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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Tuning with Korg OT-120

I used the Korg OT-120 Wide 8 Octave Chromatic Orchestral Tuner to tune my piano for the first time today. Until now I had been using the Korg CA-40 Large Display Auto Chromatic Tuner. I used the method described in our Piano Tuning Tutorial here, of course. Simply put, I used the Korg OT-120 to set the temperament, then used the temperament as the reference for the outlying octaves (see the tutorial for why we don't use an electronic chromatic tuner for the whole piano), with an occasional assist from the OT-120 as described below.

I found the Korg OT-120 to have three distinct advantages:

  1. Adjustable needle sensitivity . This was a tremendous help. The Korg CA-40 needle is LCD, which is visually jumpy to begin with as it flicks among the rows of LCD crystals, and it cannot be adjusted. I set the Korg OT-120 on the slowest setting. It's real needle hovered nicely, giving me time to sort out the pitch.
  2. Backlit display. This is a wonderful feature for the dark corners of the room where my piano resides.
  3. Auto-detects higher and lower octaves better than the CA-40. It still had trouble with the extremes, especially toward the bass, but not as much as the CA-40. I did not have the Korg CM-100L Clip On Contact Microphone For Tuners hooked up, which should help.

As I tuned the outlying octaves, I left the OT-120 on auto-detect. While I did not use it for the final tuning, I did find it handy to give me an indication of whether the target note was flat or sharp relative to the reference. My amateur ear has not learned to pick this out yet, so the Korg gets credit for the assist.

Overall, I found the OT-120 made the tuning experience more smooth, addressing some key shortcomings of the CA-40. The Korg CA-40 is adequate, but the Korg OT-120 is better.



Jimmy 10/07/16

This is a very cool website. I'm currently researching on how to tune a piano by myself at home. I have perfect pitch.

john 10/26/14

What temperament did you select on the Korg OT-120 for tuning piano?

Scott replies: I use equal temperament, the most popular tuning temperament. On the OT-120 it is the default temperament, as in, what you get if you don't touch the temperament button and leave the "temperament" display blank. For the curious, the OT-120 temperaments offers are: Equal Temperament (default); Pythagorean; Meantone, with E-flat (Aaron, 1523); Meantone, with D-sharp; Werckmeister III (1691); Kirnberger III (1779); Kellner (1982); Vallotti (Tartini, 1754); Young (1800).

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