My piano drives the person below nuts...

marc321December 8, 2004

I've got a digital piano with headphone jacks. Usually, I use headphones when I play (especially when I'm practicing a new piece). So, no sound gets out EXCEPT the thumping of the keys. The keys have that realistic hammer action mechanism that makes them feel like grand piano keys, but they produce a nice muffled thump every time I hit one. Of course, that muffled thump tends to travel down the frame of the piano, through its feet, and through the floor to vibrate the ceiling and walls below... just enough to annoy the person. It probably sounds like someone lightly pounding their fists on the floor repeatedly and quickly. (No, I don't play very hard. The sound just travels extremely well)

Now, the person below me has to get to bed early and get up early. The only time I usually get to play is in the evening, when they're going to bed. To make things worse, the only place I could fit the piano was in my room, which is directly above their room! I've tried placing bundled towels or foam rubber under the feet of the piano, but nothing seems to work.

Does anyone have a suggestion? Is there some sound absorbing material (perhaps in mat form) that I can put under it?

Anything to stop the thumping (and the resulting wham! wham! wham! wham! I get when the person below hits her ceiling to make me stop).

Thank you!

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When we installed our whirlpool tub, the contractor put something called "soundboard" in around the tub so the noise of the motor would not travel through the house. It was this brown fiberous stuff in big panels (like plywood panels). I believe they got it at Home Depot. It must be cut to size, and I believe you would have to enclose it in something. Have no idea if it would help.

You might pose your question on another forum, like home repairs.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 5:24PM
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You might try a little harder to figure out if you can move it into another room.

And there is soundproofing material developed specifically for soundproofing needs (foam rubber was not); you could lay a sheet of that on the floor.

Here is a link that might be useful: soundproofing material

    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 4:35PM
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Maybe you can play your piano on the weekends at an earlier time? I think I'd lose my mind if at my bedtime someone decided to hammer away at the key board. Different room other then over thire bedroom would be nice. Maybe buy thick pieces of remants rugs stacked and put the piano legs on top of that would help.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2004 at 12:58AM
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Move it to another room and buy carpet remnants if you can't change your hours or style of playing. I know pianos and keyboards. Hammer action or not, you are banging on those keys or the neighbor wouldn't be bothered.

Grands, or any quality piano do not "thump" by the way, unless you play like a key banger. Piano keys flow and you do not hear them, you hear the music coming from them.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2004 at 4:04PM
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Of course, I know little about pianos, but aren't there digital pianos available that don't have "keys that have realistic hammer action mechanism that makes them feel like grand piano keys". Maybe the 'piano' store will let you trade in yours if it is in good condition.

I think your neighbour downstairs may appreciate you playing a digital piano that is less realistic:->

    Bookmark   December 10, 2004 at 7:40PM
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Thanks for all the quick responses.

Lately, I've been finding some time to play during the day time when the person below me is at work. So, it's no longer so much of a problem, but I am still going to consider some of the soundproofing material suggested (thanks). I understand how much of an annoyance the thumping can be, so I haven't played late since that one time I did.

Hehe, I know 'quality' (as in real) pianos do not thump. (I didn't intend to imply that). Most digitals, on the other hand, do. Go to a piano store and play one that's turned off or has headphones plugged in. It doesn't matter whether someone plays lightly or smoothly or not, that thumping sound will still be produced. It's just a matter of the mechanism involved. Real pianos have a pad that strikes one or more piano wires, producing the sound. Therefore, most of the energy put into the key is transferred directly to the wire, which then vibrates and produces sound (good sound). But, digital pianos don't have that luxury. All the energy goes to a pressure sensitive pad that sends the signal electronically to the processor to produce the sound. The motion energy of the key doesn't have the ability to dissipate in the form of vibrating strings. Rather, it's dissipated through vibrating the frame. (a more expensive unit probably has a better mechanism, however ... but I don't have the money to buy one :-) In addition, when fortissimo or staccato is required, it is hard to play without applying a little extra force to the keys!

As far as trading down to a less realistic piano, that's out of the question. :-) Not only does the sound quality degrade (in most cases), I personally find it more difficult to play with non-weighted keys. That's just me, though. Eventually, I'll trade up and get one with a better key mechanism.

I will go ahead and reconsider moving the piano to another room. Some piece of furniture will have to go, but I'll make do.

Again, thanks for the responses.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2004 at 2:21PM
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We had the same exact problem with my husband's digital grand when we lived in an apartment. Even when played gently, they make the most annoying sound. We ended up moving into our own home so we can't bother anybody anymore! The most amazing thing about our neighbors was that I was playing (quietly) during the day...but they had been up partying and making noise all night long (keeping us awake) and THEY wanted to sleep....go figure!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 2:40PM
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There are sound-blocking foam pads - any dense, "closed-cell" foam mats would work.

