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.
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