Piano Music Wire & Bass Strings FAQ's

Piano Music Wire & Bass Strings FAQ's

Jul 10, 2023

Q. What are the different types of wire used for?

A. We offer two different types of wire on our store, plain wire and bass strings.

Plain piano music wire is for the treble range of the piano and comes in different sizes (sizes 13-21). Sizes 0-12 of our plain music wire cannot be used on a piano, but are sometimes used on other instruments. These wires can be purchased in 10' lengths as well as 1/4lb coils1/2lb coils1/3lb coils1lb coils, and as assortments. All of the plain wire is made of steel.

Bass strings are made specifically for use in the bass range of the piano. These strings are made of a steel wire with copper winding around it. There are two types of bass strings: custom bass strings and universal bass strings.

Q. What is the difference between custom and universal bass strings?

A. A custom bass string is one that is ordered specifically for your piano and is a copy of the one you are replacing. There are four measurements on a custom bass string: the length of the winding, the diameter of the winding, the diameter of the core wire, and the length from the hitch pin to the start of the winding. A custom string will match each of these measurements exactly. This ensures that the restringing process is much easier. Custom bass strings are available as a full set, partial set, or single string, and are bought based on what type of piano you have.

A universal bass string however, is not customized to your piano and will not exactly match your old strings. It is designed to work with any piano. This is a more economical option, but you will have to do more work to string it onto your piano. Whereas the custom bass string matches all four of the measurements previously mentioned, the universal bass string only matches the diameter of the winding. This means you will have to remove some of the winding on each end of the string in order to match it to the length and position of the original string. Universal bass strings can be purchased as a set of 37 sizes or a single string.  The set isn't designed to replace all of the strings on a piano as the sizes in a specific piano won't match the exact sizes in the set.

Q. How do you measure for a custom bass string?

A. Stretch a long piece of paper or sheets of paper towel out long enough to fit the length of your bass string on. Hold the string down of the paper and make marks at the end of the hitch pin loop, where the winding starts (the copper colored section of the string), and where the winding ends. Make sure you stretch the string as straight as you can. From here, you will measure the length of the marks on your paper instead of the actual string to make the process easier.

Your first measurement on the paper will be from the end of the hitch pin loop to the start of the winding. Next, measure the length of the winding (from the starting mark to the end mark). To measure the diameter of the core wire you will need your string and a micrometer. The core wire is the section of wire between the hitch pin loop and the start of the winding. Then, you will need to measure the diameter of the winding. If you’re not sure how to use a micrometer, you can learn more about that in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C5rb8RRLks

Q. Why is copper around some strings of a piano?

A. If there is copper winding around a piano string, this is because it is a bass string. The copper winding around the steel string helps to make the string thicker, making the pitch lower.

Q. Is it hard to install a piano string?

A. If you have the right tools and instruction, installing a piano string can be done by the average person. For more details, watch this video.

Q. How do you install piano music wire?

A. We have an article here that goes through the steps of installing piano music wire. We also have this in a printable PDF format here, or you can watch this video.

Q. How do you install bass strings?

A. We have an article here that goes through the steps of installing bass strings, also available in a printable PDF. The steps are very similar to the steps for installing piano music wire.

Q. Is piano wire hard to cut?

A. Piano wire is only hard to cut if you are not using a tool designed for cutting piano wire. When using the correct tool, it is not hard to cut.

Q. What is the best tool for cutting piano wire?

A. The best tool for cutting piano wire is a Spring Loaded Piano Wire Cutter. These are designed to cut through the highest gauge of wire, size 24 (.055" diameter). They are rated to cut through up to 0.125".

Q. What gauge wire for piano strings?

A. The gauge of a piano wire is also known as the size of the wire. Wire gauges range from 13-21 for pianos. The gauge for the string depends on how high the pitch of that string should be. The thinner the wire, (and the more tight the wire) the higher the pitch, and vice versa.

Q. How many years do piano strings last? Do piano strings wear out?

A. It depends on the climate and environment around the piano, the amount of use, etc. The general rule is, on a well used piano, the strings should last about 25 years. But, this can vary greatly depending on other factors. The strings will eventually wear out, but when taken care of properly, you can get much good life out of them.

Q. Can piano wire snap?

A. Yes, piano wire can snap. This can happen if the string is pulled too tight (during a tuning, for instance) or if the string is hit too hard. These circumstances will be greatly increased if the strings have become corroded or worn out due to environmental factors. This is why having a Piano Life Saver System and other Dampp Chaser products are a great asset to add to your piano.

Q. Will piano wire rust?

A. Piano wire can rust if not properly taken care of. For example, if you add a treatment other than the Dampp Chaser Humidifier Pad Treatment to your humidifier, the strings could start to corrode. This is because there are acids in other water treatments that are hard on the metal components of a piano.

Q. How do you purchase piano music wire and bass strings?

A. Piano music wire and piano bass strings can all be found at this link. If you would like to purchase a custom bass string, make sure to take proper measurements, following the instructions in this video.

Highlighted Reviews

I got an old hobart piano that I found online for free and all of the youtube videos here gave me the confidence to restore it myself! So far so good! everything I have ordered, including this piano wire has been exactly as described. Fast shipping!  -Anonymous

I have used these custom bass strings in both upright and grand pianos. They usually arrive in two to three weeks. The quality is unmatched and they sound great! As for the customer service…they inadvertently shipped me the incorrect string in terms of dimensions, and one phone call solved the issue quickly. They put a rush on the correct string and it arrived in three days! My customer is happy, and so am I!  -Bradley M.

Perfect fit perfect quality perfect tone perfect price this is definitely the place to get any of your piano strings great service thank you keep up the great work  -Michael B.

I prefer piano wire for my Latvian folk instrument. These strings are perfect for my needs. Customer service was awesome. I received help promptly with my order. Without any hesitation, I will acquire music wire from Howard Piano again.  -Daina W.