The number one thing that comes to mind when someone is looking to buy a digital piano is what type of keys are best. There are two features of any piano that are most important:
- The feeling of the Keys
This article aims to arm you with the knowledge that you need in order to make an educated decision. Without further adieu, let’s look at the differences between weighted, semi-weighted keys, and their variants.
HEADS UP! This review uses Piano Language (the language that all pianists magically use to telepathically communicate with each other.)
Semi-Weighted Keyboards come in a wide variety of choices. They include many features that are attractive to many, while to others, they are hogwash. Another factor that needs to be considered is the make or brand of piano. Yamaha semi-weighted keyboards are abundant while others tend to focus less on the quality of their parts.
Action is the determinant for these keyboards. Semi-weighted keyboards basically have a spring that allows the key to return to position after contact. The spring is consistent among all models and makes. They also have a weight attached to the key which simulates hammer action on a grand.
Semi-weighted keyboards are easier to play than their weighted variants and provide an excellent start for those learning how to play the piano. They are good for hobby players as well as performers themselves. The director at my church uses a semi-weighted Yamaha MODX8 Semi-Weighted keyboard for practice. However, he performs on a Yamaha Grand Piano. There is a drastic difference in feeling between the two yet he still prefers smoother practice.
If you are an organist but don’t have an organ in your home, consider getting a semi-weighted piano. The amount of pressure or resistance that is incorporated in them is consistent to the feel of an organ.
Semi-weighted keys do not require a substantial amount of force. They are meant to not strain the hands and wrists when playing. The only downside is that they don’t help you refine your technique. The keyboard that I started playing when I was a kid is the Yamaha P-85 Digital piano. Mine had semi-weighted keys and it felt different when I would sit down for a performance. I still have it as a keepsake.
Lets look at the Pros and Cons in a recap!
- Smoother practice
- Good for hobby players and performers alike
- They are generally cheaper than fully weighted variants
- Slows technique development
- Less resistance than weighted keyboards
Alesis Digital Piano company has new arrivals to the market which attempt to rival other semi-weighted keyboards. I have a full review on them, if you need to do more specific research. I’ll leave the links below.
If you want to truly devote your time and energy into playing or are looking for a more realistic/immersive experience, then this section is for you.
If you’ve ever touched the keys of a grand piano then you will know that you have to press somewhat hard to play the notes compared to a keyboard. Yamaha has put this concept into their keyboards to provide a more realistic and immersive experience. The keyboards that they make are very affordable compared to grand concert pianos, after all. These keyboards are the best ones for training and practicing for major performances.
Fully weighted keys are harder to press and have more resistance. They have weights under the keys which intentionally simulate the action of an acoustic. There are obvious differences. One being that the hammer on a
Yamaha and Casio (along with some others) have successfully integrated this technology into their keyboards. If you need a better idea of what they have to offer, I have a full review on each of their best products. I’ll leave a link to them below.
Let’s examine the pros and cons
- Very realistic and immersive feel
- Specialty for serious performers
- Usually combined with other key features that add to the value
- Generally more expensive
- Keys have resistance that can be challenging for children or beginners.
- There are a few miscellaneous features that factor into weighted digital pianos also.
Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action
Some fully-weighted keyboards are also known as Tri-Hammer Action keyboards. The only difference between the two is the amount of pressure or resistance. They are both compatible, however, there is a simple analogy – All Tri-Hammer Action pianos are weighted :: Not all weighted keyboards have Tri-Hammer Action. It is important to research this before making a purchase in the future. As I said, there isn’t as much of a difference as far as feeling, rather a mechanical difference.
Touch – Sensitive Keys
Touch-sensitive keys are well…sensitive to the touch. The amount of pressure determines the volume level just like on a grand piano. Many keyboards with this feature also have sensitivity settings that allow you to determine how they react. Casio is best-known for integrating this feature.
Graded Hammer Action
This prime feature will deliver the most similar experience to a grand piano. The keys on the lower octaves are harder to press and gradually release tension as you climb the keyboard. This means that the higher octaves require less pressure than the lower octaves. There is an actual part known as a hammer, which delivers action to the key. The Yamaha P71 is an example of such technology and is one of the few which are affordable yet exhibit such quality. There is a full review on that as well.
Which One is Best?
This really depends. I have personally played a wide array of both in many makes and models. It boils down to your personal needs and piano goals. Do you want easy practice or do you prefer more rigorous feelings? Is the extra price worth it when it comes to the features that most weighted pianos provide? Which is better, Graded Hammer Action, touch-sensitive, and/or Tri-Sensing? My personal preference will always favor the weighted variants. I am used to playing classical music and performing on Mason & Hamlin and Yamaha grand pianos.
The choice is always yours. I just hope that this was informative enough for you all. The intention was to lead you to the most educated decision. This information is comprised of my personal testimonials and experiences.
I hope you guys enjoyed the article. Leave a comment below to notify me about your opinions and experiences.
Hit the Treble!
– Deeply Trebled