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#1126070 - 05/03/06 10:30 PM 88 Keys ?
Don L Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/06
Posts: 59
Loc: Minnesota
I've got a silly question.........I just got back from tuning a friends piano - 10 year old Baldwin upright. I didn't count the keys but it sure seemed like there were less than 88. Not being a piano player, are there pianos out there with less than 88 keys? If so, which ones do they eliminate? ones at the bass end or treble end? Does than also mean the first key might not be A0?

Piano & Music Accessories
#1126071 - 05/23/06 07:04 AM Re: 88 Keys ?
marty cipolla Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/15/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Virginia
There are some pianos with less than 88 keys. Most of the ones I have encounterred have been German pianos but evidently Baldwin must have made some as well. The first key is still A0. The keys left off are high trebble.

#1126072 - 06/24/06 01:48 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
playliszt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/06
Posts: 450
Loc: Oh/Fla
My piano has 85 keys. It's a rebuilt Steinway A(?) Grand that was originally manufactured about 1892. The top 3 keys are absent.

If I rememeber correctly, in the early 1800's Beethoven was given a new Broadwood piano that had just 6 octaves. Top keys again absent.

So the further back in time you go, the less keys you have.

#1126073 - 06/26/06 10:17 AM Re: 88 Keys ?
DatDarnDude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/06
Posts: 40
Loc: Florida
I think i remember seeing this really large piano at Winthrop university with 92 keys. The bottom key was an F and they had a little flap for you to flip over to cover those extra notes.

#1126074 - 06/26/06 12:12 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
fspiritasm64 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/25/06
Posts: 3
Loc: McDonough, GA
I have recently puchased a Towns & Packer piano with only 80 keys. It is very different than anything I've seen before, and I'm unable to find any history at all about the piano. The keys begin with C and end with G. Not quite 7 octaves. It stands 54" tall, 48" wide, 25" deep, has two sconces - single candle holders on the cabinet with a flower inlay design. It's a very pretty piece of furniture, but I simply cannot find any information on it. Any ideas? Thanks,

#1126075 - 08/18/06 04:57 AM Re: 88 Keys ?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
It's a very pretty piece of furniture...

At least doodle around with it once in awhile! \:D I honestly wouldn't care much about the history if it is as beautifully ornate as you describe.

Stuart and Sons makes pianos with 97 keys.

#1126076 - 03/05/07 12:13 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
Pianoman1953 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/07
Posts: 20
Loc: US of A
Originally posted by Infini_Dragon:
I think i remember seeing this really large piano at Winthrop university with 92 keys. The bottom key was an F and they had a little flap for you to flip over to cover those extra notes. [/b]
I believe Boesendorfer made a 9 ft grand with 92 keys. Let's see if anyone else will chime in (no pun intended, lol).
Also, I've tuned a couple "pinafore" pianos with 79 keys (or maybe 80). IIRC, one of the pianos only had double-string treble unisons.

#1126077 - 03/05/07 05:01 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
Piano World Offline

Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5736
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
The "average" piano has 88 keys, of these, 36 are black keys commonly
known as "sharps" and 52 are white keys.
There are also some pianos made with 85 keys and at least one with more than 88.
(The Bosendorfer 9'6" concert grand has 97, but not much music is
written for these extra keys. The extra keys are mainly there because of the
additional resonance produced by the extra strings and large soundboard).

The 88 notes span 7 octaves from low A to high A (+3 notes).
By the way, "middle C" is not actually the middle of the keyboard (it is
just the C closest to the middle), the actual middle of the keyboard is
the space between F & E above "middle C".
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#1126078 - 03/06/07 11:54 AM Re: 88 Keys ?
Pianoman1953 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/07
Posts: 20
Loc: US of A
Thanks for correcting me, Frank. I knew the big Bosendorfer grand had extra notes, just couldn't remember how many. Btw, have you ever tuned a pinafore piano with just double wire treble unisons?

#1126079 - 03/06/07 03:23 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1241
Loc: Cape Cod
I think the smaller Bosendorfer 225 and 275 are the ones with 92 keys. I also seem to recall running into a 280 once but I don't remember if that one had extra keys or not.


#1126080 - 08/28/07 11:59 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
I just tuned and did some minor repairs on a Mason an risch (I think, I may not remember the name correnctly) that had one less octve. Neat looking, and most definitely horrible sounding piano. And it had bi-chords instear of tri-chord plainstring unisons.
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

#1126081 - 09/14/07 05:56 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
Tom Tuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 246
Loc: Bainbridge, OH
Are you sure about the date on that rebuilt Steinway? The D concert grand went from 85 to 88 keys in 1865, the other grands stayed 85 notes until 1885.
In the 1930's through the early 1960's Gulbransen and other made short keyboard spinets and consoles, usually 73 notes, often with 2-string unisons. AEolian made quite a few 64 note spinets, some of the players.

Tom Tuner

#1126082 - 09/19/07 07:58 AM Re: 88 Keys ?
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
They made both 85 and 88 note Steinway grands up to at least 1890's. I have 2 Steinway B's with 85 notes dated 1889 and 1890 with 20 note bass. You see alot more Steinway A-1 with both 85 and 88 notes with the "shephard's crook"(hook bridge)57 wound strings. It's funny those 3 extra notes can cost you 10-15K additional as for "fair market value

Both Samick and Young Chang made a 42" uprt. with 85 notes. They were actually great little pianos if you were restricted as for space.
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#1126083 - 10/27/08 09:07 PM Re: 88 Keys ?
james c Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/23/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Berkeley, CA
The Bosendorfer Imperial at my music school had the extra bass notes. I remember being told the little flap was added later (not original to the piano). I always found the little bit of G# poking out slightly distracting.

We also had many Mozart and later era (replica) pianos that started at 5 octaves (F to F) and gradually stretched up and down with later designs.

It is not uncommon to find 85 key grands these days (some very fine ones). You will run out of notes playing music like Rachmaninoff and Debussy.

For fun, you can look at music like the first movement of Beethoven Op.111 or even many Liszt pieces to see how they worked around a shorter keyboard in transposed passages. There are even older music editions with the changes 'corrected' for a larger keyboard. Fortunately modern editions don't do this that I know of.


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