How to Tell If Your Piano has Ivory Keytops

How to Tell If Your Piano has Ivory Keytops

Dec 08, 2023

How to Tell If Your Piano has Ivory Keytops

Are you wondering if your piano has ivory keytops? Use this guide to quickly find out.

Examine the Keys

Take a close look at your piano keys. Keytops made of ivory have a break between the head and tail of the key. Plastic keys will rarely have this line.

Ivory keytops are typically off-white and often turn yellow with age, as opposed to the bright white of plastic keys. If you look closely, they will have curved lines and swirls in the material. This is usually a good sign that your keytops are ivory.

Additionally, ivory keytops have a satin feel, unlike plastic keytops, which are usually smooth and slippery.


Properties of Ivory

  • Off white, possibly yellowed appearance
  • Textured or satin feel
  • Grain, swirls, or texture visible throughout
  • Line where head attaches to tail
  • Only found on older pianos (roughly the early 1900s or earlier)

Properties of Plastic

  • Can be bright white, off white, or cream
  • Smooth, slippery feel
  • No texture visible or texture has no pattern
  • Mostly likely no line where head attaches to tail
  • Might be found on a piano of any age since the keytops on an older piano could be replaced

How Do I Replace My Ivory Keytops?

Consider replacing old ivory keytops with simulated ivory keytops. They simulate the look and somewhat of the feel of real ivory keys, but are made with the same kind of durable plastic as modern piano keys. You can have a piano technician replace the keytops, or you could do it yourself, with our guide on replacing keytops.