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Piano Care – Can I ‘Diy’ Replace Strings On A Hammer-action?

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity and performance of a piano.
  • Replacing piano strings is a complicated and delicate task that should only be attempted by a trained professional.
  • Incorrectly replacing piano strings can cause serious damage to the instrument.
  • Hiring a professional to replace piano strings may be expensive, but it is worth ensuring the job is done correctly.
  • If you are not confident in your ability to replace piano strings, it is best to hire a professional.

Piano care is an important aspect of maintaining the longevity and beauty of your instrument. One aspect of piano care that requires careful consideration is string replacement. As the strings of a piano are subjected to constant tension and wear, they will eventually need to be replaced.

While some pianists may choose to have this work performed by a professional, others may be tempted to undertake a DIY string replacement. However, it would help if you considered a few important factors before attempting this task.

Understand the Structure

First and foremost, understand the structure of a piano and how the strings are connected. A piano consists of strings of varying lengths and thicknesses stretched across a cast-iron frame called the plate. These strings are struck by small hammers when a key is pressed, causing the strings to vibrate and produce sound. The piano strings are under tremendous tension, with some subjected to over 20 tons of pressure.

The piano strings are attached to the plate at one end and to the tuning pins at the other. The pin block is located at the front of the piano and is a wooden frame designed to withstand the tension of the strings anchored to the tuning pins.

Understand the Complexity

Given the complexity of the piano’s structure and the sheer amount of tension involved, it is clear that replacing the strings of a piano is no small task. It is a job that requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, as well as the right tools and equipment. For this reason, it is generally recommended that string replacement be performed by a trained and experienced professional.

However, if you are determined to undertake a DIY string replacement, keep in mind a few things. First and foremost, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the piano’s structure and the mechanics of string replacement. This will involve learning about the strings used in a piano and how they are connected to the plate and tuning pins. It will also involve familiarizing yourself with the tools and equipment needed for the job, such as a string winder and a hammer or mallet.

Secondly, the most challenging aspect of DIY string replacement is loosening and tightening the tuning pins. The pin block holds the pins in place and is subjected to great tension. This can make turning difficult, especially if they have become stuck or rusted. To loosen a tuning pin, you will need to use a tuning pin wrench, a specialized tool designed for this purpose. It is important to use caution when handling the tuning pins. They can be very delicate and break easily if not treated with care.

Be Safe

In addition to the technical aspects of string replacement, safety considerations must be kept in mind. As mentioned earlier, the strings of a piano are subjected to a tremendous amount of tension, making them difficult to handle. When replacing the strings, it is important to use caution and to wear protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, to prevent injury.

Understand Why the Piano Hammers Get Stuck

Piano hammers can get stuck for many reasons. One common cause of stuck hammers is a build-up of dust and debris within the piano. When this material accumulates on the hammers or in the action mechanisms, it can cause them to become sluggish or stick in place.

Another possible reason for stuck hammers is that the piano’s action mechanisms are out of adjustment. The action mechanisms in a piano consist of a complex series of levers, springs, and other components that work together to control the hammers. Suppose any of these components are out of adjustment. In that case, it can cause the hammers to become stuck or to function improperly.

Finally, stuck hammers can sometimes be caused by damage to the piano itself. If the hammers or action mechanisms have been damaged by impact or wear and tear, they may become stuck or difficult to move. In any of these cases, it is usually necessary to have the piano serviced by a qualified technician to correct the problem.

Can You Fix the Action on a Piano?

The action refers to the mechanical system that transfers each keystroke to the internal piano hammers. Several possible issues can affect the action, such as:

  • Sticky keys: This can be caused by dirt, dust, or other debris that accumulates inside the piano and prevents the keys from moving smoothly.
  • Loose keys: The keys may become loose over time due to wear and tear, causing them to feel wobbly or unresponsive.
  • Broken or worn parts: The various parts of the action, such as the hammers, hammer shanks, and wippens, can become damaged or worn over time and need to be replaced.

Suppose you are experiencing problems with the action on your piano. In that case, it is generally best to have a professional piano technician look at it. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate repairs.


While it is certainly possible to undertake a DIY string replacement on a hammer-action piano, it is a task that requires a great deal of skill and knowledge. You will also need the right tools and equipment – and how to use them properly. It is also important to consider the safety risks involved, as the strings of a piano are under tremendous tension.

For proper piano care, it is generally recommended that string replacement be performed by a trained and experienced professional. Attempting a string replacement may be a tempting way to save money, but hiring a professional is often more cost-effective in the long run. That also ensures the job is done properly and safely. Ultimately, it is important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of DIY string replacement and make the ideal decision for you and your piano.

Related: Check out our blog post about the difference between ‘Weighted Keys’ & ‘Graded Hammer Action

Piano Craft is the ideal choice for piano tuning and service in Fairfax County, VA. Out staff is equipped to handle all your piano maintenance needs with highly skilled and experienced technicians, state-of-the-art equipment, and a commitment to providing excellent customer service.

Whether you have a grand needing a full restoration or a digital that needs a simple tune-up, Piano Craft has the knowledge and expertise to get the job done right. So if you want the best care for your piano, look no further than Piano Craft.

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