Many piano owners have never even seen the inside of their piano. The next time your piano is being tuned, you might want to ask for a quick tour. Most people find it very interesting. Whether you need a piano tuning Wilmington DE or Philadelphia, Annapolis or Pasadena MD, Owings or Newark NJ or the surrounding areas, Kenneth Keith Piano Services is fully qualified and ready to help you out. Here’s some basic information about how a piano works:
There are two main parts of a piano, and they function independently. The first part is everything that supports the structure of the piano, so that it can withstand the 30,000 lbs. of total tension on the strings without collapsing. This structural part consists of the plate, piano pin block, piano soundboard, piano bridges, piano strings, and piano tuning pins.
This post is about the second major part of a piano, the piano action. The action consists of all the moving mechanical parts from the keys up to the hammers, which strike the strings. The action is completely independent of the structural parts listed above. Your depiano tuner can remove the action from the piano and not disturb the tuning at all.
The piano action is a series of levers that transmit the motion of the keys to the movement of the hammers, so that they strike the strings. If you push a key down very slowly, you will see that the hammer never reaches the string. When the hammer reaches a point 1/16″ to 1?8″ from the string, the mechanism pushing the hammer escapes, so that the hammer travels the last 1/8″ by its own momentum. This is known as an “escapement” mechanism. By escaping, the mechanism allows the hammer to strike the string once and rebound, to be caught by an additional mechanism. This system allows the string to vibrate freely. With the amplification of the soundboard, the sound can fill a concert hall.
A piano action is termed “touch-sensitive”, meaning that the volume of the sound is dependent on the force that is used to strike the key. This allows us to play expressively and to create beautiful music. Not every keyboard instrument is that way. Both a harpsichord and an organ are not touch-sensitive, and connote be played as expressively.
The piano action seems normal to us today, since it has been around our whole lives, but it was a very ingenious invention in its time. An Italian harpsichord maker, Chistofori, invented it in 1700. He was unable to make it work well, and he lost interest in it after a while. Fortunately, he published drawings that were found by Silberman in Germany, and he improved the leverages of the various parts until the action functioned better. There have been numerous improvements over the past 300 years, but the initial concept of the escapement action is still included in every piano action today.
Every piano today has a ratio of movement where the hammer travels exactly 5 times the distance of the key. Other ratios have been tried and discarded. Several makers today are making action parts out of plastic, so that the touch will stay the same even when the temperature and humidity changes. Give us a call or send us an email for more information about piano services by Kenneth Keith Piano Services, piano tuner Wilmington DE, Philadelphia, Annapolis or Pasadena MD, Owings or Newark NJ and the surrounding areas.