Custom Made Piano Bench Cushions

Piano benches are traditionally made with a hardwood top which makes them very durable, but not always so comfortable to sit on for long practice times.  Putting a cushion on your bench makes the practice time more comfortable.  As most people know, the more time a person spends practicing the piano, the better they will get at playing.  Having a more comfortable bench will certainly aid in being able to practice longer and more often.

Because piano benches aren’t all the same size it is difficult to find a piano bench cushion that fits perfectly.  Howard Piano Industries offers the largest selection of fabrics and all of our custom cushions are made to order we make it to the exact size of your bench for a perfect fit.  With the wide selection we have of available colors and fabrics, we most likely have something that will fit in with your piano and other decor.

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Our piano bench cushions come with three sets of ties that attach to the lid of the bench.  They also have piping which runs around the outside edge of the cushion.  Cushions are available in two different thicknesses, either 1-1/2″ or 2-1/2″.  Because we make our cushions on site we are able to offer prices that are competitive without sacrificing quality.  All of the fabrics we use are upholstery grade fabrics so the cushions we sell are made to last for many years.

Piano Music Wire – It’s Not Just for Pianos!

Piano wire or music wire, as it is sometimes called, has many different uses besides the obvious of being used for the strings of a piano.  Because of the extreme amount of tension that a piano wire is under when it is pulled up to pitch, it needs to be very strong for its diameter or thickness.  It is a high-carbon steel, drawn wire and is available in a large variety of different thicknesses.  The wire that is used on pianos generally ranges from .029″ up to .047″ for the plain wire strings which doesn’t include the piano “bass” strings which are plain wire wrapped in a copper winding to increase the thickness while still allowing the core wire to not be so thick.

Other musical instruments also use piano music wire of other thicknesses.  Instruments such as dulcimers, hammered dulcimers, zithers, harpsichords, harps, door harps, lyres among many other instruments use the same type of wire that is used in pianos.  In general the wire that is used for these other instruments is smaller in diameter as the tension isn’t quite as high as in a piano.  Part of the reason for this is that the structure of these instruments isn’t as strong as it is for a piano so they aren’t able to support as high of a tension.

dulcimer hammered dulcimer harpsichord lyre

Because of its strength, piano wire is used in many other applications besides musical instruments.  Piano wire is commonly used in making cheese and soap cutters, fabrication of springs, fishing lures.  It is also used in hobbies such as model railroading and radio controlled airplanes.  We have had requests for the wire from wood carvers for carving wood on a lathe.  One of the most common requests is to use wire for taking out automobile windshields or removing mirrors which have been glued to the wall.  Piano wire is also used for making bracelets as well as many other crafts where a strong, thin wire is required.

Howard Piano Industries offers a large selection of piano music wire.  You can purchase the wire in small amounts such as a 10 foot length for smaller needs or in larger coils for if you need a larger amount of wire.  We have sizes ranging from .008″ up to .047″ in diameter.

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All About Piano Tuning Hammers

In order to tune a piano, the primary tool that is needed is a Piano Tuning Hammer, sometimes called a Piano Tuning Lever.  This is a tool that is used to turn the tuning pins in order to adjust the pitch of each string to where it should be.  Almost all pianos have tuning pins that have a square shape on the top which is the portion of the pin that the tuning hammer goes on.

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Piano Tuning Hammer

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Professional Piano Tuning Hammer with Nylon Handle

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Professional Extension Piano Tuning Hammer with Wood Handle

There are 3 parts to a tuning hammer: the handle, the head and the tip.   Some of the more basic styles of tuning hammers are all one piece which means the head and the tip cannot be changed from the handle.  The pictures above show different types of tuning hammers.  The first is a more basic style which is all one piece.  The third picture shows an extension tuning hammer.

The handle can be made of wood or some other material such as nylon or plastic.  The more expensive piano tuning hammers have an extension rod to allow the handle to be lengthened by extending the rod.  Most piano tuners who have this type of hammer don’t use the extension primarily, but the extension hammers are generally stiffer than the non-extension hammers.  The stiffer the handle is, the more control you’ll have on the tuning pin.

