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Joined: Sep 2021
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My daughter was doing her piano lesson on my grand piano and accidentally dropped a pencil that she had for taking notes into the piano. I've noticed D#5 frequently sticking since this happened so I have a feeling the pencil is hanging out around there. Of course she had to do this right after I had my seasonal tuning.

I saw a tutorial online about how to lift up the keys and get in there, so I am trying to decide between the following:
1. Live with it until it's time for another tuning (the issue is intermittent and I have a second console piano)
2. Pay the tuner to come back and remove the pencil
3. Try doing it myself

Wondering if anyone has any recommendations. A close friend who is a professional pianist told me to have my tuner come rather than doing it myself but he's not a DIYer in general.

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Where did the pencil drop? Was it behind the fallboard while it was up?

On a lot of grands, you can just lift the fallboard up. On some, you need to loosen some hand screws and lift it out with the cheekblocks. You can always have the tuner come out to do it, but I think it's fairly trivial, just be careful not to scratch the finish. I've removed the fallboard maybe a dozen times on mine (Kawai) as well as on Yamaha and Bosendorfer grands, including to retrieve pens/pencils smile You can find plenty of videos on how to do it on Youtube.

One thing, I've never found a pencil (or an ipod!) sitting on the keysticks to impact the action. There's so little movement near that balance rail that it just doesn't really do anything but wiggle a bit. So if a key is actually getting stuck because of it, I would suggest to NOT ignore it or continue playing it, until it's removed...


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Grand or vertical? You probably don't want to pull a grand action if you don't know how. A vertical - if you can find the screws to remove the fallboard -typically underneath the cheekblocks (the blocks at either end of the keyboard), you might be able to do it. You'd need to remove the keyslip (short board in front of the keyboard from cheekblock to cheekblock) as well. The keys on a vertical piano really do lift out pretty easily, once you can get to them. Not sure what a tech would charge for this - might well be less than a tuning. Maybe (with luck) just a basic service call charge. You might call and ask.

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Originally Posted by Acceber
3. Try doing it myself


If you're reasonably hand, then you should be able to get to it yourself.

Just google "how to remove a grand piano action". There are a number of sites and videos to help.

You may only need to remove the fallboard to reach it. Depends on where it's gone.


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How about not allowing pencils on the piano? Nothing good can come of this, whether it be writing, or erasing and blowing the rubber shreds (or broken leads) into the case. Not to mention foods or beverages, which can kill (and fast). A side table beside the piano is very useful for things of this sort.

However, that said, the one time this has happened my tech swung by the house on his way home and took the pencil out, at no charge. But, I happen to be a very good customer, and for him the whole job took about four minutes.


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
If you're reasonably hand, then you should be able to get to it yourself.


That should be handy. blush


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I've been able to fish things out with a mechanic's fingers.

For the future, I put pencil grips on the pencils I use on my music desk, they're little rubber/foamy things that are intended to make the pencil easier to grip, but I just slide it to the top of the pencil so it makes it too wide to fall down in cracks. It might actually be useful for your daughter if her hands are still small enough.

Last edited by MarkL; 03/25/22 01:45 PM.

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If you've had your tech for a while, there's a good chance that when he's in the neighborhood he will be willing come by to perform a pencilectomy at no charge. It will probably take him less than five minutes. Just don't expect him to make a special out the way trip at no extra charge.

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I wouldn't "live with it", for fear it could migrate somewhere and cause additional issues.

What make, model, and approximate age of piano? Some have easier fallboards to remove than others.


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You'll need to remove the fall board and cheek blocks to access the area where the pencil is. If you are not confident in doing that yourself, call your technician/tuner. I bet they'll do it for cheap or even free as it will only take them about 5 minutes.


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Originally Posted by Acceber
I saw a tutorial online about how to lift up the keys and get in there, so I am trying to decide between the following:
1. Live with it until it's time for another tuning (the issue is intermittent and I have a second console piano)
2. Pay the tuner to come back and remove the pencil
3. Try doing it myself

Assuming there really is this pencil/spanner in the works ------- the best bet is to get the piano technician over again, and ask them for expert help - in case the situation gets worse. And in YouTube ----- can do a search for : 'Removing pencils and other objects from your grand piano'

Various hits will come up. But as usual - it's best to have some documentation about the particular model of piano that you have, which may hold instructions about getting to the region that you want to inspect. And it might contain important information for avoiding certain issues or damage.

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There is no need to remove the piano action in either a grand or vertical.

Grand fallboards (keyboard covers) very as to how they are mounted.
For example, my Estonia grand has one screw on either side of the fallboard. Simply loosening the screws and tilting the fallboard forward a bit and it lifts right out.

As others have stated, some require unscrewing the cheek blocks (the blocks on either end of the keyboard).
These are often screwed in from underneath. Lifting the cheek blocks and fallboard out together can be a bit tricky because often times the cheek blocks will want to fall off when you lift them up with the fallboard.

With verticals/uprights (consoles, spinets) it varies.
Sometimes it's as easy as tilting the fallboard forward and removing two screws (one on each end).

If you could post pictures of the piano we may be able to give you better clues.

I'd agree with others though, you may want to wait until the next time the tuner is over, or ask him/her to stop by when they are in the area (rather than make a separate trip).

If I was the tuner and knew I'd be in the area I'd likely not charge just to retrieve the pencil, unless I had to make a special trip.


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Originally Posted by tend to rush
Grand or vertical? You probably don't want to pull a grand action if you don't know how.

I would agree with that! I would not recommend removing a grand action oneself unless one has been instructed personally by a technician how to do it.

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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
How about not allowing pencils on the piano? Nothing good can come of this, whether it be writing, or erasing and blowing the rubber shreds (or broken leads) into the case.

Oh this is DEFINITELY a new rule!! Never imagined that pencils would be dropped into pianos.

Thanks everyone for the suggestion to ask the tech if he can come by while in the area! I think I'll start with trying that. My other piano skipped a tuning, so maybe an alternative is to have him tune the other piano and look at the grand while he is here.


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