I often find myself tracking down obnoxious and unpleasant sounds in customer’s pianos. Pedal squeaks and creaks are very common.
I recently had a customer ask me if she could use WD-40 to lubricate her squeaking pedal. I’ve included a brief excerpt from that email:
It entirely depends on where the creak is coming from. Depending on your piano’s design, there might be any number of rubber connectors in the pedal trap-work. Those respond very well to WD-40. (I would recommend either silicone grease or the “silicone specialist” variety of WD-40, which makes for a better lubricant. WD-40 is, by its nature, a solvent.) I would say approximately 50% of pedal squeaks and creaks are caused by these rubber pieces, and they’ll ultimately have to be replaced, but WD-40 will coast them along fine for years. In general, you can apply WD-40 anywhere that you see metal operating against metal, plastic, or rubber. Do not use WD-40 on felt or wood.
If it isn’t a metal connection, the effectiveness of WD-40 reduces quickly.
Most pedal “creaks,” if they aren’t caused by an old rubber joint, are caused by one of the components being loose. Screws have a tendency to work themselves out over time. This is another 25% of my pedal creaks and squeaks. You’re looking for any mounted piece moving that shouldn’t be, and usually turning the screws a hair will obviously reduce or eliminate the sound.
If it’s not any of the above, you’re in for a prolonged hunt. Pedal problems are either fairly obvious, or are some of the most difficult problems to diagnose. To give you an idea how hilariously difficult they can be, I had a pedal creak in a Steinway grand that was caused by a dowel bending. They dowel ITSELF actually creaked when force was applied to it. The problem could be simulated by taking the dowel out of the piano, placing one end on the floor, and leaning on it. I ended up machining a replacement out of brass, which remedied the problem, but is (to date) one of the most over-the-top solutions to a creaking pedal I’ve encountered.
I apologize for the long-winded nature of that response. Discussing pedal creaks is a common way piano technicians pass the time.
And now, for a brief photographic journey through the creation of that brass piece: