Is The Piano A String Instrument? Wednesday December 8 2021, 6:12 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
Is The Piano A String Instrument?

What Family Is The Piano In?

Instrument categories usually fall into one of 3: percussive instruments, stringed instruments, and wind instruments.

The interesting thing about the piano is that it falls into the category of a percussive instrument and the category of a string instrument. But many don't like to include the piano when it comes to the string family because of how complex a piano really is. 

String instruments make up over 300 instruments, although most people limit popular string instruments to the violin, viola, cello, double bass, and harp.

The piano technically falls into another category that is within the category of stringed instruments and is referred to as a chordophone.

In this stringed instrument, a stretched and vibrating string produces a sound, which also includes the harp instrument. 

The chordophone classification is based on the Hornbostel–Sachs system of musical instrument classification that is widely used and was first published in 1914.

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This system has five categories: Idiophones, Membranophones, Chordophones, Aerophones, and Electrophones. 

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How Is Piano Also A Percussive Instrument? 

A hammer in pianos strikes the strings found inside and creates the sound made by causing the string to vibrate.

If the string that is hit by this hammer is long and thick, the pitch of the sound produced is low. If the string that is hit is thin and short, the pitch is high. The piano won't make a sound without that initial strike.

Many people will argue that although the sound that the piano makes is made by the many strings inside, the hammer is what makes it a percussive instrument.

People also argue that you have to strike the keys on a piano in order for it to produce a sound, which can also classify it as a percussive instrument in comparison to an instrument that needs a string to be plucked/bowed or needs wind to make a sound. 

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How Many Strings Are On A Piano?

Most pianos have 88 keys, but that does not mean that there are 88 strings on the inside.

This is a common misconception that most people have since you would think that each key is a string that is being hit by the piano's hammer. The number of strings varies depending on the model of the piano, but it's often around 230. 


Your typical piano has over 12,000 parts, with over 10,000 of which are moving.

Most keys on the piano are the process of 3 strings being hit. Higher notes have three strings, while going lower and lower on the piano keys will involve two strings and eventually one string for the lowest notes.

The strings for lower notes are wound with copper wire, while higher strings in tenor and treble notes use bare wire and aren't wound. The multiple strings in higher notes help bring volume and richness to the sound in higher keys. 

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Other Facts About The Strings On A Piano

The strings on a piano are under significant tension. In fact, each string can be stretched to a tension of around 150 to 200 pounds!

This tension is essential for producing the desired pitch and volume when the strings are struck by the piano's hammers.

Over time, the constant tension and vibrations from playing can cause the piano strings to gradually lose their elasticity and tone.

As a result, they need regular maintenance and occasional replacement. Piano technicians and tuners are skilled in adjusting the tension and replacing worn-out strings to keep the instrument sounding its best.

To enhance the harmonics and overtones produced by the strings, piano makers often use a technique that involves adjusting the thickness, length, and tension of each string. This helps them to achieve optimal resonance and tonal balance throughout the instrument!

Another cool fact is that pianos are built slowly and thoughtfully, and the strings are put together with love. For example, it can take an entire year to make a Steinway piano.

Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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