Action-All of the linkage between the key and the hammer striking the string. Traditionally made of hardwood, plastics are used in some Yamaha’s and Kawai’s.
Agraffe-Brass piece that spaces and frets off springs. Usually found in grands; screws into the plate.
Aliquot-Steel-bearing piece that frets off treble strings in some grands.
Aluminum extrusions-Shaped bar stock that is squeezed through a die. In pianos, these extrusions are typically used for action rails.
At pitch (or at concert pitch)-When a piano’s key, specifically the A note above middle C, makes a tone at 440 Hz or cycles per second. Concert pitch has involve from as 380 Hz in the 1600s to the modern standard of 440 Hz today.
Boston fallboard-Hinged key-covered on uprights that folds down twice.
Bridge-Hardwood ridge that strings bear down on soundboard to transmit sound.
Bridge pins-Steel pins inserted in top of bridge that strings bear upon.
Cabinet-The outside of the piano; the part you see when the piano is closed.
Capo D’Astro bar-Horizontal bar cast into plate that bears on strings in treble section.
Cast iron plate (also known as the harp)-Gold painted iron support in modern pianos.
Closing-The act of gaining a commitment to purchase. The closing refers to the paperwork, signatures, and payment part of the process.
Coils-Tightly wound and uniform wraps of string wire around tuning pins.
Concert and artist pianos (or C&A pianos)-Seven-foot and nine-foot grand pianos designated by manufacturers for loan or rental usage by performers in concert halls or recording venues.
Console piano-An upright piano measuring 40″ to 43″ high.
Dampers-Wool felt pads that sit on top of the strings to stop the tone when the key is released.
Digital Ensemble Piano -An entire product category that typically features the full 88 keys at regulation size and fully weighted , with a variety of voices and sounds. Typically mounted on a permanent stand with three pedals and includes a bench.
Digital Solo Piano-A subcategory of digital pianos that focuses on the primary voice or voices selected. There are no drums or accompaniments.
Down Bearing -Downward force of the string tension on the bridge and consequently on the soundboard. Assures energy transmission from the bridge to the soundboard.
Down Weight-The grams of weight and pressure necessary to press a key down.
Drawer Fallboard– Pull-out type of key cover. Two-hand operation.
Duplex scale-Odd lengths of strings behind the bridge that are encouraged to ring sympathetically to enhance treble response. Other scales mute these lengths off with cloth webbing string braid. A design characteristic only, not a sign of quality or performance.
Ear training -A term given to the aspects of beginning piano lessons that focus on teaching aural aspects of learning the pitches or sounds of the notes, how they relate to each other, and how to regulate volume at the keyboard.
Fallboard-Key cover on the piano.
Flitch-A flitch of veneer is several sheets or rolls of veneer that all come from the same tree. This is important in matching grain character and color when crafting cabinets.
Flooring Company– A lender that specializes in financing inventory stock for retailers. Typically retailers pay interest only for several months or until an instrument is sold, then payoff the remaining balance.
Forte –A volume descriptor for loud play.
Full Warranty-A warranty covering parts and labor for term without restrictions to ownership, i.e., it is transferable.
Fully Weighted Touch-Refers to the resistant feel of the keys. Acoustic piano keys have a weighty (52+ gram down weight) resistant fell, as well as a feeling of a hammer moving toward the strings.
Grand Piano-A piano standing free of the floor on three,four, or six legs, and is 4’7″ to 10’2″ in length.
Hammers –Wool felt pads that hit the strings to begin the sound.
House Piano-A piano owned by a performance venue.
In- regulation-Regulation is a process in which a technician makes a dozen or so critical adjustment to each of the 88 key mechanisms. The goal is to bring each key mechanism to factory specification and to have all the key mechanisms consistent with each other. When this process has been completed satisfactorily the piano is said to be in regulation.
In- tune-A piano is considered to be in tune when its concert A note delivers a tone that is at 440 Hz or cycles per second, and the tone of the rest of the scale of the piano is consistent with itself.
Keyboard-As it relates to acoustic pianos, the keyboard is the user interface of the instrument, the keys themselves, as a subassembly. As it relates to digital products, it may describe a category of small portable keyed instruments that sit on a table-top or on a folding stand. These typically do not have the regulation number is keys and the regulation size keys. Some folks mistakenly lump all electronic keyed products, including digital pianos, under this confusing title.
Key Buttons-Hardwood reinforcements on keys were rail pins enter.
Key-tops-The plastic coverings over the wooden keys that used to be made of ivory and ebony. Some pianos still use ebony wood on the sharps.
Limited Warranty-A warranty covering the original owner only. Other restrictions may apply.
Medium-density Fiberboard (MDF)-High quality, fine grained, particle board frequently used in upright piano cabinets. It is chosen for its stability and flatness under veneers.
Model Number-Descriptive combination of numbers and letters unique to its manufacturer that usually denotes the size, cabinet style, and finish of the instrument. Often, a model with three numbers represents the centimeters of height or length of the piano. (Example: Model 122 often means the piano is 122 cm tall, or 48″.)
Music Desk-Shelf that holds the music rack.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)-Standardized computer connections that enable synchronized communication between computers and digital pianos.
Nail-down-A term given to an instrument that is placed on the sales floor, not to be sold, but to sell off of.
Piano-A volume descriptor for soft play.
