Grand Piano- Purpose of the Action

The grand piano is designed to capture each stroke of the fingers and hands, translating the nuances into anticipated musical notes. It identifies and differentiates between the slightest and firmest stokes to produce different notes for key down and key release actions. The grand piano provides a sufficient number of combinations to give the player total control on the notes and sounds. A piano player who is aware of the functions of various parts of the piano can identify its diverse provisions to become an expert in the instrument. While the following descriptions would not turn a piano player into a professional piano technician, they would provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of a grand piano. By learning the functions of these parts, the piano player can achieve a higher level of playing with the help of a professional piano technician. 

Key: The piano has depressible layers which are called keys. When it is pressed, the hammer below the keys strike the steel strings.

Key Coverings: Previously, the white keys of the grand piano were covered with ivory strips. Now, ivory is endangered so plastics are used to cover the piano keys. Synthetic ivory is also used in some pianos.

Key Leads: Key leads are attachments which provide balancing features to the keys. The keys in the lower notes are longer. The key leads are positioned to ease the depression and see-saw movement of the keys.

Key Button: Key buttons are mostly made up of wood. They prevent wear and tear of the keys during the movement.

Balance Rail Pin: Keys of the grand piano move on the balance rail pin which is the part of the key frame.

Balance Rail: The balance rail is attached to the balance rail bearing. It helps the key to achieve the see-saw movement.

Balance Rail Bearing: Balance rail bearing is the pivot point for the keys.

Capstan Screw: The capstan screw can be adjusted vertically. It pushes the components of the keys up.

Action Hanger: It’s mounted on the key frame, providing support to the rails.

Hammer Flange: The hammer flange stands on the center pin and it supports the hammer.

Center Pin: The hammer of a grand piano pivots on the centre pin.

Support Flange: The support flange is attached to the Wippen Assembly. It’s attached to the support rail by a screw.

Hammer: The hammer is the attachment which is made up of wood (hardwood or mahogany).

Hammer Shank: The hammer of a grand piano is attached to a hammer shank. The hammer shank can be cylindrical or octagonal in shape.

Knuckle: The knuckle is attached to the hammer shank. It’s pushed up by a jack.

Hammer Felt: The hammer felt covers the hammer. It’s designed to match the hardness and shape of the hammer to produce exact tones on strike.

Structure of the Wippen Assembly

Wippen Assembly: The Wippen Assembly is a sensitive part of the piano which captures the motion of the hammer and transfers it to the string.

Balancier: The balancier pushes the hammer towards the string.

Jack: The Jack works like a balancier, pushing it against the knuckle.

Double Escapement: The dual push of the hammer is called double escapement. It’s activated when the key is moved and the jack does the pushing. If the key is in lower position as in case of soft or fast repetition modes, the balancier pushes to get double escapement.

Repetition Spring: The repetition spring helps the balancier to stay in position, achieving double repetition.

Repetition Felt Block: The repetition felt block is the part on which the Jack rests when the balancier get the repetition.

Hammer Rest: The hammer rest provides space to land the hammer after a forceful blow.

Spoon: The spoon is a stop for the Jack.

Fly Regulating Screw: The fly regulating screw is used to adjust the rest position of the Jack against the knuckle.

Balancier Covering: The balancier cover provides support to the balancier.

Support Cushion: The support cushion is a curved shaped structure to which the Wippen Assembly is pushed up.

Center Pin: The Wippen Assembly pivots on the Center Pin.