Restringing a piano

A piano needs tight tuning pins and good strings to play consistently.

After many years of play, tuning pins become loose and start slipping. Strings begin to deteriorate. As a result, your piano can’t keep a tune and some of the keys might not be working.

If your piano’s play has worsened, it may be time to repin and restring the instrument. In this post, we’re going to talk about why these parts go bad, and what the repair is like.

Why do tuning pins become loose?

This problem has less to do with the pins themselves that with the pinblock that they’re fit into. The pinblock is a usually a 1 ½” thick hardwood plank that holds the pins. When your piano was built, holes for the pins were drilled just a bit smaller than the pins. When the pins were placed into the holes, the fit was snug. That kept the pins from slipping after being tuned.

Because of humidity and tuning, these holes expand. Eventually, the pins no longer have a snug fit. This prevents your piano from holding a tune.

How can I tell if the tuning pins are loose?

The most obvious symptom you’ll notice is that some notes are wildly out of tune with themselves. Each treble note has three strings, and upper bass notes have two. One slipping string will give you a wonky sound when the note is played.

There are other signs as well. Sometimes you’ll notice that the tops of pins are marked white with chalk. This is the marking of a tuner who noticed that a pin wasn’t likely to hold. You may also notice some pins that are larger and different than others. These oversized pins were put in place to correct a slipping pin problem.

Why do piano strings deteriorate?

Piano strings are made of steel. As a result, they can be attacked by rust. This happens quite often in humid climates. Over time, corrosion makes the strings far more likely to break during normal play. Even outside of humid climates, steels stings can also become brittle and susceptible to breakage.

Bass strings are wound with copper. While the copper windings are put on at tension, they tend to lose vibrancy over time.

How can I tell if the strings are deteriorated?

The most obvious symptom is broken strings. You may also see tied strings or replacement strings, indicating that some work has already been done to keep the strings in working order.

How can I fix this problem?

There are a couple of less costly ways that you can keep the piano in working order without repining and restringing.

For loose pins, a special glue can be used to give the pins tension without having to pull out and replace each one. You could also replace the pinblock and pins alone. This would correct the problem of loose tuning pins.

Why does it make sense to do both repairs at the same time?

Both repining and restringing a piano are very labor-intensive jobs. For repining, we’re talking about removing and replacing about 230 pins with hand tools. Combining these two repairs makes sense.

Otherwise, we’ll have to take the piano completely apart for one job, only to come back a little while later and repeat the process. Does it cost more? Yes. Is it worth it in the long run? Yes.

If you need to repin or restring your piano, contact Bruce Piano today!