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key top materials, sticky fingers #2529223
04/09/16 08:44 PM
04/09/16 08:44 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
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Dewdman42 Offline OP
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Dewdman42  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
I recently had a Mason and Hamlin restored and it has brand new keys, among many other things. The key tops are made of some kind of plastic. I've been away from piano playing for some years, but one thing I definitely remember is that my fingers did not get sticky to the keys like this before. But this keybed, after I play for a bit my hands get a little clammy and it causes my fingers to stick to the plastic pretty badly. It does not take much at all for these keys to become downright sticky. My fingers do not slide on and off keys, they hang up and kind of stick, particularly bad when I have to get my finger in between black notes (which this also feels quite a bit tighter then I remember in the past, my index finger literally can get jammed in between the black notes now...then the stickiness factor just makes it worse.

Does anyone have any comments about alternative key tops which are less likely to have this issue? Its like the plastic is "too perfectly smooth" and non pourous, and somehow this promotes stickiness with my fingers.

Barring that, what can I do to eliminate the problem? I have gotten a similar problem with guitar fretboards and in the recent past I have had to use baby powder on my left hand to keep it sliding around on the fretboard enough. However, I'm not sure I want to start getting baby powder all over my M&H. when I was younger 20 years ago I used to play the piano 3 hours a day and never had this problem with fingers sticking to the keys like this, nor did my fingers get wedged between the black keys either, but part of me wonders if its just the stickiness of the plastic that is making that worse somehow, harder to slither my finger in and out of those tight situations. My fingers are not particularly fat by any means. They are short though, which means I often have to move my hands closer over the black keys to get everything...which ultimately is leading to getting hung up in there..but I'm noticing this sticky factor on the white keys too...my fingers just kind of hang up on these keys. Help! what can I do about the stickness? (and as a side note is there anything a technician can do about the distance between the 3 black keys? (the gap between C# and D# is not nearly as bad.)


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Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2529277
04/10/16 03:15 AM
04/10/16 03:15 AM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 3,849
Bulgaria
PhilipInChina Offline
3000 Post Club Member
PhilipInChina  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 3,849
Bulgaria
I prefer ivory.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2529353
04/10/16 09:22 AM
04/10/16 09:22 AM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,293
Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Gene Nelson  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,293
Old Hangtown California
I have done this to change glossy smooth plastic key tops:
Remove action, remove stack and keys.
For white keys: first go over them with 600 grit paper using random orbit sander then in line with the keys use 0000 steel wool by hand.
It gives a nice feel.

Last edited by Gene Nelson; 04/10/16 09:43 AM.

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PTG Member
Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2529900
04/11/16 07:59 PM
04/11/16 07:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
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Dewdman42 Offline OP
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Dewdman42  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
interesting. when you say it gives a nice feel, what kind of feel does it give? That work is definitely above my pay grade, I'd be scared to do it myself. But I do think that making the surface a little less perfectly smooth is probably the right solution in some way. Does anyone sell any key tops pre made like this?

What I think happens on the glossy plastic is that when my fingers get warm they get soft and the soft skin sticks to the glossy surface like a suction cup. My hands don't actually sweat to the point of being wet...just get kind of sticky..hard to explain. I never had this problem on older pianos I played over the years...not necessarily ivory either.

Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2529904
04/11/16 08:34 PM
04/11/16 08:34 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,293
Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Gene Nelson  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,293
Old Hangtown California
That's exactly the idea, making the surface a little less smooth.
The feel is similar to ivory, "similar"
With plastic - moisture from fingers stays on the surface till it evaporates where ivory is porus- nothing can replace the ivory feel.
It gives the fingers a bit better feel of control, some traction so to speak.
The surface is Matt so there is no shine also.
The artists I have done it for really like it.
I maintain 3 concert pianos at a performance venue and did all three that way
A few artists that perform regularly noticed the difference and complemented.
The work is not difficult.
Takes about 2 hrs


RPT
PTG Member
Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2529913
04/11/16 09:05 PM
04/11/16 09:05 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
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Dewdman42 Offline OP
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Dewdman42  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
sounds very very interesting.

2 hours for you. I'm not a technician...so doing anything like that frightens me. But I will keep your idea in mind

Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2530012
04/12/16 09:32 AM
04/12/16 09:32 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Mark R.  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Gene,

Have you any long-term experience in terms of how dirty these "matted" white keys get? And are they more difficult to clean than glossy ones? I'm considering this treatment on my piano, but I'm worried that it will be much easier for dirt to become engrained in the matted surface.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2530058
04/12/16 01:14 PM
04/12/16 01:14 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,293
Old Hangtown California
G
Gene Nelson Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Gene Nelson  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
G

Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,293
Old Hangtown California
The 0000 steel wool gives a sheen similar to a satin finish on a piano.
The satin lines are just too fine to cause cleaning issues
IMHO


RPT
PTG Member
Re: key top materials, sticky fingers [Re: Dewdman42] #2530059
04/12/16 01:16 PM
04/12/16 01:16 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
D
Dewdman42 Offline OP
Full Member
Dewdman42  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
I'm pretty sure I would like this


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