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piano strings?
#2890631 09/15/19 12:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2019
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VladK Offline OP
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Just curious - I do not see any discussions about strings here? Are strings not a big deal for piano? In guitar world string choice and differences are always hot topic. I understand that piano strings have long lifespan, and nobody would change almost 300 strings just to try a new brand, but still the question remains - everybody speaks about voices of piano brands and models, but the voice should be affected by string choice as well, no?


Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (falsely attributed to Plato)
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Re: piano strings?
VladK #2890632 09/15/19 12:20 PM
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Unless one is doing a complete rebuild of a piano, most pianists don't have a choice of string brand; the brand comes with the piano. And, as you say, while the brand may contribute to the quality or personality of the sound, one is hardly likely to go to the expense of changing the strings in a piano in attempt to find a different "voice" for the instrument.

What do we know about the different brands of piano strings and their qualities?

That said, my technician is talking about replacing some of the bass strings in my Estonia, although we haven't gone into the details; it was something just mentioned in passing. If we pursue this, it will be interesting to hear his choice and how the sound of some replacement strings may or may not "blend" with the sound of the adjacent ones. It could be an interesting adventure.

Regards,


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Re: piano strings?
VladK #2890666 09/15/19 02:40 PM
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As we know, high end musicians replace the strings on their violins, cellos, guitars, etc on a regular basis...possibly as often as once a month. It's not that big of a deal with only four or six strings each time. The fact that there are more than a dozen TYPES of strings available for each of these instruments speaks to the fact that different "voices" will result from different types of strings.

It is similar with the piano except that it is a huge job to restring one, and then there's the "break-in" period. Piano wire is subjected to WAY more stress than other instruments. Technically they should be replaced somewhere between 20 and 40 years of age (unless they are suffering due to EXTREME use/abuse). Also, the wire available for restringing is not necessarily the same as what it was originally strung with. Few people actually do this due to the expense involved.

BREAKAGE is not the sole criteria for replacing wire (though most people think that is the case), but rather performance should be. Different types of wire will vibrate differently (slightly...but noticeably). There are options available today that were not 25 years ago. Far more skill is required to properly replace piano wire than guitar wire.

If money were no object they should be replaced every 20 years.

Pwg


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Re: piano strings?
VladK #2890672 09/15/19 03:15 PM
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Speaking of strings, when a piano is being tuned by an RPT or one who is not registered and he/she breaks a string , do they replace or is on the owner?? Had that happen to me a few years ago. Tuner charged me extra to replace the string.


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Re: piano strings?
VladK #2890675 09/15/19 03:24 PM
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Generally it is the owner. Strings break from fatigue or age usually, and it is rare that it is the fault of the tuner. That said, I may not charge for a string which is easy to change for a steady customer. The easiest to change are in the treble of grand pianos, which are also among the most likely to break.


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Re: piano strings?
VladK #2890737 09/15/19 06:39 PM
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You are likely to see more posts on this topic on the Tuner/ Tech forum, a couple of clicks over on this site. You could try the Search feature; your query might be specific enough to return some interesting posts.

If you are thinking about doing a big project like this, Tuner/ Tech would be a good place to ask questions, as long as you realize that educating you in-depth about a very serious, though fascinating technical subject like this, is beyond the somewhat more informal and relaxed purpose of the forum (unless you can coax someone to make it the purpose; I confess, I'd love to read the discussion).

Or, if you just want to get pointed in the right direction to learn about how to change (or do a field repair) on a broken string--- including where to order them, how to specify them (gauge, string number, length, wrapped or plain, use of different materials, like stainless steel wire, for special situations), understanding scale design, tensioning, inharmonicity, temperament, the way particular hammers and felts and voicing techniques interact with strings and how things can be manipulated to get around problems--- lots of questions I wouldn't even know how to ask. I cannot even calculate the twelfth root of two; not to save my life.

Who knows, you might be the talented guy to get the very learned rebuilders to talking. Hazards, like overpulling a string past its ability to speak, but not quite to its break point [the smart guys over there know a one-word name for this that I have forgotten; maybe it's as simple as 'dead string'].

It is only too likely that I am revealing my deep ignorance, doing a little reading when I was stealing a little time from playing. The guys who understand this field can tell it right off.

There are some books that you might enjoy. I would suggest having a look over at Piano Technicians Guild website http://ptg.org in their piano reference book department; you can order these. They have a serious commitment to continuing education for their member piano techs. And, I believe you can order books from the commercial side of this site right here http://pianosupplies.com and you can always try asking on http://pianobuyer.com

What was it? The modulo of inharmonicity... something about the elastic limit? I'm shaking the brain, but it's not coming out of the ears. Anyway, the last time I suggested, very briefly, where a person with a question might best inquire (right here on PW) I got BLASTED, and reported to the mods. It blew over. But I did say I would try to make more of an effort in the future to be especially nice.

And I wish our OP the best of luck, getting the right answers, from people who really know.


Clef

Re: piano strings?
VladK #2890759 09/15/19 08:04 PM
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In the last 20 years, several different types of piano wire have become available. Some Piano technicians have been working out the best ways to employ these wires in specific portions of the scale of specific pianos to solve tonal and tuning issue found there. It has become generically referred to as Hybrid Wire Scales.

These "newer" types of wire are actually weaker as regards tensile strength and softer as regards deformation. But since the tonal problems with wire scales are usually found in the portion of the scale that tensions wire at the low end of the breaking point, the weaker wire has adequate strength to endure really well.

I and others have come to the conclusion that the biggest reason the weaker or softer wire sounds better than the harder wire is that the softer wire produces less longitudinal mode. Longitudinal modes are waves carried within the body of the wire. They arise due to the slight stretching of the wire at the strike point. They are much higher in frequency that the "normal" transverse waves the string carry. In the top three octaves of the piano the L-mode frequency is above the human hearing range. But they carry enough energy there to disrupt the termination point of the transverse and also produce audible beats among themselves.

If you want to read more about this you can Google "Fully Tempered Duplex Scale" and "Hybrid Wire Scales".


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