Inside the Grand Piano
The Piano Action
Balance Rail Pin
Front Rail Pin
Dampers are responsible for controlling the duration of sound. The mechanism itself is an ingenious design that gives a pianist precise control over a single damper, lifted by the key or the sostenuto, or the entire damper system when using the sustain pedal.
Above the strings, solid wood blocks are shaped and fitted with high quality, soft felt. Each wood block is attached to a wire that passes through a guide block and connects to the main damper tray.
Piano hammers are made of fine wool felt, which is formed around a hard, wooden hammer-molding, usually maple. Hammer's are constructed by using one of two methods: low-compression, or high compression. Regardless of the type of hammer, by selectively hardening or softening different regions of the hammer's surface or inner structure, a desired tonal result can be achieved.
Above all else, it is important to remember that in addition the quality of materials used, how those materials are utilized greatly contributes to the overall quality of the piano. A good hammer can’t make a poor piano sound good, and a bad hammer can spoil the best piano.
Commonly made from pine, each key is mounted on the key frame. Keys are located in an exact position by a balance rail pin, located at the center of the key, and a front rail pin, located underneath the key covering. It is at these two points you will find key bushings made from fine wool felt cloth. In a higher quality piano, each key is weighted for proper balance and even touch using lead weights.
Shanks, Flanges & Whippens (Repetitions)
Not unlike a car’s transmission, these precisely machined action parts efficiently transfer energy and allow for unparalleled repetition. At its core, the action features the double escapement design—which allows a pianist to repeat a note before the key fully returns to its rest position.
While general principles are the same from brand to brand, every manufacturer uses their own special recipe to create their desired touch. Each note must be meticulously regulated by adjusting several screws and springs and can be customized to an artist’s individual specifications.
The point of contact for the musician, the key covering is the only accessible component of the piano action to the player. Historically, natural key coverings were made from ivory or bone, however ivory was phased out of production in the 1970’s. All manufacturers now use a verity of plastics–some premium plastics mimic the touch and feel of ivory.
Traditionally, the black key coverings are made using a solid blank of ebony, cut and tapered to fit each keystick. Most new keyboards will feature molded plastic key covering that more closely matches the touch and feel of the plastic natural key coverings.