Piano strings are the wires which are stretched between the tuning pins and end pins on the harp plate. These wires are made from a specially formulated steel alloy which has been drawn through a die. Then, they are ground to the exact diameters required to generate and sustain the frequency of the piano’s individual note-tones. The treble notes are made of bare steel music wire in varying diameters. The tenor and bass notes are made of the same wire which has been weighted with copper wire windings. Collectively, these “strings” produce the frequencies and strength required to energize the sounding board for the various notes of the instrument. With prudent use and care, the piano’s strings should last the working life of the piano or about 40 to 50 years.
Maintaining the piano’s strings needs to be part of the normal routine of regular piano care. They should be properly seated and kept clean as possible at all times. Also, the respective tuning pin coils need to be kept tightly closed and free from dirt and dust as possible. All these parts should be inspected regularly, and cleaned and adjusted when necessary.
When a piano string breaks, it is usually due to unintended misuse by the player. Other occasions such as moving, improper storage, or unwise room placement can also harm the strings and cause them to break. When a string breaks, careful consideration to determine the cause needs to be pursued since replacement and repair is an expensive addition to routine maintenance and tuning costs. Also, permanent damage to the tone bridges and sounding board may result. Whenever string repair or replacement becomes necessary, the procedure should be accomplished by a well trained and experienced piano repair technician.
The condition of the strings and their associated parts is critical to the way the piano performs. Careful attention to playing technique, as well as overall mechanical and tonal maintenance, is necessary in the continuing care of the instrument. As the piano ages and its use pattern changes, the condition of its strings and other parts should be discussed with the dealer or qualified piano technician.