Why Do Grand Pianos Vibrate So Much?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

The piano is both a stringed and percussion instrument. The hammers striking the strings produce vibrations that are easily felt by anyone with hands on the grand piano. Read on to find out why grand pianos produce this vibration.

Do All Grand Pianos Vibrate?

All grand pianos vibrate because of how they produce their sound.They produce stronger vibrations when played with loud dynamics (f or fff) and weaker vibrations with soft dynamics (p, pp, or ppp). 

Just because grand pianos vibrate does not mean that there is something wrong with the piano. But if it produces sounds out of the norm, such as rattling or buzzing sounds there may be a few reasons why:

  • Objects near or beside the piano are catching the natural vibrations and amplifying them
  • Cracked glue joints, loose bridge pins, loose screws, etc.
  • Damaged parts inside the piano – cracks in the soundboard

Abnormal vibrating sounds are usually solved with the help of a piano technician. Depending on the cause of the vibration, the piano may need servicing or part replacement.

What Makes a Grand Piano Vibrate?

The action mechanism of pianos consists of hammers striking strings when the keys are pressed. The vibrations of the strings transmit through the bridges to the soundboard which vibrates to produce sound. 

In effect the whole piano, not just the soundboard vibrates to make sound.

The shape of the grand piano also contributes to the vibration. The wing shape allows for great resonation of the vibrations made by the piano strings. As a result, grand pianos produce a better sound and tone quality compared to other shapes used over the years,

What Can Reduce Grand Piano Vibrations?

It is harder to dampen grand piano vibrations as they are built to effectively resonate sound through the top lid and at the bottom. But if circumstance or preference requires reducing vibrations here are a few things that will help:

  • Keep the top lid closed
  • Put piano casters underneath the piano wheels – reduces sound vibration through the floor
  • Place acoustic foam underneath the piano

Remember that all pianos naturally produce vibrations, and grand pianos even more so.

If the vibrations sound more serious than the natural ones the grand piano produces then do the following things:

  • Inspect the area near the piano for objects that might be catching the vibration
  • Use a flashlight to check the parts inside the piano for damage
  • Call a piano tehnician for expert assistance if it seems really serious