Pinblock-Laminated hardwood block in uprights that tuning pins are driven into.
Pitch-The frequency (cycles per second) of the sound. See also at pitch.
Plate Pins (also called hitch pins)- Steel pins inserted in the plate that strings tie off to.
Practice Mute-Found in uprights. Activated by lever or middle pedal. Provides muffled softer play for practice purposes.
Pressure Bar-Steel bars on uprights that frets off the strings just before the tuning pins.
Professional Upright-A vertical piano measuring 47″ to 53″ high.
Purchase Order (P.O.)-A written order for and commitment to pay for goods and services for an institution. It is a binding official document.
Rebuilt Piano-A used piano rendered to like-new condition. Rebuilding typically includes a new cabinet finish, plate regilded. new strings, new hammers, new dampers, replaced or repaired action parts.
Reconditioned Piano-Piano cleaned, adjusted, and lubricated. Broken parts repaired and replaced. Tuned, regulated, and voiced.
Refurbished Piano-Somewhat nebulous term, often used to mean reconditioned.
Regulation-Adjusting of the key-action assembly, damper assembly, pedal functions, and string seating and leveling to promote performance and consistency. See also in regulation.
Registered Piano Technician (RPT)- A member of the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) who has passed a rigorous testing and certification program for most aspects of piano technical and tuning work.
Restored Piano-Nebulous term, often used to mean reconditioned or rebuilt.
Serial Number-Discrete and sequential number given to every piano as production is completed. In uprights, it is usually found printed onto the plate near the tuning pins or embossed into the wood or nameplate on the back of the piano. In grands, it is usually found near the front under the music desk printed onto the plate near the tuning pins. Nearly every retail dealer has a book that sources this number to a year of manufacture.
Shaping-Process of filing hammers into a proper shape to reduce the best and most consistent tone.
Side Bearing -The force of the strings as they zigzag through the bridge pins. Assures energy transmission from strings to bridge.
Single Close Fallboard-Key-cover pulls forward and down in one smooth movement.
Slab-type Cabinet Keyboards-Portable rectangular electronic instruments typically about 3 to 4 inches high and about a foot deep. The length varies with the number of keys offered, from as small as 2 feet long to as much as 4 feet in length.
Sostenuto Pedal-Middle pedal or performance grands that captures and sustains notes selected before pedal is depressed. Found on a very few upscale uprights.
Soundboard-This sheet of spruce wood under the cast iron plate. It is the amplifier/speaker of the piano. Most boards have planks that are edge-glued. Some soundboard have multiple layers.
Spinet Piano -An upright piano measuring up to 39″ high.
Stencil Piano-Traditionally, the term for a piano that is made as a house brand or a private label instrument. The brand name on the front of the piano is not the same as that on the front of the factory. For example, Company XYZ wants to carry a private label so it contracts with a manufacturer to make pianos that say Company XYZ on the front. Several Chinese manufacturers make private label pianos. Frequently stencil (private label) names are contrived to sound like a famous maker like Steinway & Sons. Other stencils are contrived to sound German with the eye toward deception as to origin and hence price. Not all stencil pianos are meant to deceive buyers, however. Some manufacturers have contracted with another manufacturer to build an instrument with design and materials specifications that are different from the building factory’s regular models. These exceptions do not fit the traditional definitions of a true stencil.
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)-A system for identifying and tracking individual discrete models and finishes.
Studio Piano – An upright piano measuring 44″ to 46″ high
Sustain (loud) Pedal-Right pedal that lifts the entire damper assembly to sustain the tone.
Touch Training -A term given to the aspects of beginning piano lessons that focus on the tacticle issues of learning and playing the keys and learning to play the levels of dynamics (loud and softs).
Tuning-Precise adjustment of the string tensions to proper pitches and consistencies by turning the tuning pins, using a tuning hammer. This is done aurally or in conjunction with an electronic tuning device (ETD) that shows graphic representations of pitch. These ETDs may also store tuning properties of dozens of specific pianos for future reference.
Tuning Hammer or Lever-A device with a handle that holds a socket-wrench type tipon it that fits over the tuning pins. Pitch is adjusted by turning and setting the pins; movements are minute and hammer technique is critical.
Tuning Pins-Steel pins approximately 2 and one-half inches long and one-fourth inch in diameter found near the top of a vertical piano and toward the front of grand pianos. Piano strings are wound around the tuning pins and the pins are driven into the tuning block. The tuning pins hold tension on the strings. This tension is adjusted up or down during the tuning process.
Una Corda (soft) Pedal-Left pedal on grand pianos that moves hammers to play two strings instead of three.
V-bar-Ridge cast into the iron plate on upright pianos to fret the strings just before the pressure bar.
Velocity Sensitive -The effect of attack on the key. If you play the key harder, the instrument plays louder, while an easier keystroke plays softer. Many keyboards do not have this critical feature. Nearly all digital pianos have this feature.
Vertical Pianos -Instruments that measure about 5 feet wide (left to right) and about 2 feet deep (front to back). Their flat back is usually placed against a wall. Also known as upright pianos.
Voices –On digital pianos, voices represent instrument sounds.
Voicing (tone regulating)-Process of shaping, hardening or softening hammer felt consistency to adjust tone.
Wrest Plank (pin block) -Laminated hardwood block in grands, running left to right inside the case that tuning pins are driven into.