Fixing Inconsistent Touch

Inconsistent touch is some­thing that both­ers many pian­ists and, while there are a mul­ti­tude of things that can be done to improve the feel of play­ing, one I often go straight to is the fric­tion with­in the mech­an­ism par­tic­u­larly at the bal­ance rail.   As the name sug­gests the bal­ance rail is the ful­crum point for the key and is often enough the centre of the prob­lem.

A nearly 20 year old Yamaha 6‑footer recently crossed my path and I did my stand­ard check to see if the fric­tion had been looked at.  This involves gently pulling the key­fronts up and see­ing if they fall back down.

Uneven piano keys

More than half the keys stayed up so I knew that the bal­ance rail pin and the key hole con­nec­tions were not mov­ing smoothly.   The piano own­er had moved from dry Northern BC down here to the wet coast a few years ago, and the piano was in stor­age for a while.  The dif­fer­ent humid­ity had caused everything to swell slightly and start to bind.
The fit for the bal­ance pin and the key is crit­ic­al as the slight­est fric­tion can add sev­er­al grams to the weight needed to set the ham­mer in motion.   If you really want to delve into touch­weight this fel­low has done a lot of work on the sub­ject. Stanwood Piano

Remove the keys from the frame, turn on the com­pressor and get rid of the dust bun­nies and shoot a blast through the key bal­ance rail hole since it gath­ers down the cav­ity and will cause fur­ther prob­lems if it con­tin­ues to grind between the pin and the wood for anoth­er few years.

A little lub­ric­a­tion for the bal­ance and front rail pins and that will often fix many of the sticky ones, but a fur­ther test of remov­ing each key and let­ting it sit on the pin reveals a deep­er prob­lem.   On the the­ory that a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, here's some pic­tures.

(It's a video; hov­er over the image if you don't see the con­trols to play it.)

This rel­at­ively inex­pens­ive pro­ced­ure can res­ult in a sub­stan­tially smooth­er piano to play gen­er­ally serving to even up touch­weight across the key­board.
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