Reducing the black keys!

Posted by: peterws

Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 05:38 AM

Fat fingers? If you`re a manual worker, or, well, just getting older . . . you may have a bit o` trouble hitting the "G" and "A" notes given certain passages. My fingers aren`t all that fat, but my keyboard is the not so renowned GHS. Found on all the best pianos (not). Not that many other keyboards are any better. I`ve found out they`re not, by and large. My old Kawai CN 290 was one that was.

So, in view of the fact my piano is worth approximately £140 on Ebay, here I go with Immediate Remedial Action; A power drill and small grinder . . . . plus adhesive tape to keep (most of) the muck out . .

I can sense the excitement building up amongst you lot with Avant Grands who have exactly the same trouble . . .
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 05:48 AM

Pics or it didn't happen.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 05:50 AM

Originally Posted By: peterws
So, in view of the fact my piano is worth approximately £140 on Ebay, here I go with Immediate Remedial Action; A power drill and small grinder . . . . plus adhesive tape to keep (most of) the muck out . .


Nutter!
Posted by: Kos

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 06:03 AM

I don't know what's he smoking, but I want some of that smile
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 06:06 AM

Nutters usually have a gsoh lol

Any other suggestion concerning the problem in hand? What would you do, for instance? . . apart from buying a Kawai .
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 06:15 AM

Improve the flexibility of your fingers with exercises.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 06:32 AM

Originally Posted By: peterws
So, in view of the fact my piano is worth approximately £140 on Ebay, here I go with Immediate Remedial Action; A power drill and small grinder . . . . plus adhesive tape to keep (most of) the muck out . .


Having re-read this it occurs to me that you would be better using this method on your fingers, not the piano!
Posted by: CyberGene

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 07:06 AM

Use a lubricant on the sides of the black keys, so that your fat fingers can easily slip through laugh

Oh... I have another idea now. Totally opposite to the first one. Glue a sandpaper on the sides of the black keys and your fingers will get in shape pretty soon laugh
Posted by: Dr Popper

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 07:13 AM

I thought he was talking about reducing the band down to a three piece ... ?
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 07:33 AM

Any minute now, I just know someone`s gonna blow me away with a SENSIBLE answer! But . . . . will I recognise it as such?
Posted by: o0Ampy0o

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 08:48 AM

Originally Posted By: peterws
Any minute now, I just know someone`s gonna blow me away with a SENSIBLE answer! But . . . . will I recognise it as such?

You missed it.

As James suggested you should develop your finger control. If fat-fingered people can play chords and notes on a guitar fat-fingered people should be able to play chords and notes on a piano keyboard. Practice, believe you are doing it and you will do it all of the time eventually.

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Improve the flexibility of your fingers with exercises.
Posted by: Dr Popper

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 09:37 AM

Originally Posted By: peterws
Any minute now, I just know someone`s gonna blow me away with a SENSIBLE answer! But . . . . will I recognise it as such?


Got to ask a sensible question to get a sensible answer .... Otherwise the GYRO factor comes into play wink
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 09:43 AM

wink
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 12:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
Got to ask a sensible question to get a sensible answer ....


Couldn't put it better myself!
Posted by: LesCharles73

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 12:51 PM

You would be lucky to gain as much as 1/16" before grinding right through the keys on some digital pianos. The plastic isn't as thick as you would think.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 02:29 PM

I was thinking about this very problem only a couple of days ago. For the last few months, in order to spare the missus, I’ve been practising on a spring-action keyboard+samples+headphones, really horrible (the keyboard). What I noticed in particular was how an action so shallow is also so unforgiving - just barely but unwittingly touch a neighbouring, unwanted note and it sinks enough to sound. On a real piano (or ‘real’ action) there’s usually enough resistance that you’d get away with it.

Now, my hands aren’t large and I’d say my fingers are slender so I placed my finger between F# and G# and wondered how someone with stubby fingers could possibly succeed in playing the G without dragging down one of the other two.

You know those regimes aimed at reducing the midriff…perhaps there’s one for the fingers?
Posted by: dewster

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 03:16 PM

Originally Posted By: o0Ampy0o
If fat-fingered people can play chords and notes on a guitar fat-fingered people should be able to play chords and notes on a piano keyboard.

And if fat-fingered people can play mandolin at all (believe it or not they can) then literally anything's possible.
Posted by: Vectistim

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 03:35 PM

Maybe you should replace the black keys with those from an ancient harpsichord, although that will put the budget up a little.
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 04:54 PM

"Got to ask a sensible question to get a sensible answer .... Otherwise the GYRO factor comes into play "

It`s one o` my more serious questions, believe it or not. This MUST be a problem to a lot o` folk out there; perhaps it`s stopped `em wanting to play at all. Particularly if they have arthritis where the finger may be bent like a dog`s hind leg . . ..! Now, I estimate with my built in engineering excellence, that the removal of 10 thou of an inch will help a lot . . . because, of course, the black keys are tapered from top to bottom. . .
Posted by: CyberGene

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 05:36 PM

I don't dare to imagine how Oscar Peterson would have played if he had had a piano with thinner black keys. Even with his enormous and fat fingers he was doing miracles on a regular piano shocked
Posted by: LesCharles73

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 05:47 PM

I actually have encountered the problem on a Baldwin studio upright in a showroom once (actually it was the exact same piano that Ben Folds had played only a few weeks prior -- almost bought it for that reason alone).

