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I've been practicing with a keyboard for almost two years now. I bought my keyboard used and it came with a lower quality pedal that I didn't use much. The pedal eventually broke (always sustaining) so I stopped using it.

I just bought an M-Audio SP 2 universal sustain pedal. When I tried it out, I was surprised to find that with what I think is my normal foot raise/lower to to end/start a sustain, my sustain doesn't quite fade all the way out before I'm sustaining again, so it quietly remains. I specifically find that even if I let the pedal go completely up, if I push down again fast, that a significant amount of the previous sustain remains. This doesn't seem like correct piano-like behavior from when I have played pianos in the past.

I saw online that some sustain pedals are binary and some allow fine control over a precise sustain hold, more similar to a real piano, but I didn't know that before.

My new sustain pedal definitely has a much larger range of motion than the one I was using before. And I haven't played on pianos enough to compare my new sustain pedal well with how they work on pianos.

And to compound all of this, my right ankle (that I use to sustain) still suffers occasional slight swelling from a long-ago sprain, and recently has been one of its swelling episodes, so my range of motion in that ankle isn't quite up to normal.

Bottom line question

Is it normal for a keyboard sustain pedal to not completely fade out the previous notes before sustaining again? Or is this probably due to my inexperience with sustain pedals in general? (for example, I'm not actually moving the pedal up high enough fast enough or something)

Edit: keyboard model is Yamaha P-70.

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    You seem to be describing 'half-pedalling'. Some reviews of the M-Audio SP 2 suggest that it is capable of this. However, the M-Audio website (and the price) suggest that it's a simple on-off switch. What keyboard are you using it with?
    – Laurence
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 13:15
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    We have to know the model of the keyboard or digital piano you are using to be able to fully answer the question. Commented May 3, 2022 at 14:05
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    Do you have access to electric multimeter so that you could check that the pedal works correctly? I'm asking this, because my old Yamaha P-80 had a simple on/off pedal but one could simulate half pedaling by lifting the pedal and then pressing it immediately again. It sounds like your pedal could be glitching so that it does something similar.
    – ojs
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 7:25
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    @ToddWilcox, my bad, Yamaha P-70 is the keyboard (I also added this to the question text). Commented May 6, 2022 at 2:03
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    On a physical piano, it takes a short time for the dampers to fully stop all string vibrations (depending on things like the condition of the dampers), and so you'll still get a little sound continuing after releasing and then re-pressing the damper pedal very quickly. Some of the more advanced electronic pianos recreate this effect; could that be what you're hearing?
    – gidds
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 20:42

2 Answers 2

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For starters, the simple pedals are rather like a bell push on your front door. Either on or off. The other sort will have a stereo 1/4" jack instead of the others' mono jacks.

It's quite possible with acoustic pianos to obtain a different sort of sustain - I call it catch-pedal, where the pedal is depressed quickly after the chord has been played percussively, and fingers are actually off the keys. A sort of echo effect. That might be what's happening with you, as it can sometimes be an effect used on some keyboards too.

A lot of pedals have a polarity switch that needs switching for compatability with different pianos. Check that.

If your right foot isn't up to the job, it's worthwhile learning to use the left foot - after all, that one has nthing else to do, usually!

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The M-Audio SP-2 is a simple on/off switch, there is no in-between. You also need to check that the polarity of the foot pedal matches what your keyboard expects. There is a little slide switch underneath that determines if the switch is on when the pedal is up or when it is down.

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    The polarity was definitely wrong when I started, I've already switched it. Commented May 4, 2022 at 2:48

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