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Some extremely old pianos have only 85 keys, ranging from A0 to A7. These pianos are no longer existent today. What's the reason?

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    Not so very old. Cheap 85-key pianos were still being made up to the 1990s, at least, by the likes of Wagner. Perhaps someone knows of more recent examples? – user48353 Mar 21 at 9:38
  • Heck, you can get cheap electronic KBs with far fewer than 80. – Carl Witthoft Mar 21 at 12:57
  • I have an 85-key C-to-C piano. Built in the 1940's (I think). It's noticeably smaller than regular upright pianos, and I believe that's why my grandmother chose it for her living room. – Your Uncle Bob Mar 21 at 17:46
  • 85 key is A-to-A, not C-to-C, normally. I've only seen A-to-A models. – Maika Sakuranomiya Mar 22 at 1:48
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    Yes, it's like an 88-key piano but without the lowest three notes. – Your Uncle Bob Mar 24 at 0:23
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Piano started with way less keys, the first models ranged on five octaves, being derived from harpsichords. Then in the Baroque period the keys increased to 85 keys. The shift to 88 keys happened because Steinway made an 88 key piano, and some composers, like Debussy, started to use it in the 20th century. The extra string also affects a bit the timbre of the piano because aren't dampen, so there's sympathetic resonance.

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    85 keys was a mid-Romantic period range for the piano. Haydn/Mozart/early Beethoven wrote for a 5 octave piano; Schubert and late Beethoven wrote for a 5 1/2 or occasionally 6 octave piano. – Alexander Woo Mar 21 at 20:02
  • Beethoven's piano ranged from C1 to F7. The 88 keys are from A0 to C8, as everyone knows. – Maika Sakuranomiya Mar 22 at 1:59

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