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#3145865 08/13/21 11:03 AM
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Dear friends:

What is the latest, state-of-the-art substitute for ivory ?

Karl Watson,
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There are a number of different products that I've read about but have no experience with. However, the latest that has been broadly adapted by a variety of makers and rebuilders (but still not a common alternative) is Tharan. Tharan keytops are both very nice but also very subtle...more subtle than the Japanese-used keytop composites or most old ivory keyboards, but when comparing to a freshly sanded & buffed set of old ivories, the Tharan is very reminiscent in its feel and properties.

I haven't studied the science behind the material, but it has been more recently offered from Kluge on our new Bösendorfer grands. We've also used it in our own production of new keyboards. Soon, we'll have a Steinway AII Louis XV case that will include a new keyset with Tharan keytops and ebony sharps.

You might get more alternatives and feedback in the Technician's forum.


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Personally I’ve always preferred Ivorite. The latest and greatest from Yamaha is my choice. The keyboard on my Estonia has the latest and greatest from Germany but I find it a bit slick. Ivorite is easy to clean and has a tiny bit of grip like ivory.


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Yamaha's ivorite is very nice. It's not easy to work with if you need a replacement (I'm frequently told) and it's not really available for other pianos, so it's a special case.

The texture on ivorite is nice but not as subtle as the Tharan. The difference is certainly a matter of preference, IMO, but I would be curious about the science behind the development of both materials. I spent just enough time in materials science in college to enjoy that process.

The other German plastics are slicker, very good improvements over earlier plastic keytops, good combination of durability and easy of manufacturing, but not really intended as an ivory substitute...developed to be a better performing keytop that doesn't consider ivory as the goal or standard.


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A bit OT: is there a name for recent Steinway's (say, from 2010 on) natural keytop material, keys presumably made by Kluge?

It certainly feels different from the "Ivory Touch" on my Kawai MP11, or whatever was on our former Yamaha GB1's (current GB1K's spec lists "acrylic resin").


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I thought it was Tharan, but I could be wrong.

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Last edited by P W Grey; 08/13/21 07:42 PM.

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Recently, a thread brought the suggestion that IVORTEC keytops - now being used to manufacture Steingraeber and Sauter pianos - are the state-of-the-art substitute for real ivory ones.

I really don't know if this product is a direct competitor to Tharan, as Tharan is made by Kluge and Ivortec is made by a company named... Ivortec... that is related to Max Planck Institute, a research institution.

Just another keytop alternative or the best one, so far? It would be nice if more light is shed over the subject.


https://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3137291/ivortec-keytops.html

.


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Steingraeber and Bechstein also use keys made of bone if requested.Black keys are ebony.Schimmel make their own white keys (sounds like their own product)Black keys are ebony for upright and grand pianos on their higher lines.

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Thanks for posing this question Karl!

I've been wondering about synthetic vs. ivory for a long time for a long time. I've come to terms with my M's ivory keys since posting about this before, but my new-to-me Hamilton had it's original ivories replaced with some cheap, thin plasticky key tops at some point. I don't like them in general, and one has a small but conspicuous bit missing, so I'll inevitably want to replace them at some point.

If I can add on to Karl's question, I'd ask where are these materials available? We hear talk pretty regularly about the latest and greatest, but when I look I just see "German" or "acrylic" keytops. I'm sure many of these are proprietary. For example, can you get Yamaha's ivorytec to put on an older Baldwin?

I like the idea of a textured surface, not something that's not just slick plastic. But don't know where you'd source it. FWIW, I think this is probably a tedious job that I'd rather outsource, but even the folks who do it just say things like "high quality keytops" (IIRC).


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Originally Posted by Davdoc
A bit OT: is there a name for recent Steinway's (say, from 2010 on) natural keytop material, keys presumably made by Kluge?

It certainly feels different from the "Ivory Touch" on my Kawai MP11, or whatever was on our former Yamaha GB1's (current GB1K's spec lists "acrylic resin").
We have a 2015 Steinway D (NYC) in stock. The keytops on it do not appear to be Tharan. They are subtly textured, but the Tharan on the Bösendorfer 214VC has a very different look (up close) and a somewhat different feel. I cannot say what is on that D.


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I've heard that Kluge's standard material for Steinway keytops is called Ivoplast, and is not a mineral plastic material like their Tharan.

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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Thanks for posing this question Karl!

I've been wondering about synthetic vs. ivory for a long time for a long time. I've come to terms with my M's ivory keys since posting about this before, but my new-to-me Hamilton had it's original ivories replaced with some cheap, thin plasticky key tops at some point. I don't like them in general, and one has a small but conspicuous bit missing, so I'll inevitably want to replace them at some point.

If I can add on to Karl's question, I'd ask where are these materials available? We hear talk pretty regularly about the latest and greatest, but when I look I just see "German" or "acrylic" keytops. I'm sure many of these are proprietary. For example, can you get Yamaha's ivorytec to put on an older Baldwin?

I like the idea of a textured surface, not something that's not just slick plastic. But don't know where you'd source it. FWIW, I think this is probably a tedious job that I'd rather outsource, but even the folks who do it just say things like "high quality keytops" (IIRC).
The new U1 pianos to me have a very plasticky feel.I would try to get something like the Ivorite that they use on their C series grands.

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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Thanks for posing this question Karl!

I've been wondering about synthetic vs. ivory for a long time for a long time. I've come to terms with my M's ivory keys since posting about this before, but my new-to-me Hamilton had it's original ivories replaced with some cheap, thin plasticky key tops at some point. I don't like them in general, and one has a small but conspicuous bit missing, so I'll inevitably want to replace them at some point.

If I can add on to Karl's question, I'd ask where are these materials available? We hear talk pretty regularly about the latest and greatest, but when I look I just see "German" or "acrylic" keytops. I'm sure many of these are proprietary. For example, can you get Yamaha's ivorytec to put on an older Baldwin?

I like the idea of a textured surface, not something that's not just slick plastic. But don't know where you'd source it. FWIW, I think this is probably a tedious job that I'd rather outsource, but even the folks who do it just say things like "high quality keytops" (IIRC).


So, it turns out that my perspective was a little out of date.

I've found some sites that list textured, simulated ivory key tops now:

https://www.vandaking.com/s-1322-simulated-ivory-piano-keytops.html
https://www.howardpianoindustries.com/simulated-ivory-piano-keytops-one-octave/

For only $4, I'm tempted to order an octave just to see how they feel.


And here's a site that lists ivoplast and Tharan installed on keys (I assume you ship them your keys):

https://www.cleartunin.com/keytop-repmacement

These two are quite a bit pricier, but I assume they're worth the difference.


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Originally Posted by tre corda
The new U1 pianos to me have a very plasticky feel.I would try to get something like the Ivorite that they use on their C series grands.

Yes, I'd prefer something other than the gleaming white, ultra slick plastic type keys.


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If you are thinking of recovering a set of keys, the only materials that you can consider are those that are available for recovering. If you are planning to buy a new piano with a specific covering, that will limit you to the brands of pianos that offer that material, and you have to decide whether it is worth giving up that choice.


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Does anyone have an opinion on how Kawai’s Neotex rates in relation to the other mentioned materials?

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Originally Posted by Monoch
Does anyone have an opinion on how Kawai’s Neotex rates in relation to the other mentioned materials?


The thread I liked to above had a couple comments about Neotex.

Or just search the site for Neotex:


https://duckduckgo.com/?q=neotex+site%3Apianoworld.com


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