What Does the Middle Pedal on the Piano Do?
If you an Avid Pianist or a student of Piano, you must have pretty much used Piano pedals to control the expression, softness and note actions of your Piano. If you are curious to understand the functions of the Piano Pedal and how the middle pedal of the Piano works you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to provide a detailed insight about the functions and types of various piano pedals and illustrate specifically on how does the middle pedal of the Piano functions.
The Piano Pedals used for grand, acoustic and upright pianos have 3 levers usually. The middle Piano Pedal, also called as Sostenuto Pedal is used to provide a selective sustain (where selected keys are kept on Sustain Mode, allowing other piano keys to be played normally or using the remaining 2 pedals.
For more details about the piano pedals and how to make the best use out of the middle pedal from your piano, please continue reading this article till the end and we expect all your queries should be addressed.
Types of Piano Pedals Used for Playing Piano
If you are playing pianos for quite some time, you would already know that there are various types of pianos to choose from – The Grand, Upright and digital version. Based on the different versions of the Piano, different piano pedals are used.
- Acoustic / Grand Pianos: Use 3 Lever Piano Pedals
- Upright Pianos: Use 2 Lever or 3 Lever Piano Pedals
- Digital Pianos/Keyboards: Use Either 3 or 1 Lever Piano Pedals
How Does the Middle Pedal of Piano Work?
The above picture, provides a clear depiction of the 3 types of Levers used in the most commonly used 3 Lever Piano Pedal.
The Left Pedal is referred as SOFT PEDAL (or sometimes called as UNA CORDA PEDAL), helps to control the softness of the piano notes. It controls the note striking velocity by raising and shifting the Piano Action to right side. By doing so, the piano notes only strike 2 out of the 3 strings for a particular note. Hence the sound produced is bit soft and muffled due to non-impact with the 1st string.
The Middle Piano Pedal is referred as SOSTENUTO PEDAL. Sostenuto is a word of Latin / Italian origin which means, upholding. In music, it means to hold selected notes in a sustained mode. Hence, we refer SOSTENUTO for Selective Sustain of Notes which are pressed by a piano player.
The Right Pedal referred as SUSTAIN PEDAL is the most commonly used pedal by musicians or pianists world wide.
This Pedal is used to provide universal Sustain / Hold for the notes whenever used along with the Pedal.
We will illustrate with an example, how does the Middle SOSTENUTO Pedal in a piano works and how you can achieve the desired sustain for selected notes in your piano using this pedal
The above infographic shoes an example of how SOSTENUTO is used with Keys C-D-E in the middle octave of a Piano.
Step-1: The pianist presses the notes C-D-E in the middle octave.
Step-2: The Middle SOSTENUTO Pedal of Piano is then pressed down.
Step-3: Once the Pedal is pressed, these notes (C-D-E) will be heard on a sustain/loop mode. The pianist therefore can play all other notes as per the need while the notes C-D-E are kept at ON and HOLD mode.
Hence Sostenuto Pedal is used for Selective Sustain Mode for specific notes in a piano.
Where to get the best quality External Piano Pedals for US and UK
External Piano Pedals are plentily available for digital pianos both in-store and in online mode. Such pedals are usually sustain pedals with 1 lever setup. However, there are some companies who deal with 3 lever pedals for existing piano or new piano setups.
We have tried to segregate the curated list of Piano Pedal Service Providers, manufacturers and online brands based on the type of Piano – Digital or Acoustic models.
Digital Piano Pedals
Amazon.com: The world leader in online shopping business, Amazon is easily the top choice to select from wide variety of piano pedals for Digital Pianos in US and UK as well as world wide.
Musiciansfriend.com: One of the oldest musical instruments and accessories online dealer website in United States is Musiciansfriend.com. Pianists usually look out for Piano pedals from a wide variety of manufacturers to choose from in this website. International shipping and UK Delivery is also facilitated using their services.
Zzounds.com : Zzounds provides an online solution for Digital piano players to get a wide variety of Sustain Pedals for their pianos. They provide shipping options to US and UK as well as ship internationally to various countries as well.
Acoustic, Upright and Grand Piano Pedals
Here is a list of the Top 5 Piano Manufacturers dealing with 3 lever Piano Pedals
Yamaha : World Leader of Digital and Acoustic Pianos, Yamaha music division is a top notch choice to choose Acoustic, Upright or Digital Pianos and the related Piano pedals.
Boesendorfer : One of the finest manufacturers with a solid history of pianos is the Boesendorfer company. It has a collection of the world’s finest pianos and piano pedals to choose from. Usually there pianos are classy and they have experts for repair, maintenance and help pianists to choose the pedals and models as per their custom needs.
Kawai: Kawai is a Japanese company which has been on Piano business since last 100 years. It has been able to provide great sounding Pianos (Grand and Digital) and piano pedal accessories for their digital and Grand pianos across the globe internationally.
Steinway and Sons: With a long standing history since 1853, the Germany based Piano manufacturing company produces one of the finest Pianos ever made for musicians and concert Pianists. Their pedal boards and meticulously designed and work great with various piano models.
Fazioli: The Italian manufacturer brand also has a good collection of pianos and hence makes piano pedals and accessories available for acoustic, upright and grand pianos.
Readers are advised to choose the appropriate model of pedals with 3 lever (including Middle SOSTENUTO) or 1 lever (just SUSTAIN Pedal) based on their needs and model of piano which they currently use.
Final Verdict and Conclusion
Piano pedals play a pivotal role in controlling the tonal depth, sustain and softness of the piano timbre. While choosing your piano, it is advised to select the correct type of pedal which would cater to your playing style and needs. Also, it is worth mentioning that the middle piano pedal does a critical job in controlling the selective sustain ability of the notes you wish to hold on while playing the keys. Furthermore, we have tried to cover an in-depth description of the piano pedal functionality, how to use, sourcing and availability of these pedals across UK and US.
Hope you enjoy reading this article on Piano Pedal functionality and about how does the middle Piano Pedal work for pianos. For more insights on Piano models, sheet music and other queries on Piano functioning, please visit the Piano Section of our website. <Link, call to action>