What is the point of the soft pedal on an upright? Mine doesn’t seem to have any effect at all.
The soft pedal on an upright piano has a different function to that of a grand which has the una corda – a device for making the hammers hit only two of the three strings making up one note. There are actually two types of soft pedal on an upright and the one you are referring to is probably what is called the ‘half blow’ pedal. This moves all the hammers towards the strings, effectively halving the blow (the distance the hammer travels to the strings) and reducing the force with which the hammer strikes the strings. All very well in theory but in practise it has hardly any effect on the volume as you have noticed. The other negative effect of this pedal is the way it introduces lost motion in the action of the piano, making it feel loose and reducing its efficiency. Placing your foot on the left pedal may, however, make you play more softly thus achieving the desired effect.