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