Robert Estrin - piano expert

Should You Close the Fallboard on Your Piano?

Learn more about the piano fallboard and how to handle it properly

In this video, Robert talks about the often forgotten "fallboard"... what is it, and how is it properly handled?

Released on December 28, 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

Well, you know, so many people see the fallboard, they figure, "Oh, it's there, we'd better use it." And, matter of fact, they even, like on this piano, have locks, so you can lock people out. Why would you want to do that? Well, sometimes it could be young children in the home, for institutional use. Sadly, the locks that are built into pianos are pretty much worthless because they could be easily tampered with, which is why they have much stronger apparatuses for that purpose.

But, getting back to, should you close your fallboard? Well, what function does a fallboard actually play on a piano? Well, if you close your fallboard, dust will not collect on your piano keys, however, dust will collect on the fallboard. Does that help? Well, perhaps it might be a little bit easier to clean the fallboard, but not necessarily, since this furniture, some satin furniture, is very difficult to keep clean.

So, the other issue is, do you have ivory keys or plastic keys? Growing up, my father would always leave his fallboards open, and I asked him about it as a young child, and he explained to me that ivory keys on his piano would yellow if you closed the fallboard. Absolutely. So, if you think about it, if you're in a room and the natural sunlight will keep your keys white, but those ivory keys will yellow if you always close your fallboard when you're not playing your piano, so there's actually good reason not to use your fallboard if you have ivory keys.

If you have a piano with plastic keys, it's a judgment call. If you'd like to close it to discourage people from playing the piano and to keep dust from getting on the keys, and if you prefer dusting the furniture rather than the keys, then close the fallboard, by all means, but it doesn't actually serve any function for the piano. In other words, it doesn't protect the guts of the piano from degradation, so it's more decorative than anything else. Who knew?

Thanks for the great questions. Again, this is Robert Estrid, and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on January 11, 2017 @2:06 pm PST
well having cats at home near the piano is an issue, unless you want to hear them playing from time to time, closing the fallboard is really recommended. Aristocat Berlioz did play well, not all are so talented. I recall a video of a composer who added accompaniment to the steps of his cat on the keys, it was very good, but in most cases the musical value isn't that high.
Jay on December 29, 2016 @5:45 pm PST
I keep the fallboard on my Steinway baby grand taped in the upright position. If, shamefully, a pencil or paper clip is lying on the board, lifting it will send the objects into the dreaded inaccessible space, requiring technical assistance to retrieve them.
Jay Barnhart, Jr.
Robert Estrin - host, on January 4, 2017 @1:13 pm PST
You can also wedge a piece of felt between the open fallboard and the side of the piano. this will prevent glue from damaging the finish and will keep the fallboard open.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on December 28, 2016 @7:06 am PST
I prefer to clean the fall board, the Cory piano polish does a great job for high gloss finishes.
Sandra alston * VSM MEMBER * on December 28, 2016 @5:49 am PST
I love these videos! Is there a library by chance where I can have access and watch other videos??
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 28, 2016 @8:52 am PST
Glad to know that Sandra! Of course, here is our Music Experts starting page:

And you can find all Robert Estrin's videos from his dedicated page below:

Saxon * VSM MEMBER * on December 28, 2016 @5:22 am PST
Then there is a good reason to close it for plastic keys. UV from sunlight will degrade plastics in the long run.
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