I’ve now worked with both Tunelab and Cybertuner piano tuning software. I trained as an aural tuner and tuned that way until about 2005. There has traditionally been a prejudice against electronic tuning devices primarily because of the inaccurate machines that were available prior to the late 1970’s when Albert Sanderson introduced his Accu-tuner.

The application of modern computer technology brought an accuracy and flexibility that the early machines couldn’t even dream of. Slowly more and more aural tuners are using them in various ways.

The customary way of using a modern ETD is to calculate the stretch for the piano you’re working on, and then start with A0 and go up chromatically to C8. This procedure is quite different from the sequence used in aural tuning where the core octave in the center of the piano is tuned first and then spread out chromatically in both directions. Many aural tuners keep to this tradition, using the machine to set the temperament octave and then aurally tuning out from there.

I’ve completely integrated an ETD into my tuning sequence in a different way. I tune the whole piano from bottom to top with the device. I then go back over the complete piano using primarily ear. I’ve found that using the ETD allows me to go through the first pass so quickly that my careful double tunings take no more time.

I started with the Reyburn Cybertuner but it was running on an old HP Ipaq that finally gave up the ghost. The new Reyburn version only runs on the Apple IOS and I’m an Android guy, so what to do?

Move to Tunelab, that’s what to do. I really like the software, easy to use and I’m able to tweak it to give me the reduced stretch that I prefer. The new ETD software, like Tunelab and Cybertuner, is amazingly sensitive and precise, but it will not automatically give you a great, musical tuning with clean, clear unisons. The ear is still very important.

Which do I prefer? I like them both but there are some differences. The pitchraise function works a little better on Cybertuner. You do pitch raises on the fly, with the device calculating the overpull as you tune each note. With Tunelab you have to sample each key, or you have the option of sampling only the white keys. Then you go back and do the overpull tuning. This takes a little longer but I find the overpull on the Tunelab works just as well as Cybertuner, just not as quickly.