Why Are My Piano Keys Sticking?
Behind each ivory, ebony or plastic topped key stick resides almost every moving part in a piano. All of these moving parts creates the potential for annoying sticking and binding, causing notes not to function. There are a number of reasons this may occur and can usually be quickly diagnosed by a qualified piano technician. Here are a few of the most common reasons.
- Debris. The gaps between the keysticks allow for small debris to fall between them. Over time, this can cause keys to bind together. Each key pivots on metal pins. If the rail pins become dirty or filled with debris, this can cause keys to feel sluggish. With a grand piano, pencils and similar items can often fall between strings and into the piano's action. (This author has dealt with that a time or two on his personal piano...) The fix for this usually involves removing the action stack or keys to get to the issue, removing any junk and thoroughly cleaning the action. If possible, keep small items stored away from where they could accidentally fall into the piano's action cavity or between the key sticks.
- Humidity swings can cause wooden key sticks and action parts to expand and shrink, causing parts to bind. We highly recommend that you take steps to control the humidity levels within and around your piano. The best way to do so is to invest in either a whole room or whole house humidification control system. As a nice side benefit, this will also greatly increase the comfort level of your home. We also recommend the consideration of a Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver System installed directly onto the piano. The combination of these steps will ensure that you receive the longest service and most enjoyment out of your musical instrument.
- Broken parts. There is a chance there may be broken action parts which are keeping your piano from functioning. Lost screws, flattened knuckles, broken wippens. These are just a few of the issues that may be causing your piano keys to jam or not return properly. Again, this would be an issue for your piano technician to diagnose and repair.
"We can’t believe what a beautiful instrument it is; exactly as represented"Recommendations and reviews from our friends and clients is always a great encouragement. Read on to view two recent reviews left on our Google Business listing. Thank you to Franklin and Diana for your kind words!
"We purchased our piano from Chupps in 2003 and it has been one of the best purchases we have ever made. We really had to save to buy and restore the Steinway B, but Dennis Chupp patiently helped us to find exactly what we were looking for and he restored it to perfection. The cost was less than what others had quoted us and the quality of Chupp's work was first-class. Our piano tuner (who is quite noted herself) said it is one of the finest restorations she has seen. She loves voicing and tuning our Steinway.
Little Rock, AR Clients on their Chupp's Piano Service Vintage Steinway Grand Piano
We were recently fortunate enough to be able to provide a beautiful vintage Steinway & Sons Grand Piano to Sam & Kim Vallery of Little Rock, Arkansas. They were kind enough to send in a testimonial about the piano they purchased from us along with some beautiful photos, which we have included below.
"What a delightful experience it was to come and see your pianos. We had scoured our area (Little Rock) in search of the perfect piano for me, but were left disappointed. We then hit the road. We ended up in Elkhart IN, visited several stores, and saved the best for last. Dennis gave me free rein to play whatever piano I wanted. No pressure, no time frame.
Pre-Owned Upright Pianos for Sale | Refurbished Pianos2019 is underway! Whether your New Year's resolution has anything to do with music or not, we just might have the piano that is right for you. Along with our selection of rebuilt/restored grand pianos and new Kawai upright, grand and digital instruments, we also have a fine selection of pre-owned instruments at astounding prices. Here are just a few of them!
Partnering With The Ruthmere to Restore Local HistoryThis historic Baldwin Model M Baby Grand Piano was fully rebuilt by Chupp’s Piano Service. Built in 1938 at the Cincinnati Baldwin piano factory, this grand piano was a family heirloom of the Deputy family, the last residents of the historic Ruthmere Mansion in Elkhart, Indiana. (In fact, one of their family portraits at the museum shows the family sitting around this very piano.) The piano is believed to have been moved out of the mansion in 1969. Recently, the Deputy family generously donated the Baldwin piano to the Ruthmere Museum, returning it to its former home. This is the story of a historic piano’s full restoration. Producer/Shooter/Director: Benjamin Rogers - Music Written & Performed by Philip Balke - Special thanks to The Ruthmere Museum of Elkhart, IN.
Four Pianos, Hundreds of Years of HistoryWe recently had several pianos lined up in our Rebuilding Facility that spanned the near entirety of what is considered the golden age of Steinway & Sons Factory quality. When we saw what we had set up, we couldn't help but snap some pictures to share! For lack of a better word, this was just plain cool! From the early days of modern piano building to the style of instrument most popular today, it's all represented! Here is some detail regarding these fine grand pianos.
