A notion is being perpetuated today that concert piano technicians and concert halls throughout the world rely explicitly upon aural piano tuning because it is the most accurate and professional method of tuning a piano. In an effort to provide factual information, I surveyed concert-level piano technicians around the world regarding their use or disuse of electronic tuning devices (ETD’s). The survey was completed in November 2017.
The piano technicians surveyed (hereinafter referred to as respondents) tune and prepare pianos for performances in concert halls and venues in their respective locations. The respondents reside and work in 22 countries worldwide (a complete listing of locations is below). They were asked if they utilized ETD’s for concert tuning with the following result:
As shown in the chart above, 78% or 109 of respondents utilize an ETD (with aural checks - more about that here) for concert tuning while 22% or 31 respondents tune strictly aurally. Those who utilize ETD’s stated they preferred them for their accuracy, particularly in an environment with background noise. They cited the ability to save a tuning so that the piano will be tuned identically each time. Many of the respondents stated they tuned strictly aurally for years before implementing an ETD, but now utilize an ETD for their enhanced accuracy.
The consensus among the respondents who tune strictly aurally was that they achieve accurate results by doing so and do not feel a need to utilize an ETD. They also cited that they were trained strictly aurally and that was what they were accustomed to. One respondent stated a concert hall in their area does not permit the use of ETD's.
Respondents who utilize ETD’s reside in the following locations:
Alabama, Argentina, Arizona, Australia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Florida, Greece, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Italy, Japan, Kentucky, Maine, Malaysia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Netherlands, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, New Zealand, North Carolina, Norway, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Saskatchewan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Texas, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Respondents who tune strictly aurally reside in the following locations:
Arizona, Australia, British Columbia, California, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Illinois, Japan, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, South Africa, United Kingdom, Vermont, Washington
As is evident from the survey, ETD’s are prevalent and used by the majority of the technicians in this survey. This is not a definitive study, but a random sampling of 140 piano technicians worldwide. However, it does illustrate that the notion that ETD’s are not permitted in concert halls and venues due to being unprofessional or inaccurate is not factual.
Related: Aural vs. Electronic Piano Tuning