greatly appreciated.  For example: Any opinions of stretch tuning vs. even tempered?
Thanks,
Ray

Offline Abraham

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 04:45:17 AM »
Others may differ, but streetch tunning a rhodes is pointless because its own nature, not being an acoustic instrument it couldnt show inharmonicity, lets say all the sounds come from the very same spacial location -the speaker- so there couldn't be a different perception of frecuencies because of a different placement of the "strings". Being that said, some people strech tunes rhodes just to match any other instrument on stage.

I use cleartune on the iphone, there are many other, you'd be impressed how accurate it is for a tunning application on a "phone".
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Offline sean

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2013, 08:57:38 AM »


I like Cleartune as well.  Works great, very precise, very handy.   Just get a case and a little stand to prop your phone in a convenient position.  (Lego bricks can make awesome phone cradles.)

All my other tuners are in the junk drawer gathering dust.


If would be surprised if the "odd sounds and overtones" are subtle tuning problems.  (For me, the headphones experience is dominated by the variances caused by intonation/strikeline, doublestrikes and mutes, damper noises, note attack on a tine at rest vs. note attack on a tine already vibrating... all the cool effects of a live mechanical instrument.)

 ...but if you have never taken an electronic tuner to your Rhodes before, DO IT!  You will confirm that your piano is mostly in tune, and you might discover a note or two that are further out of tune than you ever imagined (and how did you not notice before).

If your "odd sound and overtones" were indeed subtle tuning problems, then stretch tuning is probably not the resolution (maybe un-stretch tuning).  I would expect stretch tuning to only change the very uppper and very lower registers.



I agree with Abraham that the only real reason to stretch tune your rhodes is if you need to match the stretch tuning of your acoustic piano (or if your personal perception of intonation is happier with stretch tuning).  I really can't envision this situation unless you play in a combo with another keyboardist.    [Oh wait!  Maybe you play with a vibraphone!  Vibes always sound out of tune to me.  Beautiful, but out of tune.]

Also, I have noticed that my personal perception of tuning changes from day to day (and sometimes morning versus late night)... or maybe it is dependent on my sleep deprivation or sinuses or atmospheric barometric pressure....  Anyway, I have noticed that some times I have "better ears" than others.  When certain note intervals bother me or "just don't seem right" I need to walk away for a while, because half the time I return the next day and can't find the same annoyance.
 
Sean


P.S. - Isn't the purpose of stretch tuning to resolve inharmonicity in the Overtones between strings?  It is not to resolve inharmonicity between the Fundamental tones of the strings.  Slight errors are purposely made in the intervals between fundamentals so that the Overtones sound more agreeable.  [The disagreeability of the overtones is due to the fact that the vibrating string has stiffness, girth, and other physical properties that make the overtones NOT perfect multiples of the fundamental tone.]


P.P.S. - There is lots of tuning and stretching discussion here on the forum:

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=4580.msg22261#msg22261

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=6406.msg31428#msg31428

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=3346.msg13920#msg13920

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stretching




Offline voltergeist

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2013, 10:24:15 AM »
A while back I bit the bullet and bought a Peterson 490-ST, which has built in stretch tuning maps.  There is no substitute for a professional strobe tuner, and the results of a proper stretch tuning speak for themselves.
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Offline Peter Hayes

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 11:02:33 AM »
I too use the Peterson 490-ST. A great tool. I have some clients who prefer their Rhodes stretch tuned and others who don't. Tunings, amps, effects....It's all subjective and it's all in the ears of the player. They want to hear what they like and everyone likes something different. Different strokes for different folks y'all.
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Offline sean

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2013, 11:11:10 AM »
Awesome.  Can we pick your brains about the StroboTuner experience with the Rhodes?

