Inside a Spinet Piano's Action

Inside a Spinet Piano's Action

Sep 21, 2023

Spinet Piano Action Details (Piano Tuning and Repair)

Welcome to our Series on Piano Tuning and Repair.

In this video we talk about more details of the spinet piano and how it differs from other vertical piano styles in how the action works.

If you want to see more of our Piano Tuning and Repair Series, click here to access the entire playlist.

Video Transcript:


Thanks for joining us here for another video here from Howard Piano Industries. We're gonna be talking a little more detail about spinet piano action in this video. In the previous videos, we showed you how to take the action out of a spinet piano and so forth. So today we're gonna take a little bit closer look at the actual action of the spinet.

This is the spinet piano, this piano is or this action has been taken out of the piano. We've got it set up on our workbench here, being held up by our action cradles, my vertical piano action cradle, and we've got generally, I can go through the different parts but we do is we hold up these drop lifter wires with cords when we take it out of the piano. I've released it from this section, this top section of the action just so we can kind of look at some more details. If we look here now on a spinet piano, most of the parts are the same as typical vertical piano action like the console or upright piano.

The working parts we've still got the hammer, the hammer shank, the hammer butt. This is the backcheck, there's a jack inside there, with a jack spring. In this part right here, is the whippen. The difference between a spinet piano which what's called a drop action, because it's dropped down below the levels of the backs of the keys, is that on a typical, what they call it direct blow piano action, the action sits directly on the backs of the keys, and there's a capstan at the back of the key which pushes up on the whippen. It pushes up on the bottom of this whippen here and it pushes up the whippen which pushes up the jack, which pushes up the hammer, and pushes forward the hammer, and the hammer hits the string and so forth.

The main difference between direct blow action or you know a taller like a console, or a taller upright piano, vertical piano, and a spinet piano, is a spinet piano has these what are called to drop lifter wires. So it's a rod they call it a wire but it's a pretty thick wire, and this goes up from the action and usually the drop lifter wires attached to the whippen by what's called an elbow. A lot of the older pianos had plastic elbows, this one has wood elbows which you know last much longer. You might have if you have a piano with plastic elbows and they haven't been replaced, you might find that they're starting to break.

Those are replaceable, we sell replacements for those but what happens is this part right here, this is the lifter grommet and that gets attached to the back of the key. We'll show you in fact, I can show you a key here, we've got a key from this piano and what that would do is, this lifter wire would just attach to the fork and the end of this key right here. So it gets clipped in there, and then as the key gets pushed down, it pulls up on the drop lifter wire, and it makes the whippen go up, the jack pushes up and makes the hammer go forward. So that's basically the difference in a spinet piano. A lot of repairs and so forth, the only reason that they're more difficult on a spinet piano, you know you talked a lot of technicians that say, oh it's so hard to work on spinet pianos, which you know the main reason that it's more difficult is, it's a little more work to get action out of the piano.

If you've done it several times it gets easier with practice, and so encourage if you've got repairs, did you want to spinnet piano, don't be afraid of it, just get a little experience and getting used to taking the action out you know. Sometimes if you know something, you're gonna do on all eighty-eight notes like replacing elbows, I mean I have replaced elbows with the action in the piano, and it's not so bad, but if you have to do any work like you know, if you've got to re-pin jacks or hammer flanges or anything like that, you really got to take the action out and a lot of times something that would take and bring the action back home to my shop in order to do that type of repair, just because it's just a lot easier rather than do it in somebody's living room.

Basically, that's the reason that spinet pianos are a little harder to work on. Obviously, it's a little more work to get the action on and on a console or upright piano. There are certain things you have to be able to take the action out as well to do some of those repairs, like you know tighten the whip and flange screws which are on the very back of the whippen, the back of the action so you have to take the action or to do that it's just a little more work to take the action out of a spinet piano.

Again, it's not so hard once you get used to it, those are some details you know about the spinet action. It doesn't generally function as well, although all other things being equal as direct blow action, because you've got extra movement in here and so it can't generally get as good of performance out of it as you do a taller piano with the direct blow action. Just the same as generally the taller uprights have a better feeling action than the console pianos, you know, larger action parts and so forth. So hopefully this information is helpful for you.