As your Piano Tuner Wilmington DE , I am frequently asked how the soft pedal works. This article will give some explanation. The purpose of the soft pedal, obviously, to make the volume of the pianos lower.
The soft pedal, which is the left pedal, works differently on grand pianos than on vertical pianos. We will discuss grand pianos first since they were the first to have this function, then we will discuss the function on vertical pianos, which is a variation on the design in grand pianos.
On grand pianos, the volume of the instrument is lowered by shifting the piano keyboard so that the hammers strike only two piano strings instead of three. If you sit at the piano and push the soft pedal, you will see the entire piano piano keyboard shift about 1/4″ to one side or the other. If your piano was made before 1900, it may shift either left or right when the pedal is pushed. If your piano was made after 1900, it will shift to the right. When the pedal is released, a large spring will push the keyboard back to its original position so that it will play three strings again. If you play one note repeatedly as you push the pedal repeatedly, you will be able to distinguish the difference in volume.
On a vertical piano, that is, one that goes up against a wall, the soft pedal functions differently. The reason is that it would be enormously expensive to design a vertical piano to have a shifting keyboard. The problem is that the dampers are attached to the main portion of the action, so the piano dampers would not work if the keyboard were to shift. To get around this problem, the soft pedal on a vertical piano moves the hammers about 1/2″ closer to the strings so that they will have less momentum approaching the string. The result is a minimal reduction in volume that is barely noticeable. If you play one note repeatedly and push the soft piano pedal, you may not be able distinguish a difference in volume. It does not function well, but it is the best that can be can done with a reasonable design investment.
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