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Piano Tuning & Repair – Replacing a Broken String in a Piano


Thanks for joining us for another piano
repair video. In today’s video we’re gonna show
you how to replace a piano string inside the piano. We have previously made
a video that shows how to actually replace the
string but since then we’ve gotten quite a few
requests to demonstrate how the strings are actually replaced
inside the piano. So that’s what we’re going to be going
through today. Here we’ve got in front of you we show, this is a console piano and over here we’ve got actually two strings that are missing. So this would be demonstrating
two broken strings. Not very common you have two that are
broken right next to each other but here were missing two strings. So you
might come across a piano that has a string missing and you know the coil might still be on the pin because if
it broke you’d still probably see the coil
unless somebody took that off. So what I’ve done, I’ve already removed the coil, the string coil from the tuning pin and it turned out that each of the two pins actually each of the four pins half a turn. Now what you want to do is you
want to make sure that before you go to put the string on the tuning pins
that you turn the pins out far enough so that you have room to wind the string onto the pin and as you wind that string on that pins gonna go in further so you’ll want to make sure it’s turned out far enough that you’ve got room to turn the string onto the pin and we’re going to be showing you how to
do it without taking the pin out. In our previous installation video
we showed it with the tuning pin out of the pin block that showed how to put the string on the pin and then insert that into the pinblock.
But here we’re gonna do it so were gonna do it with the pins just leaving them in the piano not
taking them all the way out but we want to make sure that they’re turned out far enough. So I already turned each one out half a turn so I’m gonna go, that’s another half a turn
which should be so we want to do three turns total
because we’re gonna get three or three and a half probably because we’ve already got we’re
gonna put about 3 coils onto the pin so we’ve got about 1 one and a half two, two and a half 3. So that ensures that we’re
gonna have enough room for the string. We’re gonna do that with the same one with the other pin for that string. That makes one because I already did a half. One and a half, two, two and a half and 3. The other thing is you want to make
sure that the what makes it a little bit easier is that the hole where the tuning pin goes
through with the string goes through in the tuning pin is facing up and down okay because that makes it easier
because your strings gonna come up here from from the underneath and the well you
might be wondering if you’re not sure why we do two pins
well the reason is because for almost all the strings one piece of wire, one string is actually
gonna go down wind around a hitch pin over
these pins down here called hitch pins and so the string is, the wire is
going to come down wrap around these, these right here are the
bridge pins, wrap around the bridge pins and then hook around the hitch pin and
then come back up and attach to the other tuning pin so for the great majority of the plain where strings, this doesn’t
apply to the bass strings which have copper windings on them but the great majority of the plain wire strings will be configured that way
where you’ve got one piece of wire one string that will
actually do two tuning pins or two
strings that you see here. So that’s why we’re doing
two tuning pins. Now what you want to do
I’ve got a piece of the old wire if you don’t have the old wire
you’re going to have to try to measure because you want to make
sure you replace it with the same size if you don’t have the old where you’re
going to have to either measure the string next to it or if you’ve got the coil you can
unwind a piece of the coil and measure the wire that way but you
do wanna make sure you replace it with the same size wire that was in there
originally sometimes the wire sizes are written or stamped on the plate now this one
doesn’t have it but some pianos do have that where you know
it will say like thirteen here, that means this is 13 and any of them after that until
you see the next size might say 13 and a half 14 14 half and so forth but again I measured this and we’ve got another video that shows you how to actually measure the wire with a
micrometer this one is 32 thousandths of an inch which is .032 inches which equates to size 13 and a half on our piano wire gauge chart. So I’m gonna use this piano wire I’ve got a ten foot length
which is how we sell it this up here the strings are actually shorter so a 10-foot length of wire I’m guessing
is probably going to be enough to to do two strings up at this end. If we went further down you know the ten-foot would be only be
enough for for one string but for the most part that’ll be enough to
replace any plain wire string so this is size 13 and a half then what I do is when I handle
piano wire I wear gloves because the oils in our skin or the acids in our skin can
cause rust or corrosion on the string after period of time so I’m just gonna unwrap this string so we can replace the wire OK now what I’m gonna do is generally what I’ll do is what you are
going to do is you’re going to put the string into one of the tuning pins and here I’ve got you can use a tuning
hammer for this if you want to to turn the pin but I’ve got this piece here, it’s a ratchet star head
it’s got the star shaped tip and it’s meant for a
