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#1125591 - 04/27/04 10:14 AM Key Width
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Kreisler indicated in the Pianist Corner that he thought different makes of pianos may have slightly different key widths. Could anyone verify this, and if so, which manufacturers' pianos have narrower keys, and which have wider?
Thanks.

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1125592 - 04/27/04 11:28 AM Re: Key Width
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
Hi, Phlebas:

My Hamburg has slightly narrower sharps than my M&H - good for "fat" fingers.

. . . Linda

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#1125593 - 04/27/04 12:15 PM Re: Key Width
RKVS1 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
Well THATS nothing, little miss "I got everything"!!

My Boesendorffer Imperial not only has the extra "f" but also has sharper flats than my Bechstein 350. However, both my SuperGrotrian and my Double-Fazioli have the magnetic key-resizer system installed so if Margy Argerich and Alfie Brendel both happen to stop by on the same night again they won't have to get into a fight about it like last time.

so there spzlzsphzzzzstphyst!
Bob
(sorry about the missing umlaut in spzlzsphzzzstphyst, you'll just have to live with it )

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#1125594 - 04/27/04 01:42 PM Re: Key Width
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
Oh, yeah! Well, my Steingraeber & Söhne E-272 has flatter sharps than your Bösendorfer Imperial - so there spzlzsphzzzzstphÿst!

:p

And please note that I don't have do live without umlauts - I'm too special!

\:D

I do think the magnetic key-resizer system was very thoughtful - wouldn't want Margy and Alfie arguing.

Sorry for the diversion, Phlebas.

\:o

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#1125595 - 04/27/04 02:24 PM Re: Key Width
RKVS1 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
Ok, actual hard data, sortof, for Phlebas. (whose pet name from Apple, I will only allude to).

I at one time found if fascinating that the keyboards I happened to measure werer "right at" 4 feet long. (I thought it would be more appropriate if they were an even multiple of HANDS rather than FEET), so the number stuck in my HEAD.

Anyway so as often as I don't feel embarassed by doing it and as often as I happen to have my tape measure with me in piano stores, (which is probably about 25 pianos worth) I have surreptitiously meansured keyboard lengths. (If anybody ever asked me what I thought I was doing,for heavens sake, I usually floated my first line cover story that I was trying to measure the "sustain length" of the instrument, and could you please come back later wearing a harder shirt that doesn't soak up so much of the music. Minimum length was about 4/16" under 48" and maximum was about 3/16" over 48".

I don't have enough credit cards to check crack-width consistancy. \:\(

Bob

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#1125596 - 04/27/04 03:19 PM Re: Key Width
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by RKVS1:
...Phlebas. (whose pet name from Apple, I will only allude to).


Minimum length was about 4/16" under 48" and maximum was about 3/16" over 48".

I don't have enough credit cards to check crack-width consistancy. \:\(

Bob [/b]
Thanks, and THANKS!

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#1125597 - 04/27/04 04:18 PM Re: Key Width
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5174
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
Kreisler indicated in the Pianist Corner that he thought different makes of pianos may have slightly different key widths. Could anyone verify this, and if so, which manufacturers' pianos have narrower keys, and which have wider?
Thanks. [/b]
In theory there is a standard for the piano key headscale. (‘Headscale’ is a general term used to refer layout of the keys in a plan view, i.e., looking straight down from the top.) In practice, however, no absolute standard is followed.

There is supposed to be an industry standard that was agreed to sometime during the late 1940s setting the overall headscale width at 1220 mm, or approximately 48”. Alas, I know of no current manufacturer that cuts keys to this standard. While many older pianos have key headscales down around 1220 mm (occasionally even less) most, if not all, contemporary keysets are some wider than this. Ironically, the Asian manufacturers are among the widest at upwards of 1227 or 1228 mm.

Within some limits the width of the individual natural key and the width of the sharp are independent. That is, a keymaker can use wide or narrow sharps within a given overall headscale width. Steinway sharps have traditionally been among the narrowest.

While this is a subject that doesn’t often come up it is persistent. While I have never been asked about making a wider keyset I am regularly asked about the feasibility of fitting a slightly narrower keyset — the key word here being “slightly” — to an existing piano. (Yes, it can be done but it is expensive!) There is enough interest in this that our own new grand piano will be offered with two keysets; one of which will have a headscale width of 1194.5 mm. This headscale width seems to be a reasonable alternative to the somewhat overly wide keysets that are now in commonly use. It is not enough different to cause undue consternation to the experienced pianist (who must already cope with key headscale variations of up to 8 to 10 mm), it is, however, enough to enable the pianist with hands a bit on the small side to reach some of the intervals that are taken for granted by pianists with larger hands.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125598 - 04/27/04 04:35 PM Re: Key Width
Hexagenia Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/26/04
Posts: 13
Loc: Olivebridge, ny
From Hexagenia, I am old enough to have heard Josef Hoffman play more than once. When I was a young student we believed that Hoffman had very small hands and that he carried(not literaly) a piano with an especialy made action with very narrow keys. Thanks for the fun stuff.

