As your piano tuner DE and Philadelphia, E Shore MD, and So. NJ areas, we are often asked how the left hand piano pedal, or “soft pedal” works. Generally, there are two different ways the pedal functions, depending on the configuration of the instrument.
On a grand piano, the pedal is designed to play fewer strings per note, and thereby reduce the volume of the sound. Most piano keys on a grand piano play three strings per note. Generally, those notes are on the right-hand or treble two-thirds of the piano. If you look inside the piano, you will be able to see plain wire strings on those notes, and they will be grouped in threes. If you look toward the bass side of the piano, you will see copper wound strings for the bass notes. Rarely there will be three per note, but usually there will be two per note in the tenor section, and one per note in the low bass. Those piano strings are copper wound to make them thicker so that they will have a lower pitch. This construction allows for a smaller piano, because the manufacturer can make the same low pitch by making the strings thicker instead of longer. If those strings were made of plain wire, the lowest string would need to be twenty feet long in order to have the lowest pitch.
The soft pedal on a grand piano shifts the entire keyboard so that on most notes the piano hammers strike one less string per note, making the volume less. In the low bass, where there is only one string per note, that string will still be struck and no reduction in volume will occur.
Because of the design of a vertical piano, the grand piano system of shifting the piano keyboard is not feasible without great expense. As a result, the manufacturers use a less expensive and less effective system. On a vertical piano, the soft pedal pushes all of the hammers closer to the strings, so that they have less momentum when the keys are struck. The result is a minimal reduction in volume that can barely be perceived.
As a part of our normal Delaware piano tuning service , at Kenneth Keith Piano Services we check and adjust all piano pedals so that they function properly. If you would like a demonstration of the function of each pedal, please feel free to ask us about this and our piano technician will be happy to help.