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My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. #2800534
01/10/19 12:46 PM
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My piano is a 1985 yamaha u3.

I discovered that i seem to like my piano better with the soft pedal depressed, and would like to know if this could be normal, or something could be wrong, or it's just me beeing not used to real pianos.

I am a beginning player, never had any piano lessons, but can play a few songs by ludovico einaudi and yann tiersen quite well, i believe. I played a few years on a digital piano, and now have my first acoustic for a few weeks.

At first i was shocked by how loud it was in my living room, and since i had not taken any measures yet to make it less loud, i figured i would play with the soft pedal depressed all the time. Loved playing it, had lots of fun, no problems!

Later i put some foam behind the piano and a rug under it, so that did reduce some of the volume. So, i figured that since the soft pedal was making the action lighter, and it's not the way it's ment to be played, its bad for my practice to play a real piano (any piano). So im playing for a while without the soft pedal now, but i can't seem to play soft, and having real big trouble trying to play expressively. To me the action seems kinda sluggish, im having trouble controlling it, especially when trying to play soft.

So today i tried playing with the soft pedal again, and loved it! The advantages seem to be:

- I can play really soft, effortlessly
- I can still play quite loud also! (more than loud enough, actually)
- I feel in control, the piano does exactly what i want, from very soft to very loud.
- The action feels light and responsive, no trouble playing expressively at all, lovely, actually!
- Can play fast passages easily, less trouble.
- The piano sounds better, there is none of that ugly harshness, it sounds great.

So, i have mixed feelings about this. On one side, with the soft pedal depressed, everything is just great, so hey why not play like this forever and enjoy? (i could actually lock the soft pedal mechanism with a simple trick i saw in a youtube video) But on the other side, something could be wrong? It isn't supposed to be played like this? What if i encounter another piano that i could play and i still didnt learn how to properly play it because im doing it wrong?

I did try a few other U3's and UX3's before i bought this one, and i actually had the same experience with them.. i liked them better with the soft pedal depressed. These were all from private sellers in someone's living room. The only U3's/UX3's i did not have this experience with were the one's placed standing free (not against a wall) in a huge hall. The one i bought was also placed standing free (not against a wall) in a large hall, on a carpeted floor, and there i did not think it was too loud or harsh without the soft pedal depressed, i just liked it.

I guess i will be trying some more U3's in a piano shop to see if the action feels about the same as mine.. i can't really remember how the others i tried feel like... but i do remember i also liked the ones in peoples homes better with the soft pedal depressed. I just would like to know how you guys or girls think about this! I read in these forums a few messages saying the soft pedal doesnt make much of a difference, well it seems i disagree!



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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800537
01/10/19 12:53 PM
01/10/19 12:53 PM
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Your piano needs to have the hammers filed and the action regulated and voiced.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800542
01/10/19 01:09 PM
01/10/19 01:09 PM
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Maybe the piano needs work, but I suspect that you simply need time to transition to an acoustic piano's action. The action on your digital was probably relatively light, and with less dynamic variability than your newly-acquired acoustic piano. It's going to take some time before you teach your fingers to whisper.

Larry.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800555
01/10/19 01:50 PM
01/10/19 01:50 PM
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In an upright (vertical) piano, the use of the soft pedal makes a difference in the feel of the action. When the soft pedal is depressed in an upright, the entire action is moved closer to the strings. This results in a shorter striking distance resulting in a softer sound. Because of the physics of moving the action forward, it takes slightly less effort to strike a note and what I think you are feeling is an easier action, more like what you experienced with your digital.

It will take some time to get used to the feel of the action and get used to the sound when not playing with the soft pedal depressed. The big difference you are hearing is also due to the fact that you auditioned the piano in a large hall with the piano in an open space (not against a wall) whereas in your home the piano is in a considerably smaller space and against a wall. The other pianos you tried in homes may have been "voiced" to accommodate them to the room. Your piano may also need some "voicing" to reduce the density of the hammers, resulting in a softer sound.

