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I've shared previously on this forum why I believe a Piano Life Saver is essential in my situation, namely an old house with poor insulation, in a climate with wild humidity fluctuations. My system is installed on a premium Yamaha that, while not new, is in excellent shape.

I have virtually no tolerance for anything of tune. I've been having the piano tuned about every 2 months since it was installed in our house last January (so presumably it's still settling).

The Life Saver has kept the pitch extremely stable -- it barely had moved between the last two tunings. Additionally, no unisons went out, which I was especially happy about. The only real tuning issue was some discrepancy between octaves 2 and 3. I suppose my query is two-fold:

--Is this about what most people would expect given the above?
--How often do you have your piano tuned, if you're like I and can't stand it to be noticeably out?


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Do you mean the PLS did not help keeping octaves 2 and 3 in tune ?

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Originally Posted by Hakki
Do you mean the PLS did not help keeping octaves 2 and 3 in tune ?
The only notes slightly out in a noticeable fashion (to a keen and careful ear) were a few in those two octaves.


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I think each person's idea of "noticably out" could be quite different. It sounds like you are probably less tolerant than many other people but unless your tech(who tunes for many other people)says this is the case we can't be sure. It also might be the case that your piano is just taking somewhat longer to settle in than some other pianos. My guess is most PW members, who I would assume are more fussy than the general public, don't have their piano tuned more than twice a year at least after the first year or so.

Does your tech think you are less tolerant than most people about what bothers you in the tuning of your piano?

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Originally Posted by RobAC
Originally Posted by Hakki
Do you mean the PLS did not help keeping octaves 2 and 3 in tune ?
The only notes slightly out in a noticeable fashion (to a keen and careful ear) were a few in those two octaves.
i.e. maybe 4-5 notes in those two octaves that had drifted by about 4-5 cents, no more.


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Originally Posted by RobAC
Originally Posted by RobAC
Originally Posted by Hakki
Do you mean the PLS did not help keeping octaves 2 and 3 in tune ?
The only notes slightly out in a noticeable fashion (to a keen and careful ear) were a few in those two octaves.
i.e. maybe 4-5 notes in those two octaves that had drifted by about 4-5 cents, no more.

That is an issue. 4 cents at A4(440 Hz) means 1 Hz out of tune (439 Hz or 441 Hz).

Now, if one of the notes of an interval is on the bass bridge and the other on the treble bridge (probably one note on octave 2 with wounded strings and the other on octave 3 with plain strings) than they might react differently to humidity change.

In such a case, say a major third/tenth, octave or a fifth might sound intolerable to a sensitive ear, with a 5 cent discrepancy between the two notes.

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Based on my past research and studies regarding acoustic pianos, and tuning stability, I read an article/excerpt about a study that Steinway did on the subject of tuning stability. If my memory serves correctly, their study showed that acoustic pianos, even the best of the best acoustic pianos, will begin to lose their tuning shortly after it is tuned, based on the environmental conditions. But even the most ideal of environmental conditions, (temperature, %RH etc...) pianos still begin to lose their tuning shortly after they are tuned. Hence, this is why pianos in concert venues and recording studios are tuned daily, or even multiple times a day, between performances.

I have mentioned this same article here once before but could not find it on the web again. So, I figure it was removed for some reason.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, in my opinion, an acoustic piano will not remain perfectly in tune for long periods of time, even under the best of conditions.

That said, I have read often that the "Life Saver" system, AKA "Damp Chaser System" can help in most circumstances. But there is also some disagreement as to whether or not the Damp Chaser systems can actually cause harm under certain circumstances, if not serviced and maintained properly.

That said, (part II :-) I do have the heater bars under the soundboard of my Yamaha C7 controlled with a commercial grade humidistat, for those periods of time where the humidity is higher. I've been told by some here that I'm "cooking" my soundboard. Well, if I'm cooking my soundboard, I guess it needs to remain in the oven, because it doesn't seem to be well done yet. smile

That said (part III :-) I honestly think it is best to try and maintain a more stable environment surrounding the entire piano with room dehumidifiers or whole-house humidifiers, rather than trying to encapsulate the piano itself with things like the Damp Chaser system. But if it works for you, that is a good thing.

