How To Fix Clavinova Sticky Keys

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

Why Do Clavinova Keys Stick?

In older models and discontinued Yamaha Clavinova, sticky keys have been a common issue by owners, like in the CLP-970 back in 2002. However, throughout the years Yamaha has been fixing these issues and started releasing digital pianos in line with their Clavinova series that features exceptional and innovative hammer key actions like in the CLP-745. Recently, the new Yamaha Clavinova digital pianos have been receiving positive feedback from their users and none have been complaining about their keys sticking or getting stuck.

What Causes Keys To Stick And How Do You Fix Them?

The scenario of having a piano typically comes in a cycle. First, you choose and purchase a piano, then you spend hours mastering and playing. 

Everything from the beginning starts with happiness until you experience the horrors. You start to experience issues with your piano. One of the first and most common issues you may encounter is sticky keys.

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However, there is nothing to be bothered about, as this issue is guaranteed to happen to all pianos over time. It is a minor concern and can be easily fixed so that you will be able to get your piano working smoothly like it used to. 

Common Reasons Why Your Keys Stick And Get Stuck

Piano Key Is Bound By The Keyslip

The long piece of wood located below the keys is called the key slip. When exposed to high humidity levels, the key slip tends to swell. When this is combined with a pianist who happens to push the keys forcefully, it tends to push the keys against the key slip, resulting in them getting stuck or sticking to the key slip. 

Solution:

To fix this issue, simply grip and pull the key slip forward. This may require you to slightly loosen the screw found beneath the keybed and to place shims of cardboard in between the key slip and end block. The goal is to create a gap between the key slip and the keys to prevent them from getting stuck or sticking. 

Things Get Wedged In Between Piano Keys

Most of the timepieces of small objects and crumbs of food may fall onto your piano, causing them to get wedged between the keys. In rare instances, children are sometimes responsible for this as they have the habit of shoving coins and objects in gaps or cracks. These objects cause the keys to get stuck or start sticking when pressing a key.

Solution:

The primary solution to this occurrence is to remove the wedged objects between the keys. Since the space between piano keys is tight and narrow, you may use Q-tips, opened-up paper, or even a knife to pull-out a stuck object. It is crucial to be gentle when removing these objects to avoid damaging your piano keys. For crumbs of food, you may use a blower, vacuum, or canned air in removing them. 

Things Get Stuck Beneath The Piano Keys

There are instances when objects get stuck beneath your piano keys. This can be caused by too much gap between the keybed and key slip, causing objects to easily get stuck beneath the keys which results in the keys sticking and getting stuck when pressing them down.

Solution:

It is advisable to examine your piano’s keyboard interior by reading the user’s manual. This is mainly because it may require you to remove the key especially if the object is deeply stuck beneath the key. 

In solving this problem, you will be needing a Phillips screwdriver to remove the keys. Then, remove the top cover, control panel, and keybed of your digital piano which are tightened in place by screws. When removing the screws, it is crucial to label them so you can properly assemble them back later. 

Once you have unscrewed the keybed, gently push it forward to create a ½ inch gap between the keybed and the key slip. Look for an arrow located on top of the key that may be pointing to the left or right to guide you on where to press your knife. 

Slowly apply downward pressure on your knife and wait for the key to pop out for you to remove the stuck object. Lastly, assemble the piano back together, doing the inverse order of how you disassembled it.  

Swollen Piano Keys

Digital piano keys are typically made of plastic while some are made of wood and ivory. Plastic keys have the tendency of getting swollen when exposed to direct sunlight for long durations while wood keys are prone to swelling when exposed to high humidity levels. On the other hand, ivory keys rarely swell but are susceptible to moisture swelling. Once your piano keys get swollen, it becomes unresponsive and starts sticking.

Solution:

In fixing swollen and unresponsive piano keys, press it downward together with the key beside it and gently separate them using a screwdriver. The screwdriver you use must have a thin tip to prevent it from damaging the keys. This method can be applied to both white keys (natural notes) and black keys (sharps/flats). However, extra precaution should be observed when dealing with black keys as they are more fragile.

