Copper-wound vs. plain wire strings

Did you know that about a third of the piano is strung with copper-wound strings? The lower notes use copper winding because the extra mass helps create lower pitches; without that extra mass, pianos would have to be 20-30 feet long just to have strings long enough for those lowest notes! Usually somewhere in the octave below middle C, pianos switch over to plain wire. On a well-designed piano, the break should hardly be noticeable. Listen for it next time you’re at a piano and see if you can tell where the break is! On this Kawai upright, the copper wound strings continue up three notes past the end of the bass bridge (the point where the angle of the strings changes). That helps make the transition even smoother. Notice also that when the switch to plain wire happens, there is a transition to three strings per note instead of… Read More

Soundboard cleaning – easy with the right tools!

Soundboard cleaning – easy with the right tools!

Grand piano soundboards tend to collect dust, and unfortunately they are pretty difficult to clean with any standard household equipment. However, there are some specialized tools, both commercial and handmade, that can do the trick! Pictured here is a soundboard cleaning set that I carry everywhere with me (3 pieces). They’re not too expensive, if you hate dust and want to do it yourself on a regular basis. Alternatively, most piano technicians will do it for a nominal fee. For annual customers who keep up with their tunings, I often do this service free of charge!

Does homeowners’ insurance cover piano damage?

Does homeowners’ insurance cover piano damage?

Water got inside this piano due to a home water leak in the ceiling above it. Notice the significant rust on the strings to the left, and mold and discoloration on the hammers to the right. Fortunately, in this case, homeowners insurance covered the cost of replacing the hammers and the strings in this piano, since the damage was not structural or pervasive and repair costs did not exceed the value of the instrument.  Most homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies will cover damage to pianos that is the result of water, smoke, fire, other types of home damage, or natural disasters. I’m happy to provide an estimate of repair costs for insurance purposes and will work with your insurance company to determine the best solution.