Talk to your technician/tuner about this when s/he next visits. That could solve the problem.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800601
01/10/19 03:56 PM
01/10/19 03:56 PM
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It is easy to get addicted to using the
soft pedal too much .This also happens to people
who have grand pianos .
I agree with Larry this is an adjustment from
the digital piano .What you need is to develop your
tone quality on the U3 .Do not be too hard on
yourself it will improve .Having the piano regulated
may help .
I use accoustic boards hidden behind furniture
in the room .These work very well .
If an accoustic board is placed behind an upright
it make the sound much softer but ruins the tone
of the instrument.
I am suggesting these methods if you find the
piano too loud for the environment.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800658
01/10/19 06:09 PM
01/10/19 06:09 PM
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BDB's advice is direct and very likely the solution.

The soft pedal on an upright shifts the hammers forward, changing the rest position. This decreases power, but also gives it a lighter touch. A nicely regulated U3 isn't heavy, and relying on the soft pedal will negatively affect your technique.

The hammers may need filing or moderate voicing. If you are really looking for softer acoustics, you may need some minor wall or room treatments to get the effect you want. I don't advise voicing Yamaha hammers too mellow, but a medium tone is completely achievable.

You want the full range of the piano. The soft pedal should give you an extra dimension, not the middle of the piano's range.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800661
01/10/19 06:19 PM
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The soft pedal gives it a sloppier touch, as well. The keys start out doing nothing, which is slop in the action.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800663
01/10/19 06:24 PM
01/10/19 06:24 PM
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By the way, if there is slop in the action without the soft pedal, that is a sign your piano needs regulation.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800701
01/10/19 09:06 PM
01/10/19 09:06 PM
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You will adjust and start playing softer over time, this can take several weeks or month depending how much you play.

After you mastered playing soft you will be questioning yourself what you were thinking.



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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800823
01/11/19 10:55 AM
01/11/19 10:55 AM
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All great suggestions. You could also check the Adult Beginners Forum for some exercises to build and train/strengthen your fingers and hands for playing an acoustic. In fact it takes strength and technique to play an acoustic softly. Best of Luck!


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800844
01/11/19 12:06 PM
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Thanks alot everyone! Really helpfull reply's. After reading the comments, i kind of commited myself to practise soft playing. By focussing on the sound and trying really hard to play soft i just noticed a little bit of progress already. So it probably is mostly me beeing not used to a real piano.

I also take back my comment that the piano sounds better with the soft pedal depressed. This was just something i thought in the moment because it played easier, but i think the opposite is true.



U3 1985
Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800979
01/11/19 05:54 PM
01/11/19 05:54 PM
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A contrary opinion here.

Your piano sounds better with the soft pedal depressed because the action is tighter and you can play it better with more control when you use it.

As it your job to sound as good as you can, why would you not use it? Because you are afraid you will never be able to not use it? A u3 is generally a loud instrument to begin with. I have u1 and use the pedal all the time, but not exclusively. I record all the time too. No one ever says it sounds muffled. Indeed they would need to watch my feet to even know.

My Teacher taught me to use it and i have been doing so for 50 years. As it does in fact provide for better control, any sloppiness is far more prevalent when not using it.

I've had tuners tell me to not use it as it will throw out the regulation and other tuners tell me this is bunk. Add to that, how it works differently by piano type and seems there is a mixed bag of opinions. I don't go with the consensus though, but the sound i want to achieve.

This only applies for upright though as grand works differently. But, on an upright you're quite right about sounding better. And by all means keep working on your soft playing as it will still be too loud.

So one vote for nothing wrong.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Greener] #2800985
01/11/19 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
A contrary opinion here.

Your piano sounds better with the soft pedal depressed because the action is tighter and you can play it better with more control when you use it.


If this would be true, one would expect the manufacturers to make the piano's they build very tight.



