Like most things when it comes to the piano, this question does not have a simple answer. There is no absolute standard for how many strings are on a piano but there are some general guidelines that can shed some light on this question.
Some people might assume that since there are 88 keys on a piano, there would be 88 strings; but this isn’t the case. Most keys on the piano actually strike 3 strings when depressed. They are steel strings that run from the highest treble all the way to the bass section. Once you hit the bass section of the piano, the strings become copper wound and there are less of them per note (2 and eventually 1 on the lowest notes).
Now the problem in figuring out how many strings are on a piano depends on something called scale design. Scale design is a complex topic which I’ve covered in the past:
But basically what you need to know is that all pianos have unique scale designs with different numbers of strings in each section. Each piano switches from the triple steel strings to copper strings with different numbers of dual and single copper bass strings!
So the simple answer is you can’t say how many strings are on a piano exactly, but it ranges generally from about 220 to 240 strings.
Now this really should give you a renewed respect for your piano tuner if it hasn’t already! They have to tune every single one of those strings making sure they are all in proper pitch with each other. The octaves and intervals have to sound as pure as possible; their are also overtones to deal with – the process is actually quite complex.
Thanks again for watching and reading; there is plenty more on the way. Robert Estrin: Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729