Thursday, 30 August 2012





30th August 2012.

Now here is a "waterfall" keyboard! This is the keyboard of a John Broadwood piano fom the early 1960s. It is in a school in Kidderminister and I have just tuned it. Waterfall keys are common on Hammond organs. The classic B and C models have them. Hammond also make some modern organs with them. The purpose on the Hammond is to be able to "palmslide"  for effect, without stabbing yourself. In the older Hammonds the term refers not only to the shape of the end of the key, but also the arrangment of the keyboards, or manuals one on top of another.  Later spinet organs have the keys of the upper keyboard sticking out over the lower manual to save space. These are called "diving board" keys.

The purpose of the shape in this case is to make the key covering in a single piece and without a lip which might get caught by the player's nails. There are 2 rivets in the front and one at the back. This is so that if the piano ends up in a hot and humid climate, the old fashioned animal glue might soften without the covering dropping off!  This sort of construction is referred to as "tropicalisation" in the trade. Every piano has a story!

1 comment:

  1. I've encountered a few of these over the years, though not for a while. I guess the robustness of tropicalisation was also suitable as robustness for schools.

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