Tack piano

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An aged upright piano—specifically the 1905 "Mrs. Mills" Steinway Vertegrand owned by Abbey Road Studios.

A tack piano is an altered version of an ordinary piano, in which tacks or nails are placed on the felt-padded hammers of the instrument at the point where the hammers hit the strings, giving the instrument a tinny, more percussive sound. It is used to evoke the feeling of a "honky-tonk piano" (a piano in which one or more strings of each key are slightly detuned).[1] Tack pianos are commonly associated with ragtime pieces, often appearing in Hollywood Western saloon scenes featuring old upright pianos.[2] The instrument was originally used for classical music performances as a substitute for a harpsichord.[3]

Another method of achieving the percussive tack piano sound without using real tacks is through the use of lacquered hammers in the piano, like the Steinway Vertegrand piano popularized by Mrs Mills which resides at Abbey Road Studios.[not verified in body]

Problems and disadvantages

Using tacks on a piano runs the risk that the tacks will be ejected from the hammers and can then become lodged in other parts of the mechanism. If the jammed mechanism is then forced by hitting the keys, parts of the action may be broken. More importantly, the holes created in the hammers by the tacks dramatically weaken the hammer felt (which is stretched at high tension over the hammer wood).[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Everett, Walter (2009). The Foundation of Rock: From "Blue Suede Shoes" to "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". Oxford University Press, Inc. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-19-531023-8. 
  2. ^ Malvinni, David (2016). Experiencing the Rolling Stones: A Listener's Companion. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-8108-8920-0. 
  3. ^ Miller, Leta (1998). "Incidental Music for Corneille's Cinna (Suite for Tack Piano)". In Harrison Lou. Selected Keyboard and Chamber Music:1937-1994. A-R Editions, Inc. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-89579-414-7. 

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