[2.5.5] Making that Final Infinitesimal Motion

We now advance to the next level of difficulty. Find a note near G5 that is slightly out of tune, and repeat the above procedure for G3. The tuning motions are now much smaller for these higher notes, making them more difficult. In fact you may not be able to achieve sufficient accuracy by rotating the pin. We need to learn a new skill. This skill requires you to pound on the notes, so put on your ear muffs or ear plugs.

Typically, you would get through motion (4) successfully, but for motion (5) the pin would either not move or jump past the tuning point. In order to make the string advance in smaller increments, press on the lever at a pressure slightly below the point at which the pin will jump. Now strike hard on the note while maintaining the same pressure on the lever. The added string tension from the hard hammer blow will advance the string by a small amount. Repeat this until it is in perfect tune. It is important to never release the pressure on the lever and to keep the pressure constant during these repeated small advances, or you will quickly lose track of where you are. When it is in perfect tune, and you release the lever, the pin might spring back, leaving the string slightly flat. You will have to learn from experience, how much it will spring back and compensate for it during the tuning process.

The need to pound on the string to advance it is one reason you often hear tuners pounding on the piano. It is a good idea to get into the habit of pounding on most of the notes because this stabilizes the tuning. The resulting sound can be so loud as to damage the ear, and one of the occupational hazards of tuners is ear damage from pounding. Use of ear plugs is the solution. When pounding, you will still easily hear the beats even with ear plugs. The most common initial symptom of ear damage is tinnitus (ringing in the ear). You can minimize the pounding force by increasing the pressure on the lever. Also, less pounding is required if the lever is parallel to the string instead of perpendicular to it, and even less if you point it to the left. This is another reason why many tuners use their levers more parallel to the strings than perpendicular. Note that there are two ways to point it parallel: towards the strings (12 o'clock) and away from the strings (6 o'clock). As you gain experience, experiment with different lever positions as this will give you many options for solving various problems. For example, with the most popular 5-degree head on your lever, you may not be able to point the lever handle to the right for the highest octave because it may hit the wooden piano frame.