As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, I am frequently asked why there are no dampers on the top one and one-half octaves of every piano. There are several reasons for this.

Most keys on a piano have a damper, which is designed to stop a string from vibrating when the pianist wishes. There are three ways for a pianist to control this feature. First, when a piano key is played, the back of the key lifts the damper structure, which lifts a piece of soft felt off of the string, so that the string may vibrate freely. When the key is released by the pianist, the damper returns to the string, stopping it from vibrating.

The second and third ways to control this feature use the pedals. The most frequently used pedal is the right hand pedal, called the sustain pedal. When it is depressed, all the dampers are lifted off the strings, so that it is easier for the pianist to play a flowing line of music. The middle pedal, called the sostenuto pedal maintains the lift of whichever dampers are raised at the time the pedal is depressed. This allows the pianist to sustain specific notes, while freeing up both hands to play while those notes are sustained.

The dampers are not placed on the top one and one-half octaves of a piano for three reasons. First, there is not room for the structure, as those strings can be as short as two to three inches long. Second, those strings sustain for only a very short time, so they do not need dampers. Third, those piano strings are purposely left open so that they vibrate sympathetically when the other strings are played, giving them more overtones and a richer sound.

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