Robert Estrin - piano expert

What's the Greatest Number of Keys on a Piano?

Are there pianos with more than 88 keys?

In this video, Robert talks about piano keyboards with an interesting historical background, and he will answer a question: Are there pianos with more than 88 keys?

Released on March 22, 2017

  
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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 livingpianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com. The question today is, what's the most number of keys on a piano? Well, if you know a little bit about the history of the piano, the piano started with very few keys, just about five octaves, around 60 keys. Early harpsichords had different numbers of keys before the piano was even invented. Well, towards the end of the 19th century, 85 keys became pretty standard on pianos. And then by the end of the 1800s, it settled on 88 keys. And we all know and love the piano for its 88 keys.

But do any pianos have more keys than that? Well, the answer is yes. Some Bosendorfers have a few extra keys. In fact, the Imperial Concert Grand Bosendorfer has 97 keys on it. So the extra keys, the colors are reversed. The black keys are white, the white keys are black, so that it's not confusing for pianists used to the typical 88 keys. Indeed there are a few pieces out there that composers actually wrote for those lower notes, but most of the time they're there just to add color for when you push down the sustained pedal. It actually allows those big fat bass strings to resonate sympathetically, adding to the richness of the tone. And if you're so daring, you could even add a low octave here and there.

Well, is that the most number of keys on a piano? Well no, not by a long shot. In fact, the Australian piano manufacturer, Stuart & Sons, has a piano with a whopping 102 keys. I have not had a chance to play this instrument, but I'm dying to try it out. They also have extra pedals. There's a lot of cool things about those pianos that really take pianos to the next level.

So great question. 88 not enough for you? Consider Bosendorfer or Stuart & Sons. Thanks so much for joining me here at livingpianos.com and virtalsheetmusic.com, Robert Estrin.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Tammy Hall * VSM MEMBER * on March 22, 2017 @5:39 am PST
Funny that today's subject is on the number of keys. I am having trouble playing chords with full octaves. My hands just aren't big enough to maintain the stretch to play them. Is there such a thing as smaller keys for smaller hands? Does an instrument exist that would aid me?
reply
Fulvia %28SnowLeopard%29 * VSM MEMBER * on March 22, 2017 @6:42 pm PST
Tammy, I have the same problem, with age and arthritis my hands shrunk badly, but I found an article about David Steinbuhler in Pennsylvania, who makes narrower keyboards. The standard octave requires 6-1/2", he makes a 6" and a 5-1/2". I went to his house and tried both reduced-size keyboards. He is in the process of manufacturing a 6" keyboard for my upright piano. His phone number is 814-827-0296. If you need more info, send me your email ads and I will contact you again.
Tammy Hall * VSM MEMBER * on March 23, 2017 @10:42 am PST
Thanks!!!
Robert Estrin - host, on March 23, 2017 @2:56 pm PST
Smaller keyboards have been a tiny niche in the piano world for nearly 100 years. The great pianist Josef Hoffmann had a 7-foot Steinway made for him with a smaller keyboard which he utilized in performance when possible.
Tammy Hall * VSM MEMBER * on March 24, 2017 @8:46 am PST
I would really like to know if I can get one that is digital. Can you give me some advice on this?
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