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MMD > Archives > January 2000 > 2000.01.14 > 07Prev  Next

Making Wound Bass Strings for the Piano
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I just finished talking to Lawrence Pierce at Mapes Piano
String Co. about how bass strings are made.  He said the process hasn't
changed much since the first wrapped strings were manufactured.   He
also said he knew of only one company in the world (Schimmel in Germany)
that uses/used hex core wire in new pianos.  (I've written to Schimmel
to find out if that is true.)  All the rest use round wire for the
core.  So what holds the wrapping in place?

The wrapping is held securely in place because the last 1-1/4" to
1-3/4" (before the wrap ends) of the core is swaged (or flattened)
before the wrap is applied.  The swaged portion, having two distinct,
comparatively sharp edges, dents the softer copper wire as it is
wrapped onto the core, holding the wrap firmly in place.  (If the above
explanation is hard to visualize, take a look at the picture of an 
unwrapped string at MMD Pictures page.)

The swaged portion is not created using any fancy machinery.
According to Mr. Pierce, a simple two-piece die and a hammer are used
to squash the steel core.  And since that part of the string making
procedure is done by hand, no two bass strings (from Mapes) are
ever 100% identical, except by chance.  Their similarities and/or
differences lie in the hand of the person swinging the hammer.  :-)

So swaging the core is part of the art of making bass strings for

Regarding Jon Page's comments about Mapes strings, I don't see how the
space between the loop and the beginning of the winding could be any
different than the original string.  Here again, according to Mr.
Pierce, the distance from the loop to the beginning of the winding is
measured, the core diameter is measured and the overall diameter and
winding length of the string is measure.  Then, using a formula (he
didn't tell me) which (evidently) accounts for normal stretching, the
core is swaged and the new wrapping is applied.

Regarding making a knot in a broken bass string, I'd like to hear more
about Jon's technique.  I've been able to make the knot before, but man
it was tough.  It looks so simple in John Travis's 'Let's Tune Up' that
I think I must be missing some little tricky part of the process that
makes it a 1-2-3 deal like Jon says it is.


John A. Tuttle

 [ See the photo at  -- Robbie

(Message sent Fri 14 Jan 2000, 13:42:48 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bass, Making, Piano, Strings, Wound

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