How to Tune a Piano Blog

Step-by-step procedure & proper tools

This piano tuning blog is a companion to our How to Tune a Piano Yourself tutorial. In this blog we expand on the tutorial with new information and perspectives on do-it-yourself piano tuning. If it is your first time here, visit the tutorial first.

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About TuneLab for DIY Piano Tuners

A recent thread at forums refers to our Piano Tuning Tutorial. In it, one of the professional tuners mentions two things he does not like about our tutorial: the lever we use and the electronic tuner we use. We address the piano tuning lever in another post. Now, let's talk about that electronic tuner.

The criticism is this: It doesn't even mention TuneLab iconwhich I believe to be the most practical tuning software for DIYers.

Fair enough. Until now, I have not specifically referred to TuneLab iconon the page. But I have mentioned other electronic tuner options, including professional ones. Actually, I created a whole separate website on chromatic tuners which goes into quite a bit of detail about all the options, and I link to it within the electronic tuner section.

The main reason we did not put it in the tutorial is that, well, we have never used it. Eventually we hope to try TuneLab ourselves, but to this point we have not felt the need. TuneLab, of course, is a very well-regarded software. Certainly a serious amateur or professional would do well to learn about it.

However, even though TuneLab is good, it's a $300 piece of software in its cheapest iteration. That's a lot of money to drop on something to which you are new. I prefer to encourage new tuners to spend on the lever.

On top of the expense, TuneLab has its own learning curve. One of the reasons I wrote the tutorial was because I could not find clear explanations about piano tuning written for the amateur. To try to explain TuneLab, too, would just add to the confusion for the beginner.

But hey, I'm not proud. If the pro who posted the comment thinks a DIY tuner should consider TuneLab, then so be it. I have added a mention of it to the main page under the Tools--Electronic Tuner section.



Kurt 05/05/11

I think it admirable that Tunelab is made available in a fully-functional trial version. But, having attempted to use it myself, I feel it is not necessarily something that someone entirely new to piano tuning would want to try before becoming comfortable with good physical (and aural) tuning technique. While I followed the directions, I (perhaps) was not able to get accurate samples for the program to determine the inharmonicity of the piano, and the lower bass tended to be considerably too flat. Maybe there was another problem (calibration?), but my guess it was most likely my error.

Scott replies: To be certified by PTG, professional tuners must demonstrate tuning without an electronic device. They are welcome to use one in their business afterward. As you have found, without understanding basic tuning principals, a professional electronic tuning device is not going to be much help. Even in our piano tuning tutorial, we use the electronic tuner as little as possible.

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