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#85680 - 12/28/08 06:15 AM What is aftertouch?
jrcallan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 362
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'm a relative beginner here, and do not know what people refer to when they speak of "aftertouch" and adjusting it.

What is it?

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#85681 - 12/28/08 06:22 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
You want to post in the Digital Pianos - Synths & Keyboards forum. Aftertouch is something more expensive DP's have to control certain features.
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#85682 - 12/28/08 08:27 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
cps Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
They try to put it in those "more expensive" DP things because acoustic pianos have it, most notably grands.

As for what it is.... Even my instructor at the Yamaha Piano Academy couldn't give a definitive answer on that. Different people will describe it differently, and they'll all be right. It's what you feel in the last bit of the key stroke.

Cheers,
Greg
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Technician for www.loganspianos.com.au

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#85683 - 12/28/08 11:01 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
Aftertouch is the distance between let-off and the bottom of the key stroke.
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#85684 - 12/28/08 11:10 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
To feel aftertouch, slowly depress 1 key until you feel the friction or "bump" where the jack hits the letoff button, and rotates out from under the knuckle.

Go very slowly, using your sense of touch. After touch is the distance the key travels AFTER this "bump".

After touch plays a very important role in the overall touch of a piano. Too little aftertouch and the action will feel hard and hammers might block on the strings. Too much aftertouch and the action will feel mushy, and the key may block AFTER striking.
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#85685 - 12/28/08 11:39 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
turandot Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
JR,

I can't define it, but I can tell you three ways it has been referred to in my experience. I think a part of the problem is that some uses of the term 'aftertouch' relate to key velocity while others relate to key pressure.

First,I have two acoustics. One of them allows me to play at a very soft volume easily. When I slow my attack velocity on the key, the key resists evenly from the first impact to the point where the key bottoms out. This even key response assists my efforts to play at a soft volume. The other piano had a tendency after initial resistance at the top of the keystroke to then go 'plop' to the bottom. This impeded my efforts to play at a soft level. When my tech was around for tuning, I mentioned this to him. He told me it was an aftertouch problem. He adjusted the regulation on the piano that had a tendency to 'plop' so that it became marginally better, but the other piano is still superior (probably by design).

Another instance it came up for me was with teachers. I had a couple who stressed to me the importance of working on MY aftertouch. In this instance they wanted me to exert different levels of pressure (not velocity) on the keys after they bottomed out. Obviously, this can only occur when your fingers are not moving quickly from key to key. These teachers believed that the level of pressure applied to the key after it bottomed could affect not only the decay, but the quality of tone production. I don't know if it's myth or reality, but I'm easy to fool so I have come to believe it's true (at least on some pianos)

The last instance is with digitals. In digitals, the attack velocity isn't all that important because you are dealing with a fairly narrow dynamic range. If you attempt to attack with great velocity to achieve a big fortissimo, all you will get for your effort is a hard unpleasant bottoming out which feeds back through your fingers. The sensors won't care what you do beyond their loudest volume sensitivity. Conversely, if you attempt to play very softly with an attack that caresses rather than strikes, you will waste your time since the sensor response will not differ beyond its lowest volume option.

OTOH, pressure on the keys of a digital AFTER bottoming can be significant. You can hold a key in bottom position and change the volume simply by exerting different levels of pressure. This has nothing to do with velocity. For example, let's say you are using a string pad sample on a digital. You can create the illusion of a string ensemble that is playing a note softly, building the same sustained note to a crescendo, and gradually fading the same note to a pianissimo without moving your finger -- simply by applying different levels of pressure to the key while it is at bottom position. In the digital world, this is usually referred to as aftertouch.
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#85686 - 12/28/08 11:42 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by cps:
They try to put it in those "more expensive" DP things because acoustic pianos have it, most notably grands.[/b]
Acoustic pianos don't have it (unless you're a piano technician). Check turandot's post above on DP's.
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#85687 - 12/28/08 11:47 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
 Quote:
Originally posted by cps:
They try to put it in those "more expensive" DP things because acoustic pianos have it, most notably grands.[/b]
Acoustic pianos don't have it (unless you're a piano technician). Check turandot's post above on DP's. [/b]
Sure they do, even if we're apparently talking about different things. BDB and BoseEric's responses explain it.

Steven
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#85688 - 12/28/08 12:35 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
jrcallan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 362
Loc: Pennsylvania
Thanks, everyone. I must say that I see exactly what BoseEric talked about on my Kawai upright. With the front panel off, I can see and feel that point where the jack comes out from under the knuckle. Thanks for the info.