That said (part IV) both my grand pianos in my music room have excellent tuning stability. The Baldwin R is closer to the door I use most to enter and exit my home, so I can tell it needs more tuning than the C7. I do a complete tuning on my grands about 3 times a year, and clean up the wayward unisons every few months or as needed, which is not a lot.

I'm glad your piano's tuning stability is holding up well with the damp chaser system.

All the best!

Rick


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Originally Posted by RobAC
..no unisons went out...

That is good.
Most players will first notice out of tune unisons.

Unfortunately for correcting the intervals you will have to wait until the next full tuning.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think each person's idea of "noticably out" could be quite different. It sounds like you are probably less tolerant than many other people but unless your tech(who tunes for many other people)says this is the case we can't be sure. It also might be the case that your piano is just taking somewhat longer to settle in than some other pianos. My guess is most PW members, who I would assume are more fussy than the general public, don't have their piano tuned more than twice a year at least after the first year or so.

Does your tech think you are less tolerant than most people about what bothers you in the tuning of your piano?
As I am a full-time professional musician, my tech considers me one of his "professional clients" who has very sensitive ears and is very attuned smile to intonation.


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Originally Posted by Rickster
Based on my past research and studies regarding acoustic pianos, and tuning stability, I read an article/excerpt about a study that Steinway did on the subject of tuning stability. If my memory serves correctly, their study showed that acoustic pianos, even the best of the best acoustic pianos, will begin to lose their tuning shortly after it is tuned, based on the environmental conditions. But even the most ideal of environmental conditions, (temperature, %RH etc...) pianos still begin to lose their tuning shortly after they are tuned. Hence, this is why pianos in concert venues and recording studios are tuned daily, or even multiple times a day, between performances.

I have mentioned this same article here once before but could not find it on the web again. So, I figure it was removed for some reason.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, in my opinion, an acoustic piano will not remain perfectly in tune for long periods of time, even under the best of conditions.

That said, I have read often that the "Life Saver" system, AKA "Damp Chaser System" can help in most circumstances. But there is also some disagreement as to whether or not the Damp Chaser systems can actually cause harm under certain circumstances, if not serviced and maintained properly.

That said, (part II :-) I do have the heater bars under the soundboard of my Yamaha C7 controlled with a commercial grade humidistat, for those periods of time where the humidity is higher. I've been told by some here that I'm "cooking" my soundboard. Well, if I'm cooking my soundboard, I guess it needs to remain in the oven, because it doesn't seem to be well done yet. smile

That said (part III :-) I honestly think it is best to try and maintain a more stable environment surrounding the entire piano with room dehumidifiers or whole-house humidifiers, rather than trying to encapsulate the piano itself with things like the Damp Chaser system. But if it works for you, that is a good thing.

That said (part IV) both my grand pianos in my music room have excellent tuning stability. The Baldwin R is closer to the door I use most to enter and exit my home, so I can tell it needs more tuning than the C7. I do a complete tuning on my grands about 3 times a year, and clean up the wayward unisons every few months or as needed, which is not a lot.

I'm glad your piano's tuning stability is holding up well with the damp chaser system.

All the best!

Rick
I think you offer sound advice -- thank you. I do understand the PLS system is not a cure-all, but for reasons both practical and financial, it's the best we can do right now.

As I asked above, given that the PLS doesn't claim to eliminate the need for tuning, is it not reasonable to expect that 4-5 notes will have drifted very slightly, just a few cents, (really only noticeable to a trained ear) over the course of two months? If not, then as you say, why are concert and recording pianos tuned so often?


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Originally Posted by Hakki
Originally Posted by RobAC
Originally Posted by RobAC
Originally Posted by Hakki
Do you mean the PLS did not help keeping octaves 2 and 3 in tune ?
The only notes slightly out in a noticeable fashion (to a keen and careful ear) were a few in those two octaves.
i.e. maybe 4-5 notes in those two octaves that had drifted by about 4-5 cents, no more.