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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: BDB] #2800989
01/11/19 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Your piano needs to have the hammers filed and the action regulated and voiced.


+1
thumb

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2800993
01/11/19 06:13 PM
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It is true, but you need more range then just ppp to ff. Like fff. I don't use for fff.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Greener] #2801002
01/11/19 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
A contrary opinion here.

Your piano sounds better with the soft pedal depressed because the action is tighter and you can play it better with more control when you use it.


I do not know what you mean by "the action is tighter." The only thing that the soft pedal does on an upright piano is move the hammers closer to the strings. That introduces lost motion in the action, which manifests itself as the key having a lot of movement before hammer starts to move, which essentially means that the action is looser. You have less key motion in which to control the hammer. Some of the keys may actually sag, if there is not enough weight on them to keep them fully up.

The soft pedal will not hurt the piano, but it is a way to play with more control. You can still play as loud, because the only thing that matters when playing loud is how fast the hammer is going when it lets off, which in turn depends only on how fast your finger is moving at that point.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801018
01/11/19 07:15 PM
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As the hammers are moved closer ( or tighter ) to the strings, I call it a tighter action, but any other term is fine. Agree with the rest of your post.

I will add that on some uprights you may not want it. But, on a u3 i would definately start off with it.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801047
01/11/19 09:23 PM
01/11/19 09:23 PM
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If you play an upright piano that has excessive lost motion with strong force, the contact point of the jack upon the hammer butt will wear fast because the jack is slamming into it instead of being coupled to it. In short you will be beating the S--T out of your action!

Same thing applies if you are playing strong with the soft pedal depressed.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801069
01/11/19 11:06 PM
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Good to know. I must be hard on the actions then and this makes sense. Don't think I'll change though and always prefer a softer sound and rarely play heavy. Thanks for that though.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Greener] #2801079
01/12/19 12:17 AM
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I agree with BDB. Get your piano tone regulated so it has the tone you want without constant use of the soft pedal. Much cheaper than replacing the action every few years.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801084
01/12/19 01:03 AM
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Most people will not wear out an action in a few years, no matter how they play it, but a well-regulated action will improve your playing technique and enjoyment immensely. Generally, if it is done after a year or two's worth of playing, it will make a big improvement, and then only need touch-up occasionally after that.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801092
01/12/19 02:32 AM
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Is there a way i can check the state of regulation it is in now?


U3 1985
Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801093
01/12/19 02:54 AM
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The most important things to check are:

If you pull back on the hammer rest rail, the rail that is moved forward with the soft pedal, do the hammers move with it more than just barely?

If you press the keys very gently, so that the hammer falls back when the escapement releases instead of continuing towards the spring, does that happen uniformly and no more than 1/8" or 3 mm from the strings?

If you play the notes hard, do the hammers catch far enough away from the string that the vibration of the string does not hit them?


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: BDB] #2801137
01/12/19 07:20 AM
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1. If you pull back on the hammer rest rail, the rail that is moved forward with the soft pedal, do the hammers move with it more than just barely?

- I think i don't understand this one. I can't seem to pull it back, at all.

2. If you press the keys very gently, so that the hammer falls back when the escapement releases instead of continuing towards the spring, does that happen uniformly and no more than 1/8" or 3 mm from the strings?

- No, it's more about 10 mm from the strings. It does seem te happen uniformly, except for the hammers with broken return spring cords, something i found out about and am not too happy with, these hammers rest on the strings when the keys are pressed like this.

3. If you play the notes hard, do the hammers catch far enough away from the string that the vibration of the string does not hit them?

- More than far away enough, not even close to hitting the strings vibration.


U3 1985
Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: BDB] #2801216
01/12/19 11:29 AM
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BDB, have you seen neglected practice room uprights that are played five or more hours a day by pianists learning bravura music? 10 years and they are shot. Regulate, shape hammers, keep pinning proper and keybushings snug and they, can go 2 or 3 decades.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801320
01/12/19 04:02 PM
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Rtje,

Your piano needs quite a bit more than regulation and voicing (based on what you just wrote).

