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Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

  • 1.  Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Member
    Posted 6 days ago
    I find myself trying to install a number one (A-0) string in on upright.

    I know how to tie strings, but this string, for reasons too boring to go into, has only about an inch of its bare-string leader left.

    There is just no room to bend the leader into an acceptable piano-tuner's knot.

    I have lots of fresh #24 (very thick) piano wire that I bought for this project.

    Can I solder piano wire?

    Would it require too much heat, the wire being stainless steel?

    In general I don't even like soldering stuff, but I do have a soldering iron and some solder left over from the days when I used to tinker with flutes.

    Is it okay to solder piano strings?

    Hank









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    Hank Mooney
    San Francisco CA
    415-640-2731
    [Hank]
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  • 2.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 6 days ago
    Hank

    The solder wouldn't be strong enough to withstand the tension of the string. The string is pulled to about 130 - 150 pounds of tension.

    Depending on the quality of the piano, you have three options.

    1. Remove enough of the winding to be able to make a loop to tie the string. Since there is no string to compare the tone of the string, you won't hear the difference in tone.

    2. Replace the string with a universal string.

    3. Send the string to a string maker and have them duplicate it.


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    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
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  • 3.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Member
    Posted 4 days ago
    Wim: I had thought of unwinding some of the copper, but I was not sure it was a good idea and I was not sure exactly how to do it.

    Copper is not really healthy stuff to get too close to.

    But mainly, I just was afraid removing part of the winding was something 'just not done'.

    How do I go about doing this?

    The string is itself a custom made (mapes) replacement, and part of the leader broke off when I tried to install it for the first time.

    I know the piano can be easily played without the #1 string. But if the owner ever tries to sell the piano, a missing string will probably reduce the sale price of the instrument by more than it will cost him to have the string properly installed.








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    Hank Mooney
    San Francisco CA
    415-640-2731
    [Hank]
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  • 4.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 4 days ago
    Henry, tell us how it broke when you tried to install it. Seldom, but I've encountered brittle wire. Restringing a piano and as soon as I made a start on winding on the tuning pin the wire broke. This was on a treble wire. Tried again and it broke again. Bad wire does happen.

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    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 4 days ago
    Hi Hank

    I've never heard that handling copper is a heath risk. No, you don't want to eat it, but we handle bass strings all the time, like when restringing a piano, and there has never been a problem. (wash your hands afterwards). There are ads on TV for copper lined gloves, knee braces, etc. Apparently there are positive health benefits from wearing copper. So why would removing copper windings be a problem?

    To remove the winding, especially on a big string like an A0, use side cutters to get the end of the winding away from the core string, and then needle nose pliers to grab the end, and start pulling. When I've had to do this on a universal, it's easier if you hold on to the string with vice grips, while unwinding the copper.

    As others have said, on that string, there is nothing wrong with putting the knot in the speaking length. If fact I've seen knots in the speaking length on strings in the upper bass.

    As far as not having a A0 string and the resale value, I doubt it will have a big impact.

    You mentioned that this string is a replacement from Mapes already. If this is a new string and it broke during installation, you can send the string back to them and get a new one. You can also call Andy, and he might even believe you and send it without seeing the original.




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    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
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  • 6.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Pennies have been varying % of copper for over 100 years. As copper became more valuable a nickel wafer began being used. 1942-45(?) saw steel pennies. Minute quantities of copper are essential in nutrition. How is handling copper a hazard?

     

     

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    Sent from my iPhone





  • 7.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Our bodies have the ability to excrete excess copper (within limits) so, if you are wearing a dust mask there is little risk of copper poisoning. I do recommend a mask, more because of iron rust and zinc that affect your sense of smell. In the case of zinc it could be permanent in some people.



    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device






  • 8.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 6 days ago
    Just order a new string.

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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 9.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 6 days ago
    Its a no. 1.  Just throw a universal on it.  If it is a nice enough piano  you then order a custom replacement.  If you want it to sound as good as the original make the replacement (a universal) slightly larger than the original. If it is cheaper piano use something as close to or even smaller than the original.

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    Blaine Hebert
    Duarte CA
    626-795-5170
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  • 10.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Member
    Posted 6 days ago
    Unwrap the winding enough to place the knot in the speaking length. I've done it with no discernible difference to the other less-than-lively strings.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 11.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 6 days ago
    Jon Page wrote: "Unwrap the winding enough to place the knot in the speaking length. I've done it with no discernible difference to the other less-than-lively strings."

    This is a repair all technicians need to know. It will match original strings (including bichords) better than universals or single replacements. And it's fixed immediately.


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    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
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  • 12.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Posted 6 days ago
    Seconded splicing on speaking length on base strings of pianos of second importance’s

    Alexander Brusilovsky




  • 13.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 6 days ago
    Being careful not to unwind the copper past the swaging.

    John





  • 14.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Posted 6 days ago
    You can’t soldering on the string and you can’t use duct tape either

    Alexander Brusilovsky




  • 15.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 4 days ago
    I love this response!


    Joe Wiencek




  • 16.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 5 days ago
    An ugly temporary alternative with 1 inch of wire is to make a smaller knot that encroaches on the winding.  

    Bill Shull, RPT,  M.Mus.

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 17.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 4 days ago

    Henry,

    I think you may have meant weld rather than solder. Soldering will not hold the tension, and welding will weaken the wire by heating it past its temper. 

    The thickness of the A0 core wire makes it tough to tie a knot on a good day with enough length. That's why a universal replacement or ordering a new string will probably work best. 



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    David Stocker, RPT
    PNWRVP
    Olympia WA
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  • 18.  RE: Soldering piano strings instead of tying them

    Member
    Posted 3 days ago
    Pictures would help but its best to order a new string but send accurate measurements of the core, windings both inner and outer,winding length, hitch to winding.

    I agree its a skill you need to learn to do (tie knots) its not a bad to get some long lengths of core wire from old bass strings so you will have enough material to make a splice with. I had a Steinway grand here with a broken A0 that was used in an opera and guess what the pianist from New York needed it to play. First splice seemed to work but the string broke while pulling it up. Second time the knot just slipped through. That night I went home and searched for a universal - I had just a few- went back the next morning and had it on in and pulled up in minutes.

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
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