Sunday, March 4, 2012

Key Spacing

Wider Gap Between B & C
When you look at your keys do you see this?

Notice the gap or spacing between the keys, particularly between the 'B' and 'C' notes. You may also notice a clicking sound when you play certain notes, this click can be caused by too much side to side movement allowing the key to contact a neighboring key.

This piano was less than 5 years old and had not been noticed before.  There are generally 2 reasons this can occur:

  • Poor spacing from the factory
  • Poor key easing
  • Worn key bushing felt
In this instance, since it was a "new" issue with this instrument I investigated the easing of the keys first.  Discovering the side to side movement of the keys to be significant, I opted to turn the elongated front rail pin.  I generally do not like to do this, but in this instance felt it was an acceptable repair for such an new piano with key bushing replacement and proper easing to take place when the felt is worn enough to warrant replacement. 
Front Rail Pin Adjustment tool

The Process:

1. With a front rail tool seen to the right, I slip the tool under the front rail felt punchings (and under the paper punchings if there is a considerable thickness of paper punchings)
2.  Move your tool parallel to the key bed and turn the elongated pin to a point where the side to side movement in the keys is minimal yet allows the key to move without sticking or binding.
Front Rail pin being turned

This adjustment essentially will make the elongated pin more wide which restricts the side to side movement in the keys. You do not need to remove the keys.  The keys have been removed to assist in showing the key pins and the proper use of the tool.

*Make sure you are below the punchings to avoid damage to the key pin.  Damage to the pin will cause extra friction and could cause the key to stick and will prematurely wear the felt bushing*

When you have turned the front rail pins re-check your spacing, in most instances this will have corrected the majority of the uneven spacing you noticed before.

Now play each note with the sustain pedal depressed releasing the key slowly.  If any keys are slow rising to rest position you may have turned the front rail pin a bit too far. Adjust and test again.

If the spacing is still not close enough you can also "bend" the front rail pin.  Use the same tool as shown above and gently twist the tool handle in the direction you want to move the key.  I find this extremely difficult to do as you're attempting to bend the pin from the most rigid area (closest to the key bed).

You should now have more evenly spaced keys.

1 comment:

  1. In my training at New England Conservatory of Music-Boston, I remember having to tap the balance rail pin in extreme spacing issues...but adjusting the front rail pin is far easier as the action does not have to be removed.This description is very clear though I would give a description of the tool needed for this regulation.