Cabinet. The outside of the piano; the part you see when the piano is closed.
Cabinet piano. A type of upright piano developed by Muller (in Vienna) and Hawkins (London and Philadelphia) in 1800. The case was placed on the floor and the strings passed down vertically behind the action, with the striking point at the top. An essential component of the later cabinet piano was the simple striker action devised by Southwell in c1798. In 1807 Southwell patented a cabinet piano with an escapement action, which continued in production until the 1860s.
Capo d’astro. The top bridge on a grand piano that is normally cast into the frame. Some exceptions exist where it is cast into a separate unit and mounted onto the iron-frame so that it can be removed for resurfacing.
Capo tasto. [capo d’astro] (It., from capo: ‘head’, tasto: ‘tie’ or ‘fret’). The fixed metal bar that exerts a downward pressure on the treble strings of a piano, replacing the wrest-plank bridge (nut); it was invented by Antoine-Jean Bord in 1843. The term is also commonly applied to fretted instruments.
Capstan. A domed screw inserted into the back of the key. Usually made of brass, it is regulated in height to fill the gap from the back of the key to the heel of action. Its wooden form is called either a pilot or a dolly, depending whether it is lubricated or covered with cloth.
Capstan screw. A regulating screw, with the head cross drilled so that it can easily be turned from the side. An example in modern actions is the screw at the end of the key which transmits the movement of the key when it is depressed, thereby activating the action.
Cast iron plate. (also known as the harp) Gold painted iron support in modern pianos.
Closing. The act of gaining a commitment to purchase. The closing refers to the paperwork, signatures, and payment part of the process.
Coils. Tightly wound and uniform wraps of string wire around tuning pins.
Concert and artist pianos (or C&A pianos). Seven-foot and nine-foot grand pianos designated by manufacturers for loan or rental usage by performers in concert halls or recording venues.
Console piano. An upright piano measuring 40″ to 43″ high.
Celeste. see moderator.
Check. A refinement in the piano action that catches the hammer after it has struck the string, to allow a comfortable touch and a speedier repetition.
Cheek. The side part of the piano case at each end of the keyboard.
Chipping up. This term refers to the initial string-tensioning and first tunings of a newly strung piano.
Chiroplast. A mechanism invented by Johann Bernhard Logier for strengthening pianists’ finger and correcting the position of their hands when playing.
Clavecin a’ maillet (Fr.: ‘harpsichord with hammers’). A model for a projected instrument designed in 1716 by Jean Marius to demonstrate the application of a hammer action to a harpsichord. Although there is some confusion with the operating principle of the clavichord tangent at least one of the four such models Marius constructed describes a true piano action.
Clavecin royal (Fr.). A type of square piano invented in 1775 by Johann Gottlob Wagner with unclothed wooden hammers and a number of mechanisms for modifying the basic timbre.
Clavichord . A small, rectangular stringed keyboard instrument; the strings are set in vibration by brass tangents that sit on the rear of the key. The tangents also act as a bridge.
Clavicytherium. The upright form of the harpsichord. Triangular in shape the soundboard is raised at 90 degrees to the keyboard.
Clavier. The generic German term for keyboard.
Clutsam Curved Keyboard. Patented by the Australian, George H. Clutsam, in 1907, the Curved Keyboard was shaped so that all notes of the keyboard were equidistant from the player. (Stufer and Haidinger had anticipated this principle in a patent of 1824.) Both Dohnanyi and Rudolf Ganz played the instrument, which was manufactured by Ibach in 1908.
Compensation frame. The metal reinforcement of a wooden piano frame, patented in 1820 by James Thom and William Allen of Stodart, which used brass tubes above brass strings and iron tubes above iron ones so as to maintain greater stability of tuning. The patent marks the turning point in the design of composite frames, in which metal becomes the dominant material of the bracing system.
Cottage piano. A generic term for a small upright, also known as pianino. The name was introduced by Robert Wornum in the early 19th century.
Cross-strung. American term for OVERSTRUNG.
Crown. Curve of the piano soundboard.
Dactylion. A practice device invented by Henri Herz to develop independence of the fingers. It consisted of ten rings, fastened to springs, that hang above the keyboard.
Damper. A soft felt-covered action part that stops the vibration of the strings.
Damper pedal. See SUSTAINING PEDAL.
Depth of touch. The distance that the key can be pressed down, usually set at around 10mm. Also called key dip.
Digital ensemble piano. An entire product category that typically features the full 88 keys at regulation size and fully weighted , with a variety of voices and sounds. Typically mounted on a permanent stand with three pedals and includes a bench.
Digital solo piano. A subcategory of digital pianos that focuses on the primary voice or voices selected. There are no drums or accompaniments.
Ditanaklasis. Name for the cabinet piano invented by MATTHIAS MULLER in 1800.
Doppelflugel (Ger.). A general term for a piano with two keyboards; see DOUBLE GRAND PIANO, PIANO A CLAVIERS RENVERSES, VIS A VIS.
Double action. See ENGLISH DOUBLE ACTION.
Double escapement. A form of ESCAPEMENT.
Double grand piano. A grand piano with two keyboards, one at each end, patented by Prisson in New York in 1850.
Down bearing. Downward force of the string tension on the bridge and consequently on the soundboard. Assures energy transmission from the bridge to the soundboard.
Down-striking action. A horizontal action placed above the strings and frame of a grand or square piano designed to eliminate the two principle disadvantages of a conventional up-striking action: the tendency of the hammer to unseat the string by striking it up and away from the nut; and the structural discontinuity in the piano frame (the gap), provided to admit the hammers. Nannette Streicher’s elegant mechanism of 1823 was said to have inspired Henri Pape c1827 to develop his own down-striking French grand action, which was to influence the work of a number of European and American makers. Only the invention of the cast iron frame finally made this approach to piano design obsolete.
Down weight. The grams of weight and pressure necessary to press a key down.
Drawer fallboard. Pull-out type of key cover. Two-hand operation.
Duplex scale. Odd lengths of strings behind the bridge that are encouraged to ring sympathetically to enhance treble response. Other scales mute these lengths off with cloth webbing string braid. A design characteristic only, not a sign of quality or performance.