How To Use Piano Tuning Lever
In this article, we will deal with a subject of vital importance for piano tuning. Which is the technique of using the tuning keys? The tuning key is the essential tool used to tune pianos and used in the tuning pegs. What this tool allows us to do is vary the tension on the ropes that anchored to the pegs.
The Problem With The Piano Tuning Key
The problem with the tuning key and the pins themselves is that the tuning key-pin set. When the key is in place, is a very crude, very clumsy control system. For procedure that must be extremely precise. What we mean by this is that using a piano tuning key on a pin as used on the piano. Implies a control system that is too coarse for precision. Required to control the strings on the pegs.
Someone learns this difficulty in tuning pianos very specific techniques in the use of the tuning key. Whoever masters these techniques will be able to control with absolute precision the peg and, therefore, the tension of the strings anchored to them. In this way, this degree of precision will be high enough to be able to tune pianos of the highest quality.
We do not want to forget to stress to learn the various techniques of the use of the tuning key. Since they are the only way to achieve. Not only a precise tuning but also something that is very important: we refer to the stability of the tuning.
Benefits Of Using The Tuning Key
One of the great benefits of the proper use of the tuning key through its various techniques. Is that not only do we manage to place the peg in such a position. That the string attached to it has the precise tension sought in the tuning. But that it maintain the stability of that peg.
This last point, stability, is fundamental when tuning high quality pianos. And is usually what distinguishes an unqualified piano tuner from a professional one. Unfortunately, we see again and again, piano technicians or people who tune their own piano. Who without knowing in depth the techniques of precision use of the tuning key, perform extremely unstable tunings.
The Peg And The Piano
As an introduction, we will first analyse the peg and how it lives on the piano. The peg is a cylindrical piece of steel, or iron in the case of older pianos. It embeds which, for much of its length, in a piece of wood called the pegbox.
The pegbox is a special piece, usually multi laminated, where different layers of wood. Glued one on top of the other. Each layer has its veins crossed regarding the others to achieve greater stability of the peg. If we looked at a peg from the front, as in the case of vertical pianos. We would see a metallic piece that is not part of the pegbox but part of the piano harp.
This piece is a fine portion of cast iron through which the dowel passes, but it does not anchor there. But in the piece of wood that is behind and we call the dowel box. In some pianos you can see, in the hole where the peg enters, a wooden ring. Which is also not part of the pegbox but is a wooden bushing for aesthetic purposes.
In any peg we can distinguish two parts:
The foot, which is in the pegbox and the head which is the part outside the piano. Unlike the foot, the head of the dowel is no longer cylindrical but conical. So that it can put the tuning key in it. In the intermediate part of the peg, between the foot and the head. It anchors the rope through two or three spirals.
The Head And Foot Of The Peg
One of the first dynamic problems in the pin’s structure. Is that we have the head of the pin free and the foot of the pin trapped in the pegbox. This structure generates an effect, which must be it must take which when tuning, which is the torsion effect. In the middle zone, where the string is, the peg is twisted. When we turn it from its head with the tuning key.
The twisting effect is that the head of the pin turns without the foot of the pin turning inside the pegbox. Here we come across what we call the first law of the tuning key technique. We will only have tuned the string properly, not when we move the head of the peg, but when through the head we manage to move the foot.
It does not achieve if, it will load the head of the pin with a spring effect that will generate a lot of instability. And shortly after having left that string there, the pin will return to its normal position and will lose the tuning achieved generating a very great instability.
The tuning key techniques, taught in depth in the piano tuning courses allow us to overcome all these difficulties. That is to say, to overcome the torsion generated by the peg and thus be able to move the foot of the peg. These techniques achieve a deep and adequate control of the foot of the peg and not only of the head.
Loose Pins And Hard Pins
One aspect we must mention, and which is very important. Is how each type of peg behaves with each type of pegbox or with each type of piano that we find. At this point we speak of two large groups of pegs: the loose pegs and the hard pegs. When the pegbox very strongly traps the peg we say that we have a hard peg. And when the pegbox is softer we call them soft or dragging pegs.
The soft peg drags as it turns inside the pegbox, while the hard peg tends to jump as it turns. That is to say, here we find two different behaviours of the peg with respect to the pegbox, depending on the characteristics of the pegbox. If the pegbox is soft the peg will tend to crawl into the pegbox. While if it is very hard the peg will tend to make little jumps when turning, that is. It is going to make sudden movements inside the pegbox because it is very hard. And not only that but it is going to tend not to want to turn the foot too much.
Obviously these two conditions or pin behaviors will require two different sets of tuning key techniques. From this we can extract another law of the tuning key technique, and that is that it will adapt this technique to the tuner. To the tuning characteristics that he has and to the technique that is most comfortable for him, but also to the characteristics of the piano. Pegs that are soft and drag require specific tuning key techniques for that condition, and the same thing happens with the harder pegs.
Different Behaviour Of The Pegs
To finish this first part of the topic that concerns us we want to mention the cause of these two types of pegs. Basically, the different behaviour of the pegs has to do with the pegbox, with the age of the piano.
In general, new pianos have harder pegs than older pianos; the condition of the pegbox, i.e. its care, is also very important. The ambient humidity to which the piano is also has an enormous influence on the behaviour of the pegs. In very humid environments the pegbox swells and traps the pegs with greater force. And in environments with less humidity the pegbox is drier and the peg is looser.
The solution to this problem of humidity has already in other articles. And consists in the internal humidity regulating equipment of the piano called Damp Chaser. That avoids these contractions of the pegbox that, in the long run, end up damaging the stability of the tuning.
Techniques For Using The Piano Tuning Key
As a second part of this article we will analyze one by one the different techniques of using the piano tuning key to see its characteristics and particularities. We already know that there are two large groups of pegs, but from the pegs to the harder or jumping pegs. There is a whole graduality of behavior of the pegs.
If we take as a metaphor the fact that sometimes we say that things are white or black, what we want to show is that. In the behaviour’s case of the pegs there is a whole range of greys; the pegs are not soft or hard in such a definite way but that for example: there are some that jump a little, others that jump and crawl, etc.; the variety of movements inside the pegbox is extremely wide as well as the variety in the tuning key techniques.
Another concept to understand these various techniques of using the tuning key. Is the force or mass that we apply to the tuning key to control the pins. What allows us an adequate mastery in the use of the tuning key is being able to control the amount of force. Which we apply to the pegs and that that amount of force is used as we want to the pegs.
Within the techniques of using the tuning key we find, in general terms, some that are more recommended and of greater use for soft and dragging dowels; and others that are more preponderant in the case of hard dowels. However, as we mentioned before, due to the great variety of the tuner’s behavior. Each tuner will have to test the different techniques to see which one best suits each condition.
The Tapping Technique
We will simply mention some of the most commonly used: the “tapping” technique adapts to both soft and hard pegs, as does the “push and pull” technique; the “breaking the wrist” technique adapts better to soft pegs, but there are people who use it for hard-jumping pegs that are not as hard. Then there are the specific techniques for hard pegs: the “thumb” technique, the “pull without moving” technique and the “slap” technique.
We have stated in this article which are the different factors that generate variability in the behavior of the pegs. And also presented the different possible techniques for each type of behavior. We hope you have understood learning the different tuning key techniques. In relation to the type of peg the piano possesses and how important they are when tuning.