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#1125599 - 04/27/04 05:56 PM Re: Key Width
RKVS1 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
Del, I'm assuming that you have heard of the 7/8 and 15/16 scale portable keyboards made by Steinbuhler during the last 4 or 5 years. Kreisler mentioned it in a recent thread (this Sun or Mon) and I reposted the link below.

http://www.steinbuhler.com/

It sounds like a pretty interesting concept, and I was curious to know if you have had any first hand experience with them.
------------

This is the link to the original report by Kreisler about the smaller keyboards.
This is topic What is a big, med or small hand, what is the most common among the concertpianists? in forum Pianist Corner at The Piano Forums at Piano World.


To visit this topic, use this URL:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/2/4812.html
_________--


Bob

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#1125600 - 04/27/04 07:00 PM Re: Key Width
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hexagenia:
From Hexagenia, I am old enough to have heard Josef Hoffman play more than once. When I was a young student we believed that Hoffman had very small hands and that he carried(not literaly) a piano with an especialy made action with very narrow keys. Thanks for the fun stuff. [/b]
Some company in Astoria NY built him a special piano with narrow keys.

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#1125601 - 04/28/04 02:44 AM Re: Key Width
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5174
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by RKVS1:


Del, I'm assuming that you have heard of the 7/8 and 15/16 scale portable keyboards made by Steinbuhler during the last 4 or 5 years.

------------

This is topic What is a big, med or small hand, what is the most common among the concert pianists? in forum Pianist Corner at The Piano Forums at Piano World.

[/b]
Yes, I am aware of the 7/8 keyboard. I’ve had the opportunity to examine several. For its intended market it is a viable option. This is not what I have in mind, however. As I said in an earlier post, the alternate keyboard we will be offering will have an overall width of 1194.5 mm (approx. 47”) compared to 1220 mm (approx. 48”). The center-to-center spacing of one octave will be 138.0 mm (5.43”) compared to the 141.0 to 142.0 mm (5.55” to 5.59”) of the typical ‘standard’ keyboard. Tests with real, live people indicate that even this moderate decrease in headscale width can make a significant difference in the ease of play and in the musical repertoire of the pianist blessed with smaller than ‘average’ hands.

There are several standard arguments against the use of keyboard headscales of differing sizes. Three of these are expressed in the exchange to which you so kindly provided a link. When considered realistically and without prejudice, however, none of them are particularly compelling. Nor are they new. Basically, they boil down to the following:

1) Interchangeability. This argument holds that narrower keyboards should not be offered because it might make adapting to the concert piano awkward for the concert pianist. This surely would be a valid problem only for those few who actually do perform publicly and on a variety of pianos. For these people absolute keyboard uniformity might well be important. (The fact that we do not today have this absolute uniformity, nor have we ever, is ignored.) But this is rather like saying all cars should be equipped with identical steering wheels because some very few drivers might become professional race car drivers and it might be awkward for them to switch between their practice car and their track car if it has steering wheel of some slightly different diameter. The vast majority of piano players will never set foot on a concert stage so why shouldn’t each pianist have access to a piano with a keyboard that is comfortable to use whether their hands be large or small?

2) Lack of market. The argument that there is no market for pianos with slightly narrower keyboards is based on nothing but guesswork. No company I am aware of has ever seriously tried. It is a lot easier to sit back and complain about the disappearing piano market than it is to aggressively compete by developing and offering new and innovative products people might actually be compelled to buy.

3) The challenge and pleasures of playing the piano should be restricted to people with ‘average’ hands. Following this argument all golf clubs should be the same size. If our bodies are too tall or too short to effectively use clubs of this size — well, we should just find another sport.

No, I fail to see why offering keyboard headscales of various sizes would be such a bad thing. I think we should be actively pursuing every possible development that might stimulate the acceptance and salability of the piano.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125602 - 04/28/04 09:02 AM Re: Key Width
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Thanks for all the info.
Del, very interesting about Asian pianos being among the widest.

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#1125603 - 03/03/05 01:46 PM Re: Key Width
Soren Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/04/03
Posts: 9
Loc: UK
I have always been conscious of the size and shape of sharps on grand pianos. I have been concerned for some time over the relatively unattractive style of sharp which Yamahas have been putting on their larger grands. The broad rounding-off and 'chunky' appearance is not at all inviting. I have been considering buying a C7 for some time and intend measuring the sharp width to check if i can replace the sharps with a set of Renners.

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