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Has anyone heard the audible differences of using SS strings over Copper? Would be nice not to have to use a string cover and worry about strings tarnishing over the years.

This is the only comment I've found.
Originally Posted by PhoenixPianos
Hi Toddler,

Great question, we actually use either copper or stainless steel wound bass strings on our Phoenix models.

Stainless steel strings are designed to produce the classical but now “lost” purity and clarity of sound of historical iron strings. Stainless steel strings have advantages and minor disadvantages.

1. They do not corrode and tarnish like copper strings. When tarnishing products get between the coils of the strings the sound quality of the strings is lost and it must be replaced. This is typically after 25 to 30 years.

2. High spring force between the coils is developed during string manufacture and is part of the art which results in a good or bad string. Stainless steel retains these contact forces for longer than copper. Copper being a soft metal relaxes with time.

3. The density of stainless steel is less than copper so to obtain the same sound power we need to increase the diameter of the string. This inevitably slightly increases the string end stiffness which is not an ideal outcome in terms of inharmonicity. We however are convinced that, on balance, the clarity and purer sound from stainless steel justifies its use.

4. The sound quality of stainless steel wound strings is clearer and purer than that of copper. Some say it matches that most desirable high clarity and purity of sound that was once associated with iron strings in historic pianos. That quality was lost when makers sought extra power by developing high tensile steel strings.

Hope that helps!




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I had an old upright piano with the name "Lenox" (and it was not an air conditioner grin ) given to me years ago. It was dated along about the time of WWII. The wound bass strings were not copper... they looked like stainless steel or nickel or another non-copper metal winding.

There is a big difference between the metallurgic qualities of copper and stainless steel, so I would imagine there would be a difference in the tone. Not sure what that would be though...

Good luck!

Rick


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My understanding (based on recollection of something I think I remember being told in the 70s, so...) was that copper wasn't available for piano strings during WWII, so steel had to be used instead. I don't think it was at all preferred and so the use of copper was resumed as soon as possible. Hope someone more knowledgeable will chime in, here.

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They were iron wound strings. It was believed that they were better acoustically particularly for the thinner strings, but they did not last as long before they got tubby. Some old pianos, including Steinways, had iron wound strings for the higher notes and copper wound strings for the lower notes.

So the compromise may be between the sound and the longevity.


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It doesn't have to be a compromise BDB, although you are correct that historically the good tone has not had as long a life with iron compared to copper. Stephen Paulello has nickel plated soft iron wraps on his Paulello hybird wire cores made for him by Heller. The plating presumably will allow the wraps to resist corrosion and tarnish.

I have heard a set on a Steinway C recently. It is a warmer, darker sound with good clarity and more fundamental. I wouldn't necessarily say that it sounds better than copper, only different. It has its place as an alternative sound, just as the Paulello wire does. I will be receiving my first set in about a week, to go onto a Steinway O.

Wayne Stuart uses Stainless Steel wraps on his bass strings. There are plenty of recordings on his website if one wants a listen.


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Originally Posted by tend to rush
My understanding (based on recollection of something I think I remember being told in the 70s, so...) was that copper wasn't available for piano strings during WWII, ....


All metals were reserved strictly for the war at first. January of '42 you couldn't buy steel nails at the hardware store or copper electric wire. The shelves were empty.

That eased up as the government got a better idea of what they really needed.




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Mapes Piano Strings of Elizabethton Tennessee makes wound strings for pianos with either copper wraps or 316 stainless steel alloy. Most of my pianos now have stainless wraps on the smaller wound strings. I switch to copper when the diameter of wrap becomes large like at the bottom of the bi-chord section or the low single strings. I think the added stiffness of the stainless helps make the fine wound strings easier to wind uniformly over copper. But the stiffer stainless wrapping is harder to wrap properly when it is large diameter.

I don't hear any difference in tone beyond the more uniform sound from string to string with my present arrangement.


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Steinway made something called the "Victory Vertical" during WW2 with steel-wound strings. First hits in Google brought me right back to PW:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/topic/113778/gonew/1.html

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1520775/Steinway


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As far as i can recall, I have never seen a complete set of steel bass strings being used. I would imagine that the lowest bass strings would have to be quite massive if steel were used. That could be why.

I have seen the upper section of the bass area using steel wrapped strings. The pianos I have seen seemed to have a thinner tone in that area. I do not know if this is simply anecdotal or if this represents a true difference between steel and copper windings.


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All stainless might be an interesting idea for love boat pianos.... Or people who live near the beach.



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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
As far as i can recall, I have never seen a complete set of steel bass strings being used. I would imagine that the lowest bass strings would have to be quite massive if steel were used. That could be why.

I have seen the upper section of the bass area using steel wrapped strings. The pianos I have seen seemed to have a thinner tone in that area. I do not know if this is simply anecdotal or if this represents a true difference between steel and copper windings.


I wish I'd measured the bass strings on our Phoenix before it left to sail back to England. I don't recall them being massive, but now I'm really curious if they were.

We went from a 6'4" M&H to a 7' Phoenix, so it wasn't an apples to apples comparison. Not really even apples to oranges given how different the two pianos are, but I can say the tone definitely wasn't thin!


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Current M&H BB's sometimes have the entire wound scale with stainless wraps. It can be done on 7'and larger pianos.


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All Stuart pianos have stainless steel for the entire bass section for single, double and even triple wound strings. Stuart in fact pioneered the application of austenitic stainless steel for the weighting of bass strings in 1996, and what he has consistently found is that these strings produce more sound for the same or even slightly less tension and provide enhanced clarity and sustainability of the attack and decay envelope. The clearer harmonic structure is not everyone’s cup of tea of course, but this has matched perfectly the sound sought by Stuart for his pianos.

Stainless steel is much more challenging to spin, but, on the other hand, copper produces a muddier sound, is noisy and generally incompatible in harmonic terms.

The established aesthetic for bass sound has been long established based on copper weighted strings so there is a significant prejudice towards a different sound produced by different materials since this would 'adversely' affect that aesthetic. There is no doubt that overall bass sound could be greatly improved by all manner of new materials and methodologies.

Regards
Chris



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Thanks for all the replies, I have stumbled on this sound clip from Phoenix talking about using SS and a Stainless copper

https://soundcloud.com/phoenixpianos/sets/richard-dain-interview






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