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#2158652 - 09/27/13 03:36 PM Sustain pedal on upright vs grand
helloworld1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
A lot of people said the upright and grand piano's sustain pedals are the same. But the feeling of the pedal are quite different.

I tried some uprights in the showroom, the traveling length of the pedal is quite long and the force is quite continuous. On some Steinway or boesendorfer's grand pianos, the pedal traveling is very very short and stiff, almost like an on/off. It is quite hard to depress it half way.

I wonder if it is common for the pedal feeling different between upright and grand? Is the gravity causing this?

Also, the digital pianos' pedal all feel like upright's not grand's.

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#2158657 - 09/27/13 03:48 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2687
Loc: western Wisconsin
The feeling of the pedals on the vertical piano and the grand piano are, indeed, different. However, I find a good deal of variation in the behavior of grand piano pedal mechanisms - they aren't all "short and stiff", as you say.
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#2158721 - 09/27/13 05:50 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
Voltara Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 126
Originally Posted By: helloworld1
Is the gravity causing this?

The damper pedal in a grand typically has a spring which is responsible for much of the feeling of resistance. I imagine that a technician should be able to modify the feel of the short stiff pedal by replacing the spring with a longer coil of different gauge wire.

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#2158727 - 09/27/13 06:01 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
I don't think there is any blanket comparison on the sustain pedal between a vertical and a grand. It would go back to the design of the original mechanism and how it is adjusted. There is larger variation from builder to builder that type of piano.

Like all moving parts, the pedals need regular adjustment and felts and leathers do wear.
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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2158736 - 09/27/13 06:14 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
I've played plenty of uprights with stiff pedals and grands that made me feel like I was playing an organ. It all depends on the piano, really :P
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#2158855 - 09/28/13 12:39 AM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: helloworld1
A lot of people said the upright and grand piano's sustain pedals are the same. But the feeling of the pedal are quite different.

I tried some uprights in the showroom, the traveling length of the pedal is quite long and the force is quite continuous. On some Steinway or boesendorfer's grand pianos, the pedal traveling is very very short and stiff, almost like an on/off. It is quite hard to depress it half way.

I wonder if it is common for the pedal feeling different between upright and grand? Is the gravity causing this?

In theory the function of the sustain pedal is the same in both the grand and the vertical are the same—in practice they are not. The grand piano damper mechanism operates primarily by gravity; there are often some springs involved but they play a secondary role. When the grand damper pedal is depressed there will be an initial short distance when nothing appears to happen. This is the normal “lost motion” in the system. Then, assuming the system is regulated correctly, the dampers all start to pick up simultaneously. (This is called damper timing. If damper timing is good the dampers will all lift simultaneously, if not they will lift erratically.)

The amount of pressure your foot has to apply to the pedal reflects this; the amount of pressure needed to take up the lost motion will be relatively small but the amount of pressure needed to actually lift the dampers will be some greater. If the damper timing is adjusted precisely the amount of pressure needed to lift the dampers will increase dramatically over a very short amount of pedal travel. All of the levers involved are relatively short and stiff; there is very little bending and flexing in the system. Generally the damper lift pedal in a grand will have a mechanical stop—a piece of hard felt, and adjustment bolt, something—that limits its travel.

The upright damper system works primarily by spring action. The damper felts and barrels are very light weight components. They are held in contact with the strings by springs pressing against the damper lever. It is possible to adjust the damper mechanism so that its lifting motion is as precise as that of a grand but this is something rarely seen. More often the dampers will lift a little sooner in some parts of the compass, later in others. This spreads the increase in required pedal force over a longer distance.

In addition there is a lot more to the pedal mechanism in a vertical piano. There is a long lever reaching from the pedal to the far left-hand side of the piano. Then a long rod extending up to the damper lift rail mounted behind the damper levers. This damper lift rail is not all that rigid; it can (and does) bend some when the pedal mechanism is activated.

All of this (and more) adds up to a lot more flexibility in the overall system. This means that the pedal travel much be long enough to ensure that, even with all of the bending and twisting going on, all of the dampers lift away from the string.

Combine this with the fact that the upright damper system rarely gets the regulating and adjusting attention given to the (usually) more expensive grand and you end up with the kind of pedal “feel” described above.

It should be added that a good technician can usually improve the poor pedal feel of a sloppy pedal system. It may take some considerable work time, however.



Quote:
Also, the digital pianos' pedal all feel like upright's not grand's.

The digital keyboard’s “damper” pedal actuates a switch. It does not actually lift any mechanical dampers. I have no idea why it should not feel quick and precise.

ddf


Edited by Del (09/28/13 11:24 AM)
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#2158915 - 09/28/13 04:51 AM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
Derek Hartwell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/09
Posts: 219
Loc: United Kingdom
The pedal mechanism on either a grand or an upright is adjustable by a good tuner/technician so a pianist should be able to have it made suitably comfortable.
rk
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Music Teacher (Piano/Theory/Musicianship)

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#2159036 - 09/28/13 11:28 AM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: Del]
helloworld1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Thank you very much for the answers. I searched some images about grand piano damper pedal.Ggravity did most of the work and it also shows clearly the lost motion system.

http://www.piano.christophersmit.com/damper.html

BTW the new digitals uses springs and continuous sensors. So they are not simple on off switch but it is so different from grand piano prda, but more similar to uprights spring pedal.

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#2159079 - 09/28/13 01:30 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: helloworld1]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: helloworld1
Thank you very much for the answers. I searched some images about grand piano damper pedal.Ggravity did most of the work and it also shows clearly the lost motion system.


Actually both the grand and the vertical damper systems use springs. The upright spring is normally located under the lever that extends from the pedal to the left side of the piano while the spring of the grand piano system is generally located between the keybed and the trap lever.

The slop in the upright system occurs for the reasons explained above.

ddf
_________________________
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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#2159096 - 09/28/13 02:22 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: Del]
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1715
Loc: Massachusetts
I've often thought that the sustain pedal ratio in many grands is rather higher than it needs to be. The pedal travel between the point at which the dampers just start to lift and the point at which the pedal reaches its stop is really quite small. I really wonder if this arrangement is a function of the characteristics and dimensions of several of the components in the damper system rather than what might feel best to the pianist. I suspect it is.

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#2159260 - 09/28/13 06:29 PM Re: Sustain pedal on upright vs grand [Re: Roy123]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Roy123
I've often thought that the sustain pedal ratio in many grands is rather higher than it needs to be. The pedal travel between the point at which the dampers just start to lift and the point at which the pedal reaches its stop is really quite small. I really wonder if this arrangement is a function of the characteristics and dimensions of several of the components in the damper system rather than what might feel best to the pianist. I suspect it is.

I think it is more a matter of the pedal system not being designed by pianists.

Pedals can be placed most any height above the floor surface. Generally allowance must be made for fairly thick carpeting (just in case) but otherwise their isn't much restriction. The same is true with how much pedal force is required to depress the pedals. This can be changed fairly easily by changing the lever ratios within the system. Mostly it's a matter of "momentum." That is, once a company starts doing things a certain way it is sometimes very difficult to get it changed.

ddf
_________________________
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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