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#2098739 - 06/08/13 06:57 PM Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
After playing acoustic pianos for a while and going back to my digital (Kawai MP-10), I find myself hitting the back of the keyboard often with my middle finger when playing octaves on black keys. Why are the key lengths designed to be shorter than acoustic piano? Does anyone else have this problem?

On further analysis, it seems the black key length is the same between my MP-10 and my Yamaha UX, but the UX has an angled backside so the fingers can extend past the back of the keyboard. On grand pianos it seems like the black keys are actually longer.

edit: Other than this issue, I actually prefer the touch and feel of the MP-10 with software DP compared to my more expensive upright... Maybe I need to get a grand piano smirk


Edited by Allan W. (06/08/13 07:26 PM)

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#2098744 - 06/08/13 07:03 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
There are a lot of piano guts absent in a digital compared to acoustic and manufacturers are just providing a key to trigger a note in a digital. If it was a priority to manufacturers they would expand the size of the board to accommodate a better mechanical design.

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#2098958 - 06/08/13 10:29 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Allan W.
On grand pianos it seems like the black keys are actually longer.


I don't think this is correct. I've never heard of any variation from standard key sizes in any acoustic or digital piano (except those labeled as not full sized). The only variation you find is how wide the tops of the black keys are (the bottom part is a standard dimension as well). Of course the shape of the back of the piano could vary, I guess.

Probably best to teach yourself not to reach past the back side of the keys, unless you know you will always be using pianos that allow this motion.

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#2099077 - 06/09/13 12:55 AM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
kippesc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 407
Loc: United States
For years I've noticed this, but never measured it: Yamaha white keytops appear longer than Steinway whites. And Steinway sharps appear narrower than Yamaha sharps. I took some measurements this evening: The Roland RD-700NX keys are approximately 5 7/8 inches long. The Yamaha keys are approximately 1/16 inch longer than the Roland. The Steinway keys are approximately 1/16 inch shorter than the Roland. These measurements aren't super accurate because I'm using an office straightedge as a reference. Nonetheless, the relative differences between these keyboards is clear, though not particularly important, in my mind.

Edit: I see you were concerned with the sharps in your original post. I will try to measure those tomorrow.


Edited by kippesc (06/09/13 12:57 AM)
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#2099129 - 06/09/13 05:09 AM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
Originally Posted By: Allan W.

On further analysis, it seems the black key length is the same between my MP-10 and my Yamaha UX, but the UX has an angled backside so the fingers can extend past the back of the keyboard. On grand pianos it seems like the black keys are actually longer.



Most (maybe all) grand pianos - including concert grands - have vertical backs to the keyboard. Including Steinways. If you keep hitting the backs when you play, I think you probably need to modify your technique if you want to be able to play acoustic grands without injury.....
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"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2099337 - 06/09/13 02:23 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: bennevis]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
For kicks and giggles I tried to play the beginning RH jumps of La Campanella, but I hit the back of the keyboard pretty often on the MP-10.

In this video her middle finger extends pretty far into the keyboard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD6xMyuZls0

The most relaxed position of my fingers when doing a black key octave has the middle finger touching the back.

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#2099357 - 06/09/13 03:03 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3710
Loc: Northern England.
"The most relaxed position of my fingers when doing a black key octave has the middle finger touching the back."

I know what ya mean. My middle finger does that; the leverage at that point isn't great is it? One can adapt or buy an expensive keyboard/piano. With long long keys.
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#2099359 - 06/09/13 03:06 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Allan, can you measure your MP10 white keys to compare with kippesc's numbers? I'll be very interested if it turns out that your keys are indeed shorter than his. Measure the sharps as well, if you can.

My MP8 white keys are 5 7/8 inches long. The black keys are harder to measure because you want to know where they are at the bottom of the key and it slopes on the front. At the bottom I'm getting about 3 7/8. The sharp edge at the top of the black they is maybe 3 5/8. Hard to measure exactly.

Perhaps the MP10 black keys slope more in the front than you are expecting?


Edited by gvfarns (06/09/13 03:06 PM)

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#2099390 - 06/09/13 04:09 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
maurus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 821
Just had a minute of fun with measuring black and white keys on my grand, my VPC1, and on my Nord Electro. Here are the results - guess what!

