Piano Restringing

Changing the strings on a piano is something that a piano needs after so many years.  The series of videos below go over the basics of how to replace the strings on a piano.  We also have included links to the tools and supplies that would be needed to restring a piano.


Parts and Supplies Needed:

-Piano Wire 1 pound coils

-Piano Wire 1/3 pound coils

-Piano Wire Set of 12 - 1/3 pound coils

-Piano Tuning Pins

-Set of Custom Bass Strings

-Ratchet Star Head

-Power Tuning Pin Socket

-Hand Held Coil Maker

-Stringing Crank

-Piano Coil Lifter

-Wire Cutters

-Tuning Pin Punch 

Thanks for joining us today for another video from Howard Piano Industries. Where this says it can actually be a series of videos that we're going to show you on how to restring a piano. This is a pretty big job so that's why there's several different videos we're going to have that go through the different steps of replacing the strings in a piano, with the with the piano especially an older piano the strings will wear out the bass strings wear out or get worn sounding faster than the treble strings but at an old piano. This is a piano that was restrung all probably ten or twelve years ago roughly, and so I'm not going to actually show you the steps of the actual stringing but we show some of that and some of the other videos that we've got and so but I'm just going to walk through all the different steps and things that you're going to be watching and make a note of so that you're going through the right steps for the process. So this is this kind of an introduction some things you want to look for before you move forward and restringing it. Now the the different elements that you want to consider our first of all you want to evaluate the condition of the piano to see if you know, if there's any repairs or anything like that need to be done as part of the restringing process right here these right here where the strings run over are called the bridges, you want to look at that and sometimes there will be cracks. Here where the strings run over it or there could be separations between the bottom of the bridge and the top of the soundboard so you want to check for that. Then so this is the this is the main bridge right here and then there's the the bass bridge which is up here that the bass strings run over so you want to check that you want to check the condition of the soundboard which is the whole piece of wood underneath this underneath the strings and underneath the plate to see if there are major cracks or even minor cracks that that would maybe need to be repaired. As while you have the strings off this piano had some very small cracks that we didn't repair on when we did the restringing and they're holding right now. I don't see that the cracks have separated over time which is a good sign so those are some things you want to watch you want to check underneath to see, you know, if the ribs are separating or anything like that that you want to be aware of before you delve into the process of replacing the strings. Now the different elements that you're going to want to be aware of are the strings themselves you've got trouble wire or plain wire you know in this piano it's all the way from down here all the way up to the top, you know and that's the non wound strings so you just buy larger coils which we'll go into in a future video as far as the details of that and then there's the bass string so okay which are this whole section down here and they usually run over, over the string over the plain wire strings or at least a section of them. So those all have to be custom-made you know by a string maker so and we offer those available as well and then the other element is the main element is the tuning pins usually if you're going to replace the strings you want to replace that the tuning pins as well one other structural elements you want to check on is also is the pin block okay so now you can't see the pin block in this piano or even in most pianos because it's underneath the plate, but the pins go through through the plate and into pin block okay so there's a piece of laminated wood underneath the plate that the pins go into. You can see the bottom of the pin block if you take the fall board and the action out and then look inside from underneath even then it's a little bit difficult because there's not a lot of room but if you take a flashlight and shine it up in there you can usually see the bottom of the pin block and you want to see if there's like really bad cracks in it you know, because then it may be something that the pin block also needs replaced okay but, but if the pin block isn't fairly and you know if you once you take everything out and you can, you know consider taking the plate out especially if the if the sound board needs repaired but that's a hole underneath and another undertaking that we're not going to go into detail and this is a series of videos but then if you know if you take that out then you can see the top of the pin block and I'm get a better idea of the condition of the pin block but you do want to check the tightness of the tuning pins because that's going to determine you know if you're keeping the same pin block that'll determine what size pins you're gonna go up to okay so if the pins are all fairly tight, you know quite tight, you know a normal amount of tight you know if you're using a torque wrench and you they measure you know 120 or higher you know that's that's fairly tight. Then when you replace the tuning pins which it's always a good idea if you're restringing to replace the tuning pins because usually the otherworld tuning pins look bad and it's good to go up a size to just get some more tightness in those pins but if they're if they're fairly tight like I say 120 inch pounds are higher then you want to go up, you can just go up one size larger okay so if you've got size two tuning pins you can go up to size three if your size 3 up to size 4. but if they're below that or looser than that you know on the loose side then you want to go up two sizes okay they're like really loose then that's maybe a sign