Sticking piano keys are a common problem for pianists and can be caused by a variety of factors. They are usually easily fixed and are nothing to provoke concern.
If you are wondering why you have a sticking key, here are some suggested reasons: the key slip being too close to the front of the white keys, objects such as coins or dirty rail pins becoming lodged underneath the keys, or a build-up of moisture affecting the movement of the keys.
When did the key first start sticking? Had the temperature and/or humidity changed significantly when you noticed the problem? Did you leave anything on the piano keyboard that may have fallen and become stuck? When was the piano last serviced?
Asking questions like these may provide you (and us) a clue as to why your key(s) began sticking – invariably it is due to a change in climatic conditions.
Fixing the problem
Levels of moisture in the air can affect how your piano plays. Because the instrument is made primarily of natural materials, humidity levels can cause the wood to swell, thus the parts enlarge and rub together, restricting free movement.
To try and fix this issue, the key that is causing problems needs to be depressed firmly but slowly and gently moved from side to side whilst depressing.
This often causes the felt bushings in the keys to self-compact once again and ease the sticking of the key.
It would be worth investing in a hygrometer (not very expensive) to monitor the climatic conditions of your room.
Typically humidity should be between 40-60% and the temperature range 17-21C. If you find your environment is fluctuating in these metrics, then you should consider investing in a humidifier to regulate the humidity of the room, or alternatively a slow release specialist ‘piano heater-bar’ to ensure consistency in temperature.
Objects & Rubbish:
Paper clips, coins, pencils, sheet music…you’d be surprised what you can find inside a piano! You may even find treasure like this lucky owner!https://www.youtube.com/embed/1qLJSfxQ3Qc
To assess the interior of your piano and find missing objects, the fall board needs to be un-clipped inside and lifted out of place. You may not be able to see anything and everything that’s fallen into the action of the instrument straight away – you could use a torch to inspect the action thoroughly to look for anything abnormal in the area where the keys piano keys are sticking.
This can be a very delicate process and care must be taken – you may find it beneficial to book a qualified technician or tuner to attend to the problem.
The other place objects may have slipped down into are underneath the keys where the rail pins are. In this case the key slip needs to be removed to look underneath. However, this would typically require the action to be removed first and this has potential for serious damage to occur as there are thousands of delicate, moving parts which could easily break if not handled correctly.
Dirty Rail Pins:
A rail pin can become rusty over time. You can clean this with a soft cloth to remove any debris and this will immediately free the keys to move up and down the pin easily.
After cleaning, it’s advisable to lubricate the pins. A little lubricant should be dropped down the front of each rail pin and balance pin. As this is done, the keys are tested to see if they play better, if not then a little more lubricant can be added.
If this treatment is ineffective and the pins are corroded beyond help, then you will need to hire a technician to replace them.
The Key Slip:
The key slip houses the front part of the piano keys and helps to protect them. It can happen that the key slip gets jammed up against the white keys and when this happens you can experience sticking piano keys.
The fix is reasonably simple, requiring the unscrewing of the two key blocks located at both ends of the key slip to gently work it out.
While it is removed, dust and other objects that may be stuck within the piano can be removed and then the key slip replaced to its correct position.
The blocks that hold the keyboard in place and sit at either end of the key slip can squeeze the wood against the front of your key frame. Therefore, when reinstalling these blocks, it is best not to screw them in too tightly so that they don’t squeeze the wood, although their positioning is critical and they do need to be held firmly and exactly in their correct position.
Sticking keys are inconvenient, but always fixable. If you have identified a problem with your keys, then why not get in touch with us on 01792 584 584 to arrange for a technician to come and fix it for you!