Beethoven, Chopen, Liszt, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Horowitz.

Even the greatest pianists of all time must have overcome some hurdles to mastering the piano. So to the untrained eye, it’s normal to be overwhelmed when looking at the anatomy of a piano.

Read more as we dive deep into covering the major parts of a piano:


The Anatomy of Piano Keys

What is the most noticeable feature of a piano? The keys!

It is the first thing that our eyes are drawn to and is a very necessary component to creating the beautiful music that is emitted from the instrument.

A standard piano has 52 white keys and 36 black keys – 88 in total! If you lift the top of the piano, you will discover that each key is about 2 feet long.

The keys are also found on the outside of the piano, and will most likely have a protective cover that can be closed to keep the keys safe from harm.


The Anatomy of Piano Hammers

Each key corresponds to a hammer, which strikes a group of strings to produces a unique sound that is different from the rest.

If you were to hit a key with a lot of pressure, the felt covers on the hammers would prevent them from striking the strings a second time around. Over time, this felt will get worn out and need to be replaced. Otherwise, the tone of your piano will change to a much louder sound.


The Anatomy of Piano Dampers

Dampers are responsible for ending a note so the steel strings don’t leave a resonating sound.

When you press on a key, the damper that belongs to that key’s string is lifted. As a result, the strings vibrate freely. When you lift your fingers from the key, the damper falls back against the strings, but with a soft landing to absorb the vibration.


Trick question: Is a piano a string instrument or percussion instrument?

Answer: The strings of a piano are struck rather than plucked so it’s considered both!

Piano strings are made of high-tensile steel wire and range between 1/30 to 1/3 inches wide. Since there are 88 keys, there can up to 236 strings.

The strings are stretched tightly over the cast-iron frame, or the metal plate found in the belly of the piano. With this support, the piano is able to carry a string tension of over 40,000 pounds.


The soundboard is the large, thin wood plate found underneath the piano, which literally amplifies sound within the instrument.

Interestingly enough, the soundboard is composed of many small planks that are glued end-to-end to form the plate.

As the piano ages, it is normal for the soundboard to experience minor cracking. The cracks can become problematic, however, if the soundboard gets detached from the ribs. You will immediately notice this if you’re piano is making a buzzing sound when played.

Foot Pedals

The Anatomy of Piano Foot Pedals

Modern pianos typically have three foot pedals, each with a different purpose in influencing the emitted sound.

The pedal on the right is called the Sustain Pedal, which is the most frequently used pedal of all three. This pedal lifts all of the dampers, allowing the notes to flow into one another.

The Sostenuto Pedal is the middle pedal, which allows certain notes to be sustained while others are not phased.

Lastly the Una Corda Pedal is the left pedal, which helps enhance softer notes for a gentler sound.

Maintaining Your Piano Before a Move

Understanding the anatomy of a piano is not so difficult. Moving a piano can be.

If you plan to store or move a piano, you should care for it first. Consider tuning or repairing your piano if you’re long due for a checkup. And now that you know how each part of a piano works, you can be more confident in diagnosing any issues.

For professional piano moving and storage services in Oregon and Washington, contact West Coast Piano Moving & Storage!