3/8 inch ratchet so that’s what I generally use when
I’m when I’m stringing or putting on a string
because I can ratchet it rather than having to
reposition my tuning hammer for each one so I’m gonna run it back here behind the
pressure bar and I got my stringing hook here and once I get it back behind the
pressure bar I can use the hook to grab the wire and pull it out and what I’m gonna do is
right over here sometimes in this case sometimes it’s easier to grab it with with a
needle nose pliers so you could get it, sometimes it’s tight quarters in there what you want to do is
you want to get it into the hole here we go and then position it so that the end of the wire just barely sticks out the other side of the tuning pin so for an example I’m gonna show you a
close up here of that. Here I’ve got a tuning pin OK so when you’re gonna when you put the
wire through you want to do it so that just sticks out just a little bit. Probably they say it’s like the width of a the thickness, the amount it sticks
out is the thickness of the wire what you’re going to do here is
coil the wire onto the pin and once you get it turned on a little
bit I’m just gonna hold this in place with my finger and what you want to do is make sure that
you’re turning the pin clockwise so if you’re coming from the top you’re going to be
going to the right and so you’ll hold that with your
finger and then make sure as you come around and I can see I’m gonna want to use my coil lifter and string spacer which is here it’s got a hook at the end to hook onto that wire to make sure that my string stays in the right position what I’m doing is when I want to
get about two-and-a-half coils onto the pin so there’s about two and a half I’m gonna take some parallel pliers tighten up that becket, the becket is the part that that goes right through the through the hole once I’ve got that in place I’m
gonna hook it and wrap it around the hitch pin
the bridge pins I’m sorry the bridge pins Of course this is the middle pin so I’m gonna use the middle set of bridge pins for this string and
then I’m gonna go down wrap it around the hitch pin make a nice tight twist and then just to kind of get a
general size I’m gonna cut this extra long
and I only have to do about three inches beyond the tuning pin but I’m gonna go extra long so I’ve got this just so I don’t have that
extra wire hanging around OK but I’ve gone quite a ways above as you can see I’ve gone quite a ways above the tuning pin I only needed to go about three inches
but I wanted to make sure I’m gonna do the
final cut once I get it into place here okay so then what I’m gonna do is wrap it
around the other probably before I do before I do
that I’m gonna run it up here behind the pressure bar So grab that and get it caught in behind the
others the string next to it which we don’t want
to do It’s good to grab it with needle nose
pliers there we go, so I can come over here then once I got that in place then I
can wrap it around the bridge pins didn’t have that in place then once
I’ve got it generally in a good position then I can go ahead and measure take my stainless steel rule and measure three inches beyond the tuning pin which is right about right about there that’s where I’m going to cut it off that’s the length that I need so we can pull this back a little it can come off the bridge pins because we can get that back in place
once we once we get it close to being tight as we would want it to be. I’m going to take
this and put it into the hole here we go the same thing that we want
to do it so that the the wire just peeks out the other
side of the tuning pin. Once we got that in
place again we’ll do the same thing we’ll hold
that wire in place make sure we’re going clockwise with the
tuning pin use my coil lifter and string spacer here to
keep it going in the right so you get a nice tight coil you can use a stringing hook too, to hold the string There I gotta full coil and a half gonna tighten up the becket kinda gives a bend to the becket As we can see our string is
starting to tighten up there a little bit and so I’ll wrap it around the bridge pins and there its starting to tighten up on me now that one’s pretty tight so now I’m
gonna come back here to the first tuning pin that I did pull that coil up tighten that one up you want to make sure your coils on your on your tuning pin are nice and tight.
Just push from the top push the top coil down a little bit
and push the bottom one up a little bit to make sure those are nice and tight K and kind of get a general tightness to
them We’ll fine tune it once we
get the action back in the piano you may have noticed there’s no action in this piano it I’ve taken it out
it’s much easier to to replace a string if the action is out in most cases except for a spinet piano the
actions are fairly easy to take out so it makes the
job much easier when replacing a string so but once
you got that tightened up in and to a fairly tight again we’re
going to fine tune it and pull it up to pitch and everything
once we get the action back in the piano but that’s the basic process of replacing the string inside the piano.
This way you don’t have to take the you don’t have to take the the tuning
pins out and you can and you don’t wanna drop things down inside the piano just
like I did but replacing the string is fairly
easy if you get the right tools and new
string so if you have any questions all these
parts and tools are available on our website at howardpianoindustries.com make sure you subscribe to our YouTube
channel and leave a comment if you’ve got
a question below our video here alright thanks

