Robert Conrad, Registered Piano Tuner/Technician, Tucson, AZ

Using a Sequence

Using a sequence is a great way to quickly tune and make aural checks before committing to the complete tuning.

When using an FAC tuning, and lowering the tenor partial change from B2/C3 to G#2/A2, we want to know quickly if the tuning is a good fit for the midrange of the piano.   We want to know quickly if we want to use a little DOB or not.

Using a sequence can help us answer that question fairly quickly.   Using a sequence with only a minimal number of notes allow us to apply the DOB and then quickly re-tune them to see if the DOB makes it sound better or not.

Trying different DOB amounts requires re-tuning the test notes.

Using a sequence made up of 4ths, 5ths, octaves and the double octave:  A4, A3, D4, E4, D3,. E3, A2.  works really well.   That 7 note sequence gives enough information for determining a custom DOB setting for the A2-A4 range of the piano.

{If all this is new to you, I’d suggest using the same DOB used for the midrange for the whole lower part of the piano – A0 – B4.  There may be times when you might want a little more or less stretch in the low bass, but for now just use the same DOB for the bass and midrange}.

Using a sequence to quickly re-tune the notes will let you know if the DOB setting is right or not.  A little DOB adjustment in this area can be very useful.   DOB is a great tool.   Learning what it does and how to use it can come in really handy for a little extra custom fitting of the tuning to the piano.

Due to the pianos scaling in this tenor area, compromises will often need to be made.   The A2/E3 5th, may want more DOB whereas the A2/A4 double octave may want less.   It will be up to you to decide the best compromise.   But using a sequence here will make that decision faster and easier.  Just find what Al used to call, the ‘least bad’ compromise, and go on.

A sequence can contain up to all 88 notes.   The only ‘rule’ is that each note can only be used once in a single sequence.

When using a sequence, the note up and note down buttons take you to the next note in the sequence – either up or down.   This keeps us from having to scroll thru all the notes we don’t care about at that time, to get us to the notes we want to tune next.

Sequences are really handy.   This may be a good time to try using a tuning sequence.  

A treble sequence can be handy too.  A treble sequence can be used to quickly determine if any DOB might be needed in the treble.  Using a sequence makes that determination faster than scrolling up thru the individual notes.

Keep in mind that trying DOB settings involve re-tuning the notes using for checking a couple times.   That process is just faster when using a sequence.

My treble sequence is A5, D5, E5, A6, D6, and E6.   After finishing the midrange, I want to know how the treble will sound before committing to tuning it.   So I use my treble sequence and tune A5, D5, and E5.  I then listen to how those notes work with the midrange.   I’ve got a pair of 5ths A4/E5, and D5/A5 which will let me know if A5 is in a good spot.

But before making a DOB adjustment quite yet, go ahead and tune A6, D6 and E6.   Now after listening to all these octaves, 4ths, 5ths, 12ths, and double octaves, it can be an easy decision as to whether or not a little DOB up there might make things sound a little better.

Please see the post on DOB, and read up on it in the SAT Instruction Manual too.   Each .1 DOB will raise A6 by .4 cents.   So .2 DOB raises A6 by .8 c. and so on.

Said another way, .1 DOB adds 1/10th of a beat per second to the tuning, .2 adds 1/5th (2/10ths) of a beat per second, .5 DOB adds 1/2  (5/10ths) of a beat per second, and so on.

So, at A6 if 1/2 beat per second increase is desired or needed, using a .5 DOB @ A6 will raise A6 by 2.0 c.   (.5 DOB x .4 c. = 2.0 c.)

Using a single DOB for the lower half of the A0 – B4 and another DOB setting for the upper half (C5 – C8), can make a nice difference in the sound of the tuning.

Using sequences for this tweaking helps all this go pretty quickly.   And it makes it easier to try a few different DOB amounts so you can hear and decide which one sounds the best.

(Instructions for storing and using a sequence can be found in the “Sequencing’ section in the SAT’s Instruction Manual).

Of course, DOB tweaks are done after the tenor partial change has been lowered!

Yes, there is are 2 treble partial changes.  One between B4/C5 and B5/C6, but most of the time they don’t  cause much problem.   But because they are both contained within this A4-A6 area, the DOB tweaks are ‘big picture’ decisions.

If you try a few different treble DOB settings, you will find one you think sounds better than the others in a general, big picture, overall way, and that should be the one for you to use for the tuning.

What you will want to listen for is the sound of the 5ths in the 5th and 6ths octaves (A4/E5, D5/A5 & A5/E6, D6/A6).   Those 5ths should sound pretty clean when the treble is stretched about right.   And the single and double octave A’s shouldn’t be beating too much either.   And the D4/D5, D5/D6 and E4/E5, E5/E6 octaves should sound good. And of course there is the A4/E5 12th you can listen to as well.  There are a number of intervals you can use to get an idea as to how the tuning will sound.   Once you are pleased with how all these reference intervals sound, you have a pretty good idea as to how the piano will sound when you’re finished tuning it.

If you do this enough, you will soon hear the sweet spot and will be able to use DOB to come up with the best sounding compromise for that area.  And after some practice with these new skills, they will go fairly quickly, and they will make a difference in the quality and sound of your work.

And again, using a sequence makes this go much faster!

Once the FAC tuning has modified with the lowered partial change, tuning some select notes within that Two-Octave Temperament range and making some aural checks will let us know fairly quickly if we are going to be happy with the way it sounds.

Use Sequence Page 1 to store this sequence: 1. A4, 2. A3, 3. D4, 4. E4, 5. D3, 6. E3, 7. A2

And use Sequence Page 2 to store this sequence: 1. A4. 2. A5, 3. D5, 4. E5, 5. A6, 6.D6, 7. E6

Just make sure you remember (or write down) the DOB settings you want to use in the midrange and in the treble.  Sometimes they will be the same, but other times they will be different.

I think you’ll find those 7 notes in both the midrange and the treble, will give you enough information to help you determine if any DOB is called for and how much.   Doing this will definitely fit the FAC tuning to the piano more in a more custom way.

When finished using the sequence, press and hold BluShift while using the SEQ/OCT buttons to set the SAT back to Chromatic.

These sequences stay stored in the SAT.   The sequence simply works on top of the tuning stored in the SAT.

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