How to Fix Digital Piano Keys – A DIY Guide for Musicians

Author: Tomas Morton | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

One of the most annoying things that can happen to a musician is for your instrument to fail while you’re in the middle of playing an important piece of music.

Whether it’s a broken string, torn snare drum head, or in this case a broken digital piano key. It can zap all the energy out of you and cause you to panic.

Digital pianos are usually durable and long-lasting, but after a few years, you might encounter issues with some keys. Don’t stress, digital piano keys are easily fixed. The first order of business is diagnosing the problem.

Tools of the Trade

If you’re looking to fix your digital piano keys without leaving the house, you’re in luck! You can find most of the tools you need at your local hardware store.

Here are some of the basics: screwdrivers, insulation tape, blow spray and foam, spray brushes, bolts and nuts, blade and cutter, cleaning solution, lamps for illumination, and a tester and multi-tester (multimeter).

So, here’s the thing: you might not need all of these fancy tools. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of cleaning things up a bit. Here’s how you can tell.

Problem #1: Sticky Keys

So, the keys on your piano might get stuck sometimes, and it’s a total bummer. This can happen with both those old-school, acoustic ones and with the fancy digital ones.

For the acoustic ones, it’s usually because the wood swells up when the air gets too humid or hot. With electric pianos, it’s more likely that some dirt or dust gets in there and causes some problems.

So, to fix this problem, you’re gonna have to open the piano and get access to the keys. Here’s how to do it:

For Digital Upright Pianos:

  1. Open the top cover.
  2. Unscrew the front panel and lift it up.
  3. Look for any objects that may have fallen inside and remove them.
  4. If necessary, use a keyboard cleaning solution to dissolve dust.
  5. Thoroughly clean the mechanism and keys.
  6. Screw the panels back on.

For Digital Grands:

  1. Remove the board in front of the keys by removing the screws underneath.
  2. Look for any objects that may have fallen inside and remove them.
  3. If necessary, use a keyboard cleaning solution to dissolve dust.
  4. Thoroughly clean the mechanism and keys.
  5. Replace the board and screws.

Problem #2: Problems with the Keysticks

So, you’re playing away, and suddenly a key sticks. Ugh, the worst! It could mean the keystick is cracked or damaged.

Here’s what to do:

Follow the same steps as you did with the sticky keys to gain access. You could try gluing a slightly cracked or worn keystick, but honestly, it’s probably just better to replace it.

If you do go the glue route, make sure to use the right kind of glue on both sides of the keystick so it stays balanced and has the right weight.

Problem #3: Broken Keys

It’s a bit of a toughie, but we’ll get through it.

The first thing you’ll want to do is mark the broken keys using a sticker or marker. Then, it’s time to unscrew the top panel of your digital piano. Once you’ve got that out of the way, you’ll need to identify the problem. One of the major areas to check is the springs under the key.

If you find that the key is cracked, unfortunately, gluing it isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need to order the exact same key. It’s always a good idea to order a few extras for future replacements so you don’t have to wait around.

Fixing broken piano keys can be a bit of a pain, but don’t worry, with a little patience and know-how, you’ll have your digital piano working like new again in no time!

Problem #4: Messed up Key Bushings and Rail Pins

The keys in a piano are held in place by these things called key bushings. They’re basically felt-lined holes that fit over rail pins, which keep the keys in place and stop them from moving side to side. The main reason these bushings fail is because of moisture.

To figure out if this is the issue, pop open the piano top and check out the keys while you play, like on a regular piano. Ideally, the hammers would quickly bounce back to their positions when you release a key.

If those hammers seem slow or don’t return to their positions, it may be a problem with the key bushings. You’ll probably notice this problem more when you’ve got the sustain pedal pressed.

If you want to fix this issue, you can try pressing the felt down using some sort of sharp tool and use a back-and-forth movement while the key is raised at rest or just in its natural position.

If the issue is with the rail pins, you can usually clean them with a solution that works for metal. They could also be bent or twisted, and if they are bent, you can use pliers to twist them back into position.

Problem #5: Issues with the Action

So, you’ve gone and cracked open that piano, taken it apart, and none of the previous issues have come up. If that’s the case, there’s a chance that the problem has to do with worn-out or broken parts in the action of the piano.

This includes hammers and hammer butts. There are also flanges, pins, and springs involved in these parts. In case any of these fails, the keys will stick. That’s a mouthful right there. Yep, this problem is pretty intense.

How to Fix This

Honestly, this part of the piano is so important that I’d recommend calling in a professional. There are way too many parts and it’s definitely something that a trained, highly experienced technician could handle better than you or me.

How to Keep Your Digital Piano in Good Condition

My advice would be prevention is the best solution! To keep your digital piano in good condition, follow these tips:

  • Keep the piano away from doors and windows to avoid damage from knocks, dust, rain, and sunlight.
  • Use a dust cover to protect your piano from pet hair, dust, and other debris.
  • Keep the piano away from falling objects.
  • Don’t eat or drink near the piano to avoid spills.
  • Wash your hands before playing to avoid getting dirt, oils, crumbs, or germs on the piano.
  • Organize your cords and cables to avoid tripping.
  • Use a proper power source to protect the piano from power surges.
  • Invest in a solid stand for your digital piano.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your digital piano stays in great condition for years to come. After all, only one thing can be better than knowing how to fix digital piano keys. And that is, not ever having to apply that knowledge!

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About Tomas Morton

Tomas is a record producer, engineer, and synthesizer enthusiast based in Pasadena, CA. He received training at Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. When not in his studio, he can often be found scouring garage sales or Craigslist ads for vintage gear treasures.

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