Manufacturers of keyboards with narrower keys
'The principle is one that seems so obvious and positive that I have never understood why it wasn't adopted generations ago. The fact is, most people cannot play all the repertoire they would like to. It's almost funny how many small-handed pianists come to me wanting to play Rachmaninov. More often, though, it's music of unremarkable technical demands that requires only a natural fall of the hand over a range of notes that is just that fraction too wide for comfort, leading to all the stress, insecurities and bad practices that are the bane of so many gifted colleagues' daily experience.' Ian Munro, pianist and composer, Australia, 2013.
Currently, Steinbuhler & Company in Pennsylvania (USA) is the only manufacturer of 5.5 inch octave (approx 7/8) keyboards (DS5.5®) and 5.1 inch (DS5.1™) for upright and grand pianos (www.steinbuhler.com). The company also makes 6.0 inch octave (DS6.0®; approx 15/16) keyboards. In the case of keyboards (with or without a new action) for retrofitting grand pianos, careful measurements of the particular piano are required. New upright pianos manufactured by the Walter company (USA) (www.walterpiano.com) can be ordered with a Steinbuhler keyboard installed. See the Steinbuhler Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Steinbuhler-Company-Smaller-Keyboards-for-Smaller-Hands/123595054200
Cunningham Piano of Philadelphia (www.cunninghampiano.com) now offers new "Matchless Cunningham" and Yamaha pianos with narrower keys (made by Steinbuhler & Co) on request. The company welcomes inquiries from interested pianists.
The German keyboard manufacturer Laukhuff (www.laukhuff.de) makes alternatively sized keyboards and welcomes enquiries from pianists.
The UK manufacturer Pinkham Pianos will make alternatively sized keyboards for their range of upright and grand pianos at no extra cost compared with a standard keyboard. Pianos with any size key can be made according to the customer's hands. Black key shapes and key coverings can also be varied to suit individual customer needs. The company will also make keyboards for other makes of pianos. For further information, see:
www.pinkhampianos.com/pinkhampianos.nsf/Pianos/CustomMadeSmallerKeys and contact the manufacturer. Prices of the range of Pinkham pianos are available on the company website. Rental arrangements are sometimes available.
Steinway & Sons will make a slightly smaller keyboard (somewhere between the conventional and 15/16 keyboards in size) for a grand piano.
Richard Cromwell, of Detroit Pianoworks (http://detroitpianoworks.com/), is keen to begin making retrofit alternatively sized keyboards.
Mike Morvan, of Blackstone Valley Piano in Boston (http://www.pianoandorgankeys.com), welcomes enquiries from potential customers.
Potential customers for retrofit keyboards in Australia and New Zealand are welcome to contact Sydney concert piano technician, Vahe Sarmazian, who will discuss options with the client, take the necessary measurements from their piano, liaise with keyboard makers overseas, and install the new keyboard. Vahe can be contacted on email@example.com
The above listing of providers does not imply any review or judgment of the quality of their products - it is simply a list of available options. As always, pianists will need to do their own investigations to ensure a particular piano/keyboard meets their needs and expectations.
TECHNICIANS FOR ALTERNATIVELY SIZED KEYBOARDS
There are now two Facebook pages, and a website under development, which aim to facilitate discussion and collaboration between piano technicians, share information on technology relating to keyboards with narrower keys (both acoustic and digital), and expand the supply options for pianists around the world. The Facebook Pages are:
A community page accessible to all: www.facebook.com/TASKPiano/
A closed group restricted to piano professionals: www.facebook.com/groups/TASKPiano/
The website address : http://taskpiano.org/
For further information, contact Kathy Strauch: firstname.lastname@example.org
A PASK document: 'An Opportunity for the Piano Industry', can be downloaded here:
Brown, Richard (2016). Alternate keyboards for the world: The Donison-Steinbuhler standard, Piano Technicians Journal, December.
Fandrich, Del (2016). A modern flat-strung piano, Piano Technicians Journal, December
Fandrich, Del (2017). Practical keyboards for normal people, Piano Technicians Journal, January
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