Piano keys are made of wood with a durable top covering called a keytop. Originally made of ivory and ebony, modern piano keytops are often made of various plastic compounds. Both the natural (white) and sharp (black) keytops can be replaced to restore the beauty of your piano.
Piano keys are what we touch, feel and connect with when playing the instrument, along with the pedals. Pianist often develop a keen sense of touch and preference for certain types of keys. Ivory, for example, is often preferred by concert artists because it is cool to the touch and will absorb perspiration allowing the artist to maintain a comfortable grip in the “heat” of an aggressive performance.
Modern Piano keytop materials
Since the ban on elephant ivory in the U.S. in the late 1980’s, most pianos nowadays come with various plastic keytops. The plastic materials used for manufacturing keytops come in a variety of both quality and color. However, they are durable and have a very uniform look.
In recent years, several manufacturers have developed synthetic ivory in an attempt to mimic the sought after qualities found in real ivory. Yamaha, Kawai, Fazioli, Steingraeber & Sons, and others offer synthetic ivory products on their highest end models. These high-grade plastic compounds are fantastic looking and feeling.
Thanks for the beautiful keytop replacement job you did for my customer’s Steinway. She was absolutely delighted with them – and also with the new sharps.”
Concert Piano Technician
What do I offer?
Most of my keytop replacement work involves replacing old worn out ivory and plastic tops on pianos from the turn of the century through the 1960’s. The process involves first removing the old keytop material, then preparing the raw keystick surface for a new top, installation of the new keytop, and final shaping and polishing of the new keytop. This process is similar for both the natural (white) keys and the sharp (black) keys.
I use a variety of power tools and hand-made jigs developed over a decade to produce a uniform, dimensionally accurate keytop. Most of my keytop work is done to-the-trade. That is, I provide this service directly to manufacturers, and other piano service professsionals in the piano industry. But, of course, I provide it to my own clients as well when needed.
I offer a variety of plastic material choices including synthetic ivory for naturals keys and both plastic and ebony wood keytop products for sharp keys.