As your Piano Tuner Wilmington DE , I sometimes take the time to show children the structure of their pianos. Often children of piano owners have never seen the inside of their vertical piano. A vertical piano is one that can stand up against a wall, as opposed to a grand piano. Vertical pianos are typically named according to the overall height of the piano. Generally a spinet is 36″ tall, a console is 40-44″ tall, a studio is 45-48″ tall, and an upright is 50-52″ tall.

On a vertical piano, when I pull off the bottom door (the one underneath the keyboard), the piano strings, pedals, plate, and the piano soundboard become visible. The strings are surrounded by a cast iron structure called the plate that typically has a v-shape. It is very common for children to remark that it looks like a harp. There is a slight similarity visually, and the plate does function somewhat like a harp in that it supports the strings.

There are significant differences, as well. The structure of a harp is constructed out of wood, whereas the plate of a piano is made of cast iron. The difference is explained by the tension that each structure needs to support. Harps have a single nylon string for each note of the instrument, and the strings are at relatively low tension. As a result, the total tension of the strings on the instrument is such that a wooden frame can support it.

Pianos generally have three strings per note, and those strings are made of high-tension steel. The strings are made of steel, so they will not break when struck forcefully by the piano hammers. Each string has approximately 150 pounds of tension. They are set at such high tension, so that the piano will be heard in a large concert hall. Overall, there are over 200 strings on a piano. If you multiply 200 strings by 150 pounds of tension, you get 30,000 pounds of total tension on the piano. Without a cast iron structure, a piano would fold up on itself due to all the tension. Museums have antique pianos that have folded up on themselves, since they were made before the introduction of cast iron plates.

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