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New to acoustic piano. Curious if a string breaks when the tech is tuning piano,replacing it would require, I assume, lots of extra time and another visit?
I assume owner responsible for all costs?

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If it's plain wire string, not really, replacing is a fast process but new string may not hold tuning well after replacement so another visit may be needed but it depends on tuner skill.

If it's a bass string, it has to be custom made because each note in each piano model has a different string, another (faster) option is "universal" bass strings that come in different thicknesses and the tuner cuts its length to size for particular piano and note. Both methods are bad because new bass string will never match the sound of other old strings, but universal string is worse. There is third option if break is before agraffe (point where string terminates) it may be possible to tie extra wire to that string:
[Linked Image]

It is usually better option than replacement.

If string on piano breaks it is usually not the tuners fault, so cost is on you, but if piano condition is good it's unlikely that any string will break.

Cost of plain wire is close to nothing, bass strings depends where you live and where you buy but single string is not very expensive say 10 usd

Last edited by ambrozy; 08/31/21 06:51 PM.
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Plain strings in the midrange of the piano may need to be fished under the bass strings and can be difficult and take some time to replace.


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We all have our own way of handling payment for the repair/replacement. I think most techs charge the customer, that's normally what I do, but there are some that don't. Most of the time I'll come back to do the repair since many times I don't have time and need to get to another appointment.

Last edited by That Guy; 08/31/21 09:12 PM.

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Terrilyn,

Piano wire is strung at a tension of from 150 lbs to about 230 lbs per string. Although strong, it does not have a forever lifespan. In fact the design lifespan of the piano (basically all pianos) is approx 30-40 years. This means that it is at its prime for about 20 years and then start a showing signs of wear and deterioration around 25, and is basically declining from that point on. Certain design elements can contribute to "premature" string breakage, as can rust and other deleterious things getting into the piano.

9 times out of 10, the reason a string breaks is due to factors beyond the control of the tuner. Stuff happens and it breaks (as it is under high stress 24/7/365). And it usually breaks during the tuning process because the act of tuning temporarily adds stress to the wire and if it is ak ready compromised...well snap! This is largely unforeseeable and not the "fault" of the tuner. Itbis simply the nature of the "beast".

So yes, generally speaking the cost of repair or replacement falls to whoever owns the piano. Pretty much the same as when you take your car in for service and the mechanic encounters rust or corrosion on parts needing to be worked on and now this complicates the process. You have to pay a bit extra due to the extra time, etc.

It's a sore point with some consumers simply because of the fact that it usually happens during tuning so the ASSUMPTION is the the tuner broke it, when in actual fact it just broke due to external (or internal factors). BTW, strings also break during playing, again due to stress and metal fatigue.

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Thanks so much for great info. I certainly understand the nature of the beast—-lots of parts that could go wrong at any time.

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A low tenor string on a spinet could take up to an hour, and lots of cursing, to replace.

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Yes, some string repairs are a virtual nightmare. Even if you have the tools and gadgets do get behind stuff, often there is VERY little room do maneuver up at the tuning pin end. Manufacturers of lower end pianos often gave zero consideration do future servicing needs (or at least it sonetimes appears that way).

Then there is the "coil crossover conundrum" in the bass, which is a clear manufacturing defect that does not show up for 25 years. Then it's likely that they all need replacement, when all they had do do was change the tuning pin angle by 5 degrees. So simple, so mindless.

Oh well...

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For what it's worth:
In some situations, I will not replace a string, and will even demonstrate to the customer that they will not notice a sound difference.

This just happened the other day:
the customer lugged a free piano home, was clearly trying to save money. The piano needed a 200 cent raise, and I could see corroded coils and warned her strings might break.
One bass bicord did break. I tuned the strings and slowly played up and down past the single string. She couldn't tell any sonic difference, so I suggested hold off on trying to splice it. I may also recommend this to someone with a broken string in the last octave: they'll never know the string is missing (depending on the particular arrangement of the shared wire).


The customer appreciated it, especially since she had to pay for a big pitch raise (and probably another tuning in a month), some regulation, etc.
Not everything has to be perfect for every customer, especially those who may be cost-sensitive.

If I break a string, it's on me. The problem is, very few technicians might admit they broke the string. Last week, I came pretty close with a vertical that had a non-standard tuning pin arrangement in the bass. Glad I finally realized I was on the wrong pin...

Last edited by Scott Cole, RPT; 09/01/21 03:47 PM.
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Scott,

Yes, that's generally the only time that a tech might be at fault...if he/she is really not paying attention. Otherwise it is physically quite impossible for me to break a string...however strings do break. On rare occasions even quite new wire can break.

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Scott, an issue that comes to my mind with bichord's losing a string is the damper will misbehave and lose damping effectiveness without a second string to wedge between.

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Yes, that can become a problem.

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