Installing Bridle Straps


Piano Bridle Straps


If your set of bridle straps is incomplete or mismatched, replacement with an entirely new, correctly adjusted set is the best solution.

Use the following steps when installing a set of bridle straps:

1. If the original (factory) straps which passed through the hole in the catcher remain, first snip or cut the old cord in between the catcher and the hammer butt. If any such straps are still complete, they are easier to cut if pulled slightly taut. To tighten a strap to make cutting easier, push forward on the catcher with the thumb of your left hand, while pushing backward on the backcheck felt with your middle finger. Don’t push too hard or you will break the old cord.

Use a Precision Knife to cut the cord between the hole in the catcher and the hammer butt. For any of the original straps which are already broken, grasp the broken end of the cord with a pair of needle nose pliers, and cut the remaining cord as close as possible to the hammer butt.

Article courtesy Gemm Piano Supply

2. Next, remove the tabs any remaining factory straps from the bridle wires by pulling the tab off of the pigtail of the wire. Many times, the tabs of original bridle straps will simply crumble from the pigtail when pulled on, making for a very simple operation. Make sure to remove any residue that remains in the eye of the pigtail.


3. To remove cork insert bridle straps, first pull the tab forward and upwards to loosen the tab from the hook of the bridle wire.
To create slack in the bridle strap, trip the jack with the middle finger of your left hand, while pushing and holding the backcheck forward with your thumb. Pull the tab off the point of the hook, and then turn the tab to the left to slide it between the gap in the pigtail of the bridle wire.
This maneuver works better if you pull the tab slightly toward you, so the cord (the cloth strap), and not the tab, is in position in the gap. Occasionally the pigtail will be very tight, and will need to be pried open slightly using the tip of a jeweler's screwdriver before the old strap may be removed. Also, the use of a pair of needle nose pliers will help in pulling off stubborn tabs.



4. If the bridle strap being removed has a cork insert, carefully pull the cork free from the hole in the catcher.



Article courtesy Gemm Piano Supply

If it doesn’t come free, then most likely it has been glued in place and will need to be drilled out. Select a drill bit from your drill index that just fits in the hole of an empty catcher.


With the correct drill bit, drill out the corks that have been glued in place. Care must be taken when drilling, in that the drill will tend to wander at first. Make sure that the drill is centered on the cork before drilling through, as it will tend to wander at first in the soft cork.


5. After having removed all the old bridle straps, clean the action with a vacuum and / or compressed air gun. If the catcher has a hole where the original bridle strap passed through, the easiest replacement to make is to use a set of Piano Cork Bridle Straps comes with (Small Cork   Medium Cork   Large Cork)  


If there is no hole on the bottom of the catcher, you may use a set of Piano Spring Clip Bridle Straps.

Article courtesy Gemm Piano Supply

Most older uprights do have a hole at the bottom of the catcher, so more often than not, you will be using a set of cork bridle straps. 

To install a new set of Piano Spring Clip Bridle Straps, use a Piano Spring Clip Inserter, accepts the brass spring clip for easy insertion of the bridle strap on to the hammer butt.


To install a new set of Standard Piano Bridle Straps has to be glued on, you can use Hide Glue or wood glue. The leather at the end with the hole is where it will hook onto the wire. The other end is just a strap with no cork or clip on. First you want to cut the strap so that the length matches your old bridle strap. 


Piano Cork Inserter

6. To install a new set of cork bridle straps, use a Piano Cork Inserter, coupled with a Piano Combination Tool Handle. Choose the correct size of cork insert by first placing a medium cork on the point of the cork inserter. Try the fit by pushing the cork with the inserter into the hole in the catcher, while supporting the catcher from behind with your finger. This is important to do, as forgetting to do so will all too often result in a either a broken catcher shank, or a broken catcher.
Caution: Be very careful that the when pushing the cork into the hole of the catcher that it doesn’t break or slip all the way through. If the cork were to break with your finger behind the catcher, a puncture wound would most likely be the result.
If the medium cork is too loose (it follows the inserter back out instead of remaining lodged in the catcher), try a large cork strap. If it’s too large, with more than just a bit of cork showing once it’s put in the hole, try a small cork strap. Occasionally, the hole on the catcher will be a bit too large for even the large cork to hold well. Then and only then would I advise resorting to a drop of glue on the cork to insure that the strap is secure.


Article courtesy Gemm Piano Supply

7. As you begin, start from either end of a section, and insert all the corks for the entire section, without fastening the tabs on the bridle wires


8. Once a section is filled in with new bridle straps, attach the tabs to the bridle wires, working this time from right to left. Hold the tab with your right hand, while turning it on edge so that it slips in the gap in the hook. To give yourself a little slack in the strap, push the backcheck for the note forward with the thumb of your left hand, while tripping the jack with your finger, as shown. Although this method may seem a bit awkward at first, it quickly becomes routine, and you will find that you can move along the line very quickly.



9. Swing the tab around in position, and push the hole in the tab down onto the point of the hook. Pull it snug, and adjust its alignment.

10. Regulate each bridle strap initially on the bench by checking to make sure that the jack is not too low or too high in relationship to the hammer butt. Test by putting a finger under the sticker cloth at the bottom of the action and pushing up. If the jack does not trip, it is because the jack is resting too low, and is catching under the hammer butt felt. If this is not corrected, the hammer will block up against the strings when the action is returned to the piano
To correct, trip the jack with the finger of your left hand while pushing the backcheck forward with your thumb. At the same time, bend the bridle wire slightly backward with your right thumb while pushing up on the underside of the whippen with your middle finger. If the jack is resting so high that it does not slip in place under the hammer butt, bend the bridle wire slightly forward for more slack in the strap. When the action is returned to the piano, complete the regulation process by depressing the left (soft) pedal and observe that the straps become almost taut, but not to the point where the whippens wink – the keys should not move. A new set of bridle straps is a positive step bringing an upright piano action back into condition. With a complete set of bridle straps, the technician can remove the action for repairs, and return it to the piano again without the aggravation of blocking hammers. It’s a job worth knowing how to do correctly.

Article courtesy Gemm Piano Supply

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