As your Piano Tuner Wilmington DE , I am occasionally asked why the soft (left) pedal on a vertical piano has so little effect.  Some background information about pianos will make the answer more understandable.

A piano has multiple strings per key on most of the instrument. Typically, there are single strings for each note in the low bass, then two strings per note up to the tenor break. To the right of the iron structure in the tenor area, there are three strings per note.

The soft pedal on a vertical piano does not function as well as the soft pedal on a grand piano. On a grand piano, you can push the soft pedal and watch the entire piano keyboard shift to the right, so that each hammer strikes only two piano strings instead of three on most of the instrument. The result is an easily perceptible decrease in volume, so the soft pedal on a grand piano functions quite well.

The action on a vertical piano is an entirely different design than the action of a grand piano. On a grand piano, the dampers (which stop the strings from vibrating) act independently from the rest of the action. The piano keyboard can shift to the right, and the dampers stay in the same place and still function properly. On a vertical piano, however, the dampers are attached to the piano action. If the entire action shifted to the right, the dampers would no longer work.

As a result, a different design was required for the soft pedal on a vertical piano. On these instruments, the soft pedal pushes the hammer rest rail and the hammers forward toward the piano strings. Therefore, when piano keys are played the hammers do not have as much momentum moving toward the strings, since they are traveling a shorter distance. This results in a minimally perceptible decrease in volume. It does not work well, but it is the best that present day designers have come up with. If you cannot hear a difference, you are not alone. The problem is that it would be prohibitively expensive to install a soft pedal that functions well, given the design of vertical piano actions.

If you have any questions about pianos, or would like to schedule piano service, please give us a call. We are your Wilmington Delaware piano tuning service. We also proudly provide piano tuning and  services in Philadelphia, Eastern Shore MD and Southern NJ.