I have a very old piano. A few years ago, one of its bass strings broke. I removed that broken string and kept playing almost everyday for a few years. Last week my technician installed a new string made by its original producer for exactly the same type of piano, but it sounds quite differently. Why does the tone color change if the string is replaced by a new one? Is there any way to fix this problem?

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    You played without a string for years and now wonder why, with the string replaced, things sound different? No surprise here - the piano was designed for multiple strings under each key! – Carl Witthoft Aug 13 at 13:44

Guitarists are accustomed to the fact that new strings have a different sound, I would say brighter in a sense. As they have not been used (yet!), their vibrating properties are different, no oxidation and so on…

What probably disturbs you is that it does not have the same color as the surrounding strings, creating a contrast.

If you are playing enough, the string will age and get its color closer to its neighbors which are old already. Another solution would be the wire cutter, but that would be a pity…

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Like Tom says, a new string, even made by the same manufacturer will sound much different, most likely brighter than strings that have been on there for years. I suggest talking to your tuner about maybe softening the felt on the hammer of the new string, a process called “voicing”. This might help make the sound more consistent between the new and old strings.

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  • I learnt something today! Does voicing will also change the tone on the other strings of that note? – Tom Aug 12 at 22:42
  • @Tom_C I’m assuming it might be an individual bass string, the OP didn’t specify. The hammers are poked with needles to soften them depending on need to even out the tone from string to string. I suppose a tech could voice part of the hammer if there are two different strings on a note. There are plenty of articles about it, here’s a good one: pianolifesaver.com/english/blog/so_what_is_voicing – John Belzaguy Aug 13 at 3:56
  • @Tom_C I meant to say “from note to note”, not string to string. – John Belzaguy Aug 13 at 3:58
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    Even though the sound is a little unbalanced now it’s good he replaced the string because otherwise the hammer might eventually get misaligned or even damaged by the off center strike. Hopefully your tech can even out the tone by voicing that note. – John Belzaguy Aug 13 at 4:22
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    @Tim It is! Chord voicings sound better on a voiced piano. – John Belzaguy Aug 13 at 15:48

The other answers are useful, but I think they missed the point.

Each piano key strikes 2 or 3 (depending on the pitch in question and the piano's design) strings. These strings are deliberately detuned just a hair so as to increase cross-resonance and enhance the tonality and the lifetime of the note.

When you were playing with the wrong number of strings under that key,you weren't hearing the design tonality of the instrument.

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    That is an important point, but the new string's 'brightness' is probably more likely the sound difference OP picked up on. Maybe more so with your point. – Tim Aug 13 at 15:55
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    Pianos have several bass notes that use only one string as well. – John Belzaguy Aug 13 at 17:00

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