That is an issue. 4 cents at A4(440 Hz) means 1 Hz out of tune (439 Hz or 441 Hz).

Now, if one of the notes of an interval is on the bass bridge and the other on the treble bridge (probably one note on octave 2 with wounded strings and the other on octave 3 with plain strings) than they might react differently to humidity change.

In such a case, say a major third/tenth, octave or a fifth might sound intolerable to a sensitive ear, with a 5 cent discrepancy between the two notes.
I agree with your assessment of what 4 cents or so discrepancy will sound like to a sensitive and well-trained ear, but after 2 months of changing humidity in the house, as much as 20-25% (mindful that the PLS doesn't claim to eliminate the need for tuning, rather improve stability), is it not normal to expect 4-5 notes to have drifted by a few cents?

(I also agree with your treble versus bass bridge hypothesis.)


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RobAC, here's a slightly different set of questions.... Where do you live? What kind of HVAC system do you have? What is your house made of (e.g. brick or not) and what kind of windows do you have?

You don't have to answer all of those questions! whome

But even though you have a PLS, I wonder if you might benefit from doing a little more to the house itself? Or at least the room where the piano is? Is there anything you can do to the piano room to make it more stable?

Also, depending on where you live (and how much you have to heat your home in the winter) you may find that the humidity drops a lot in the winter, and if so, it might be good to work harder to keep it lower in the summer so that the trend over time is less fluctuation rather than more....

I recently had a whole-house dehumidifier installed in my crawl space (which, as it happens, is under the piano room) and it has made a huge difference in the humidity stability throughout the whole house. I am so impressed!

And that of course is audible in the piano's tuning stability. I have a Yahama C2, so not the same class of instrument as yours. Also I got my piano used, yours is new, right?) I think older Yamahas that have settled in are a little more stable than newer instruments, so yours may become even more stable over time.

Oh, re your question about tuning frequency, prior to getting the dehumidifier, I was having my piano tuned about once every 5 months.... I will probably stick to that schedule because I like how my piano sounds but I think a "normal" (i.e., less finicky) person would probably go for a longer interval between tunings and not notice that the piano was out of tune.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
RobAC, here's a slightly different set of questions.... Where do you live? What kind of HVAC system do you have? What is your house made of (e.g. brick or not) and what kind of windows do you have?

You don't have to answer all of those questions! whome

But even though you have a PLS, I wonder if you might benefit from doing a little more to the house itself? Or at least the room where the piano is? Is there anything you can do to the piano room to make it more stable?

Also, depending on where you live (and how much you have to heat your home in the winter) you may find that the humidity drops a lot in the winter, and if so, it might be good to work harder to keep it lower in the summer so that the trend over time is less fluctuation rather than more....

I recently had a whole-house dehumidifier installed in my crawl space (which, as it happens, is under the piano room) and it has made a huge difference in the humidity stability throughout the whole house. I am so impressed!

And that of course is audible in the piano's tuning stability. I have a Yahama C2, so not the same class of instrument as yours. Also I got my piano used, yours is new, right?) I think older Yamahas that have settled in are a little more stable than newer instruments, so yours may become even more stable over time.

Oh, re your question about tuning frequency, prior to getting the dehumidifier, I was having my piano tuned about once every 5 months.... I will probably stick to that schedule because I like how my piano sounds but I think a "normal" (i.e., less finicky) person would probably go for a longer interval between tunings and not notice that the piano was out of tune.
I'd love to, but we live in employment-provided housing, which has many upsides. A downside is that not owning the house, I'm reluctant to spend a great deal on capital projects. We have spent a good deal of our own money getting the interior to our liking, and I can't justify doing more now. It's a lovely late Victorian house in SE Pennsylvania. The windows were replaced on the cheap some years ago, and are terrible. There is no central A/C, and the heating is radiator. So, not a great environment!