Steinway & Sons Model D #52626 was completed in early 1885. This means that construction of this piano began at the New York Steinway Factory in 1884. This is the first year that Steinway ever made what is now known as the king of concert grand pianos, the Model D! Veneered in a rich cut of rare Brazilian Rosewood and as one of the very first Model D Concert Grands ever built by Steinway, this piano marks the beginning of an era. It is a rare find indeed! The piano features a then typical round arm art case design with double narrow moldings around the case, a figured music desk with 'old-style' fretwork, hand-carved Victorian fluted flowerpot legs with hidden casters and a large box pedal lyre with carved pillars. This instrument was originally purchased for use at the DuPage County Library near Chicago, IL. This concert grand piano is currently located at our New Paris Rebuilding Facility and is available for selection and purchase. [Click Here to Read More About This Piano.]
How much does a piano weigh?The combination of thick pieces of lumber, the heavy cast iron plate (sometimes called a harp), and numerous other components make the piano one of the heaviest instruments on the market today. Pianos vary greatly in weight depending on their type and size. For example, a Steinway & Sons Model B which measures 6’11” in length weighs approx. 750 lbs. while smaller upright pianos such as consoles and spinets, usually weigh in the 300 to 500 lbs range.
Teflon Bushings in Steinway Pianos– The Failed Experiment
If there was one quality that marked the early days of Steinway & Sons, it was the family company’s inherent desire to invent, tweak and improve the quality of their pianos. This led to famous innovations and improvements to grand piano design that continues to be standard a century later. Almost all of the company’s patents were filed during these first years. The study of the lineage of the modern grand piano is a fascinating one, filled with stories of both success and failure. The 'Teflon Era' will forever remain an infamous time for Steinway & Sons, but one that forced the industry to adapt around new ideas and parts.
Increased Competition – Attempted Innovation
During the early 1960s, work began on another project that company leadership hoped would again boost the company’s reputation as a world leading instrument. Continued pressure from less expensive yet high-quality pianos from Japanese makers like Yamaha and Kawai began to push Steinway from their position as the North American piano king. (This battle between the ‘east and the west’ wages on even today. ) A number of their major American competitors were either long gone or in decline. A document provided to Chupp's Piano Service proves interesting. In a letter dated April 6th, 1979 to the late Ed Hendricks, a former Vice President of Marketing and owner of Hendricks’ Pianos in Chicago,....
Why A ‘Free’ Upright Piano Is Not Always Free
“Free piano! Plays great! *just needs tuned. You move. Bring lots of friends, this thing is heavy...”Ads similar to this example, fill newspapers and local Craigslist listings all over the country. At first, this can sound like a deal of a lifetime. “A free vintage piano and all I need to do is pick it up and have tuned!” Unfortunately, these apparent deals can quickly turn into money pits that leave you with a lackluster, barely functioning instrument that cannot be improved without an inordinate amount of time and money. There are a few reasons that these pianos are often left in homes when they are sold and you can find free pianos abound on the internet. Below we will go over a the top reasons you should think twice before undertaking the inconvenience of acquiring a free/cheap piano.
1: Moving CostThere are a number of hidden costs that might not be apparent when it comes to a free or cheap one-hundred-year-old upright or even a grand. The first is moving. Old, full-size upright pianos can weigh nearly 700 lbs. and are harder to move than a grand. Awkward in size and weight, these instruments require a qualified piano moving team to safely remove, transport and set up the piano at its new home. Asking a couple of buddies to help you move it will not suffice, and likely will cause more damage to the piano and potential injury to those attempting to move it.
December 2016 | Christmas Music Video HighlightsThe holiday season is here! Below are a number of videos we have produced, featuring Christmas music. Enjoy!
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" played on a vintage Steinway Model O Grand Piano by Benjamin Rogers. This classic Christmas song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. The piano was built in 1918 at the New York Steinway Factory and features a figured African Flame Mahogany cabinet. It is currently awaiting purchase or restoration at our New Paris, IN. Rebuilding Facility.
Philip performing 'Carol of the Bells' on an Art Case 1917 Steinway & Sons Model B Grand Piano. [George Winston arrangement.] Carol of the Bells was written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914. The piano was built during the height of the golden age of piano manufacturing and features a rich, Circassian Walnut cabinet in a Louis XV style. Art Case pianos like this represent the very finest in piano craftsmanship.
Three Main Steps of Steinway Grand Piano RestorationThe art of piano restoration is more than simply swapping parts. The definition of rebuilt (amount of work actually done on the piano and the associated quality) varies a lot in the industry. Premium brands like Steinway and Mason & Hamlin are among the pianos most likely to warrant an extensive restoration. This infographic touches on some of the basics that go into a full, Steinway piano restoration. Scroll through the handy infographic to learn more about the rich history and work that goes into the restoration of vintage pianos. [Click the infographic to expand.]
