It can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to restring a piano. The price depends heavily on what type of piano you are looking to restring and any additional issues with the piano.
In many situations, the cost to restring a piano is more than the value of the piano. Keep reading to learn what goes into this cost, how often a piano should be restrung, and what you can do instead to save money while improving the condition of your piano.
The Cost to Restring a Piano
You can tune your piano strings once or twice a year to maintain the sound of your piano, but you will eventually hit a point where more work needs to be done. Piano strings will wear out, and their tuning pins will loosen over time and need to be replaced.
The cost to restring a piano varies quite a bit, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. If you look at specific types of pianos you will see that upright pianos usually cost $2,000 to $4,000 for restringing, while baby grand or grand pianos sit in the range of $4,000 to $10,000.
You may find some technicians offering services by the string if the whole piano does not need to be restrung. This can still cost about $50 per string, adding up to thousands of dollars for a single octave.
The cost of material for restringing a piano is generally low compared to the labor costs. Piano strings usually run about $2 per string, and they can be even less if they are created by a technician from piano wire.
While the cost varies depending on the quality of strings, a full set usually costs somewhere between $250 to $400.
A set of 12 tuning pins costs about $18 here, but technicians may be able to get them for less. This cost depends on how many tuning pins need to be replaced when restringing and the size of the replacement pins.
The largest factors in play when calculating the cost to restring a piano depend on non-material costs, such as the:
- Technician’s level of experience
- Type of piano you are restringing
- Number of strings you are replacing (whole or a portion)
- Going rates in your area
The labor involved in restringing a piano goes well beyond what might be involved in restringing another instrument, such as a guitar, and the cost reflects this challenge.
The Process to Restring a Piano
If you have seen the process for restringing a piano, you might have an idea of everything that is involved. Technicians have a series of steps that they must follow carefully to restring the piano effectively without causing any damage. The process requires patience, dedication, and a wealth of knowledge.
The technician starts by exposing all the strings in the piano. In an upright piano, this requires the technician to flip the piano on its back. After this, they will remove the entire front of the instrument, including:
Once all the strings are exposed they need to be loosened over several passes. The typical piano holds over 30,000 lbs of pressure on the strings. While this is essential to produce the correct note with a good tone, it creates a sensitive situation for technicians to navigate.
Clipping a string while it is tight releases over 100 lbs of tension at once, which is more than enough to damage the piano or injure the technician. Passing over them several times gives the piano a chance to adjust to the changes in pressure.
After they are loosened enough the technician can clip the strings and get started replacing the old tuning pins. If a piano reaches the point where it needs to be restrung then odds are the pins have loosened over time and created larger holes in the pin block. Replacing with larger pins is essential for holding the new string properly.
Adding New Strings
Adding new strings is often a wrestling match for technicians, and the process is often compared to wrangling a snake.
Piano strings are made of solid steel, and they are thicker in diameter than what you would use on a guitar or other string instruments. These strings do not bend easily, and they are also more likely to break in the process. Mishandling the strings can send them flying across the room.
Technicians must have the strength and finesse required to place the new strings effectively, as well as the patience to complete the process.
The work is not done when the strings are set.
Technicians still need to retune and reassemble the piano. This means they need to go through the set several times to reach the correct pitch without damaging the piano.
The entire process can easily take over 20 hours of dedicated work.
How Often Should You Restring a Piano?
You should not need to restring a piano more than once every 30 years. Single strings can be replaced as needed, but restringing the whole piano should only be done when several are damaged or rusted.
In many cases, it can cost less to buy a new piano than it would cost to restore the one that you have. Most people will only invest in restringing if the piano is:
- High quality
- In need of additional attention
For this reason, restoring a piano is not usually a great investment either. The extensive process to repair and restring can cost several times over the value of the piano.
Instead of restringing the entire piano, focus on the strings that need attention. You can also look at other repairs to improve the quality of the piano, including:
- Tuning: $100 to $200
- Regulating: $500
- Voicing: $500
These repairs are a fraction of the cost to restring the piano, but they easily improve the tone and evenness of the piano.
If the piano is beyond repair, you might be better off purchasing a nice, used replacement for the same cost. You can sell the old one to help offset the cost, or you can repurpose it into a shelf, desk, or table to retain some use.