11

On my old Steinway, the lowest key that doesn’t have a damper is the second-highest E. On a Bösendorfer I got to play recently, I noticed that the highest key without one was (I believe) the second-highest G. What note most commonly is the highest without a damper on major companies’ pianos?

4
  • Fair question! On a Yamaha harped piano I play it's D with no damper. Doesn't seem to be an industry standard.
    – Tim
    Aug 27, 2019 at 19:07
  • 1
    I'm willing to bet the choice varies within a manufacturer as one goes from upright to baby grand to concert grand to really expensive top-shelf concert grand. Aug 28, 2019 at 12:48
  • 1
    I'm sure you mean: "What note [...] is the lowest note without a damper [...] ?" May 17, 2022 at 23:00
  • 1
    Or perhaps the other way around, "What note [...] is the highest note with a damper [...] ?". For some reason the question in the title, and the question in the body are partially inverted. May 19, 2022 at 2:37

2 Answers 2

1

I was looking for some similar data and found this resource on Google Books:
Alan Shockley's — The Contemporary Piano
In Appendix C there is a list of grand piano models and their various specifications. (Not all the pages in the preview of the book are available, but there is enough for gathering significant information.)

Here is a summary of the relevant data:

Number of notes without dampers Frequency
15 1
16 1
17 2
18 3
19 9
20 1
21 1
22 1

Clearly there is a large spread (15–22), but also a definite spike (about half of the data) at: 19 notes without dampers (F#6–C8).

So, from this source we can conclude that:
the lowest note on a grand piano without a damper is usually F#6.

NB: no doubt the result will be different for upright pianos.

2

Steinway grands often cease damping at the same E as yours, because the harp's rightmost rib blocks where the E's damper would be. Many harped pianos (Baldwin, Kawai, Kimball) transition one note higher, at the F.

@Tim's comment is right, there's no industry standard. It's just convergent design, that as you go up in pitch, eventually dampers aren't worth the bother. A more precise enumeration could come from visiting some big piano showrooms and inspecting individual instruments, but it wouldn't affect many people's buying decisions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.