The art of piano tuning is crucial to keep a piano in good condition, yet many people are confused as to how to do it perfectly. Jacques Coquelin, a piano manufacturer, concert technician, and tuning expert, was questioned about his experiences to help with the answers to these inquiries.
Coquelin has prepared pianos for concerts by renowned performers, including Rubinstein, Aldo Ciccolini, Boris Berezovsky, Gabriel Taccino, and Michel Béroff, among others, and has worked with numerous priceless pianos.
Coquelin discusses the differences between tuning and setting a piano, the reasons why two new acoustic pianos of the same brand and model might sound different, and how often pianos should be tuned.
Selecting & Caring For The Soundboard
According to Coquelin, the “soul” or soundboard of a piano is made of spruce or fir planks. These boards are carefully chosen, put together, and joined at the edges with glue. The bridge, which transfers the vibration of the strings, causes the table to vibrate. Part of the mechanical energy of the strings is converted into acoustic energy to perform its acoustic function.
Bar tables support the soundboard, which emits sound waves that are dependent on the density of the wood. Due to this, two identical piano models from the same manufacturer and production line may have different resonance and tones. The sound of pianos can also vary depending on the density of the hammer felts. Each person has a different predilection for the sound that pianos generate, according to Coquelin.
The Concept of Untuning Over Time
Furthermore, according to Coquelin, the strain of the piano causes a physical phenomenon that causes pianos to gradually lose their tuning over time. Whether or not they are played, the excessively tight strings will eventually start to relax. Temperature and humidity levels both play a significant part in whether the piano remains in tune.
Temperature fluctuations will make the de-tuning worse, especially in dry conditions or when there is active heating. It is highly advised to maintain a consistent relative humidity between 50 and 65% for a temperature between 18 and 21 °C, especially during the winter, to keep a piano in tune.
How Often Should You Need Piano Tuning?
Coquelin responds to the question of how frequently a piano should be tuned by saying that an acoustic piano should ideally be tuned four times a year, once for each change in season, for the reasons stated above. A piano need to be serviced at least twice a year, in the spring and the autumn. The frequency of use, however, can also affect how often a piano need to be tuned. For instance, a piano that is played six hours a day should be tuned once a month.
Difference Between Piano Tuning By Ear & Instrument
Coquelin further clarifies the distinction between tuning by instrument and tuning by ear. Although an electronic tuner can supply a piano with excellent precision, the human ear tends to mishear it. The tuner is finely tuned to the equal temperament and is skilled at interpreting sound to a degree of accuracy that is pleasing to the ear.
It takes practice, according to Coquelin, for the sound to develop color and appear pure to the human ear. This is referred to as a piano’s musicality, and in a physical sense, it will be an “imperfect” perfection. According to Coquelin, the human ear cannot be replaced by a machine or other tool, and the tuner still has a promising future.
Difference Between Piano Tuning & Setting the Piano
Finally, in response to a query on the distinction between tuning and setting a piano, Coquelin clarifies that setting a piano entails modifying the internal mechanics to guarantee appropriate operation. This involves fine-tuning the piano’s action, which comprises the keys, pedals, and hammers.
If you’re in the Tampa, FL, area and need professional piano tuning services, be sure to consider Phil Frohna Piano Tuning. With years of experience and a commitment to providing top-quality service, Phil Frohna is dedicated to ensuring that your piano sounds its best.
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