Or, float the piano on an air-cushion to prevent the vibrations from being transmitted through solid materials. The usual cushion is a innertube or two, lightly inflated, with a thick board across as a base for whatever you are isolating. Even a small air mattress works.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 9:04PM
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Interesting suggestions. I had never thought of using an inflated object. However, I would think that my piano would wobble all over the place if I put it on an air matress or something.

I'll stick the the sound-blocking foam pads. There's a Home Depot just a mile away from me, and a Lowes not much further, so I'm bound to find something that will work! :-)

Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 10:56PM
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Yep, air won't work, the keyboard will wobble too much. Marc dear, I know digital keyboards and pianos, hammer action on a keyboard is pffft unless you are a banger. Great question, what style of music do you play?

Some styles and songs just need key pounding right? I know that. Play those during the day and at night expand your playing with gentle songs. You might not think you will like them, but you will like them, when they come from your own hands.

Explore a new side, you might find it a good thing. That or move to the first floor. LOL

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 7:05PM
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I play classical pieces, Chopin and Beethoven mainly, along with a few new age songs. New age/contemporary is the new side I'm beginning to explore.

GammyT dear, apparently you haven't tried my Roland or kmwheel's husband's digital grand. Find my Roland HP 237 (discontinued, I believe, so good luck :-) ) and try playing something lightly on it. It will not go pffft! I guarantee it. It 'thumped' when I tried it out on the floor where I bought it (and no, I didn't buy it used). Perhaps I bought a junky model -- that would explain it being discontinued... (however, kmwheel had the same problem with her husband's digital grand). So I don't think I'm just blowing steam. But arguing my point is not worth my time, so I'm going to take some of the suggestions here and try them.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 12:37PM
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You are right, no need to argue your point because this is a discussion silly.

No, I never tried the Roland HP 237 but Classical music? Their are certain pieces that just require bravado but they are not key banger pieces, especially when you know your neighbor is bothered. Sorry, I assumed you were playing rock or rap or something loud like that.

Best you can do, besides changing your time of playing, is to buy a few bathroom rugs, and layer them. Bathroom rugs because they have a rubber backing and they have more fiber than say a kitchen put in front of your sink rug. Try two then move up to 3 or 4 if need be. It should at least help and might help enough that your neighbors shut up.

What also might help, since sound travels so well in your building. Take off the head phones, and turn the volume so it is a fraction of a notch above the key noise. Your neighbors might stop complaining if they can hear the music when they can't sleep. Or they might complain more, you never know until you try.

I had teenage boys living above my bedroom and I didn't complain about them playing music, I complained about the thumping base at all hours. Their Mom put a rug under their base speaker and at night they turned down the base down a few notches between 9pm and 6am. When I couldn't sleep I could still hear their music, and that was fine, but it never woke me up if I was sleeping fine.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 2:54PM
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I just re-read my last post, and I apologize if it sounded somewhat vindictive. That was not my intent. :-)

I recently changed jobs, so I have more time during the day to play. Plus, my dad had some very thick foam rubber. I sliced some up and put it underneath the piano feet and I believe it has helped. I can't say anything for certain because I haven't heard it from below. My only test was to put my ear on the floor and listen to and feel the vibrations. They were reduced by quite a noticable degree. I will try it out for a while and see what happens. In any case, I'll set 7:30-8:00 PM as my limit just to be on the safe side (during which I'm at work on weekdays anyway).

Thanks again for the extra suggestions. If the foam doesn't work, I'll certainly try the bathroom rugs. Sounds like a good idea.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 5:05PM
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Didn't sound that way at all. It sounded like HELP I want to play my music. 7:30 to 8pm is just warming up hun.

Bathroom rugs, the fibre takes more sound than foam and they have a rubber backing. Plus you might just find them in colors to match your decor. LOL

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 7:23PM
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Mount a board to the wall to support the piano, rather than placing it on the floor. The floorboards are vibrating like a drum...vibrating the wall will transmit fewer vibrations to your neighbors. Just make sure it's an outside wall :-) This is sometimes done with subwoofers and works pretty well. Just mount it close to the floor and maybe add some wood under your bench and you'll never notice while playing.

Homasote is a soundproffing board sold at HD and Lowe's. I used it once to build a soundproofing box for a large pump. It worked well. However...those thumps are low-frequency and you'll need something like foam rubber to dampen them out. If you make some calls to local recording studios they may have good suggestions for materials.

Another possibility is to mount your piano on spikes or cones to minimize its coupling to the floor. Another subwoofer trick. These can be found at hifi shops.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2005 at 2:34PM
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To "marc321":

You are a very considerate person. I am sorry I do not have suggestions for you. Your post was a long time ago though, so hopefully you solved the problem. I find your post refreshing. It's comforting to know that some people in apartments are considerate of the other tenants. I wish my upstairs neighbors were more like you.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 3:13PM
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