Grand Regulation – part XXVI

Step no39: Adjust Key Stop Rail
This step is certainly one of lesser importance, although it cannot be overlooked. The key stop rail has, in my opinion, two functions. The primary function, though rarely needed, is to keep the keys from falling off the key pins when the piano is put on its side to be moved. Therefore, the key stop rail should be so adjusted that it is close enough to the keys to keep them from coming off the key pins when moved, with perhaps a little bit of play (maybe 1 /16” or so) between the tops of the keys and the bottom of the key stop rail. This amount of play should be checked on the black keys, as they will be a little higher than the white keys. If the piano is never going to be moved, it is certainly acceptable, possibly even smart with foresight, to remove the key stop rail altogether. This will eliminate problems associated with function number two.
Opposed to function number one, which is rarely used during the life of a normal home piano, function number two seems to crop its ugly head all too often. That is, to cause grief to piano technicians! The key stop rail is forever causing wasted time in removing it and reinstalling it. It often interferes with the other action parts. The screws which hold the rail in place become loose and rattle on the keys below, sometimes even causing the keys to stick. This rail must always be removed to retrieve foreign objects which have been caught between the keys, or when making adjustments in the key height or key dip.
The regulating technician must be very careful when installing this rail. Putting the rail too low causes it to bind on the keys, making the hammer line rise while throwing off the key level. On some pianos, the rail cannot be too high or the keys in the middle of the keyboard under the locking mechanism will bounce up and cause a noise when they hit the bottom of the lock! I have also seen cases where the key stop rail was too high, letting the sharps come up to high on the rebound. The back of the sharp hits the front of the fallboard and creates a knocking sound that is a hard one to track down.
The list of griefs that this rail can cause seems to get longer every year. Pencils, pens, pins, toothpicks, hairpins, etc. all too often get lodged between the key stop rail and the keys. I particularly dislike having to buy a special tool and to carry it with me just to unscrew the rails with the little brass nuts. And once the slotted brass nuts have been removed and the rail taken off, invariable one of the unslotted brass nuts which holds the rail in place from the bottom is so frozen that I can not get it off the threaded rod! Everyone seems to have their little pet peeves about something. Surely, one of mine is the key stop rail.
Section V: The Dampers and Pedals
Whenever I have attended or given a class on grand regulation, the dampers, sostenuto, trapwork and pedals are always last on the presentation. There never seems to be enough time devoted to these items, sometimes having to be eliminated altogether because of the lack of time. Since time and space is not a factor here, we will be discussing these last eleven steps in great detail. The order in which these last steps is taken is not nearly as important in section V as it was in earlier sections. However, I have tried to establish a sequence that is easy for me to follow.

This sequence will be: 

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