A frequently asked question by many of my clients during a piano tuning is “will my piano ever need new strings?”
If a string snaps during the tuning process a small charge is made for a new string around £20 for a new string if it’s in the bass (a bit less if in the tenor or treble section) and £20 labour to fit the string. Putting a new string on takes me about 20 minutes. I would say a string breaks in about one in every hundred jobs so it’s not uncommon, but not something to be unduly concerned about.
If a string is missing from a piano it isn’t ideal, but one string missing isn’t going to effect the overall tension enough to cause problems. It can take between a week and a month for a bass string to be remade and sent back to me. If it’s in the very low end of the piano then the note won’t strike as the hammers for those keys only strike one string each. The upper bass the note will sound slightly weaker as the hammer will hit one string instead of two.
In the middle and treble sections things get a little more complicated and regular piano wire is used up here. Some of them are connected to the hitch pins with a coil at the other side of the string. Most of them wrap around the hitch pin meaning that if a string snaps in this section the hammer effectively hits two strings or one string depending on which string has snapped.
Re-stringing a whole piano is expensive (£2000+), but if it was part of a restoration process for an old but high-end piano, it might be worth it if done in conjunction with the replacement of a dried-out wrest plank and loose, rusted wrest pins. As a general rule, most pianos on the market would not benefit enough from such a process to be worth such an expenditure. I have found that many of the pianos I’ve encountered while piano tuning in West Yorkshire have some rusty strings and while this will negatively effect the tone, there are other much worse factors in tonal degradation. Rusty strings can also be cleaned on request, though again, much care has to be taken with health and safety plus the fragility of certain strings.
New strings do have an impact on the sound of a piano but there are so many other factors that contribute to good tone. And do you know what the most important one is? You guessed it: having your piano tuned and serviced regularly. Please get in touch with the Leeds piano tuner today to book your piano tuning: 0754 266 7040
For the last five years I have dealt primarily with piano tuning, repairs and regulation – these are the areas I feel most comfortable with and are the jobs I carry out on a day to day basis. While training at Lincoln College in the early part of this decade, I also studied piano restoration extensively – these lessons took up a third of my study time, and while piano restoration requires a full workshop, I have these skills ingrained in my memory. During my career as a Leeds piano tuner, there have been one or two jobs in area of restoration that I have declined to carry out, chiefly because I lacked the tools and/or work space to carry out the jobs to a sufficiently high standard. However, once I have access to my new workshop (late July 2019), I can start to rejig my memory on how to perform several frequently requested restoration services (mainly linked to aesthetics). Two of the most popular that spring to mind are:
- Re-finishing are re-polishing. I can do this once I have access to a workshop with an array of high gloss, french and spray polishes. If your piano’s case is scratched or damaged I can bring it back to life.
- Fitting piano castors – a frequent request I have to turn down until I’m in possession of piano lifting equipment (all of which are extremely expensive to buy). One of the first things I will buy for my workshop will be a portable bench truck – this will allow me to tilt a piano on its back in order to change the castors. I can then offer this service to my Leeds and Bradford clients – many older overdamped pianos are often in need of new castors. I can re-fit them at the end of the piano tuning once we’ve discussed the extra cost.
Keep reading my Leeds piano tuning blog for more information.
Firstly, if you live in Leeds don’t worry – I’ll still be piano tuning at least four or five days a week in Leeds and Bradford – that won’t change. However, I will also be spending at least one day a week in my workshop down in the Ranmoor area of Sheffield, where I will be focusing on piano resoration as well – something I enjoy and find more rewarding than piano tuning. The workshop has been purchased but won’t be in operation until at least August of 2019, as I am in the process of buying the piano restoration tools I need. I also need to make sure it’s well-stocked with woods, polishes, action parts (different sized hammers, flanges, jacks, whippens, screws), piano wire, piano key coverings and so on, all of which will ensure I can carry out a full, thorough and first-rate restoration job on every piano that comes my way.
If you have a Leeds piano you’d like to sell or donate, I will accept pianos on the following brands for a restoration:
If you have a high-end piano of a different brand, I might be interested anyway. I am unlikely to accept a overdamped piano and will certainly reject straight-strung pianos (they’re not worth the cost of new parts) even if they have sentimental value to the customer. Piano restoration is a painstaking and arduous job, but when you bring a 100-year-old Bechstein back to life, it is certainly worth the effort!
– Richard, Piano Tuner Leeds.