Four Common Causes of Stuck Keys

One of the more common issues with a piano is a stuck or broken key. While this can mean a wide variety of things, the symptoms generally include a key that is stuck depressed, one that moves other keys or with other key movements, or keys that won’t budge at all. Given the broad definition of a stuck key, it should be no surprise there there’s an equally diverse list of potential causes. Here’s a look at four of the most common causes of key problems.

Piano with Stuck KeyPhysical blocks

A leading cause of stuck keys is a physical blockage or obstruction that causes keys to move together or not move at all. This is often due to some material that has fallen between the keys, whether it’s a bit of food particles from a rehearsal snack or a child’s prank placement of coins or toys. This can often be removed with a small brush or wire, restoring your piano to full playability.

Off the rails

Wood is incredibly sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, and often times a stuck key can be caused by swelling of the wooden rail in the front of the piano. A slight change in the wood size can block a key from rising or falling properly, leading to deadened motion. This may require actually spacing the rail out to not catch the keys or using a dehumidifier in the room your piano rests in to prevent the wood from swelling.

Key bushings the problem

Another common cause of stuck keys relates to the pins that keep the piano keys in place. Closest to the pianist, the cloth key bushings that surround the guide pin beneath the key are most frequently the culprit, especially with newer pianos that have not had a chance to wear with use. The fresh felt that the pin lines up with beneath the key can swell, slowing or stopping the free movement of the key. Like the warped wood issue, this problem worsens in humid conditions.

Bloated keys

Despite the old adage about tickling the ivories, piano keys are actually made of wood and finished with a top covering of ivory or plastic to add the distinct piano appearance. Again, where there’s wood, there are humidity problems that can come into play. Exceptionally damp air can soak into the wood in your keys, causing them to swell and rub or catch against one another. This is most commonly seen when you press one key but two move.

Other issues can cause missed notes and stubborn key movements as well, including problems internally with the hammer action or blockages unseen beneath the keyboard. Fortunately I can help. Give me a call or email me today and get your piano back on key.

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