While pianos are beautiful, majestic instruments, they do have a dark side.
Piano wires are responsible for the instrument’s sound production, but did you know that they’re possibly the most dangerous part of your piano?
Many people don’t know this and suffer the consequences while tuning, cleaning, or scrapping a piano.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you and you don’t hurt yourself, read the guide below to understand what these wires are, how they can be dangerous, and what you can do to avoid injury.
Related: Check out this article I wrote on Does a Piano need electricity to work?
What Are Piano Wires Made Of?
Firstly, let’s clear the fact that piano wires are not strings.
Even though people use the two words synonymously, calling them strings implies a different meaning than wire.
Strings are relatively thinner and more fragile compared to wires.
In a piano, you’re referring to wires and not strings.
These are much stronger, heavier, and potentially dangerous.
When the piano was first manufactured during the 18th century, the strings were initially iron.
Then, spring steel, or modernly known as high carbon steel, replaced iron.
Today, you will find tempered high-tensile steel in modern pianos.
In some modern pieces, you will also find another unique type of wire.
These wires have a steel core with copper wire wound around it.
This winding significantly increases the wire’s mass without changing the stiffness a lot.
Most pianos have this type of wire in the lower notes because they can generate lower pitches.
A high-quality piano with a good design will not even let you notice that the wires have changed.
Can A Piano Wire Cut You?
Piano wires are sharp, and if you’re not careful, yes, they can cut you.
In fact, there are stories where assassins have used piano wires to cut through people.
Let’s not get into the details of that but, hopefully, you get the point!
However, understand that piano wires are not dangerous on their own.
They don’t have a massive ability to stretch when you apply tension to them.
They are not similar to elastic or rubber that might snap and hit you if you tug or pull at them.
They’re metal, and unless you have recently tuned them, they have very little energy stored.
Hence, even if the energy is released, it’s not too dangerous.
They’re only harmful if you’re mishandling them.
For example, if you’re not wearing gloves and you’re pulling at them, they might break apart and hurt you.
It is especially true when you are trying to scrap a piano.
As you open the lid to remove the wires, you must be very careful.
There have been several instances when people try to scrap the instrument at home, and one of the wires ends up hitting them quite badly since these wires are sharp.
Make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Also check out this article on how and where you can store a piano
Is Piano Tuning Dangerous?
Whether tuning a piano is dangerous or not depends on how much knowledge and experience the tuner has.
If they’re new to it and don’t have a lot of practice, yes, it can be dangerous.
However, if the tuner is an expert, they know what they’re doing, and the chances of injury are significantly low.
How dangerous tuning can get also depends on how many strings you are trying to tune.
If you only plan to adjust one, the risks are significantly more.
However, if you plan to tune the entire instrument, it would be best to take the necessary precautions and be a little more careful.
How Should You Handle Piano Wires?
Now that we’ve established that piano wires can be dangerous at times, is there anything you can do to prevent injury and lower the risk levels?
As mentioned earlier, there is a right and wrong way to handle wires, and if you are mishandling them, there are higher chances of you getting hurt.
So, here’s how you should handle piano wires:
Wearing gloves is essential for many reasons when you are in contact with the piano wire.
First, it protects you from the sharpness of the wire.
Secondly, it prevents the oils on your hands from getting into contact with the wire.
When your hands perspire, the sweat can stimulate the strains to oxidize.
If you know anything about steel, you would know that oxidation is not good for your piano!
Loosen the strings
If you plan to scrap or open the instrument, loosen the strings first.
If you try to destroy a piano while the wires have high tension in them, they will most likely snap and hit you.
Wear a protective covering over your face and eyes.
Tense or not, wires are wires, and a piano’s wires are sharp, so that’s a reason enough for you to be careful.
Protect your face and your eyes with the proper gear, or at least wear glasses or goggles. Better safe than sorry!
Let a professional do it.
The best way to make sure that a piano wire doesn’t hurt you is to let an expert take care of it.
If you don’t have the basic knowledge, experience, and confidence to handle piano wires yourself, hand the instrument over to a professional and let them do their job.
They know what to do and how to get the job done without getting hurt or damaging your instrument.
Prevention is better than cure, so stay away from the job if you’re not sure you can handle it.
Lastly, don’t forget to do your research before you even touch a piano wire.
There’s no reason you should try to work with it if you don’t know how to.
Preferably, let an expert take care of it.
That being said, piano wires aren’t dangerous on their own if you don’t mess with them.
As mentioned earlier, their elasticity is quite limited, and they don’t snap like rubber.
So, if you decide to clean the instrument yourself, go ahead.
Just make sure you’re wearing gloves if you handle them and avoid tugging on them or scrapping the piano yourself.
Although, avoid tuning the instrument yourself since that’s an expert’s job and requires more precision.
Even if you don’t hurt yourself, you might end up damaging the piano.