How To Fix Noisy Upright Piano Keys

Need to know how to fix noisy upright piano keys? People who have never looked under the hood of their upright piano might be surprised to find that most of the moving parts in it are made from leather, felt and wood. All of these materials age and dry out with time because they are very sensitive to moisture and changes in humidity. Sometimes key problems, like squeaks and sticking, will appear and disappear according to the time of the year and the weather. Pianos are like living organisms in that they change as they age, and eventually something will break or fall apart and need replacement. Piano keys look simple from the outside, but pressing the key activates a series of many other small parts that all lead to a wooden hammer striking the string and creating a sound. All of these parts between the key face and the string are called the “action,” and failure in any one of these parts can cause noises and squeaks. Make sure that the noise you are hearing is really coming from the key and not further in. Some simple piano maintenance and repair chores can be done at home, but if you find something is actually broken or requires taking the piano apart, you might need to call in an experienced piano repair guy.

To fix noisy upright piano keys, you will need:

  • A flashlight
  • Canned air
  • Fine sandpaper
  • A thin, flat wood file
  • A hard-bristled, artist-style brush
  1. With your head close to the piano, press the key and try to identify where the sound is actually coming from. If it sounds like the noise is at the key, then first check to see if anything is lodged between the keys. Use the flashlight and look closely. There is enough of a gap between the keys for a surprising number of small items to fall into. If you see something between the keys, use the brush or canned air or any tool that is thin enough to fit between the keys to gently remove it. Press the key again. If there is no squeak, great—this was an easy fix and you are done.
  2. If the key still squeaks, check to see if the key is rubbing against a neighboring key. Again, use the flashlight to check to see that there is a gap between the noisy key and both of its neighbors along both sides of the key. If you see an area where the keys are touching, use the sand paper or a thin flat file to gently sand the wood of the noisy key until you can again see a gap. Try to keep the gap space even along both sides of the key.
  3. If the sanding produces a lot of wood dust, use the brush or a hand held vacuum to remove it. Press the key down again to check for the squeak.

If the key is now quiet, congratulations—you can enjoy playing your piano again. If the squeak is still there, chances are it’s actually coming from further in rather than from pressing the key itself. Removing the keys from the piano and working on the action parts that are activated by the key is a much bigger job and requires dismantling the keyboard and actions. Most people will want to call in an expert repairman at this point.

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