Anyway, I probably could have gotten used to it, but the keys weren't as "conveniently spaced" as others I've played. The action was pretty heavy, the black keys were tall, and the throw on the white keys seemed deep. Great piano, but it was difficult to play some chords at first.

I guess it just comes down to choosing the instrument that feels right in (or under) your hands. Kind of like "don't buy a Mini Cooper if you're 6' 4" tall". smile
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 06:02 PM

Cyber - Howd`ya know it was a regular piano? He might have done the same as I`m suggesting - more likely, he was sponsored by Yamaha or someone who would make darned sure he was happy . . . .wouldn`t you?
Posted by: CyberGene

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 07:12 PM

You have a point. As far as I remember, he used to play on a (and was probably endorsed by) Bösendorfer, so it might have been a special model built to his taste or at least he could have liked Bösendorfer for their key dimensions/density.
Posted by: CyberGene

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 07:15 PM

Indeed, this is a very interesting story about Oscar Peterson's love for Bosendorfer:
http://www.boesendorfer.com/en/archived-news.html?page=1453

OMG shocked
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/12/13 08:05 PM

That guy was on mainstream (British) TV in the 70`s/early 80`s. Very popular and respected. I can only dream . . .what does e think when he plays that abstract stuff! Tony Bennett`s pianist(s) were a bit special too. I love it, but don`t understand it.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/13/13 04:05 AM

Quote:
...fat-fingered people can play chords and notes on a guitar ...
Quote:
...fat-fingered people can play mandoline...
Fat-fingered people could play a lot many keyboard instruments in up until the 19th Century - as nowdays do early music specialists. This includes very different organ keyboards, harpsichords, clavichords, etc..

Typically clavichord keyboards require a complete other fingering technic than e.g. organ or other instruments, being the keys even shorter and needing to get really hit (instead of touched or pressed). Preclassical musicians were required to adapt to a wide range of instruments and to use them interchangably and they had to succeed with this.

There were no exact standards for geometrical keyboard layout specification at all. To adapt should be much easier today...
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/13/13 06:45 AM

I met this guy once - Big Joe Duskin. I shook his hand and thought his fingers looked like a bunch of bananas (they were fat, not yellow). But he could play, he could really play! If he could get those podgy digits between the black keys I'm sure anyone else could. It's a non-issue.

http://www.cityfolk.org/festival/images/OHF/b_bigJoe.jpg
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/14/13 04:29 AM

Originally Posted By: peterws
Any other suggestion concerning the problem in hand? What would you do, for instance? . . .


I definitely have the fat finger problem. I'd love it if some clever manufacturer would come out with a "narrow blacks" keyboard, with vertical sides on the black keys.

In the interim, I sometimes just arrange my way out of trouble, for instance, playing C7/E instead of root position C7.
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/14/13 04:33 AM

Thank you John! Most o` these guys don`t think there`s a problem . . because it doesn`t affect them!

Unbelievable. . . Couldn`t make it up ..
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/14/13 07:52 AM

Ok, serious answer for whatever it's worth:

A couple of things that I've noticed about those who are finger-width challenged. 1) The instrument you play on matters quite a bit. You'll have to search for one that has a wider spacing for the keys. 2) Digitals tend to play notes too easily vs. an acoustic (an organ is even worse) so the slightest touch of a key will produce unintended sounds. Perhaps there is a way to adjust the sensitivity of this on the DP, if so, I highly recommend that. 3) The modifications you will have to do if you cannot find a piano that has a good spacing for your hands deal with re-voicing chords, dropping unimportant notes, and refingering to make it work - pretty much the same tactics those of us with smaller hands deal with on a regular basis.
Posted by: spanishbuddha

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/14/13 07:59 AM

Not all digitals have the same key spacings or key widths. I don't have fat fingers but did have more trouble with Roland due to the height, angles and edges of the keys, than with Kawai or Yamaha. So if the DIY mod doesn't work, or ruins your instrument, the advice is indeed shop around.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/14/13 10:10 AM

Or, Wicki-Hayden.
Posted by: NikoKiko

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/16/13 02:50 PM

1) have you tried taping the offending fingers temporarily while playing to slim them down(sort of like Michael Jackson)
2) using talcum powder on the fingers to facilitate the sliding in process.
3) trying to slide in between the black keys BUT not from the top directly down, but slightly pushing forward thus reducing the friction that causes the neighbouring black keys to be pushed down too.

maybe combining 2+3

let us know if any of those suggestions help
Posted by: peterws

Re: Reducing the black keys! - 01/16/13 05:42 PM

Haven`t tried the tape bit! But my last Kawai was Ok, I played better on it. Only sold it cos it was heavy for gigging . . . I have to play a bit differntly now; I get by. But I`d sure like it better! (Wiout having to buy a Kawai . . )