Bernard Jenkins

42 Comments

  1. good video, btw can you demonstration how to fic loose tuning pin? 
    thanks

  2. Really very useful these your video tutorial that manage to be very practical because it guides us step-by-step intervention, you're a great teacher and technician pf, I learned so much from your tips for mè remains a beacon of hope in reference .. your other videos. 
    I thank you heartily a warm greeting from your student surfer Italian Saverio

  3. How do you attach the third string at the bottom end which cant loop back on the same note? Do you keep going left or is it attached to a seperate pin somewhere?

  4. I have an old Jannsen console and there is a felt strip above the pressure bar.  I tried replacing a string but only got as far as loading the wire through the first pin.  As I moved the string up I ruined that space on the felt.  Any tips?

  5. Your video is put together in a really clear and concise manner…Thanks so much for the education

  6. Hello, my Eb3 string broke, but I don't know with what kind of string replace it, can you help me?

  7. Great video! Seems like time-constraints kept the poster from showing one last, but VERY important, step: on the other end of his coil-lifter tool is a string-spacing guide– the strings MUST be correctly spaced when they are replaced or the hammers could possibly end up striking the new strings in different areas of the hammer face, which may cause the notes to have a dark or dull sound quality to them. The felt on the hammers has been "voiced" with special tools to have a consistent hardness over the scale of the piano where the felt meets the strings as we play. On grand pianos this is ESPECIALLY important since the una corda (soft) pedal functionality moves the whole action over to strike a different part of the hammer which has been voiced so the felt is less hard, producing a softer tone. If the strings are not correctly spaced, the voicing will be off and you'll be very confused as to why the new string doesn't sound like the old one! All one needs to do is place the newly replaced (but not fully tightened) strings in the slots at the end of the string-spacing tool and run the tool up and down the top 2 or 3 inches of the strings a few times, ending as closely as you can to the pressure bar, then while holding the tool in place, tighten the strings JUST ENOUGH to hold their new position. Save pulling the strings up to full tension for the tuning process so you don't accidentally tighten them too much and snap the new string you've just installed! (One last and final piece of info: after you've installed and tuned your new strings, don't expect them to hold their tune perfectly– they will stretch out a bit under their new-found tension, and the pitch will need to be raised again, and again, and again before they become stable… I would also advise a LIGHT tapping down of the string under the hitch pin to help seat the wire so it has fewer places to stretch out). Again, I'm sure Steve knows to do this, but it wasn't mentioned in the video so I'm filling the gap (hopefully)!

  8. hi. i been playing guitar for 35 years. have done a zillion string changes. well, my neighbor gave me an upright Hobart M. Cable piano built in 1914. It sounds killer!!! Very loud and clear and great action on the keys. I've never had much interest in piano until i got this thing. I noticed it's missing a couple of the high strings. I really wanna put the replacement strings on there and i have a wonderful ear for pitch and tuning. What i dont know is what string gauge to use for missing strings. How should i approach this? Very curious. Any info on the string gauge might help. Thanx in advance

  9. So one string is used via the hitch pin to replace 2 strings of the three for each note. That means the other string when it breaks only needs one string. Where does it attach? Why would it be rare for 2 strings to break when one string wraps around the hitch pin to make it sound like 2. Very confusing.

