Setting up TuneLab

This is but one of many ways to set up a tuning using TuneLab97 from Realtime Specialties.  This method is a "numeric" method that takes particular measurements and creates a tuning by matching partials.  The graphic editor is used to check the logic and verify what you have done but usually isnít used in the creation of the tuning.  Other methods use the graphic editor almost exclusively.

It makes it a little easier if you change the "DEFAULT.TUN" file a little.  Set A0 - G#1 to use the 6th partial; A1 - E3 the 4th partial; F3 - G#4 the 2nd partial; and A4 - C8 the fundamental.  Save the file as "DEFAULT.TUN", confirm that you want to overwrite the old file, and youíre ready to start.

Iíve listed the steps in numbered order.  It helps me, I hope it helps you.

1. Tune A4 to 440 using the fundamental.
2. Hit <F4> so TuneLab is reading the 2nd partial.
3. Measure the inharmonicity of the 2nd partial of A4.  Either stop the display by increasing the offset, or by using the Lock function.  I find it easiest to hit the "increase stretch" keys of "U", "I", "O", & "P".  These keys raise the stretch by 10, 1, 0.1, & 0.01 respectively.  To lower the stretch use the keys just below them "J", "K", "L", & ";".  These, in a similar manner, reduce the stretch.
4. Leave the setting at A4 and 2nd partial and the offset you just measured, and tune A3 to stop the display.  (This gives you a 4:2 octave between A3 & A4.  This is a good (although conservative) stretch for most pianos.  If you are a more aggressive tuner, you can modify some of these parameters to better match your style.
5. Hit the <Insert> key to enter this Offset and partial for A4 as a reference, then hit <Esc> to return to the main screen.  Hit "Z" to zero the offset.
6. Switch to A3 in TuneLab and measure the 2nd partial.  It will probably be a negative number.  On some pianos with questionable scaling it might not be, but I donít ever set this parameter as anything higher that 0 regardless.
7. With A3 on the 2nd partial and the Offset noted, hit the <Insert> key to enter this value as a reference.
8. With the mouse select the reference values for A4 and A3 and click "Set" to set an area of the scale.  At the confirmation screen I change A3 to F3 so that it will interpolate values from F3 to A4, the temperament area I use.  You can use A3 to A4, I just extend it to F3 as this is my normal temperament area. If there is a scale break (wrapped to unwrapped strings) above F3, you probably want to just include the area of unwrapped strings.  So if F3 & F#3 are wrapped strings, enter G3 to replace A3 as the outer limit of this interpolation.  <Esc> back to the main screen and hit "Z" to zero the offset.
9. Tune that area that you just set - F3 (or G3 or whatever you set) to A4.
10. After confirming the tuning of a string of A4, switch TuneLab  to A6, and measure the offset while playing A4.  Hit <Insert> to record this as a reference point.
11. Click "new" reference point and type in A5, partial 1, and make the offset equal to the current stretch for A4 plus 1-cent (a half cent if you want to be really conservative.)
12. Double click on the A4 reference notation (which now says 2nd partial and some positive offset) and change it to fundamental and 0 offset.
13. Select A4 and A5 in the reference list and click "Set".
14. Select A5 and A6 in the reference list and click "Set".  As an alternative you can select A4, A5 and A6 together and set those.  Look at the graphic screen when you do this, however, to see if the curve makes sense.  If A5 is a low number and A6 a high number you can get some strange looking curves. (See Figure at right) In that case go back and select A4 & A5 separately as in step 13 & 14 or you can manually alter the curve in the graphic editor.  I really like the gradual curve you get by using the three reference points, but on poorly scaled pianos, it can do strange things. 
15. You now have a stretch for F3 - A6.  <Esc> back to the main screen and hit "Z" to zero the offset.
16.  Tune from A4 to F5.
17. When you have one string of F5 tuned, switch to C8 and measure the stretch of the 6th partial of F5.  It is the most difficult measurement to make as the partial is not particularly strong.  It will be somewhere between 30 - 50 or so cents.  Sometimes plucking the string will give you a better reading.  It will be easier to see if you have the "Zoom" button clicked.  This reduces the frequency spectrum display to +/- 200 cents from the target note.  Using this youíll see just a little "^" on the sharp side of the red indicator line.  Hit the positive stretch keys until that "^" lines up right on the red line.  At this point, you should see some of the black squares appear in the phase display.
18. When you are satisfied that you have a value for C8 hit <Insert> to record that as a reference point.  Select A6 and C8 and click "Set".  Your tuning now extends from F3 - C8.  Hit <Esc> to return to the main screen and hit "Z" to zero the offset.  Return to F5 and tune to C8.  A tuning for the entire treble is recorded and executed.
19. Now look at E4.  Note the Stretch for that note.  Switch to E3 4th partial.  Set the offset to the value of E5 minus1 cent. Tune E3 to this setting.  Now is the time for your aural skills to really be necessary.  Check the thirds and sixths to make sure this is a logical offset.  If it is not, youíll have to modify the value to something that does sound good.   When you are satisfied that this is a good value, hit <Insert> to record that reference point.  <Esc> to the main screen and hit <Z> to zero the offset.  (If you only calculated to G3 do the above procedure using F#3 and F#4 rather than E3.
20. Switch to F3. Note the offset   Switch to F2.  Set the offset to the same as F3 minus 2 cents.  Hit <Insert> to record that reference point.  Select E3 and F2 and Click "Set".  Hit <Esc> to get back to the main screen and "Z" to zero the offset.  Tune from E3 down to F2.
21. Switch to B4.  Check the offset.  Switch to E2 and set the offset to the number you got from B4 minus 3 cents using the 6th partial.  Hit <insert> to make this a reference point. <Esc> back to the main screen.  Hit "Z" to zero the offset.
22. Switch to A0 and 6th partial.  Play E3 and measure that offset.  Subtract 4 to 5 cents from that value and tune A0.  hit <Insert> to enter that as a reference point.
23. Select E2 and A0 and click "Set" to finish out your tuning.  <Esc> to the main screen, "Z" to zero the offset, and tune to A0.

This procedure for the bass will generally work on a well scaled piano.  For the bass in all pianos, check each step aurally and verify what you are doing.

Another good way to tune the bass is to skip steps 19 - 23 and just tune the first  non-calculated note aurally.  Then tune A2, A1, and A0 aurally making all the checks available to you.  Measure the notes you just tuned at the 4th partial.  Hit "home" to go to the numeric editing screen, select E3 (or whatever your first non-calculated note is), A1, and A0.  Click "Set" and let the program set the bass to your aural samples.  If you do this, check the graphic screen to be sure nothing odd happened.

I have found that setting up a new tuning for a piano adds 6 - 8 minutes to my normal time to tune.  After that, each time I tune a piano of that scale I can just tune normally.  I still think itís good to make a few checks in the bass of any piano.  There can be differences in the windings from one piano to another that will make some changes in the inharmonicity.  The treble is generally more consistent on pianos of the same scale.

Once you get used to creating a tuning in TuneLab, youíll find it gives you very accurate and consistent results and saves you valuable time.