The head is the part of the tuning hammer that attaches to the handle.  It is threaded so it screws onto the end of the handle which is also threaded.  You can purchase different angles for your tuning hammer head.  The angle of the head determines what to what degree the handle will extend away from the tuning pins.  Head angles are available in 5, 10 or 15 degree angles.  The 5 degree head angle will put the tuning hammer the closest to the tuning pins where the 15 degree angle will extend the handle further away from the pins.  You can also get the heads in different lengths.  The longer the head is, the further the handle will be from the tuning pins.  The main disadvantage to a longer head is that there will be more flex and thereby less control on the tuning pin.  Though all of the piano tuning hammers we sell come with a head and tip you can purchase other heads at howardpianoindustries.com.

The tip is the portion of the tool that screws onto the end of the head and which fits over the tuning pin.  The portion of the tip that goes over the pin is usually a star shape which is designed to fit on the square pins.  The reason for the star shape is to be able to facilitate more angles on the tuning hammer.  There are some hammers available with a square shaped tip, but you are limited to 4 positions on the pin, where the star shape allows you to have 8 different positions on the pin.  The tips are available in different sizes.  The #2 size tip is the most common and will fit piano tuning pins on almost all pianos.  The #1 size tip is a little smaller and is designed to fit tuning pins that are extremely small.  This would apply to mostly older European style pianos.  The #3 tip is for larger or oversized pins.  The tips are also available in different lengths, but like the heads, the longer the tip is the more flex you will have which means less control on the pin.  You can purchase a tuning hammer with the head and the tip being one piece.  This just means that you wouldn’t be able to change just the head or the tip, you would need to either change to another one piece head and tip or get the head and the tip as two separate pieces.  We have a variety of different tips available in our online store: Piano Tuning Hammer Tips.

We have a video available showing the different types of tuning hammers we sell as well as a more detailed view of the different piano tuning hammer parts:

Piano Caster Cups Explained

The extreme weight of a piano can be damaging to the flooring in your home whether it be hardwood flooring, laminate flooring or carpeting.  Caster cups are a good solution to this problem.  Choosing the right caster cup for your piano can be a challenge with the many options available.  Here I will try and give some detailed information about the difference between the various styles available.

You will first have to determine what size of caster cup you will need.  If the face of your casters is 1-1/4″ across or less you can utilize any of the caster cup styles we offer.  The next thing will be to determine the look that you prefer.  You can go with a hardwood caster cup or a lucite type caster cup which is a very hard plastic.

Among the hardwood caster cups available we sell two different brands.  We have a style that is made by Schaff Piano Supply Company.  The Schaff caster cups are made of a hardwood, are lined with felt on the bottom to help protect wood floors and are available in either ebony satin, walnut satin or mahogany satin.  If you’d like to purchase the Schaff Piano Caster Cups you can order directly from our website: howardpianoindustries.com.

Schaff Caster Cups

Another type of wood piano caster cup we offer are caster cups that are made by Paul Jansen and Sons in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  These are available in two different sizes: Small and Medium.  These are available in many different finishes including ebony high gloss, ebony satin, mahogany satin, walnut satin, unfinished, dark or light oak.  The Jansen caster cups don’t have felt on the bottom, but according to Bill Jansen the wood to wood contact is a solid contact and as long as you’re not trying to move your piano around when it is on the caster cup there shouldn’t be any issues with it damaging your floors.  If your casters are larger than 1-1/4″ across the face you’ll want to use the Medium sized caster cups.  The Jansen caster cups as well as all of the other style caster cups are available from our online store: howardpianoindustries.com.

Jansen Caster Cups - Ebony HG   Jansen Medium Mahogany Satin

 The other option to wood caster cups is one made of a hard lucite material.  The lucite caster cups that we carry are made by Paul Jansen and Sons and are available in either clear or black.  The clear caster cups are a nice option when you want the caster cups to be less noticeable.  The lucite caster cups are a larger size than the small caster cups so they are appropriate for most any size of casters except for the very large casters that you may find on large concert grand pianos.  The lucite caster cups can be purchased from Howard Piano Industries.

Lucite Piano Caster Cups

Welcome to the official blog for Howard Piano Industries!

We started this blog in an effort to provide some helpful information for those who are interested in pianos.  We want to provide content that is relevant for piano owners, piano technicians and those that love pianos.  We offer a wide variety of piano parts, tools and accessories in our online store at howardpianoindustries.com.  Please check back often as we post helpful relevant information regarding pianos.