All Pianos Are Different

At the weekend I had a couple of students come round to the house. Both students have digital pianos and no regular access to an acoustic piano. We had quite a bit of conversation about how the acoustic feels very different from their own digital pianos. I always say this is the curse we bare as pianists. No 2 pianos feel the same.

When you move between any piano there is always going to be a difference. There are plenty of factors to take in to account that can change things for us. Even when you get a piano that’s by the same manufacturer, Kawai for example, they will feel different.

Why do pianos feel different? There are many things to consider. Starting with just the hardware, the keys could be made of something different or they could be different lengths. The pedals could be made with different material and the spring mechinism could be different too. The wood that the piano is made of could be different as well. There is so much to consider. Much more than 88 black and white keys.

So what should we look for when sitting down at a new or different instrument? 

Have a play through some music you’re really familiar with. A piece of music you can play without any real thought. While you’re doing that try to get a feel for the tuning and tone of piano. Regarding the tone, do you have to play harder than normal or more gentle?

If you find the piano has a stiff action, you need more arm weight behind every note. Don’t just hit the keys harder because it will destroy the tone. If there is a loose, or light action, in the keys then you might need to exaggerate your fortes because even the piano dynamic will be quite loud. Still, keep sinking deep in to the keys to generate a nice round tone.

The piano may be old so watch out for sticky or wobbly keys. If you play through all the keys on the piano you’ll find them soon enough. Being prepared for them will help you if they are off putting when playing.

One other thing to listen for are squeeky parts. Hopefully there aren’t any lost toys in the piano (or mice). Again, being aware of these quirks is useful.

Anyway, my tip is to try and play as many different keyboards and pianos as posible. It will help you move between instruments without getting too much of a shock.

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