Why Does A Soft Pedal Make No Difference on Some Pianos?

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Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is, “Why Does A Soft Pedal Make No Difference on Some Pianos?” On many pianos, the soft pedal creates a nice tonal change. Other pianos, it doesn’t seem to do anything at all! Are they broken? I’m talking about the una corda pedal. On grand and baby grand pianos, the left pedal shifts the entire action. So, the hammers don’t strike the three strings directly. Una corda, as a matter of fact, means one string. A long time ago, pianos only had two strings for each note. So, shifting the action made the hammers hit only one string. Modern pianos are a little bit different. The hammer doesn’t actually strike only one less string. The entire hammer hits at a different point.

The hammers on a piano that’s been played a lot will have grooves where the strings make contact.

Therefore, the felt is compacted, which gives a more brilliant tone than the softer felt surrounding. So, when you push down the soft pedal, you’ll hear a dramatic change on pianos that are broken in. Of course a piano with brand new hammers will have a minimal difference in tone when using the soft pedal, because the hammers are barely broken in. If there is a tonal change, it is extremely subtle, which is what you would expect.

Play your piano, and the soft pedal will make a bigger difference over time.

After six months or a year of playing a piano, the hammers will get grooved and the tone will brighten up. This is normal on all pianos. However, the soft pedal will engage a part of the hammer that isn’t normally played, and you’ll hear a dramatic difference in tone when depressing it. For example, a couple of months ago I was at a good friend’s house. He has a Yamaha that he plays a good deal. The hammers were pretty hard. So, pushing down the soft pedal sounded like a completely different piano! You wouldn’t believe the difference. The compacted felt of the grooves were bypassed just a fraction of an inch, and the fresh part of the felt hit the strings. That’s why on some pianos you won’t hear much difference with the soft pedal. A certain amount can be voiced or regulated. However, time is your best cure for a soft pedal that doesn’t do much.

‘m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.
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