American manufacturers of alternatively sized keyboards

Currently, David Steinbuhler in Pennsylvania (USA) is the only manufacturer with many years experience with 5.5 inch octave (approx 7/8) keyboards (DS5.5®) and 5.1 inch (DS5.1®) for acoustic upright and grand pianos. David, and his grandson Alex, also make 6.0 inch octave (DS6.0®; approx 15/16) keyboards.  In the case of keyboards for retrofitting grand pianos, careful measurements of the particular piano are required. They can be supplied with a new alternative action to allow for easy interchangeability or mounted on the old action. During 2018 the former Steinbuhler & Company was converted to a non-profit Foundation, the DS Standard Foundation Inc. (http://dsstandardfoundation.org/) however keyboard manufacturing remains an ongoing activity of the Foundation.

New Hailun HU1P upright pianos with DS5.5 or DS6.0 keyboards made by David Steinbuhler of the DS Standard Foundation are available through a partnership with Hailun USA: https://hailun-pianos.com/mysizekeys/. See also: Retail stores and pop-ups

New upright pianos manufactured by the Walter company (USA) (www.walterpiano.com) can be ordered with a Steinbuhler keyboard installed. 

Cunningham Piano of Philadelphia (www.cunninghampiano.com)  now offers new “Matchless Cunningham” pianos with narrower keys (made by Steinbuhler & Co) on request. 

Steinway & Sons USA will provide a narrower keyboard in new Steinway grands, or as a retrofit into an existing Steinway piano, on request.  Please contact Hannah Reimann for further information: http://www.hannahreimann.com/stretto

David Rubenstein, from Los Angeles (www.pianosrubenstein.com) is willing to make alternatively sized keyboards and welcomes enquiries. dr@pianosrubensteinstein.com

 Jim Watson, from San Marcos, Texas (www.watsonpianoworks.com)  is willing to make alternatively sized keyboards and welcomes enquiries. Watsonpianoworks@gmail.com

European manufacturers of alternatively sized keyboards

In Germany, Kluge (owned by Steinway) will make alternatively sized keyboards and welcomes enquiries from pianists. (https://www.kluge-klaviaturen.de/keyboards_components.html?fbclid=IwAR1sQn7IjUtak1McjDG_48E1SeLBv5eKoUnJ55uCfsq53HWn82Gt92vuLJI)

The UK manufacturer Pinkham Pianos will make alternatively sized keyboards for their range of upright and grand pianos at no extra cost compared with a standard keyboard. Pianos with any size key can be made according to the customer’s hands. Black key shapes and key coverings can also be varied to suit individual customer needs. The company will also make keyboards for other makes of pianos. For further information, see:
www.pinkhampianos.com/pinkhampianos.nsf/Pianos/CustomMadeSmallerKeys and contact the manufacturer. Prices of the range of Pinkham pianos are available on the company website. Rental arrangements are sometimes available. clive.pinkham@pinkhampianos.com

Digital keyboards

While some of the major manufacturers of digital keyboards (such as Yamaha and Korg) sell ‘mini’ keyboards with fewer than 88 keys, they are mainly designed for small children. They have unweighted keys which are often considerably shorter than normal.

The only new keyboard currently available with 88 narrower keys is Lumi Keys, a controller with DS5.5 size keys. Each keyboard comprises two octaves, but if you buy four keyboards they can be linked together to get 96 keys. https://playlumi.com/assets/manual.pdf

There are  no 88-key digital keyboards with semi or fully weighted keys currently on the market, although there are two under development by small firms – one in the USA and the other in Europe.

The European company, Kaduk Musical Technology, is using innovative approaches to action and keyboard design in its ‘Respons’ keyboard. It will be possible to have keys of any width, down to 3/4 of the conventional keyboard (6.5 inch octave). http://www.kaduk.nl

An American company is developing the first narrow key (5.5 inch octave) 88 key digital keyboard. http://narrowkeys.com. You can see a prototype played here by Linda Gould: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ja8as9HpPA

To express interest and follow up for more information as it becomes available, please contact Linda here: https://www.playpianochordstoday.com/contact-narrow

The DS Standard Foundation can retrofit Kawai MP11SE keyboards with DS keys (5.1, 5.5 or 6.0) on request. Contact David Steinbuhler on dskeyboards@tbscc.com

Monitor ‘Latest News’ on this website, or via PASK social media,  for updates! 

Disclaimer

The above listing of providers does not imply any review or judgment of the quality of their products – it is simply a list of available options. As always, pianists will need to do their own investigations to ensure a particular piano/keyboard meets their needs and expectations.

Technicians for alternatively sized keyboards

There are two Facebook pages, and a website which aim to facilitate discussion and collaboration between piano technicians, share information on technology relating to keyboards with narrower keys (both acoustic and digital), and expand the supply options for pianists around the world.  The Facebook Pages are: 
A community page accessible to all: www.facebook.com/TASKPiano/
A closed group restricted to piano professionals: www.facebook.com/groups/TASKPiano/

The website address : http://taskpiano.org/For further information, contact Kathy Strauch:  info@taskpiano

What size do I need?

3D Printed Models can help you work out what size you need. These can be made quite cheaply by anyone with access to a 3D printer. Please visit this website: TASK (Technicians for Alternatively Sized Keyboards) to read more and access the computer files: http://taskpiano.org/3d-keyboards/

To try out a real piano or keyboard with narrower keys, see what the options are in your own part of the world: Where to try these keyboards

References

Brown, Richard (2016). Alternate keyboards for the world: The Donison-Steinbuhler standard, Piano Technicians Journal, December. https://paskpiano.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Steinbuhler-article-Dec16-PTJ.pdf

Fandrich, Del (2016). A modern flat-strung piano, Piano Technicians Journal, December. https://paskpiano.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Fandrich_A-Modern-Flat-strung-Grand_Dec-16.pdf

Fandrich, Del (2017). Practical keyboards for normal people, Piano Technicians Journal, January. https://paskpiano.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Fandrich_Practical-keyboards-for-normal-people_Jan-2017.pdf

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