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In piano terms, a hammer is the system that strikes the string, tine, or reed to generate a note. When a key is pressed, the lower action mechanism triggers the hammer to propel towards the string, tine, or reed in question. On acoustic pianos and Wurlitzers, hammers are made using compressed felt (though on a Wurlitzer they are considerably smaller) that are glued at the end of a wooden shank. On a Rhodes, hammers are made of hardened plastic and are either square or angled depending on the year of manufacture. The shank of the Rhodes hammer (called a hammer cam) was originally wooden but then redesigned to be plastic for more durability. On a Clavinet, the hammer is a small plastic cylinder that both strikes the string to generate the sound and also dampens the note when the key is released.

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