Is your preference for stretch tuning (vs Equal Temperament) mostly because:
     1.  it sounds better by itself.  The Rhodes sounds more "in-tune."
     2.  you like the way it fits with acoustic pianos, or the horn section, or bass, or whatever
     3.  your ear is accustomed to the tuning on a grand piano, and it just sounds right
     4.  your ear is accustomed to the tuning on an upright or spinet, and it just sounds right
     5.  you think that Sean is nuts asking all these questions


On the low notes, do you notice much inharmonicity in the tines?  I guess this would show up on the Peterson as the upper disks rotating slowly, correct?  Is it noticable?  Consistent?  (I don't know how to ask "How much?")  Which overtones move the most?

How do you handle the initial attack of the low note tines? (I think some tines are very different in initial pitch than the sustained pitch (BOW-ow-oo).)

Do the upper notes show inharmonicity?  uhhm, how much?

Does your experience with the Peterson tuner match the findings of Rob A?



Which stretch tuning curve do you like the best? 
How much does it stretch the top range and the bottom ranges?


Thanks,

Sean





Offline David Aubke

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2013, 11:23:21 AM »
Hey sean,
A long while back there was a discussion about this and I've been wondering about something ever since. What do you do with the information provided by the overtone bands? I would think that if you're not happy with a note's inharmonicity, your only option would be to replace the tine.
Dave Aubke
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Offline David Aubke

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2013, 11:29:03 AM »
I use Free Mus1c Instrument Tuner. It's more sophisticated than its name suggests. (It just took me a half hour to learn that this board won't allow the words Free and Music right next to each other)

Among other features, it includes a nice wave form and volume display which I use to voice the piano. I don't like working by ear - I don't enjoy making subjective decisions.

Far as I can tell, this program is only available for Linux, FreeBSD or Windows under Cygwin.
Dave Aubke
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Offline zoooombiex

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2013, 11:31:07 AM »
Others may differ, but streetch tunning a rhodes is pointless because its own nature, not being an acoustic instrument it couldnt show inharmonicity, lets say all the sounds come from the very same spacial location -the speaker- so there couldn't be a different perception of frecuencies because of a different placement of the "strings". Being that said, some people strech tunes rhodes just to match any other instrument on stage.

Not trying to argue, but I believe this is off on a couple points. 

First, a rhodes is an amplified acoustic instrument, not a electronic instrument like an organ.  There is an actual moving piece of metal creating the sound and the electronics just make it louder.

Second, stretch tuning doesn't come into play because something is or is not an "acoustic" instrument.  The need for stretch tuning arises when the fundamental frequency of the tone generator is out of alignment with its overtones.  (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inharmonicity for general info, though there is a lot more and better info on the web.)  This is a phenomenon of both with struck strings (piano) and with a struck piece of metal (rhodes, wurlitzer).  The effect of inharmonicity is that if you were to tune the fundamental of every note according to ET, then the lowest (and loudest) overtones of one note (the octave and the 5th) would not match the fundamentals of notes higher up on the keyboard.  So even though the fundamentals are in tune and the notes would sound and register as in tune by themselves, the notes would sound out of tune with other notes on the same keyboard.

Third, the goal of stretch tuning is not to make an instrument in tune with other instruments on the stage - it's the opposite.  Stretch tuning makes an instrument sound like it is properly in tune with itself, but it comes at the expense of making it in tune with other instruments.  Stretch tuning is deliberately MIS-tuning the fundamentals of some notes away from ET to make the instrument sound properly tuned.  So a properly stretch-tuned piano (or EP) will be out of tune compared to other instruments that were tuned perfectly to ET (the higher and lower you move away from middle C, the more out of tune it will seem).  That doesn't come into play as much in practice though because you are much more likely to notice an instrument being out of tune with itself than compared to another instrument.

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2013, 01:46:16 PM »
Is your preference for stretch tuning (vs Equal Temperament) mostly because:
-I would described the stretched sound as "sweeter". 
-More in tune with itself.