  10. Hi Howard. Thank you tremendously for your videos. I have several questions, if I may:

    1) Are the particular micrometers used here specially designed for measuring piano string diameters, or are they just standard micrometers (I'm not sure how much they vary across various professions)?

    2) If the string is fixed at the bottom via the hitch pin but then comes back up in order to become the next string in the sequence – does changing the tension of one note not affect the tuning of the 'other' one?

    Thanks again!

  11. Hi Howard, when you're coiling a bass string wire can it simply be inserted in the hole in the tuning pin, held with your hand, and then coiled by cranking the pin with a tuning hammer… or is it necessary to pre-coil the wire before putting it onto and through the pin? Thanks!

  12. Howard, around 9:45 you are coiling the wire around the pin using only your finger to keep the wire from slipping. I am unable to coil the wire without the wire slipping out of the hole. Can you help me?

  13. Howard, I just replaced a midrange string. This was not easy. It took two tries. What I quickly learned was to pre-measure the wire, crimp it in half then do the 3" above the pin measuring and cut. It was still tedious! Are there any downsides to this crimping? Aligning the string on the bridge pins is also tricky cause you need to have the string a little taught so that it stays. Dexterity with the string hook and a screwdriver will need to improve going forward. Any comments, suggestions appreciated.

  14. The coil lifting tool from Pianotek is fantastic even if rather pricey and esp. good for stringing jobs.

  15. Thank you for all of your videos Howard.
    Thanks you to several months ago I got an old, out of tune upright back into shape. I started learning to play and couldn't be happier.

    I now own a grand piano, and it is also in need of some TLC. I would purchase the parts from your shop, however, you don't carry piano lid hinges. Do you know of a good online shop with decent prices? I need one like this
    www.vandaking.com/s-569-hinges.html

    Is this going to be my best shot?

  16. Can you let me know whether the piano tuner recommended to me has replaced all of the pins and refaced all of the hammers which he said he would do?

  17. Thank you for the very good tutorial. I'm rescuing an ole Cable & Sons upright this Friday. I've never played and want to learn, I'm also quite handy at repairing things so I thought that I could save a "free" piano from going to the dump and learn on something that I have sweat equity in. It supposedly needs tuned and nothing else but cosmetic wear. Wish me luck and thank you again.

  18. Thanks!!! I just replaced two sets in the treble section on my upright. -GB, Arkansas.

  19. interesting video, but the incessant tongue clicking drives me crazy. I get caught up anticipating his next "tsk".

  20. Does one make an effort to bring the tension up evenly on each tuning pin until the tension is so great that there is no chance of slippage across the anchor? Or is slippage more or less prevented anyway by the resistance of the zigzag through the bridge pins?

  21. Thankyou for a valuable video .My question may relate to the way one string is used to form two vibrating strings . On several very tight tuning pins I tried to cure the jumping and loud crack noise by turning the tension down and up till the sticking was improved. But !! I did that with a pair of sticking pins on the same note . Not being aware that those two were connected and probably retuning the wrong half first is there a chance those strings will have been displaced and ended up with a kink where the string should be straight .? This looks quite likely as the loop at the string bottom is a simple turn that might have shifted . A good long question for you . The sounds of those tight pin notes has not been good although the basic note is there it behaves like a slow morse code . Thanks again .

  22. I was able to successfully tune my piano following your videos except 1 key where one of the wires came out of the hole in the pin thus not been able to tune it. Can I just reuse the wire by losen it, straighten it, re-insert it on the pin and tighten again?

  23. Thanks for the video–very helpful. Do you or does anyone else have an opinion about how quickly to move tuning pins, particularly when backing them out the 3 turns? I would have been afraid to move them as quickly as in this video since the friction causes the pin to get very hot, expand, and then permanently enlarge the hole resulting in a looser tuning pin.

  24. If I remove all the cords to give the soundboard and Frame a good cleaning. How much you thing I would get charged for tuning the piano back once i put the cords back??? Thanks!!

  25. So you recommend removing the action when replacing strings ?

  26. Can you do a video replacing a single treble string, where you have to put a coiled end loop at the end of the hitch pin? Thanks

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