I wonder if I gave the impression in my OP that the piano is going seriously out. I have very sensitive ears, and I'm just talking about 4-5 notes drift by a very few cents over a couple of months. I don't think even a professional musician would have sat down before it was tuned earlier this week and thought the piano sounded even remotely bad. In short, I'm extremely obsessive! Or does everyone else have pianos that have no notes that drift very slightly? smile

Last edited by RobAC; 07/30/21 01:19 PM.

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Rob, yeah, you definitely don't want to spend any money on the house then. Do you have a hygrometer (humidity gauge)? If not, definitely get one. If the piano is a room that can be closed off, you might want to add a free-standing dehumidifier to that room.

Radiated heat is def. better than forced air in terms of not drying things out too much in the winter. If you can monitor the humidity with a hygrometer in the winter, then you'll know if you need to "add water" to the air or not. I put a shallow pan of water under my piano in the winter, but the humidity didn't drop below 38% and it seemed ok. If it was much lower than that, I might get a humidifier.

So, as to notes that drift, yes, I always can tell if one note goes off a bit... Generally it's not enough to really bug me, but I can always tell.

When we lived in Japan (much more humid than here), I had a Yamaha U1, which was super, super stable. But my piano's "voice" changed when it rained and then when it cleared up.... I actually always enjoyed that, it was like someone always wearing a yellow shirt suddenly switched to blue....


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Originally Posted by RobAC
I agree with your assessment of what 4 cents or so discrepancy will sound like to a sensitive and well-trained ear, but after 2 months of changing humidity in the house, as much as 20-25% (mindful that the PLS doesn't claim to eliminate the need for tuning, rather improve stability), is it not normal to expect 4-5 notes to have drifted by a few cents?

(I also agree with your treble versus bass bridge hypothesis.)

If you did not have the PLS installed, with a 25% change in humidity, you would see about 10 cents discrepancy between octaves 2 and 3.

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Given the circumstances you have described; I think your piano is holding tune well.


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Originally Posted by Hakki
Originally Posted by RobAC
I agree with your assessment of what 4 cents or so discrepancy will sound like to a sensitive and well-trained ear, but after 2 months of changing humidity in the house, as much as 20-25% (mindful that the PLS doesn't claim to eliminate the need for tuning, rather improve stability), is it not normal to expect 4-5 notes to have drifted by a few cents?

(I also agree with your treble versus bass bridge hypothesis.)

If you did not have the PLS installed, with a 25% change in humidity, you would see about 10 cents discrepancy between octaves 2 and 3.
Helpful info, thank you.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Rob, yeah, you definitely don't want to spend any money on the house then. Do you have a hygrometer (humidity gauge)? If not, definitely get one. If the piano is a room that can be closed off, you might want to add a free-standing dehumidifier to that room.

Radiated heat is def. better than forced air in terms of not drying things out too much in the winter. If you can monitor the humidity with a hygrometer in the winter, then you'll know if you need to "add water" to the air or not. I put a shallow pan of water under my piano in the winter, but the humidity didn't drop below 38% and it seemed ok. If it was much lower than that, I might get a humidifier.

So, as to notes that drift, yes, I always can tell if one note goes off a bit... Generally it's not enough to really bug me, but I can always tell.

When we lived in Japan (much more humid than here), I had a Yamaha U1, which was super, super stable. But my piano's "voice" changed when it rained and then when it cleared up.... I actually always enjoyed that, it was like someone always wearing a yellow shirt suddenly switched to blue....
Do I recall correctly that Yamaha pianos for the Japanese market are made specifically for the Japanese climate?

I do have a hygrometer; the variation is as much as 45% between seasons -- almost as low as 20% in the winter, over 60% in the summer.


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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Given the circumstances you have described; I think your piano is holding tune well.
Thank you.


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I find that my dehumidifier keeps my pianos well in tune.I have them tuned twice a year and that's enough.Of course I hear that some that some of the intervals are out of tune when it's time to have them tuned.I try and keep humidity range at 10% difference during throughout the year.The tuning is never that noticeable.(well I can at least cope with it)


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