How do you handle the initial attack of the low note tines? (I think some tines are very different in initial pitch than the sustained pitch (BOW-ow-oo).)
-If there's a substantial difference in attack pitch vs sustain pitch, it usually indicates a problem with the tine/tonebar assembly.  It can indicate a bad tine, for instance.  Alignment with the tonebar may also contribute.  The piano I'm working on now had a large number of odd-sounding, poorly sustaining, and pitch-varying tines.  After exhausting my bag of tricks, I resorted to replacing tines, and that has solved the problems in all cases so far.  This particular piano was played very hard, and I think the bad tines were showing fatigue.   

Which stretch tuning curve do you like the best? 
-The "Average" preset on the 490-ST matches the stretch recommended in the service manual very closely.  That's what I use.

How much does it stretch the top range and the bottom ranges?
-See the service manual.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
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Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2013, 10:50:48 PM »
Why are some of you saying stretch tuning vs. equal temperament?

You can have both in the same tuning. The equal temperament is one octave. Usually F below mid C to F above. Stretching the treble is a personal preference. Ours ears tend to hear treble as being flat, so some stretch the notes to sound more pleasant. The same is true in reverse in the bass, to some degree.


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Offline voltergeist

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2013, 06:50:00 AM »
I just quoted the question. 
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In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2013, 06:57:15 AM »
Which is to say, yes, I know the difference, but I knew what he meant and didn't offer a correction.  Definitely worth making the distinction, though.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline zoooombiex

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2013, 01:52:27 PM »
Why are some of you saying stretch tuning vs. equal temperament?

You can have both in the same tuning. The equal temperament is one octave. Usually F below mid C to F above. Stretching the treble is a personal preference. Ours ears tend to hear treble as being flat, so some stretch the notes to sound more pleasant. The same is true in reverse in the bass, to some degree.

True, one is a tuning, the other a temperament.  I assume in these types of threads that by ET people are talking about non-compensated tuning to the ET standard vs. compensating the low & high end to make it sound more in tune with itself.

And you raise another point, which is you can also compensate for how the human ear hears pitches in different frequency ranges.  That's in addition to compensating for inharmonicity in the tone generator.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2013, 06:56:41 PM »
Also keep in mind that a lot of modern ETD's and software based tuners have equal temperament and stretch built in to their programs.  ( not cheapie guitar tuners) I use a Korg OT-120 for pitch reference when I tune. It has many different temperaments built in.

1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline Max Brink

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2013, 10:01:57 AM »
I love hearing about what others are doing when it comes to tuning since it is as much of an art as a black and white science. I feel that the goal of tuning is to have a well tempered instrument that is in tune with itself. Tuning any instrument with fixed notes (unlike a violin or trombone) has so many different aspects to consider. Given the unique characteristics that make a Rhodes a Rhodes this means a lot more than just looking at a strobe tuner and you have to train and trust your ear.

When I listen to the beats within chords sustained on a Rhodes I hear the entire chord breathing and coming alive in ways that I do not hear on acoustic pianos or other keyboard instruments. Tines can shift more than a cent as they are sustaining and their initial pitch depends also on how hard they are played. Especially when you listen to the lowest notes, as someone already raised the question of the "Bow-ow-oo" sound, the shift is very much affected by the amount of forte the player applies to the note. I feel this is part of the beauty of the instrument as the chord moves in different ways every time.

Also small shifts in the voicing or pitch can have significant affects on one another o its important to make sure that you listen to both the pitch and the voice to make sure that one hasn't affected the other in a negative way.


I tune the Rhodes with a strobe tuner and then fine tune to more pure fourths and fifths from there. When it comes to bass notes that shift much more than treble notes I listen to the initial attack and try to create only a light wave at most in the initial sustain.
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Offline goat1927

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Re: Tuning The Mighty Rhodes
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2014, 09:36:08 AM »
Hi all,

Similar to what Dave recommended above (Free Magic Instrument Tuner), does anyone have a recommendation for an accurate, reliable, free tuner for Mac OSX? I'd love one that also shows the waveform so that you can see a note's tonal character and really make the voicing/level/sustain as consistent as possible.

Thanks!

MJ