Worn Out Piano Key Springs

Each digital piano key is equipped with springs beneath them to ensure that the key returns to its normal position whenever you are playing. This is called spring-loaded action. As time goes by, these springs start to wear out and begin to malfunction, causing the keys to prevent springing back to their up position and sometimes resulting in them sticking.

Solution:

The only solution to this issue is to replace the spring with a new one. You will have to dismantle your digital piano gently and safely as indicated in its user manual. 

Remove the screws of the top cover, control panel, and keybed. Once done, unscrew the keybed and locate an arrow pointing left or right which is found on top of the key that is unresponsive. The arrow serves as a guide to the proper placement of the knife, after which you slowly apply downward pressure on the knife for the key to pop out. When the unresponsive key pops out, you may remove and replace the spring with a new one to fix the issue. Then, assemble the piano back together doing the inverse order of how you disassembled it.  

Piano Keys Contact Strips Or Rubber Is Not Properly Fixed Or Aligned 

Contact piano key strips or rubber are typically found in Yamaha digital pianos. It is located beneath the keys and is responsible for allowing the keyboard to be connected with the PCB, achieving a circuit that enables the piano to produce sounds. Over time, this contact strip or rubber wears down and its adhesive begins to loosen its sticking ability, resulting in it being unstable. There are instances where the contact strip or rubber becomes unaligned and gets stuck in between or under the keys, causing them to stick and become unresponsive.

Solution:

This type of situation requires you to disassemble your digital piano, making it advisable to first read the user’s manual. Then, you can start disassembling your piano by unscrewing the screws starting from the top cover, control panel, and keybed. It is crucial to label where the screws are assigned to ensure that you properly assemble them back later. 

Once you have removed the keybed, gently open its top portion and examine all contact strips and rubbers if they are all properly aligned and functional. If damaged, you may replace it with a new one and align it properly in the same manner as the rest of the contact strips and apply the right amount of rubber adhesive to keep it in place. Lastly, assemble the piano back together doing the inverse order of how you disassembled it.  

How Do You Prevent Your Digital Piano Keys From Sticking?

There are actions you may do to prevent your digital piano keys from sticking and to ensure that it performs at its best. This will help you prolong your piano’s life so that you can enjoy doing what you love.

Things You Can Do To Prevent Your Keys From Sticking:

Use A Piano Cover 

Covering your piano with a piano cover or even a piece of cloth every after use will prevent your keys from sticking. It helps block out any object from getting stuck between or under your piano keys and protects it from direct sunlight, which can weaken plastic keys. In addition, it protects it from high water vapor found in the air which is known to cause wooden parts to swell. Despite ensuring that your digital piano performs at its best, covering it every after use will help keep out dust from building up. All of these will prevent your keys from sticking and at the same time guarantees that you preserve your digital piano’s lifespan. 

Don’t Eat Near Your Piano

Avoid eating near your piano to prevent them from sticking. Eating and drinking can lead to unwanted accidents other than sticky keys. For instance, spilling your drink on the piano can lead to electrical shock or even severe damage to your piano. In addition,  food crumbs may not be visible to the naked eye but they may slowly build up in between and under the keys as time goes by. Hence, it is better off to avoid eating or drinking near your piano in the first place to ensure that they are kept clean, as well as to prevent sticky keys. 

Avoid Positioning Your Piano Near Shelves

Placing your piano away from shelves also serves as a precaution to prevent any objects from falling or getting stuck between the keys.

Place Piano In Good Temperature

A piano is highly-susceptible to sunlight and humidity which is why it is advisable to position them in areas that offer good temperature. In terms of the piano’s plastic parts, exposure to sunlight can weaken and swell its plastic parts. On the other hand, exposure to high-humidity levels can cause its wooden parts to swell. To prevent your keys from sticking and to ensure that your piano lasts long, it is essential to place it where humidity levels are between 45% to 70% and the constant temperature is approximately 20 degrees celsius.