Fingers sticking to keys

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Jim63
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Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Jim63 » 12 Jul 2009, 13:12

Has anyone tips for dealing with sweaty fingers now summer is here ?

I returned to playing at Christmas after replacing my old piano with a Yamaha U3.

Now hotter weather is here an old problem I remember from 30 years ago when I last played. The only temporary help after washing and drying is to dust with talcum powder, but this only helps for a time.
There is slight moisture or sweat on my fingertips this just makes my fingers stick to the keys, it's hopeless playing then. Is it my 'lack of' technique or fingers not strong enough to move against the sticking ?

Any thoughts very welcome please.
David.

markymark
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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by markymark » 12 Jul 2009, 13:50

I have heard of people spraying their finger tips with anti-perspirant but not sure hwo successful that would be!

Descombes
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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Descombes » 12 Jul 2009, 14:44

I avoid this problem by:

1 Keeping the keys as clean as possible. If the piano is new or newly sold then they should be spotless now.

2 Always washing my hands before playing, if there is any doubt that they might be anything other than pristinely clean and dry.

3 NEVER let anyone go near the piano with any sort of polish/spray/Mr S**** or any other artificial gunge. Putting it on the case is just as bad, unless it's completely rubbed off. I have reduced many cleaners to despair in the schools where I have worked by banging on about this.

4 Ideally keep children well away from pianos. Not always possible, especially as I am a teacher, but they are mostly disaster areas when it comes to clean hands.

I think these precautions should do the trick. I have played in some hot and unpleasant environments over the years, but have never had a problem with fingers sticking to keys. The technical people will confirm or otherwise, but I would think that talcum powder could be a risky answer to the problem; I'm sure it could get between or under the keys and play havoc!

Best of luck!

Jim63
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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Jim63 » 12 Jul 2009, 15:32

I've cleaned the keys with Cory key-brite and the keys are perfect, but it's my fingers that are the problem.
It's the moisture that produces fingerprints, I've scrubbed my hands, but as soon as I get warm my fingers sweat, when it's cooler there's no problem. It's such a slight amount of moisture only noticeable when trying to play and my fingers just seem to get glued to the keys. I assumed that it would have been a common problem. :(

Should I be able to move my fingers against this, finger strength or technique lacking ?

Gill the Piano
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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Gill the Piano » 12 Jul 2009, 16:51

Are they ivory or plastic? The only true cure is to play on ivory, as it absorbs the miosture more so you don't skid about so. And I realise that's not much help...bt if you ever get the chance of a piano with ivory keys, go for it!
What about using some sort of alcohol rub on your hands, like the stuff they use in hospital? That might help.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Jim63 » 13 Jul 2009, 15:05

I would assume the keys are plastic on a 1980's Yamaha. I had the same problem on my old 1900's piano which would have had ivory keys.
The alcohol sounds a good idea which I'll try, thanks for that.
I've just got a desk fan and stood it next to me and so far that seems to be keeping my fingers a lot cooler and stopping them sweating.

I'm still curious though if it's a technique thing that is stopping me from being able to move against the resistance of the sticking effect, or am I the only one to have fingers that have slight sweating causing it ?

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Gill the Piano » 13 Jul 2009, 17:13

Is it only when playing the piano? If it's a full-time thing then it's physical rather than psychosomatic and your GP might be able to help. And yes, a Yam would have plastic keys!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Jim63
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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Jim63 » 14 Jul 2009, 14:22

The fan is working thankfully, except for the music being blown about.

It seems when the temperature goes over about 72f I get the slightly damp fingertips. I think it's nothing more than the 'normal' moisture that produces fingerprints and that gives the grip when grasping anything, but it sure has given me a lot of annoyance since the Summer has arrived.
I know lots of people have very sweaty hands, I've been in the retail trade until retiring and have had to wipe my hands down my trousers after shaking hands with people who's hands were horribly wet countless times, mine are thankfully nothing like that !!!

Going back to my question on how others manage with playing in hot weather, is there no one who has the slightest moisture from their fingers that causes the fingers to stick to the keys ?
I've read on an American forum of people having fingers sweating so badly that their fingers slip off the keys.

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Descombes » 15 Jul 2009, 12:53

Glad you've found a solution, Jim. I can see that it's a real problem in your case.

However, you ask how widespread the problem is. I have never found it a problem myself. (OK, my piano has got ivory keys, so that probably helps, but I haven't experienced it elsewhere either - even in a hot and stressful situation.) More importantly, I've been living with pianos and pianists for most of my life. I never recall any fellow pianists mentioning the problem (either when we were students, or since) and I've never had a pupil who seems to suffer with it. (Though many need to be reminded about clean hands.) I hope this puts your situation in perspective - at least as I see it. Anyway, it seems as if the problem's solved!

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by pintwister » 23 Jul 2009, 22:32

There is a very expensive way to correct this. Have your Tuner box up the keys and send them off to a key shop and have the keytops replaced with ivory. This will correct the problem.
In the USA there is one keyshop that does a perfect job.

Rochester Piano Key
55 lois St
Rockester, NY 14606

Phone ... 1-585-647-1933
Bob Duncan
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joseph
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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by joseph » 24 Jul 2009, 11:04

Yeah but we can't import ivory can we??

I gave a recital recently and it was so hot that my hands were almost dripping sweat, and I slid off the key a couple of times. It happens I guess. Ivory keytops are better for this, and feel much nicer all in all. Not for the elephants mind... Perhaps if you found an old piano with the same size of keyboard, bought it for not very much, swap the keytops and sold the piano? I don't know if this is possible you could ask on the pianos forum?

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by Gill the Piano » 24 Jul 2009, 19:22

Yes, it could probably be done as long as the key size was the same - or the ivory keyboard had larger keys than the plastic one. However, you'd have to fight off a long line of techs - and cabinetmakers/restorers/luthiers queueing up to buy the ivory! Very difficult to make the join between the head and tail of the ivory smooth to the touch and invisible to the eye.
The fan is cheaper...:)
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by joseph » 24 Jul 2009, 20:12

that'll be why a lot of restorers are keen to strip the ivory keytops off the piano??

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Re: Fingers sticking to keys

Post by pintwister » 17 Aug 2009, 12:51

Refer to my previous reply for the address for Rochester Piano Key.
I think they will also sell used ivory keytops and you can replace them yourself or hire a tech to do it for you.
It would be worth checking to see if they still do this.
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