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30. Piano Harp or Plate- Broken


It is very rare for the harp, or the metal plate, of the piano to break, but it does happen. The most common diagnosis is for the tuner to simply say, lovingly, "Lady, take it to the city dump."

For this section, both diagrams are on the same page.

Well, I have seen some very clever work done to save a piano for at least practice use. First, it must be broken where it still has metal holding the treble wires as a unit. The diagram shows the break point that can possibly be salvaged.

Using the tuning hammer in the Tool Kit in my Online Catalogue, let off the tension on the piano in stages slowly until the wires are not sounding, but they should not be rattling.

Show your mechanical friend the broken metal plate and the two diagrams (can you give him a print out of the diagrams?). Ask him to make the clamp at the right of the diagram which will grab the lower and upper parts of the metal plate.

After he makes it, mount it in place (See the diagram ) and tighten the nut and bolt until it is snug, NOT real tight. Next, your must take one third of the wires out of the WHOLE treble section of the piano-- that is, just the section of the piano where there are three wires per note.

Take out only the wires that go down in one note and up in the next. See the diagram: Broken wire emergency. Take out all the wires marked A in that diagram. This will leave you with two wires per note from the top of the treble to the beginning of the bass, but it will greatly reduce the tension on the repair.   Do not remove any wires in the two-wire section of the bass.

Now, call your tuner. Tell him what you have done, and tell him you will have a "Hold Harmless Statement" signed and waiting if he will come and raise the tension back up. DO NOT try this yourself. Also, tell him to leave the scale, or pitch, of the piano two half steps down to reduce the tension. If the thing doesn't break again, you still have a practice piano for your student.

If your tuner tells you you are crazy, hang up on him, and keep calling until you find a tuner who will try. Of course, you will have to pay him for trying, even if it breaks again.


The same repair can be made on a grand piano. The problem will be to fish the clamp into place between the harp and the sound board. Some breaks may allow the clamp to be on top of the harp if the strings are not in the way. The removing of strings to drop tension is exactly the same in principle. A compassionate tuner will do this for you. If the grand piano is of high value, such as a Steinway or Bechstein, you may want to make an effort to contact piano restoration people who may have an old piano like yours which has been abused, but which has a good harp.


Please, don't try to sell your broken piano to the wife of a marine as did one of the "thrift" stores in my town. And, the irony is, it was done in the Name of the Carpenter of Nazareth. A broken harp or metal plate in a piano reduces its value to absolute zero, even if your repair holds for 50 years.

I told you this book would attempt the impossible.  Thus, we have tried.

Nov. 1998--  I met a welder who claimed he could weld piano harps.  You might check around to see if some new  technology exists which would make this possible.


I am trying to repair my old piano from 1915 that I once learned to play the piano on. It has a great deal of affection to me otherwise I had got rid of it a long ago. You see, the piano has had a total frame crash. This happened one night in my familys house around 1965. I was born in 1966, so I can´t remember the great crash that must have come from the piano when the heavy iron diecast frame cracked.

My father (dead for the moment) was a very handy man. He disassembled the whole piano and got the neighboors to help him lift up the frame on his old Opel 1958 (German car...). He took the frame to the Kockums shipyard in Malmoe in Sweden, where he got the frame welded by some welding experts. After that he put all the things together, but he had to replace some of the wirewound strings, which had snapped in the frame crash. There are still no places in Sweden where you can buy spare parts for pianos. The piano technicians has a monopoly market here, so he had to manufacture the strings himself. He mounted a hook in a ballbearing and fastened it in a screw vice. Then he hooked the core string to the hook and the other end to a hand drill fastened in another screw vice. Now, one person slowly turned the handle of the hand drill and another person was winding the bronze wire on the core wire as the string was rotating.

In this way my father made about 10 strings. At least 7 of them are still working fine, but a few has not been so successful. The wounding has become loose and they are very noisy when played.



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