Digital Piano Actions - Are Weighted Keys Good Enough?

Digital Piano Actions - Are Weighted Keys Good Enough?

Often when people shop for a digital piano or keyboard, they ask us, “Do these pianos have weighted keys?” This may be because a well-meaning friend told them to look for a piano with weighted keys, also known as a weighted action.

What most people don’t know is that virtually all instruments have a weighted action - and not all of them are good! ‘Weighted’ simply means that they have some device to make the keys heavier so that they feel a little more like a piano. This can mean all kinds of things, from a spring underneath the key to a system of rubber bands! There are two big problems with basic ‘weighted’ actions:

  1. They wear out, making the keys more sluggish and the piano more difficult to play over time.

  2. Even worse - they don’t feel like a piano!!!

You can have fun with an instrument with a basic ‘weighted’ action - but you cannot learn to play piano on it! It would be like practicing your baseball swing using a 12 inch ruler instead of a real bat!

Grand pianos don’t have springs or rubber bands - they have hammers! When you push a key, the ‘weight’ you feel is the hammer lifting to strike a string. When you release the key it returns naturally through gravity.

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When you look for a digital piano or keyboard, the minimum requirement should be a graded hammer action. Good versions are approved by both teachers and players. Instead of springs or rubber bands these use hammers and gravity - like a grand piano!

 

Kawai Digital Action

Good versions even have a ‘Let-Off’ mechanism that creates extra resistance when you push the key all the way down. This is a subtle but very important part of the feel of a grand piano.

If you have any questions about digital piano actions you can email me at pete@lacefieldmusic.com.