measuring strings

Stephen Birkett
Fri, 07 Jun 1996 09:25:42 -0400 (EDT)

Bill Stratton asks:
> ... With regards to rescaling a piano, one must measure the speaking
> lengths of each string. My question is how one does that accurately and
> efficiently.
I've done this many times in analysis of scaling on early pianos. The
easiest way I've found can be done by a single person with a little
struggling on the bass notes, but is simpler with two. Cut a long
thin paper tape (something like packing paper off a roll is ideal).
Re-inforce one end with scotch tape so it won't disintegrate. Hold
this end against each nut pin (or capo) and mark the position of the
bridge pin on the paper tape with a pencil. Repeat for every string.
After you have a whole tape of markings you can lay it out on a
bench against a tape measure and write the lengths straight onto the
tape next to each marking...this way you get the measurements without
haven't to fiddle with lining up the tape measure for each string. If
you get a plastic tape and glue it to the bench it's even easier. You
can do a whole stringband quite fast with this method.

Stephen Birkett (Fortepianos)
Authentic Reproductions of 18th and 19th Century Pianos
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
tel: 519-885-2228
fax: 519-763-4686

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