This is a common question when it comes to dealing with your piano. Many aspiring pianists play their pianos a great deal. But the volume can be an issue (and there is no volume control on your piano!) Yet, you have to be considerate of the people you live with as well as your neighbors. Are there any ways you can quiet the sound of your piano? There are a number of things you can do to lessen the volume of your piano!
Closing the Lid
The most obvious solution to making your piano quieter if you have a baby grand or grand piano is to close the lid. There are two options for this – you can close the lid and keep the fly lid open:
Or you can remove the music rack and close the lid completely to make the piano even quieter:
This will do a lot to quiet the sound of your piano without compromising your ability to play it. If you like, you can pull the music rack out of the piano and place it on top of the piano. (You will want to protect the finish with a towel or other cloth first.)
Getting a Rug
Another technique is to place a thick rug underneath your piano. About half the volume of the piano comes from the bottom. So, placing a rug underneath it will absorb a lot of the sound. This can be a good solution if you have neighbors that live below you that are complaining about the sound of your piano. You can even get more creative and add foam or other insulation-type materials to the bottom of the piano to further dampen the sound.
A String Cover
Adding a felt string cover in the piano can lessen the sound somewhat as well. It’s not going to do that much to cover the sound but it will help.
Ask Your Piano Tuner
While covers, lids and rugs can dampen the sound of your piano, your tuner/technician can help as well. You can actually voice down the volume of your piano by having your tuner needle the hammers to make them softer.
Over time the felt on the hammers harden and make the piano sound very bright – this is especially true on many Asian production pianos because Japanese felt is harder than German felt. By having your tuner voice the piano down it will make the piano sound more mellow and lower in volume. You may appreciate the warmer tone as well!
Mute Rails on Upright Pianos
This feature is very common and available on many upright pianos. The middle pedal on some upright pianos functions as a “practice pedal” which lowers a piece of felt in front of the hammers and makes the piano extremely quiet.
This works surprisingly well and is the easiest solution for people with upright pianos.
Mute Rails on Grand Pianos
They aren’t as common but there are muffler systems that can be installed on grand pianos that function in a similar way to practice pedals on upright pianos.
Placing an Upright Piano Near a Wall
Most of the sound of an upright piano comes from the back – where the soundboard is located:
Depending on where you place the piano in your room you can dampen the sound of the instrument. Placing an upright piano right next to a wall will make it quieter because a lot of the volume of the piano will be absorbed by the wall. Better yet, put dampening material behind the piano. This will also lessen the amount of sound that travels through the wall to neighbors.
There is new technology available that can completely turn off the volume of your piano! A felt covered bar is placed in front of the hammer shanks so the hammers don’t hit the strings at all. Optical sensors read the performance of each key and transmit it through MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) to a sampled or other virtual piano sound played through speakers at any volume, or even through headphones for totally silent playing!
The only downside is that you’ll be hearing a simulation of a piano and not your actual instrument. However, you can hear the sound of a 9-foot concert grand even if you are playing an upright! The other good thing is that it is possible for you to enjoy the feel of a real piano.
Treating the Room
The sound of a piano relies heavily on the room around it. You can add pieces of furniture or heavy curtains to absorb some of the sound if you feel the piano is a little too loud for the room.
We made a whole video about the best size piano for your home and how to treat the room in case it’s a little too loud for it’s surroundings:
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions about this topic or any other, please email me Robert@LivingPianos.com for more information.