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#2061132 - 04/08/13 03:35 AM Ebony & Ivory
Cmin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 229
Loc: Swabia
I was wondering what material is used nowadays on AP keys. I know that ebony and ivory is not used anymore. But they are surly not cheap plastic imitations such as on some DPs. Furthermore, on many DPs they try to copy the original ivory feeling (some better, some worse).
Why don't DPs use/have the same coating as on most APs, which is very pleasant to the touch.
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#2061138 - 04/08/13 03:54 AM Re: Ebony & Ivory [Re: Cmin]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3668
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
The majority of acoustic pianos are using a smooth plastic for keys these days, as you go up in price, you will find different amounts of texturing built into that plastic and on some brand you will find an ivory simulation which is still plastic, but with a porous nature which allegedly provides better grip and feel and copes better with sweaty hands. There are similar attempts at texturing the black keys to feel like ebony wood.

DP manufacturers are currently obsessed with the "ivory feel" key experience. As part of their aim of reproducing various aspects of acoustic pianos, they have really zeroed in on the ivory key surface as something they can do well. There have been many variations in this endeavour - some more successful than others. (Some subject to serious wear and had to be replaced under warranty.) It's all part of trying to impart a certain "premium" experience in a product that falls short of an acoustic in many respects. Some people like it, some don't. Personally, I'm not that enthused by it. My Yamaha upright has smooth plastic keys and it's fine for me. I don't need a DP to be any different or more "authentic".

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#2061272 - 04/08/13 12:52 PM Re: Ebony & Ivory [Re: Cmin]
Tom Fine Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/23/12
Posts: 37
Loc: Boston
From what I can tell APs generally use plastic. Steinway even brags that the switched to plastic from ivory a decade before it became a law.

Of course this is a layer of plastic over wood. And there are tons of different kinds of plastic, and I'd suspect that Steinway and other AP makers chose something really stiff and high-density. I don't know if Steinway or others add any texture to their plastic.

I suspect what it comes down to is weight and price. A DP could easily use the same wood and top quality plastic construction. Of course at that point you'd be lucky if your slab weighed less than 75 pounds. You could mold the entire key out of high quality plastic, but it's still likely to be heavier, and there are other engineering issues with plastic too--the nice hard plastic used as a key surface might tend to be much more brittle, and therefore not suitable for a key body. In this case you could also put the high quality plastic on top of the key body plastic, which might feel great, or might feel really funky because it isn't wood under there. And again, you're looking at greater cost and greater weight, and probably some service issues since the two pieces could separate (just like on an AP).

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#2061364 - 04/08/13 04:47 PM Re: Ebony & Ivory [Re: Tom Fine]
Cmin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 229
Loc: Swabia
I see. That's reasonable. Thanks for the clarifications.
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Lenny

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#2061384 - 04/08/13 05:09 PM Re: Ebony & Ivory [Re: Cmin]
patH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 597
Loc: Germany
Many acoustic pianos, even from expensive manufacturers, have acrylics on their white keys and phenol on their black keys. Pity; it makes an otherwise good piano less enjoyable to me. Bechstein comes to mind.

To me it feels like plastic; and in summer, when I sweat, it can feel like playing on a buttered bread.

Makers like August Förster or Sauter provide a special textured plastic only on their concert pianos.
Grotrian offers mammoth ivory on request; prices vary.
Kawai uses "Ivory Touch" on their digital pianos, and "Neotex" on their acoustic pianos. I like the feel of the "Ivory Touch" better.
Yamaha uses Ivorite, and in my opinion did one of the best jobs in that regard.
Fazioli uses "non-reflective, composite" material; and it feels like a caress.
Bösendorfer and Steinway also use special surfaces.

When buying a piano, the feel of the keys is a deciding factor for me. If a piano has a great action and great sound; but I don't like touching it, then it's not my piano.


Edited by patH (04/08/13 05:10 PM)
Edit Reason: Inserted line break
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#2061574 - 04/08/13 10:53 PM Re: Ebony & Ivory [Re: Cmin]
anhjackson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/30/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Banned
Thank you about "I suspect what it comes down to is weight and price. A DP could easily use the same wood and top quality plastic construction. Of course at that point you'd be lucky if your slab weighed less than 75 pounds. You could mold the entire key out of high quality plastic, but it's still likely to be heavier, and there are other engineering issues with plastic too--the nice hard plastic used as a key surface might tend to be much more brittle, and therefore not suitable for a key body"

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