If you play the piano and have noticed that one or two of your keys are "sticky," you'll find that it can be extremely difficult to practice. However, there are a few common common solutions you can try to remedy the problem. Keep in mind that you'll need to know how to remove a piano key already in order for this guide to be effective.
The Key Slip is Too Close to the Piano Key
The key slip is the hardwood board that sits right in front of the keys. If it is too close to the keys, then your keys will scrape the board as they go down and get stuck. Some key slips slide right off the keyboard, so it is easy to check if this is the problem. Some key slips have screws right underneath, so you can use a screwdriver to remove the key slip this way. Once it's removed, press down on the key and see if it sticks.
If the key slip was the problem, then you should make a shim to create a gap so that the keys don't stick. The shim could be a thin scrap of carboard or wood—it doesn't matter. You just want to create a small space so your keys don't catch.
The Key Bushing is Too Tight
Underneath the actual piano key, there is a carved-out gap that rests on key pins. This gap is called the key bushing, and it has felt coverings. Sometimes, the felt on the bushing will swell or warp and just needs to be replaced. You can steam the old felt to loosen it and then glue down new adhesives on the bushing.
The Key Pins are Corroding or at the Wrong Angle
If the key bushing is new or you have replaced it, the problem could be with the key pins themselves. Feel the pins—they should be smooth. If they feel rough, they could be corroding. Add some metal polish to smooth the pins. If polishing doesn't work, you'l need to replace the pin.
Sometimes, the pin is simply at the wrong angle. The key pins have an oval shape, so the sides aren't as wide as the front or back. Sometimes, the key will wobble side to side and stick. So, turn the pin either to tighten or loosen it and make sure it matches the surrounding pins.
The Whole Key Stick is Broken or Bent
If you were to remove the entire key from the piano, it wouldn't be just a short black or white key. You'd pull it out and there would be a whole stick hidden inside the piano. In the middle of the key stick, you'll find the lever called the balance rail. Sometimes this part of the key stick has a crack or is bent, so when you press down on the key, the back of the rail doesn't raise like it should. Pull out the key to examine the rail. If there are are any cracks, then you should replace the key stick.
There are Actually Sticky Substances on the Keys
If you've eaten over the piano or have spilled any substance, that debris can not only make your piano literally sticky, but it can get between the keys and make it harder to play. Again, you'll need to remove the keys to see if they need cleaning. To prevent this problem in the future, always use the piano fall-board—the hinged protective covering—when you aren't playing.
If correcting these issues isn't helping, you may need to contact a piano professional. Sometimes the problem isn't with the keys themselves, but with the piano hammers and other components inside the piano. Contact a piano expert, like those at Cannon Pianos, for more information.
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