Pwg


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2801333
01/12/19 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
BDB, have you seen neglected practice room uprights that are played five or more hours a day by pianists learning bravura music? 10 years and they are shot. Regulate, shape hammers, keep pinning proper and keybushings snug and they, can go 2 or 3 decades.


That is not "most people." For most people, their pianos will need minimal upkeep after the first regulation and voicing.

For those who use pianos constantly, they will wear down quickly, I find that you can only shape upright hammers so much before it becomes difficult or impossible to regulate the action properly. But considering the number of 50+ year old pianos that are still being used, and the condition they are in, what I said is true.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: P W Grey] #2801385
01/12/19 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Rtje,

Your piano needs quite a bit more than regulation and voicing (based on what you just wrote).

Pwg


That doesnt sound good. frown could you be more specific?

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801405
01/12/19 09:01 PM
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Quote
If you press the keys very gently, so that the hammer falls back when the escapement releases instead of continuing towards the spring, does that happen uniformly and no more than 1/8" or 3 mm from the strings?



I think i misunderstood this question. I thought you were asking about the hammer distance from the strings after the hammer has fallen back. This is about 10 mm.


The falling back does indeed happen no more than 3mm from the strings, and uniformly. (except for the hammers that jam against the strings because of the broken hammer return spring cords)


U3 1985
Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801923
01/14/19 12:59 PM
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Broken hammer return spring cords are a problem. Some of the hammers are returning due to the springs, and the ones with broken cords are returning due to the bridle straps. The repetition will not be the same.

About the hammer rest rail, you can pull rather hard on it and it will compress the felt that sets its position slightly. Slightly is all you need. The hammers should not go back with it more than a minimal amount. The distance they go back is the lost motion in the action.


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Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: Rtje] #2801964
01/14/19 02:43 PM
01/14/19 02:43 PM
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Posts: 1,734
Auckland New Zealand
R
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Robert 45  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
R

Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,734
Auckland New Zealand
Hi Rtje,
In a vertical piano, the una corda pedal simply brings the hammers closer to the strings and reduces the velocity of their blow which makes a softer sound with fewer harsher harmonics.
If the piano has an intrinsically bright sound it can attenuate this quality, but as other posts have explained it can also damage the action and the continuous use of the left pedal is a bad habit like driving a manual gear change car with your left foot resting on the clutch pedal.
Best piano playing practice is to use the una corda pedal judiciously and with discernment. With regulation and voicing your piano can have its tone made less harsh and then you have an instrument that offers an even greater range of expression in both dynamic and tonal colouring.
Kind regards,
Robert.

Re: My piano seems to be better with soft pedal depressed. [Re: BDB] #2802332
01/15/19 04:28 PM
01/15/19 04:28 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 24
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Rtje Offline OP
Full Member
Rtje  Offline OP
Full Member
R

Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 24
Originally Posted by BDB
Broken hammer return spring cords are a problem. Some of the hammers are returning due to the springs, and the ones with broken cords are returning due to the bridle straps. The repetition will not be the same.

About the hammer rest rail, you can pull rather hard on it and it will compress the felt that sets its position slightly. Slightly is all you need. The hammers should not go back with it more than a minimal amount. The distance they go back is the lost motion in the action.


I understand now and i tried. There were only 1 or 2 hammers that moved back with it a tiny bit.. almost nothing, so that looks good.


Robert 45, i now understand that the soft pedal actually introduces lost motion, i also checked this looking at the action while pressing the keys. Very interesting and good to know! I will definitly not be playing like this.

Right now it seems to me that the piano is in pretty good shape but there are some things that need to be fixed and it probably could use some voicing. I wonder what the tech will say about it with the first tuning.





U3 1985
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