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I recently got a Yamaha U1 acoustic piano. It sounds great except the E below middle C (E3) is much too loud. Whenever I play a chord with that key it really stands out and dominates the sound. No other keys on the piano are effected this way.

When I play with the soft pedal or the sustaining pedal the E3 key is still too loud. However, if I play with the practice pedal then the effect goes away and all pedals have a similar volume.

As far as I can tell the hammer doesn't move any faster than those around it, and it doesn't sit in a different position. It looks just like its neighbors in both these regards.

I've got some pictures of the hammers around the problematic key, which is the second from the left in these two images: The E below middle C, which sounds too loud, is the second hammer from the left The E below middle C, which sounds too loud, is the second hammer from the left

For comparison here is a picture of the hammers for the keys from D3 down: Hammers of D<sub>3</sub> down, for comparison

Can anyone tell me what the problem could be? I think the felt of the problematic hammer may be worn so much that it has hardened, which would explain why I don't hear any difference when playing with the silent pedal. Is this possible? Has anyone seen anything like this before?

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What does the silent pedal specifically do? I'm not familiar with it on most pianos –  Ely Beau Eastman Aug 21 at 21:14
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@ElyBeauEastman 'Silent pedal' may be the wrong term. I've updated the question to say 'practice pedal'. It lowers down a curtain just in front of the strings so the hammers don't strike the strings directly but instead through the curtain, which makes the piano sound much quieter. You can see the curtain along the top of the first and third photos. –  eoinmullan Aug 21 at 22:07
    
Ohhhh. I've always heard it as the apartment pedal, because people in an apartment put it down so they don't bother their neighbors –  Ely Beau Eastman Aug 21 at 22:22
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The proper name for this pedal, historically, is the "moderator". In Europe it is sometimes called the "celeste" pedal. –  Wheat Williams Aug 22 at 1:33
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@WheatWilliams: A legend on the soundboard of by grandmother's Stultz & Bauer referred to the felt curtain as the "patented muffler attachment"; it was actuated via drawknob rather than a pedal, but the purpose was the same. –  supercat Aug 22 at 4:31

3 Answers 3

You need to hire a professional piano tuner and repair person. It takes an expert with special tools and parts to fix a problem such as this correctly.

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+1 for professional recommendation. Pianos are not well suited for DIY-style tinkering. They require a lot of know-how to be handled properly when problems appear. –  SeuMenezes Aug 22 at 2:42

All pianos need tone regulation ("voicing") and action regulation from time to time, because of wear on the hammers and other parts. In your case, it's time.

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As @Wheat Williams says, the piano needs a bit of regulation or adjustment. As @SeuMenezes you need to hire a professional piano technician who will do this and most likely tune the piano for you as well. This isn't something you want to do yourself because you can cause more damage which will cost a lot more to fix than having the technician come in once and take care of this along with a tuning!

In general the tuning and maintenance schedule for a piano is twice a year when the seasons, if you live in a temperate climate, change from the dry winter months to the warmer moist months. Where I live, I use May and November as my tuning schedule and this has worked great for decades. For other drier areas, you can get away with once a year, and if it's more humid it may take more often tunings and adjustments depending upon how much your ears can tolerate the piano.

Maintenance and adjustments should be built in the schedule, and what is normally done is to come up with a list of things for the piano tuner to look at when he comes in to tune the piano. Sometimes additional things might need adjustment, and he or she will schedule additional time for that.

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