Understanding Piano Strings

There’s a lot going on under the proverbial hood of a piano. The inner workings include dampers that help manipulate the tones, the hammers that cue the vibrations and of course the strings themselves. While it seems simple, there’s a lot of interesting things going on with the strings themselves. Let’s take a look at a few facts you may not have known about what makes the music inside a piano.

Piano StringsLong and Short

A piano houses hundreds of strings of varying length – since each key can lead to striking as many as three strings to produce a single note – something called unison strings, notes The Piano Deconstructed. These range from the longer strings that allow the musician to play low-tone notes, to short, tight strings that allow the musician to play high pitches.

Count Them Up

While most pianos max out at 88 distinct keys and notes, it takes much more than that to produce the sound internally. As we mentioned above, when counting unison strings that help to produce the treble and tenor notes, a piano can have as many as 236 strings of various lengths to make all the beautiful notes.

Body Shape

In fact, some of the bass strings that are used to produce the low notes are so long that they are wrapped around and around inside the body of the piano. This is also part of why a classic piano’s body is smaller on one end and wider on the other. The longer side houses these deeper notes, which is what gives a piano its distinctively lopsided shape.

Tensed Up

The strings in a piano are also pulled incredibly taut to allow each string to produce the desired note loudly and consistently. This also means that there’s an immense internal pressure from all these strings. At somewhere between 160 to 200 pounds of tension each, the total tension is as high as 35,000 pounds. This is why pianos have a cast-iron frame and back frame to support the strain.

With so much going on, it’s easy to see why pianos require regular maintenance and tuning to keep producing beautiful tones. At East Coast Piano Rebuilding, we can handle your tuning needs as well as tackle any repair or restoration needed to bring life back to your classic instrument. For more information, contact us today.

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