that the pin block we need to be replaced and when you're going through this. So just keep that in mind so as you take the pins out you're gonna want to measure one with a micrometer to see how many thousandths of an inch the size of the pins are okay there's gonna be a slight variance so you might want to measure several of them across the range of the piano to see what size the pins are. And then as you take the strings off you're gonna measure all of them and we'll talk more about that in the in the next video but those are those are the basic elements you know some other things you may want to do as part of the prep process or that you should do is make sure that you take note of any felts okay. Sometimes in here there's there's felts that are, this one didn't have any so I didn't put any back in it sometimes there's felt strung between these strings that stringing felt. Sometimes there's hitch-pin punching this one had just hitch pin punching 's in the bass section so I don't know if you can see these red circles here but those are hitch pin punching 's and so we put them back in that section but the rest of the piano didn't have them so we didn't put them in. You know so pretty much, you know if you want to replace the felts that were there originally unless you have some reason or other to do something differently but in most cases that's what you want to do. This one also had these bars here you want to make sure you make note of the position of those so that you can put those back where they were originally sometimes they'll have the movable bars which got another piano that has those and you want to make note of where those are and sometimes they'll have individual movable bars here and this one has a brass bar here on each of this, on each of these sections that you want to make sure you get back in the same position that they were before you took the strings off so lots of notes that you want to take as before you start taking the strings off of the piano, you know and there's things like damper felts and so forth that you could be replaced as well while you're in the process of restringing because often times those and of course the action is a whole other thing but this is just regarding the replacement of the strings so those are some things to think about as and be aware of and prepare for as you go into and start the process of restringing. Our website is howardpianoindustries.com
This is uh, this next video we're going to show you is part two of our restringing video, and showing you the process of taking the strings off, you know making sure you take good record and measurements of the strings so that you know you know what to do when when you go to put it back together. Like I mentioned in the first video the introduction video for restringing. You're gonna have to take good measurements of the strings and what sizes they are, because as you look at the strings you might look and say oh well they look the same size but there's actually probably I don't member exactly how many different sizes in this one but on the average a piano will have about ten different, ten different sizes of treble wire plus the bass string. Okay, bass strings those have to be custom-made by a bass string maker, but you want to take good measurements and as you take the we'll get to the bass strings in a second, but the first thing you wanna do is something have some kind of a system to keep track and chart your sizes and other different information. I actually made a chart here that shows some, you know that I made up and I'm gonna put this on our website at howardpianoindustries.com so you can get a copy of this if you want to use it for making your records, but we can see that you know I've got up here and shows the the piano the number of single wound bass strings the number of double wound and bass strings those are these item up here you know I wrote up here the size of the tuning pins that I took out so I can determine you know the the same length and then of course and determine what diameter I want the the new tuning pins to be I've wrote up here the number of triple wound bass strings for this piano and then, I put, you know for the bass strings you know you're not going to have a lot of information because you're going to be sending those in for duplication but once you get to the treble strings then you gonna want to start to put the diameter and you're gonna have a one of a good micrometer to measure each individual bass string so that you can start to make notes of what size, some of the other notes that I put some some strings are tied but most of them are gonna be wrapped around but I'm putting notes like third string tied and I'll show you in a minute what that exactly means, but as you can see on here when you got a string it starts at the tuning pin comes up to the runs over the bridge, wraps around a hitch pin and then comes down to the next tuning pin. Okay, that's all one piece of wire but, and that's how most of the treble strings are, but you've also got some that are tied. Let's see if, I've got any in this piano at all. I don't believe this piano does but some of them you know if it's an odd number of strings there'll be, they'll be tied at the end. Like sometimes the first string on high C will be tied and it just means that there has to be a loop made at the end and we've got a video showing how to make a loop on a string for that purpose. I did have one piano that I restrung that every single treble note had a hitch pin and so he had to make a loop for each one of those, which one of those strings which took more time and more effort but that was what it was so that's what we did on that piano, but when you start to remove the strings though you want to be careful not to just start at the top and take one string off at time until you get to the bottom you want because there's so much pressure from the strings on the plate. You want to do it evenly so you might loosen you know all the all the bottom there all the bottom tuning pins for each string to start to you know destabilize the pressure of the weight off the strings on the plate