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Old Oct 11, 2015, 09:46 PM
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Music Wire

Hi - I'm not actually working on RC stuff, but its about music wire, and i know that you guys would know best about that stuff. Im working on musical instruments, and using music wire for the first time. I purchased some K&S wire from a local hobby shop, but it doesn't seem to have the properties I'm looking for. My question is: Is K&S music wire of lower quality or substantially different from other types of piano wire? It seems to be easier to work with than what I've heard about music wire, and it doesn't seem to resonate at all. So am I crazy? Has anyone used precision brand wire? Is that really any different? They both have an ASTM A228 rating, but precision is made of C1085 steel. K&S makes no mention of whatever alloy they use. Any help is appreciated! Thanks
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Last edited by puffinstuf87; Oct 12, 2015 at 01:59 AM. Reason: Change "Discussion" to "Question"
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Old Oct 12, 2015, 09:19 AM
AndyKunz is online now
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K&S isn't a huge company. Give them a call and ask!

Andy
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Old Oct 12, 2015, 01:02 PM
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Why not use real music wire? Guitar strings are readily available and in more sizes than K&S. Piano supplies are online and even specialty music wire like bronze or brass is available.

Norm
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Old Oct 12, 2015, 03:26 PM
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K&S wire is twisted to make it straight. Likely that ruins the acoustical properties.

What sort of instrument are you using the wire for?
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 07:42 AM
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Wow, thanks for all the replies. I really appreciate the help.

Andy - I actually did! Haha - he couldnt tell me any more than A228 (not really an alloy, but a general designation for "music wire" that has passed certian regulations.) I think the quick answer is just he doesn't know. His stuff is geared towards the hobby industry, and is perfect for that. All I know is that outside the US, hobby store music wire has been usable for my purposes.

Norm - I looked into this as well. From what I could gather, real piano wire intented for pianos has a diameter that rarely if ever exceeds 1mm, and I need a minimum 2-3mm wire, which was a bummer to find out. Haha. I just assumed that was the answer! Very dissapointing...

BM - Aha! Well that could be my answer. I'm working on a thumb piano, but ultimately, im trying to approach the sound of an old school electric piano called a rhodes. In researching them, i stumbled upon the fact that they originally used 2mm (0.075") music wire. I've found a lot of people that have done really well approximating the sound im looking for making thumb pianos using hobby store music wire, but they all live outside the US. I've been lurking around RC forums for about a week now, and I've noticed people outside the US note a difference in "american hobby store" music wire, which I take to mean K&S, since they seem to be everywhere. I find it hard to believe and frustrating that I simply cannot buy it in America, period! Anyway, I've found this "Precision Brand" that I can get thru mailorder, but I have to buy it in $20-30 pound size coils, so I was hoping somebody might have experience with it - maye get some insight on the product before I jump headfirst down a potentially pointless path, but the straightening may well be the problem.
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 09:41 AM
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Did you try McMaster-Carr? http://www.mcmaster.com/#9666K43
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 11:03 AM
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No, I had not. Interesting. I noticed some C1080 on Ebay, but the brand wasnt mentioned, and was significantly more expensive (as everything on ebay tends to be these days, right?!) Thanks for the link!
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 11:03 AM
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I've used the twisting trick to straighten copper wire into work hardened stiffer and straighter rods for a few projects. And straightening music wire isn't really a whole lot different. It just takes a better grip and stronger method for twisting it with enough tension to get the job done. But to do such a thing on .075 music wire isn't something you're going to do with a bench vise and a hand drill. At least not well. So as much as I hate to say it I think you're stuck with the K&S wire.

I've done some spring making for another hobby. What I found was that by passivating the music wire after forming the springs that they are a LOT more stable and springy. So perhaps you can try that with your thumb piano wires. How I do it is to put the newly wound springs made from the bulk coils into a toaster oven set to 400F. I let them soak at that temperature for about 20 minutes then reduce the temperature 50F at a time about 10 minutes apart until it's down to 200F then I turn off the oven and let it cool for about 20 minutes with the door closed. The wire comes out with a medium brown colour if it went in silvery. So it hasn't gone past the electric blue temper temperature that is normally used for springs. But it HAS allowed the wire to become more "friendly" with it's new shape and the springs are more lively with less "crush down" when fully collapsed compared to springs wound to the same specs with no heat passivation.

Try it out on your thumb piano bars. It takes no effort at all and it may just make the wire do what you want.
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 12:45 PM
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Huzzah - success! So as it turns out, k&s wire works fine - LHS was selling hardware store wire. Checked another LHS and got the real thing. Works fine. Thanks for the help everyone!
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 01:09 PM
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I spent many years playing and lugging a Fender Rhodes. Finally switched to a Roland KB because it was easier to transport. Really miss the true Rhodes sound! Do you have a Rhodes to look at? The wire tine was only half of the sound generator.

As for thumb pianos (kalimba/mbiri) I've seen some made of flattened nails, but most of the commercial ones use flat spring steel, like clock spring.

Good luck on your project. Post pics!

Norm
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Old Oct 13, 2015, 03:14 PM
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Yeah, from what i've heard, gigging with a rhodes can be nightmarish. Weight aside, you need extra tines, music wire cutters, a file for fine tuning etc etc. Even getting period correct tines can be problematic, since every period sounds unique, and the wrong tine makes the note different than the rest of piano... And yes, im aware of the asymetric fork design. I know that came about because leo fender was unhappy with the high notes - the sustain, in all likelihood. The shorter the tine, the shorter the sustain. For now, i can handle a limited range. Im actually trying to make a 2 1/2 octave piano electric piano by converting a toy piano. That saves me fashioning the hammers. Now that i have the sound right, i have to wind 30 pickups. The pickup placement is key to the sound. Then damping mechanisms. Should any of this prove impossible, ill admit defeat and do a thumb piano. Thanks for the encouragement tho! And thanks the admin as well! i know this is off topic, so thanks for the patience
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