Oct 222018
 

A lady has contacted Remap for help to make the action of her piano easier. Is this something anyone has experience of? She has already consulted a piano tuner who advised it cannot be adjusted. I quote from her email:

“I am a pianist and have been diagnosed with focal dystonia in my right hand. My piano has a very stiff key action, which is greatly exacerbating the problem because I can barely hit the keys with the fingers on my right hand. The hand surgeon who diagnosed the disability suggested a different piano with softer key action that I can actually play. I cannot afford to buy a new piano as I am not currently working, but wondered if there was any way Remap may be able to help find a solution.  Music is my life and it is very distressing battling this condition with an instrument that it so difficult for me to play.”

Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

Robert Monk

Remap Berkshire Case Officer

Berks.CaseOfficer@remapgroups.org.uk

  8 Responses to “Piano needs softer key action”

  1. The sound from a piano is obviously a direct function of key pressure. Therefore you need to think in terms of valves and solenoids in order to generate variable power. Easy to visualise but difficult to develop. A church organ builder would be a good source of information.

  2. Try a keyboard on a device with a touch screen, EG https://www.onlinepianist.com/virtual-piano

  3. The answer is definitely an electric piano. These can be picked up on eBay secondhand and reasonably priced. Although better ones have a weighted, hammer action that cannot be changed in mechanical terms, they can be adjusted to respond to a lighter touch. Cheaper ones without touch sensitivity usually have a much lighter action anyway but lack the response of an acoustic or good electric piano that an experienced player will require. It’s also possible that an experienced electric piano engineer will be able to lighten the feel of a hammer action instrument by changing spring rates. This may be expensive however.
    My advice is to visit a good music shop and try out some instruments first.Try Yamaha or Roland as they produce a good range of quality pianos but I think it’s likely that you will have to sacrifice the feel of a conventional piano to find a light enough action to continue playing. Don’t give up, there will be a solution.

  4. This may be of interest:

    https://youtu.be/wOVGrGBeqiI?t=304

    He wears gloves while playing the base which helps him. In general I wonder about trying to augment finger strength if that is the issue than modifying the piano.

    Other than that, sell the current piano and get really good at finding bargains on Ebay for something more suitable.

  5. The client needs to try an electric/electronic piano they are available as full size same as manual model. But probably quite expensive, my wife has played one but can’t remember the make. I can’t visualise anything that would achieve the same result. But there may be a way to add weight to the rear of the key to reduce the effort required but a big task there are 88 keys to modify. I have just thought about magnets may be possible to glue magnets in the repel or attract position to aid the keys downward movement.
    Ashley

  6. I have a player piano (Pianola) and the keys are weighted at the far end. If this is the case with the client’s piano removing the weights on each key will make them considerably lighter.

  7. If a tuner has looked at it, it would suggest that the problem is not down to the particular instrument, but to the fact that an acoustic piano is manually striking a wire with a hammer so has a natural “weight” to the key.

    A digital piano might not improve matters significantly either, as they are typically weighted to replicate the feel of an acoustic.

    An electronic keyboard will be lighter to operate – but you tend to loose key size, number of keys, pedals etc. Someone who plays a proper piano already is unlikely to want to go this route.

    Not sure there is a solution here – other than the client seeing if there are any digital pianos that are lighter than others.

  8. first instinct would be to lengthen the keys, which would reduce the force needed to actually depress them [Double sided tape and plastic extensions]

    else using an electronic keyboard which has a function to increase the pressure on the keys electronically

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