This post is the first of a series in which we’ll discuss the anatomy of the piano. You’ll learn about different parts of the instrument, how they break and how we repair them when we fix or rebuild it.
Our first post covers a part that sounds like it comes from the equestrian world – the bridle strap. The bridle strap is
one of a couple of pieces that help the hammer come back to rest after a note is played on an upright piano. It’s more important, however, in the way that it helps a technician service the action of the piano.
The bridal strap holds the action of the piano together to protect it when its removed from the piano. If the bridle strap is broken and the action is removed, the wippen will swing down unrestrained. The portion of the action that rests upon the key will also swing down too far. If the action is returned to the piano in that sort of condition, the jack is prone to jamming up against the hammer butt. At the end of the day, the action can become damaged, and that will require another, more expensive repair.
With time and exposure to the elements, it’s not uncommon for these braided bridle straps to be worn to the point of breaking. If it’s been long enough that one of these straps is worn, it’s likely that the others are worn as well. So when we see this problem, we usually recommend that you replace all of the piano’s bridle straps at once. That way you won’t have to deal with the same problem over and over.
To replace these, we simply remove the original braided bridle straps. We use either new braided straps, cork or spring clip depending on your piano’s action. After they’re replaced, we adjust the new bridle straps to make sure that the action is properly situated. The whole process typically costs around $350.
In the big scheme of things, the bridle strap seems like a pretty insignificant part of the piano. This goes to show you that even something as simple as a piece of braided cloth can cause problems with the instrument’s mechanics. This is one of the many things we look for when refurbishing a piano.