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Dear all, is it always true that the longer the grand piano, the longer the key length (the extension to the back which we can't see while playing)?

Are there any exception?

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It's not always true at all and there are numerous examples. Judge a piano on it's feel regardless of specs. Specs are for marketing departments, not musical departments.

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
It's not always true at all and there are numerous examples. Judge a piano on it's feel regardless of specs. Specs are for marketing departments, not musical departments.

Very well said, thank you.

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Greetings,
Longer keys are found in the larger pianos because the architecture requires it. The optimum strike point on the string is father away from the front of the piano on a concert grand, so the action is moved to the end of a longer key to hit it. The leverage (action ratio) remains the same. As with so many things in the piano, there is a trade-off: a longer key provides less arc in its contact with the whippen placed over the far end, but the additional length will also introduce more flex,(compliance) which is a detriment to action response.

There is no way to use a shorter key in a 9' piano without having your hands under the pinblock, so longer keys on big pianos are here to stay. The higher quality brands will have stiffening plates top and bottom on their keys to reduce the flex. They will also have more balance rail supports to handle the extra loads of larger hammers and longer keys, etc.

I find far more complaints with poorly fitted keyframes than with flexible key, so using key lengths for judging quality is a bit of a stretch.

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One could make a long piano with shorter keys, but the keys would have to be at a rather acute angle to the long side of the piano, and the hammers would have to be at odd angles to the shank. It would not be ideal.


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What about those old player pianos then? Keys about 100 yards long!
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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
It's not always true at all and there are numerous examples. Judge a piano on it's feel regardless of specs. Specs are for marketing departments, not musical departments.
My strong impression from reading various sources is that it is generally true and that greater key length gives greater control. IOW everything else being equal, longer key length is better. Of course, there are undoubtedly some exceptions, and if a maker has many different length pianos it doesn't mean the key length increases for every larger model.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
... greater key length gives greater control.

What is the explanation of that when the key dip is the same?


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Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
... greater key length gives greater control.
What is the explanation of that when the key dip is the same?
Since the lever is longer, one can play further away from the pivot point which gives greater control. It has nothing to do with key dip.

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I think the biggest difference is that there is less difference in the touch between the front of the keytop and the rear, but this is only a real problem with spinets, which have the balance point just behind the rear. Longer keys, like on old player grands with spool boxes above the keys, can feel mushy and unresponsive from flex in the key.


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Ed Foote and BDB are on point. Regardless of key length the ratio remains the same so there is no difference in leverage. Touch between the front of the key and the back is the main difference and that is probably the biggest advantage with longer keys.


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