What Is Music Wire?

Inside of a pianoThe term “music wire” must seem an odd term when it comes to steel products. The name is derived from only one of its many possible uses (namely, piano strings), but in fact, music wire is a versatile and affordable type of steel wire that is useful in a number of different high-stress applications.


Music wire is made from steel with a high carbon content, which serves to strengthen and harden the steel. The steel is pulled through a die to form a thin wire (a process called “cold drawing” since it is done at room temperature), then heat-tempered to patent specifications. The end product is a wire that can endure high amounts of tension and stress repeatedly without losing its strength or elasticity.


Let’s think about music wire again in its original context: piano strings. (Sometimes it’s even called piano wire.) The strings on a piano are stretched across a cast iron frame and stretched to an insane amount of tension. Then they are struck repeatedly with hammers attached to the piano keys to make sound. Yet, under normal circumstances, the piano strings will stay in tune for long periods of time. This is a good example of why music wire is useful: it can basically take a beating under huge amounts of stress without losing its consistency


Because of its tensile properties, music wire can be used for a wide number of personal, commercial and industrial purposes. Aside from its use in pianos, this wire is most frequently bent into springs for high-tension applications because it can bear repeated heavy loads. (For example, music wire is often used in spring-loaded windows.) It is also used for fishing lures, cheese slicers, crafts and hobbies, surgical tools, and so on. For pretty much anything that requires a steel wire able to endure repeated loads and high stress, music wire is an excellent choice.


While music wire is highly versatile, it is not indestructible. It can endure heavy loads, but it can give way under “shock” loads—that is, sudden, high-impact levels of stress. Also, temperature extremes can affect its ability to perform, so it isn’t recommended in situations of extreme heat or cold. However, its ability to remain strong under stress makes music wire a great all-around choice.

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