the piano deconstructed

help | contact
welcome | credits
introduction | cristofori | harpsichord | clavichord | major developments
introduction | sound waves | tension | link
introduction | case | strung back | playing mechanism
home > construction > playing mechanism > keyboard

The Construction of the Piano

The Keyboard

The Keyboard

The "User Interface"

The keyboard is the "user interface" of the piano. It is the connection between the pianist and the complex mechanism that produces the sound. The keyboard is made of the keys and the keyframe. The keyframe is the wooden frame that the keys and action rest upon. The keyframe rests on the keybed, which is part of the inner structure of the piano. The keyframe is able to slide in and out of the piano so that a piano technician can easily access the keyboard and action. The keyframe is fitted with several rails and guide pins that hold the keys in place. The keyslip runs across the front of the piano case and hides the keyframe from sight.

The keys are the weighted wooden levers that the pianist presses to produce sound. There are 88 keys on the piano, and each key controls its own action and damper assembly (except for the top octave of the piano, which does not use dampers). Some pianos (such as the Bösendorfer concert grand) may add several extra notes to the extreme bass range of the keyboard. The part of the key that is visible is only a small portion of the key each key is about 14 to 16 inches long. The visible part of the key is only a small portion of the key each key is a about 14 to 16 inch long wooden lever. The visible portion of the key was traditionally covered with ivory (for the naturals) or ebony (for the sharps). Today, the keys are covered with a special plastic designed to absorb moisture and provide a firm grip for the pianist. The portion of the key that is hidden from sight is natural wood. The amount that the key can be depressed by the pianist is called the key dip, or key depth. The key dip is normally set at 0.4 inches.

Follow the LINK for more detailed information on the keys...

credits | help | privacy policy | contact | ©2004 christopher smit