How to Access a Grand Piano's Action

Apr 18, 2023

Accessing a Grand Piano's Action


Welcome to Howard Piano Industries! If you're looking to access the action of a grand piano, you're in the right place. We'll break down the process of disassembling a variety of grand piano brands, starting with Steinway.

Disassembling a Steinway Grand Piano

Step 1: Remove the Key Slip. The key slip on a Steinway piano is easy to remove as there are no screws involved. Simply lift it right up as it's just sitting in a slot.

Step 2: Remove the Cheek Blocks. Next, you'll need to remove the cheek blocks. On a Steinway, this is also quite simple. There's just one large wood screw located directly underneath the cheek block that holds it in place. Make sure to remove the correct screw if there are multiple screws. Once the screw is removed, the cheek blocks and the fall board are connected and will lift out together. Be careful not to let the cheek blocks fall off as they are only sitting on a pin.

Step 3: Slide out the Action. With the fall board off, you can now slide out the action. It's important to grasp the wooden keyframe and not the top, as pressing the keys down while pulling out the action can cause the hammer heads to potentially break off. Avoid pressing the keys down on either end and always pull the action out straight without pressing any keys. You can try pressing the shift pedal and wiggling it to make it easier to slide out the action, but never press the keys down.

Step 4: Access the Piano Action. Now that you have the action out, you have access to the piano action for any repairs or adjustments you need to make.

Reinstalling the Cheek Blocks and Fall Board. To reinstall the cheek blocks and fall board, you can use this technique: Place the fall board upside down on your lap and hold the cheek blocks in place with your fingers. Then, slide it right in and secure it with wood screws. And that's it!

Disassembling a Baldwin Grand Piano

The process is slightly different compared to a Steinway. Here's how you can do it:

Step 1: Remove the Key Slip. On a Baldwin piano, the key slip is securely attached with wood screws along the bottom of the key bed. Locate and remove the four or so wood screws to take off the key slip.

Step 2: Remove the Cheek Blocks. Once the key slip is off, you'll find one wood screw holding each cheek block, similar to a Steinway piano. Carefully remove the screws, making sure the cheek blocks don't fall off the end. Remember to never hold your hands on top of the keys, but pull from the keyframe located further down. You can use the shift pedal to help free the action if it's tight. Once the action is removed, you can do the necessary repairs on a workbench or in your technician's lab.

Step 3: Reinstalling the Action. To reinstall the action, you can use the same technique as with the Steinway piano. Attach the fall board upside down on your lap and then attach the cheek blocks before turning it over in place.

Disassembling a Schimmel Piano

If you're working with a Schimmel piano, the case parts need to be removed in a different order compared to Steinway and Baldwin pianos. Here's what you need to do:

Step 1: Remove the Fall Board. Unlike Steinway and Baldwin pianos, the key slip on a Schimmel piano cannot be lifted straight out as it is held down by the cheek blocks. First, remove the fall board, which is not attached to the cheek blocks and has screws located in the front for easy access.

Step 2: Remove the Cheek Blocks. Once the fall board is removed, you can then take out the cheek blocks. Be careful with the cheek block screws, as they don't come all the way out and may stick out above the key bed, which could potentially damage the keyframe when pulling out the action. If necessary, make sure to screw them down below the level of the key bed.

Once the cheek blocks are removed, you can lift out the wooden wedge that holds the key slip in place, and then lift off the key slip.

When reinstalling, remember to put the key slip on first before attaching the cheek blocks, in reverse order. If you have any questions or need further clarification, you can refer to or ask in the comments for additional assistance.

This article is based on this video from our YouTube channel. For a visual demonstration of the concepts explained in the article, watch the video below!