Robert Estrin - piano expert

Can You Replace Just one Piano String?

What can you do if a single string is broken? Can you replace it?

In this video, Robert tells you if you can actually replace one of your piano's strings, in case, accidentally, gets broken.

Released on October 22, 2014

  
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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

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com and VirtualSheetMusic.com, and we had a viewer question. "Can you replace just one string on a piano?" Well, this is a question dear to my heart. Why? Because I do very intensive practice on my piano, and sadly I do break strings on a fairly regular basis. I just broke one, as a matter of fact, yesterday on my concert grand, and I broke one last month working on some very furious Liszt. So strings can break.

So the simple answer is yes, you can replace one string in your piano, but there's some caveats to be aware of. When you replace a string, no problem, you get somebody who is very experienced and knows how to do it properly to match the other strings. And the winding should be tight so that the tuning can be stable. The becket, which is the part of the string that points out of the hole, should be flush. There's a lot to it. So it's something you want an experienced person to do for you.

Now once that string is replaced, it will not hold the pitch very well at all. You have to touch up that string many times, maybe, I don't know, eight, 10 times before it's going to start holding. What a lot of piano tuners will do is they'll kind of stretch it a little sharp, hope for the best, and mute it out with a little rubber wedge so that you don't hear this hideously out of tune string. And next when they come to tune, they hopefully will hold.

What I suggest is if you're a serious player and you occasionally break strings, get yourself a tuning wrench and some wedges so you can touch up that occasional broken string, like I do. So you can enjoy your piano even when you have an occasional broken string.

Now, sometimes, you may break a string in the bass, one of the copper strings and this is a little bit more difficult because they're all specific. And you may have to actually send the string in to the string company, like Mapes is a great company to send them to. And they can replicate that one string. There are universal strings that sometimes, you can get a close match. But for the utmost in performance, you want a replication to be manufactured.

Now, if the piano is very old and the bass strings are old and tarnished, you might put that new string on and find that it gets a much more lively tone than surrounding strings. And in that case, you have to make a decision whether you can live with that. Or maybe you want to replace the whole set of bass strings which, by the way, can sometimes really enliven the sound of a piano.

So the simple answer is yes, you can replace a single string on a piano. But be aware that the pitch will not hold at first. So you will need to have it touched up by your tuner a number of times. Or get into touch-up tuning yourself, like I do.

Thanks so much for joining me and the great viewer questions. I'm Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com and VirtualSheetMusic.com. See you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Laura Seifert on October 27, 2014 @6:58 am PST
Very good answer. Thanks for the posting.
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