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Glossary Return to Your Piano
Action The mechanism of the piano that produces the sound when the action of the fingers touching the keys causes the hammers to strike the strings.
Baby Grand Piano The preferred name used by piano technicians is Small Grand; it is the smallest size in the grand piano family. The length is usually less than 5½'.
Bass Keys that are toward the left end of the keyboard that produce the lowest-pitched tone.
Bridge A strip of hardwood attached to the soundboard on one side and strung with strings on the other side, leaving a gap between the soundboard and the string. When a key is pressed and the hammer hits the strings, the actions transfer the strings' vibrations to the soundboard.
Bushing A material that acts as a buffer between metal and metal or metal and wood to avoid abrasion. There are many types of bushings used in the piano: plate bushing, key bushing, flange bushings, and teflon bushings.
Cabinet The external wooden part of a piano. This is the common term for vertical pianos.
Case The wooden cabinet of a grand piano, including the rim and structural framework.
Casters The wheels under the piano legs and cabinets.
Concert Grand Piano The largest size in the grand piano family. The length usually measures over 7½' and up to 9½'.
Console Piano The second tallest of vertical pianos, usually with a height of 40 - 43" and a compressed, direct-blow action.
Damper Lever A lever that raises the damper off the string when a key is pressed. This is used in vertical pianos.
Damper A wooden action part that is covered with felt to stop the strings from vibration after the keys are released.
Damper Underlever A lever that raises the damper off the string when a key is pressed. This is used in grand pianos.
Digital Piano An electronic piano that produces sounds to simulate a piano.
Direct-blow Action When the action of a vertical piano is located above the keys, the action parts are pushed upward when a key is pressed. This type of action is found in some vertical pianos - Full-size, Studio, and Console.
Double Tuning When a piano's pitch is dramatically higher or lower than the standard pitch, the piano technician often begins with a rough tuning followed by a fine tuning.
Escapement Also called Letoff. The release of the force pushing on the hammer right before the hammer strikes the strings.
Fallboard The keyboard cover that is part of the piano cabinet.
Felt A piece of cloth used to cushion between metal and wood parts.
Flange Bushing Located in the action mechanism to cushion the action parts.
Full-size Action An action in a vertical piano that has full-size parts. These are used in studio and full-size upright pianos.
Full-size Upright Piano The largest size vertical piano that is usually more than 48" tall and with a full-size direct-blow action.
Grand Piano A piano with its soundborad and strings positioned horizontally. There are three types of grand piano: Small Grand, Medium Grand, and Concert Grand.
Hammer A wooden mallet covered with felt used to strike the strings to produce sounds.
Indirect-blow Action When the action of a vertical piano is located below the keys, the action parts are pulled upward by a wire when a key is pressed. This is found in Spinet Pianos.
Keyboard A collective term to denote all the keys on a piano.
Key Wooden lever covered with wood or ivory in either black or white, used by the player to activate the action of a piano.
Key Bushing A cloth that buffers the key pins from the wood of the key.
Letoff Another term for escapement. The release of the force pushing on the hammer right before the hammer strikes the strings.
Lid The wooden part of the piano cabinet that covers the top of the piano.
Medium Grand Piano The most popular size in the grand piano family. The length usually measures between 5½ - 7½'.
Music Shelf The horizontal holder on the piano cabinet where music score stands.
Pedal A foot lever located at the base of the piano, usually two to three in number. Each lever has a different function to allow the player produce different sound effects. The three types of pedals are: soft pedal (una corda pedal), sostenuto pedal, and sustain pedal.
Piano Technician Often called piano tuner, a true technician has extensive knowledge on the mechanics of a piano. A qualified piano technician usually is a member of the Piano Technician Guild, an international organization promoting high standards among its members. Technicians who are certified (CPT) by the organization must go through extensive testing on tuning, repairing, and training on other techniques.
Pinblock A wooden block where tuning pins, which holds the strings, are embedded.
Pitch The element of sound determined by the frequency of vibration of the sound wave reaching the ear. The greater the frequency, the higher the pitch.
Plate The iron framework where strings are attached.
Plate Bushings A wooden bushing that buffers the tuning pins from the plate.
Practice Pedal A foot lever located at the base of the piano on some vertical pianos. When the pedal is pressed, a strip of felt moves between the hammer and the string to muffle the sound.
Regulating The adjustment of action parts on a piano.
Relative Humidity The amount of moisture in the air as compared with the maximum amount that the air could hold at the same temperature, expressed as a percentage.
Repetition Lever A part of escapement in a grand piano that allows a key to be played repeatedly before it returns to rest position.
Resonance Reinforcement of a sound by reflecting the vibration from one body to another body, like resounding or reechoing of sound.
Rim The wooden curve-shaped structure of a grand piano.
Soft Pedal The left pedal on a vertical piano. When the pedal is pressed, the hammers are moved closer to the strings. The shorter striking distance results in softer sound.
Sostenuto Pedal The middle pedal on grand pianos and some vertical pianos. When the pedal is pressed, the damper of a note lifts up to sustain that note.
Soundboard The wooden board where the strings vibrate against its surface to produce sound.
Spine The straight side of a grand piano stretching from the keyboard to the end of the piano.
Spinet Piano The smallest vertical piano standing no more than 39" tall, with an indirect-blow action.
String Metal wire tautly strung across the soundboard that vibrates when the hammer strikes it.
Studio Piano The second largest vertical piano, usually between 44 - 47" tall, with a full-size, direct-blow action.
Sustain Pedal The right pedal on all grand and vertical pianos. When the pedal is pressed, all the dampers are lifted to sustain all the notes being played.
Tone A distinct sound that can be identified by its constant pitch.
Treble Keys that are toward the right end of the keyboard that produce the highest-pitched tone.
Tuning The adjustment of the tension on the tuning pins of the strings to harmonize the pitch.
Tuning Pin The metal pin where one end of a string is coiled around it. By adjusting the tension on the tuning pin it changes the pitch of the piano.
Una Corda Pedal The left pedal on most grand pianos. When the pedal is pressed, the whole keyboard is shifted to the right slightly. The hammer only strikes part of the strings resulting in a softer sound.
Unison Having note with a set of two or three strings tuned to the same pitch.
Vertical Piano Also called Upright Piano. A piano with its soundborad and strings positioned vertically. There are four types of vertical pianos: Spinet, Console, Studio, and Full-size.
Voicing Adjustment on the tone of the piano by using different techniques to harden or soften the felt on the hammer.
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