All white keys are 15cm (visible length), all black keys are 10cm. On all instruments... I'll let you do the metric conversion for yourself, and I'll venture a guess about other instruments, including the two uprights and the Yamaha DP I play in other places wink

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#2099400 - 06/09/13 04:16 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
It seems like playing with the fallboard removed in a grand is the best, like this guy: http://innig.net/music/recordings/method/instrument.html

Although that seems a bit unorthodox when doing a performance.

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#2099417 - 06/09/13 04:32 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
Can I play too?

Casio PX-150 (used to have a PX-350 FYI):
White keys: 14.5cm / 5.75"
Black keys: 9.5cm / 3.75" ...8.7cm / 3.4" top surface

(eye ball close estimate I know 14.5cm is 5.71" and 9.5cm is 3.74")


Edited by o0Ampy0o (06/09/13 05:07 PM)
Edit Reason: to specify top surface

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#2099439 - 06/09/13 04:55 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Kawai MP-10
White keys: 14.8cm
Black keys: 9.1 cm (measured at the flat part, not including slope)

Yamaha UX 52"
White: 15.6 cm
Black: 9.2 cm (around 10cm if including the extra space given by the sloped fallboard)

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#2109354 - 06/27/13 11:01 PM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2221
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Just tried to play a piece that has lots of forte octave playing up on the blacks, on an upright piano - absolutely HOPELESS. My fingers were being pushed way up and back by the key cover. (is that the right term for it - sorry)

I have been playing this piece on a Casio PX-330, which of course is very unrestricted.

In fairness, I am being extremely stubborn - I like to play pieces in their original key, rather than "cheat" by using the transpose feature on a digital. ;^) (the piece in question is "I'm Only Happy When It Rains", by Garbage, which appears to be in Ab minor. I think some other stuff I'm playing would have a similar problem though)

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (06/27/13 11:02 PM)

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#2109543 - 06/28/13 09:19 AM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: sullivang]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12056
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: sullivang
Just tried to play a piece that has lots of forte octave playing up on the blacks, on an upright piano - absolutely HOPELESS. My fingers were being pushed way up and back by the key cover. (is that the right term for it - sorry)

I have been playing this piece on a Casio PX-330, which of course is very unrestricted.

In fairness, I am being extremely stubborn - I like to play pieces in their original key, rather than "cheat" by using the transpose feature on a digital. ;^) (the piece in question is "I'm Only Happy When It Rains", by Garbage, which appears to be in Ab minor. I think some other stuff I'm playing would have a similar problem though)

Greg.
Interesting. You shouldn't need to play that far up the black keys - more to the lower middle portion of them when doing octaves. I'm not quite sure what you mean by they were "being pushed way up and back by the key cover". But with any instrument, even between acoustics, there are adjustments that need to be made. There is no standard key size, depth, and this is assuming of course that the piano is in good working order (regulated, voiced, tuned).
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#2109554 - 06/28/13 09:35 AM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2221
Loc: Sydney, Australia
When I looked down at my hands, the middle fingers were way up on the (underside) of the hinged lid - that's what I meant. It looked absolutely ridiculous. smile

Greg.

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#2110529 - 06/30/13 09:13 AM Re: Key length and octaves hitting the back of the keyboard [Re: Allan W.]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2221
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Had a close look at my playing position - I actually am already playing quite close to the ends of the black keys - at least - my little finger is. My thumb is closer to the middle though. I can rotate my hand anti-clockwise a bit, which moves the thumb closer to the end of the key, but it doesn't feel as natural.

If I really concentrate, I can curl up the non-playing middle fingers such that they don't go over the ends of the keys, but again, this doesn't feel as comfortable. Being octaves, and also the fact that my hands aren't large, I have to stretch out, which naturally tends to flatten my fingers.

Perhaps it won't be as problematic on a grand piano - I'm curious now. At the moment though my impression is that a keyboard without a fall-board (or at least, a lid for the keys) is superior.

Product idea for slab keyboards: an optional fallboard that slots in behind the keys. ;^) (not caring about acoustic pianos much any more though, I wouldn't bother with it)

Greg.

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