Railsback Curve and Piano Tuning

Railsback Curve and Piano Tuning

Have you ever heard someone play the piano when it hasn’t been tuned in a while? Everything is fine until they hit that one note. Ouch. The sound completely throws off your perception of great music because all you can focus in on is the sound of the piano.

That is why its important to have your piano tuned on a regular basis.Railsback Curve and Piano Tuning

Imagine learning to play the piano. You finally get close to playing a song to perfection. Yet you hit that one note over and over again, and the song just doesn’t have what it takes to make you proud to play it. It sounds off. The enjoyment is gone. And the desire to play goes away.

Piano tuning puts the notes back into perspective, and gives your piano a clean, crisp sound that has every note working together in a harmonious way.

For all of you piano techies out there, lets get into the nuts and bolts of piano tuning. There is a difference between having a normal piano tuning by a master tuner, and an equal tempered piano tuning.

The Railsback Curve is a measurement developed by O.L. Railsback, which expresses the difference between normal piano tuning and equal tempered tuning. For any given note on the piano, the deviation between the normal pitch of that note and its equal tempered pitch is given in cents (which is hundredths of a semitone).

The Railsback Curve shows that octaves are normally stretched on a well tuned piano. That means that high notes are higher and the low notes are lower than they are on an equal tempered scale. And not all octaves are equally stretched. So the octaves that occur in the middle range are barely stretched, while the octaves on either end of the piano will have more range.

Railsback discovered that most pianos are tuned the way they are because of inharmonicity in the strings. And this inharmonicity causes the overtones to be higher then they should be.

As a piano technician is tuning an octave, he reduces the speed of the beating between the first overtone of the lower note and a higher note until it disappears. Because of this inharmonicity, the first overtone will be sharper than a harmonic octave, making either the lower note flatter or the higher note sharper, depending on which note is being tuned.

So, to produce an even tuning, the piano technician will start with the middle octave of the piano, and proceed outwards from there. This gives the piano its overall rich sound. The notes on the upper range are not compared to the notes in the lower range because they would begin to sound “off”. Yet when combined as one unit, the overall sound remains at a constant.

The key to a great sounding piano is to have a piano technician that understands tuning and can masterfully adjust the sound by ear. He works to ensure your piano has the sounds and the tone that will make piano playing enjoyable for all.

Call us today to schedule your piano tuning session with our master technicians.

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