Robert Estrin - piano expert

Fake Ivory Keys?!

Learn more about the possible benefits of the ivory-touch

In this video, Robert talks about "fake" ivory keys and how they could be beneficial in some way... but are they?

Released on November 23, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin at and And today, is there such a thing as fake ivory keys? Wow, this sounds like something you should avoid. What is this all about? Well, of course, piano keys originally were all made out of ivory which, of course, comes from elephant tusks. Well, with the near extinction of elephants, laws were enacted that slowly phased out the use of ivory on pianos, and plastic key tops became standard.

Well, there are many different types of plastic key tops, and sometimes, there's an attempt to make them look like ivory. Sometimes, some of them are pretty hideous, where they put like a fake texture in them and they don't look real and they don't look good, either. But there are some attempts to get not only the look, but even the feel of ivory, like on this Yamaha S Series piano. It has Ivorite, which is their trade name for a plastic that is closer to the feel and look of ivory.

So, is there a benefit to this? Well, yes and no. If you like the feel of ivory, absolutely. However, you gotta realize that the vast majority of times when you're playing a piano, it's going to have plastic keys. So if you want to be comfortable playing other instruments, perhaps just having standard plastic keys is a safe bet because then you'll feel comfortable when you play other instruments in other places. But there's certainly nothing wrong with it.

However, I would caution against cheaper types of fake ivory because I don't think they look very good, and you're better off just with the standard plastic key tops usually called composite, because it sounds a lot better than plastic, doesn't it? But of course, so many things in our world are plastic but we like to use different words because it sounds cheap. But there's nothing wrong with a good set of composite key tops. In fact, virtually all the great pianos in the world have some sort of plastic key tops on them, including this Yamaha.

Thanks so much for the great questions. Again, Robert at and, see you next time.
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