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A quick illustration of a good working piano

An acoustic piano is a remarkably complex piece of engineering with over 6000 individual actions ‘playing’ parts alone. To look at a piano action reminds me a little bit of the eccentric inventor in the movies who fashions convoluted contraptions for household needs. However, it is exactly these mechanics which help us recreate the perfect touch on all 88 keys of the piano and gives it such means for expression. I will explain in more detail later the fundamental differences between an acoustic and digital instrument, but it is precisely because of these mechanics, that a digital piano will never offer the same control and vast palette, tonally or in terms of feel. Many argue that the action is fundamentally the most important aspect of a piano, but there are also two other crucial main elements.

There are the various selected woods, designed and seasoned to maximise the richness, volume and colour of the sound. The most important of these being the spruce soundboard, found at the back of an upright or horizontally across a grand. This is fundamentally the instrument’s ‘speaker’ and, with other crucial parts such as the bass and treble bridges, creates its unique and balanced tone.

Finally, there is the structural aspect of the piano, the strings, pins and pin block (or wrest plank) which helps maintain tuning stability throughout all 88 notes. With at least 18 tons of pressure being exerted by the stretching of the treble strings, the pin block and pins are what simply and crucially, keep the piano ‘in tune’.

If all these fundamental components are working in harmony (yes, the first pun of many), then you have a solid-working instrument that should give you tremendous pleasure over many years.

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