Mason & Hamlin Model A Grand Piano #21946 | PhotosAlong with Steinway & Sons, the Mason & Hamlin piano company continues to be one of the few golden era piano makers still in the business today. New and used Mason & Hamlin instruments are favorites of many pianists and continue in popularity around the world. We recently rebuilt Mason & Hamlin Model A #21946 for a private client in Richmond, Indiana. Completed in 1913 at the Boston, MA factory, this piano is a great example of historic Mason & Hamlin quality. Historic Mason & Hamlin Model A Grand Pianos measure 5'8" in length and are considiered to be one of the finest pianos ever made under 6'. The client visited our shop and selected Model A #21946 for restoration.
The Restoration Process | Before & AfterOnce selected for restoration, our team of piano technicians and rebuilders went to work. The belly of the piano was fully restored. The cast iron plate's original finish was removed and it was sanded, puttied and re-bronzed. Raised lettering on the plate was hand detailed. Made of solid spruce, the original soundboard and bridges were repaired and refinished and a new soundboard logo was affixed to the center. New copper wound bass strings along with high quality music wire was installed to new, blued tuning pins. Proper bearing was set which allows for optimum soundboard efficiency. A new custom fitted pinblock was fabricated and installed. Dozens of plate screws and bolts were re-plated and the aliquots were polished.
Steinway Model D Grand Piano #52626 | A Beautiful Past For A Beautiful PianoThere’s an old saying, “If these walls could talk, they’d tell you a story or two.” A concert grand piano from Steinway & Sons will last for generations and over time they accumulate a rich and beautiful history. As one of the greatest piano manufacturers in the world, Steinway pianos are used in venues and by musicians across the globe. Over time, these pianos will see their fair share of usage, and pass through many hands. At Chupp’s Piano Service, we specialize in restoring these beautiful pianos back to playing perfection, and today, we want to shine a little spotlight on a beautiful piano that we are proud to feature - Steinway Model D Grand Piano #52626.
The Origin of the Modern Concert GrandIn 1884, a major step forward occurred in the development of the mature concert grand piano- the Model D. The then new Model D was designed and created by incredibly talented craftsman C.F. Theodore Steinway. This new design was the first Steinway Grand to feature a double cupola plate. It featured a 20 note bass section, was overstrung, had a continuous soundboard bridge, and a bent rim case construction. These pianos featured agraffes from notes 1-35 and a capo d’astro bar from notes 36-88. Measuring 8’10” in length with 7 ¼ octaves, these pianos are an essential piece of the piano development puzzle.
“Style D has an entirely new interior construction with double cupola steel frame and continuous ring bridge. The improvement in power and sonority of tone is simply marvelous.” – William Steinway, September 1, 1884.
Vintage Mason & Hamlin Grand Piano Rebuilding Project | Delaminated Pinblock
As you can see in the photo, it is time for a new pinblock. The original pinblock inside of this Mason & Hamlin Model AA Grand Piano has definitely seen better days. The wood lamimations have begun to separate and crack which results in very loose tuning pins and a lack of stability. The tuning pin holes have become enlarged from decades of stress. At this point, a new pinblock is very much needed. When this part of the piano restoration process is required, we custom fit the new pinblock to the specific piano. This is essential for both the structual and tuning stability of the instrument. The good news is that the piano overall is in very good condition and we look forward to completing this fine, golden era instrument. [Vintage Mason AA Grands measure 6'2" in length and are considered some of the finest pianos under 7' that were ever built.] Mason & Hamlin AA | Cracked Pinblock
A Look At The Steinway Piano Rebuilding ProcessA little over a year ago we released the short documentary "The Garage Piano: The Story of a Steinway." Since then it has been viewed well over 10,000 times on Facebook and YouTube. This production details just some of the extensive work that goes into each one of our fully rebuilt Steinway pianos. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to take the time to learn a bit more about the piano rebuilding process.
This is the story of the restoration of a Steinway & Sons Grand Piano. This instrument was left alone and neglected in a garage for over 20 years. This short documentary follows the rebuilding process and tells the story of the piano's full restoration and rebirth. From cosmetic details like replacing the keytops to extensively restoring the piano action and refinishing the satin ebony cabinet, this piano documentary shows the work that goes into returning a vintage New York Steinway to its former glory. The art of piano rebuilding is truly art you can feel!