Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Get Great Bass Sound out of Your Old Piano

Useful tips for old pianos

In this video, Robert teaches you how to improve the bass sounds out of an old piano.

Released on March 10, 2021

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to, Robert Estrin here with a short show that will be incredibly helpful to many of you. How to get a great bass sound out of your old piano? Oh man, there's nothing more frustrating than having a piano and you get to the lowest notes and they just sound pathetic and you don't even want to play down there. I also remember practicing many, many years where I didn't have a concert grand or a really formidable instrument, and I found that I would kind of punctuate those low notes. I would kind of bang them because I'd tried to get any sound out of them at all, then I go to a concert grand or even a semi-concert grand, I go, "Oh my gosh, I'm overplaying everything below the two octaves below middle C, they're all too loud and ugly."

So is anything you could do to get a better bass out of your old piano? The answer is yes. And now I've got to quantify that, it kind of depends what your old piano is. If you've got an old spinet, there's not much you're going to do if the strings are that short, but if you have an older piano that has a decent size, but the bass is just lacking in sound there's ways you can get new life out of the bass that works oftentimes. Now of course, one obvious thing, if your piano is pretty old, those bass strings might have lost their lives and just replacing the bass strings. Now, restring the whole piano is a pretty big job, but the bass strings, there's not that many of them because there's only one or two usually for each note down there. Not like the rest of the piano, where there are three strings for each note.

So you can get your piano technician to replace just the bass strings. They might even be able to use the existing tuning pins if they're tight enough or just replace those tuning pins while you're at it with slightly larger tuning pins to make sure that the good and tight. Well, is there another way? Well, yes there is. Sometimes old bass strings you can bring new life to them with various techniques. Sometimes simply loosening them and then tightening them can make them sound dramatically better. Better than that, bass strings can be twisted. Did you know that the bass strings all come with at least a half twist or a twist, depending upon the manufacturer? You can put another half or full twist on those strings. Now it does flex the string, and if the strings are really old and tired, you could snap some bass strings.

So there is some caution advised here, but if they've never been twisted before, sometimes the sound you can get out of the bass strings with a simple twist is unbelievable. And the way you find this out is you have a technician twist just one of the... You find a note that has two strings on it and you twist one of them and listen for the difference, muting out each string and listen to the difference. And if the string that was twisted is dramatically brighter and vibrant, man, have your tuner do all the strings and you can get new life out of your bass out of your piano. Sometimes technicians will actually remove the strings, not completely, just at the point where they could take it off of the loop and then kind of clean it by folding it onto itself, like tying a knot and getting the crud out from between the coils and that can also really enhance the sound of those bass strings.

So there are techniques, I advise any of you to talk to your piano technicians and make sure that they're versed in this technology because not all piano technicians do this or have ever done it. And if they don't know how much to twist it or don't have them do it, if they are not accustomed to doing it. Find a technician who this in their bag of tricks or their arsenal of techniques that they do, and they will know whether it's going to work on your piano or not. And you might just get new life out of your bass without having to spend a lot of money. I hope this helps some of you out there. Again, I'm Robert Estrin here at, your online piano resource.
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