Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is a Straight Strung Piano?

Discover this important fact about pianos

In this video, Robert gives you some piano history by talking about how the arrangement of strings inside a piano has changed in the past 200 years.

Released on June 8, 2016

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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. This is and with a question: What is a straight strung piano? Have you ever heard of that term before?

Well, we have an example with this 1875 Erard. And you'll notice that, on pianos since the turn of the century and earlier, actually around the 1880s, it became pretty standard fare for the strings to cross over one another, an overstrung piano, as it's called, which is what pianos have been for over 100 years. But before that, from the very origins of the piano, dating back to the years of the harpsichord, the strings would go straight, and they didn't cross over one another.

So why did they go and cross them over, anyway, and what are the benefits or detriments to each? Well, for one thing, the crossing over enables longer string length with a shorter piano. So this is a long piano, so of course it's going to get a glorious tone. But if you have a really small piano, baby grand, which became more popular later on, being able to get any kind of decent tone could be very difficult if you don't cross over the strings to get more string length. More than that, where the bridges are placed on the sound board will also change the tone, to some extent.

So you'll hear a sound out of this piano, which is the sound that Liszt and Chopin heard, because the pianos they had didn't have cross stringing, for the most part. And yet, it is a beautiful sound that you get out of a piano like this. You can reference my video on this piano to hear more of it and see how you like straight strung pianos.

Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on June 8, 2016 @5:21 pm PST
Great. Now how for a demo of a short piece on this straight string and on a cross-over strung piano? Would the sound be different?
Robert - host, on June 9, 2016 @2:20 pm PST
You can listen to a straight strung Erard concert grand here:

You can compare it to other concert grands with cross stringing:
Oluwaseun Collins on June 8, 2016 @7:28 am PST
Really like this, thanks for the piece.
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