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#85689 - 12/28/08 12:48 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
I believe that better digital pianos with weighted keys have a rubber strip (or equivalent elastomeric means) for braking the keys when they bottom out. It is a completely different feel from the aftertouch of an acoustic.

In a digital piano, further pushing on the rubber can be used to produce additional sound effects, as stated.

With regard to acoustic pianos, there are endless religious warfares on the sound effect of the aftertouch.
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#85690 - 12/28/08 01:19 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
With regard to acoustic pianos, there are endless religious warfares on the sound effect of the aftertouch.
Aftertouch is the region where the key has no mechanical connection to the hammer. It can have no effect on the sound.
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#85691 - 12/28/08 01:22 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
JDelmore Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/07
Posts: 634
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
 Quote:
With regard to acoustic pianos, there are endless religious warfares on the sound effect of the aftertouch.
Aftertouch is the region where the key has no mechanical connection to the hammer. It can have no effect on the sound. [/b]
That's why it's religious...ya just gotta believe!! \:D
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#85692 - 12/28/08 07:12 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
So is the letoff setting directly related to aftertouch? I think that letoff is the amount of distance the hammer is from the string when the jack rotates and the hammer uses it's momentum to continue to the string, as it is no longer being pushed towards the sting. So I am trying to understand the difference in these terms. Thanks
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#85693 - 12/28/08 07:21 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
Aftertouch is also a function of the key dip. Like so many adjustments in the piano, there are a number of adjustments that must be correct in order to get it right.
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#85694 - 12/28/08 10:26 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
cps Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Striking distance (or hammer blow) and hammer drop are important too, but as BDB said, there's lots of things that go into the whole aftertouch experience.

Cheers,
Greg
_________________________
Yamaha accredited tech (Japan & Australia)
Technician for www.loganspianos.com.au

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#85695 - 12/29/08 09:07 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
OldFingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/06
Posts: 545
Loc: Boston, MA
Does this mean that is there is no sensation in the fingers of the hammer striking the keys? As a practical matter, if I were to install a MIDI strip and stop-rail for silent practice, would the effect of the after-touch render the feeling of the keyboard unchanged?
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Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist

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#85696 - 12/29/08 10:06 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
The hammers do not strike the keys.
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#85697 - 12/30/08 12:49 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
The hammers do not strike the keys. [/b]
Are you sure BDB? I thought that was the cause of the chipped ivories I see on so many pianos...
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#85698 - 12/30/08 10:50 AM Re: What is aftertouch?
OldFingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/06
Posts: 545
Loc: Boston, MA
BDB, I'm sorry, I wrote "keys" instead of "strings". It was late. Since you said earlier that "aftertouch is the region where the key has no mechanical connection with the hammer", can I conclude that my fingers will be unable to tell the difference between the hammers hitting the strings or hitting the stop-rail?
_________________________
Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist

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#85699 - 12/30/08 12:02 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
 Quote:
With regard to acoustic pianos, there are endless religious warfares on the sound effect of the aftertouch.
Aftertouch is the region where the key has no mechanical connection to the hammer. It can have no effect on the sound. [/b]
I'm not sure this is true. It's like saying that the follow through in a tennis stroke has nothing to do with what happens to the ball because after the ball leaves the strings its not affected by the racket's motion.

The point is that the follow through(after the ball has left the strings)is determined to a large extent by the motion of the racket before the ball hits the strings.

I would say the same is true in piano playing. The motion of the finger before the aftertouch motion of the key(which effects sound) affects the motion of the finger during the aftertouch portion of the key motion.

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#85700 - 12/30/08 12:09 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
It's like saying that the follow through in a tennis stroke has nothing to do with what happens to the ball because after the ball leaves the strings its not affected by the racket's motion[/b]
Yes. It only affects what happens to the person. Piano is a bit different - what you do can add a 'thud'.
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#85701 - 12/30/08 12:16 PM Re: What is aftertouch?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
BDB, I'm sorry, I wrote "keys" instead of "strings". It was late. Since you said earlier that "aftertouch is the region where the key has no mechanical connection with the hammer", can I conclude that my fingers will be unable to tell the difference between the hammers hitting the strings or hitting the stop-rail?
I do not know, not having experience with a stop rail of that sort. However, hammers hitting strings give a sensation which can be felt through the entire piano. I would guess the answer depends on how sensitive you are.
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