and you might do that on the whole piano and then maybe do all the top strings and then go back and through and do the middle strings just to loosen the tension on them so you're kind of evening the that as the tension comes off so you don't have it all coming off all at one section and enough at one time and then leaving the rest of the piano all up under tension so you can equalize the tension that way as you start to loosen it and then once you've got the pins or all the tension off. When you go to loosen the tension on the strings, the tool I find to be the easiest is this ratchet star head which is this piece right here it's got the this you know the star bit on the end to fit over the tuning pins the same as you'd have on a tuning hammer I wouldn't recommend just using a regular quarter inch socket because it it won't work very well on the two tuning pins in most cases but you take this and you put it on the pin and then I would take it one time around to loosen too or take the tension off okay if you do one full rotation on the on the like this that'll take almost all most of the tension off the string okay so I would do that on again one string for each note and then go back and do another string for each note and then do the third string so that'll equalize the tension coming off so once you've got them loosened then then what you'll start to do is take take the string off of one or what you can do is once it's loosened enough and you might have to loosen it a little bit more to be able to get access to it as just snip the wire. Okay, once you've got the wire taken off. again you're gonna measure it okay and I usually start measuring at the top end and then measure each and you only have to measure one string for every note because you know all three strings of each note are going to be the same diameter now it's pretty much the same as on a grand piano is that is an upright piano and this is obviously a grand piano usually you've got the lid off when you're doing it but if it's an upright piano you're gonna want to lay the piano on its back you know we sell a piano tilter or you can make some kind of a stand or something or you can lay it down on the floor it's just a little bit harder to work with if it's down on the floor. So that's the tool that I usually use so once you've got the strings off and again clip them off and take measurements and made a chart of the size for each individual note then you know what size wire you're going to go to replace it with when you start to go to put the strings on then then the next job is to take the tuning pins out. Got another tool, you can use this ratchet star head but that's a lot of threads too so that'll take you a long time so I like to use this power tuning pin socket there it is it's got the the star tip on the end and this has met me to go into a drill with reverse functions so it's got to be reversible drills so that you can use that for removing the tuning pins so you just put it on there you've got your drill here and then pull it out. In reverse mode and it's much faster than then using this tool for removing the tuning pins I mean you can do all of it with a tuning hammer if you got one of those but that's that's a lot more work and a lot more difficult method it's gonna take you a lot longer so those are a couple tools that are good. So, again once you've got your pins out then you're gonna of course take measurements of several of the pins to determine what size you've got so you can have a starting point for replacing the pins and know what what size pins you're going to go into, then when you get to the base strings, taking those off you want to make sure because you're gonna be sending these in for duplication that you know keep them in order what I'll do is I'll take just a cord or a wire or something to string them on to and as you take them off you do the same thing you would remove them from the and clip them off of the tuning pin and then you take the loop and loop that on to the wire okay and put them in order if there are any strings that are missing that you don't have you know the string maker needs to know that so put like a, you can put a punching or a piece of paper or something that in there indicating that there's a missing string and in the notes that you send with the bass strings when you send them in for duplication you want to indicate how many single string notes there are which means the string the strings that are just one string per note how many double strings there are which is the notes that have two strings per note and of course there if there are any triple string bass notes, notes that have three bass strings per notes okay because you're gonna be sending those in and they need to know how many there are so now that's some information that you need to include with the bass strings when you send them in for duplication but you know, so once you've got the strings off and the bass strings you know put grouped together and ready to send off to the bass string maker, you know then you can kind of evaluate the soundboard and you know other things and if you're going to take the plate out just determine. the nice thing about taking the plate out then you can paint it. I mean you you can paint it with it without taking it out but it's more difficult because you got to make sure you tape everything off and so that can be done but if you take the plate out then you can see underneath it to see if there's any cracks that need to be addressed when you get to that point so that's that's the next step in the video just continue to watch as we have more information in the next couple videos for you
