Hello everyone! I hope you are all well and healthy as are your families and friends.

In the beginning of 2014, I promised to give some information about different scenarios in the piano industry. Well…I found one recently that I’ve never seen OR heard in all my years in the business and having been around pianos since childhood.

A customer told me they heard sounds of “clicks” in their piano whenever the keys were released while playing piano or pianissimo. At first, I could not comprehend what they meant by “clicking”, but when the time came for me to try, there was a definite clicking sound with the keys being played in any manner, not just softly. Now, by softly, I mean letting the keys go quickly, but playing dynamically quietly (piano or pianissimo). The clicking was like metal hitting something hard, but the cause was not obvious and couldn’t be located immediately. At first, I thought the noises were the repetition lever springs (top of the wippen that moves up and down to expose jack to the knuckle) in the wippens that were clicking when released, but when examined, the springs were perfect. The action needed to go to my shop for closer examination, diagnosis, and repairs.

Once the action was on my workbench, I looked closely at the possibilities causing the undesirable noises. In order to examine more thoroughly, I removed several wippens and looked at the springs again to find the springs in excellent condition. So I looked further where other contact points are, and found the cause of the undesirable noises.

Metal screw adjustment was part of problem

Metal screw adjustment was part of problem

The picture on the left shows the following:

With the wippen removed, I found that the adjustment screw (used to put the jack in the correct spot to interact with the knuckle of the hammer shank) had a hard pointed end without any padding or cushioning to stop noise upon return to its resting position, which was now unpadded wood. The contact point consisted of a dried rubber bushing, a type of part which, to my knowledge, is no longer used in current pianos. The rubber was more than likely soft when first installed, but  had gradually hardened over the years.. Once it became hard, the screw striking it upon return to ready position made the clicking sound. In order to fix the issue, I removed the rubber bushing square (indicated in the picture to the right of the wippen) and replaced it with a piece of red felt bushing. Notice the round indentation caused by the screw.  

The clicking disappeared upon correct positioning and thickness of the felt bushing. (see below).

new felt bushing

The repairs were labor intensive, since I had to custom cut and fit the bushings for all 88 wippens. Also, the thickness needed adjustment, which meant that I had to reset all the jacks for the correct positioning under the knuckles of the hammer shanks

Once all the felt bushings were correctly fitted, I still had to complete regulation (let-off, drop and aftertouch) in addition to the position of the jack to the knuckle. After I had completed all the necessary adjustments, the action had absolutely no more unexpected or unwanted noises, and its feel was once again ideal for any player from beginner to experienced.

 

The best part about this repair was the expressions on my customers’ faces when they could no longer hear the clicking sound. When I took the job, my customers informed me that the noise was there when they had purchased the piano (used). Another technician had applied something to stop the noises, which reportedly returned quickly. The customers were then told the piano noises could not be fixed. But when I heard that, I knew there was something that could be done, based on the noise I heard and some good old common sense.

When I showed them the results of the repairs, I had to go to my customers and pick up their jaws from their feet (no – not really)! But they were happy with the results.

Anyway, I hope if anyone out there had the same issues, please know that you need to check out the adjustment screws for the jack/knuckle position. Check to see if there is any padding around those areas, and if surfaces are hard, it is an easy diagnoses, but a labor intensive repair.

Happy tunes to all, and I’ll be back in the near future with more information.

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg