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theory and practice of piano tuning

audio resources


Complete manual with 680 pages, and over 300 illustrations and tables, by a former Royal National College lecturer in Piano Tuning and Technology.

The book covers in-depth theory and practice from elementary to advanced level. It answers common questions raised by students of piano tuning about the actual soundscapes and behaviour of piano tone that are encountered in tuning practice.

For students and professionals of piano tuning, general readers wishing to look in-depth into the subject, and academics with interdisciplinary interests in the subject.


  • Why we need skilled piano tuners
  • Intonation and tone
  • The distance between theory and the art
  • Theory of sound
  • Temperament theory
  • Elementary "traditional" tuning and beat rate theory
  • What contemporary acoustics reveals
  • Why decay rate is so important
  • Beyond the 19th century model
  • How beating and beat rates really work
  • Beyond the 19th century model
  • How tempered intervals really behave in fine tuning
  • False beat phenomenon and its influence
  • The effects of bridge coupling
  • How real tone-envelopes behave in fine tuning
  • Inharmonicity and small piano syndrome
  • What octave stretching is, why, and how it works
  • Setting the pin, the theory behind it and how to practice it
  • Scale plasticity, logic, and tuning technique
  • Psychoacoustics and how to listen


Piano tuning and this book

Part 1:

Background Theory T

he invisible art and science

The essential ideas

Sound Temperament theory

Traditional piano tuning theory and elementary practice

The soundscape, spectrum and tone

Partial decay patterns

Part 2:

Fine tuning practice

Unison tuning

Tuning the scale

Octave tuning

Setting the pin

Setting the pitch

Small piano syndrome


The Kirk Experiment

Part 3: Advanced Theory

The single piano string in one plane

The Weinreich Model

Two strings, two planes

The Trichord

Further comments on false partials


Glossary of key concepts

Select bibliography


piano action regulating

By the author of the Royal National College BTEC Advanced Diploma in Piano Action Regulating.


  • Universal operating principles
  • Understanding friction, inertia, mass, weight, springs and touch
  • The standard upright underdamper action
  • The standard grand roller action
  • The Steinway roller action
  • The Bluthner type action
  • The D-type (Simplex) action
  • Very fine regulation techniques
  • Diagnosis
  • Illustrations:
  • Upright underdamper action
  • Grand roller (Erard) action
  • Bluthner-type action (1)
  • Bluthner-type action (2)
  • D-type action
  • Standard roller action views
  • The Steinway roller action



Universal principles

The upright underdamper in motion

The grand roller action in motion

Regulating the upright underdamper action

Regulating the grand roller action

Very fine roller action regulating

Steinway action differences

Regulating the Bluthner-type action

Regulating the D-type action


Brief notes on toning

Strike line alteration

Glossary of regulation distances

Some suggested reading



piano unison tuning


the physics of piano unisons

Available separately

Piano Unison Tuning provides a general, technical description of fine-tuning piano unisons, based on the contemporary acoustical theory, which is outlined in the accompanying volume The Physics of Piano Unisons (Volume 1 of this series).

The content of this book is aimed at anyone with a technical interest in the subject, including tuning students and professionals. The discussion can be related to practice, and its only mathematical content is graphs illustrating acoustical behaviour. For a more comprehensive treatment of all aspects of piano tuning and its theory, please consult Theory and Practice of Piano Tuning.

The Physics of Piano Unisons outlines the contemporary mathematical theory for the acoustical of behaviour of piano string unisons. It presents the basic mathematical modelling for the physics and behaviour of unisons when the strings are acoustically coupled through the soundboard and bridge. The book provides the mathematical ground behind the discussion in the accompanying volume Piano Unison Tuning (Volume 2 of this series).

© Brian Capleton 2016
All Rights Reserved