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What's the highest note on a piano that uses one string? (The note where the scale design crosses over from using 1 to 2 strings.)

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  • 1
    I doubt it's the same on all pianos. Different manufacturers will have different designs, and the same manufacturer will have different designs for different models (the length of the strings is probably a significant factor in this decision).
    – phoog
    Oct 22 at 19:16
  • ...and indeed a web search for steinway piano inside shows that the longer the piano, the fewer single-strung notes there are on the bottom. It looks like the Model D has 8; the shorter models have 10 or more.
    – phoog
    Oct 22 at 19:27
  • Like @phoog said there is no stock answer to this. Search online for images of “piano strings” of something similar. I found pictures of grands that had as few as 8 and as many as 12. Uprights are usually in the 12-14 range. That means approximately the lowest octave has single strings. Oct 22 at 19:40
  • What's the highest note on "a piano that uses 1 string"? Well, I guess if the piano has only one string, it can be any note you want. :-)
    – Aaron
    Oct 22 at 20:00
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    @phoog "it varies" would make a good answer, especially if you can support it with examples Oct 22 at 20:14

2 Answers 2

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It varies according to the make and model of the instrument. For example:

  • 1970s Yamaha 48" upright: A#1
  • 1938(?) Everett 5'3" grand: F#1
  • 1942 Baldwin 6'1" grand: E1

It's noteworthy that as these particular instruments get longer, the highest single-string note gets lower.

However, instrument size does not necessarily equate to a different highest single-string note. For example, the modern Steinway D (8' 11") also has (or appears to have) E1 as its highest single-string note.

Overhead detail of Steinway D strings
(Image Source)

Here's a detail image of a Bösendorfer (model uncertain) on which the only single-string notes are the "extra" ones at the low end. The usual 88, beginning with A0, all have at least two strings.

Bösendorfer detail
(Image Source)

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The general answer is that different piano makes and models have different specifications; the number of notes with a single string varies.


However, a while ago when I was looking for an answer to a similar question: What is the most common highest key with a damper?, I found this useful resource on Google Books: The Contemporary Piano by Alan Shockley

In Appendix C there is a list of grand piano models and their various specifications. Below is a summary of the relevant statistical data that I collected. Only 20 data points (pianos) is not a lot, but in this case it is enough to see a clear trend.
NB: This data is for 88-note grand pianos, upright pianos will certainly have different trend.

Number of notes with a single wound string Frequency
6 1
7 1
8 12
9 1
10 5

The first thing to notice from the table, is that there is a spread in the data; the number of single wound strings varies across a range: 6–10.

The second thing to notice is that there are spikes at 8 and 10, with 8 being the more prominent (more than half of the data).

Having 8 notes with single wound strings means that the highest note with a single string is E1.

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