Thanks for joining us for this next video on restringing a piano from Howard Piano Industries now and the first couple videos we went through lots of details on prepping and taking the strings off so once you've got. You know, once you got the strings off obviously we're just talking about the process here we're not showing you all the strings are still on this piano obviously but when you've once you've got all the strings off of the piano and you got to determine which size that you need and of course you've gotten your new bass strings from the string maker and determine which sizes of wire you want to determine how you're going to get your treble wire okay this is a wire canister that we use for one-pound coils of piano wire, so if you use the one-pound coils you have to have a canister for each size. The other option is to use the third pound coils which come in a coil like this and you can I usually recommend getting them with the brake you can get them without the brake but it doesn't do you a lot of good but you want to get them with the brake usually so that you can keep the wire under control. Excuse me. So, you know these are again these are third pound cores in most cases a third pound coil of each of the sizes is going to be enough but you can kind of determine once you've got once you've determined which size you need for which notes you can estimate about how many feet of wire there you're going to need depending on how many strings so there may be you know there may be four, or six, or eight notes for each size and then you measure the approximate length for each string that you need in that size in that section and you can come up with how many feet that you're going to need total of the individual sizes. So, from there you know and where we sell the both the third pound and the one-pound coils show us how many feet you get in a you know either a third pound or or one pound so that you know how many feet if if that's gonna be enough for your project for you each of the different sizes. So once you've got your wire okay, and either the, I always use the 1 pound of coils just find it a little bit easier to use but once you've got that then you're gonna start at the high treble section okay, that's the best way to start because you'll start there you move your way down and you'll install the bass strings last obviously you've got a lot easier to install these tenor strings right here that go underneath the bass strings if the bass strings aren't there to be in your way so that's the main reason why you start at the top and go to the bottom but what you'll do is you'll and we've show it and we've shown in another video how to install a string when you've got you know we've got the tuning pin out we've got a video on that that you can watch on how to install the string itself but obviously the main thing is to make nice tight coils so that the string will be stable and then you want to make sure that you put the tuning pin in so that the bottom of the coil is all about, I think it's about quarter inch or so from the from the top of the plate okay so, you know once you've once you've coiled your C if you have a couple tools here. Once you've coiled your your string onto your pin you'll take the pin out put it in the hole and then take a tuning pin punch and I'm in a hammer set it on the pin hold that in place and then drive the pin into the pin block, you don't want to put it in all the way immediately put it most of the way in but you want to leave some room for tightening up that coil because even though you've got and and that'll be for the first pin once you've got the first pin in there you're gonna run the wire down here wrap it around the hitch pin bring it back and then you're going to cut off your wire three inches from the hole for the second tuning pin, and then coil that wire under the next tuning pin, take it out put it in the hole again use a tuning pin punch, pound the Hammer I'm sorry the pin into the hole and then you're gonna bring them mostly up to pitch you know you don't want to put all the tension on again you don't want to put too much tension in one one section okay but you'll you'll bring them so that your coil is fairly tight now won't be up to pitch yet but at least you'll have the tension on it to hold that coil in place the other tool that you want to make sure you do have is the coil lifter string spacer tool you're gonna use that and set that underneath the coil and hold that up as you, as you tighten it I always use the ratchet star head again to turn the pin and holding that, holding the coil up with the coil lifter as you as you do that okay so those are the main tools. I've got a stringing hook to here that is handy as well so that's another tool that I use sometimes so, and then once you've the other tool which we don't actually sell these players but you want to have something to squeeze the Beckett, the Beckett is the place and we show this in this video showing how to install the string. The Beckett is the the point where the string bends and goes into the hole of the tuning pin so you're going to squeeze that and keep make sure that that's nice and tight not not loose because that'll cause instability in the tuning original for a while until the string tightens up. So once you've got, you know so then you'll start the process you know you'll do the first two tuning pins then the next two and the next two and so forth and you'll go through all through the whole piano through all the, all the treble strings and then you'll do with for the bass strings and then once you've got all the strings installed then you can start the process of bringing them up to pitch strings new strings will stretch, so, you know, you'll go through it, yeah by the time you're done it'll be way out of tune again so you're not going to try to fine tune it or anything initially but you're gonna be going through and pulling up and getting close to pitch and you'll have to go through this several times with the new strings until it starts to stabilize but once you've got that and of course as we talked about before you put the strings on you want it if there's hitch pin punching or felts that go in here you want to do all that first you know gluing the felts on you don't have to glue the hitch pin punching on the string tension will keep them in place but, but that's the process of installing the strings you know as far as a basic, basic oversight of how the process is done, but, if you have any questions feel free to let me know our website again is howardpianoindustries.com

Products used in this video: