Weighted keys on a digital piano are specifically designed to replicate the feel of an acoustic piano. This means that when you press down on the keys, there’s a physical resistance that you feel as if it were an acoustic instrument. It’s this resistance that helps develop and control your playing in order to get the desired sound.
On a digital piano, weights have been added to each key in order to simulate the mechanics behind pressing down on a key in an acoustic piano. In an acoustic instrument, pushing the key triggers a hammer strike against two or three strings which produces the sound we hear.
However, these weighted digital keys require delicate touches and force so as to replicate what would happen with a hammer against strings. With this system, playing gently will produce softer sounds while stronger hits will translate into louder and brighter tones.
Weighted keys have many benefits which make them highly desirable for both professional and amateur players alike.
Weighted keys come in four different levels, each offering a different playing experience. These key types are ideal for those who are new to keyboard playing and need help making the correct choice when buying their instrument.
Not all keyboards are weighted - if you're looking for a budget-friendly alternative or a MIDI keyboard, then you might find that these don't feature weighted action keyboards. This means that you can still enjoy responsive sounds and touch sensitivity without the need for heavier weights within the keybed.
However, more professional-level stage and studio keyboards like the Roland GO: Keys might come equipped with weighted actions, so if this type of keyboard is what you need to get the most out of your music production then these could be worth considering.
Semi-Weighted keyboards are a great choice when you're looking to upgrade your keyboard. These types of keyboards have more resistance than their unweighted counterparts, providing a much more responsive playing experience.
With a semi-weighted action comes more resistance, giving you greater control and allowing the keys to spring back into place quickly. Not only does this make playing easier, but it also adds an element of realism for those who want a more authentic musical experience.
Furthermore, these types of keyboards are often within reach financially for most people, meaning that if you've got the budget available then these keyboards are definitely worth looking into.
Hammer action keyboards are the perfect choice for those who want a stage piano or a digital piano that mimics an acoustic piano. With this type of keyboard, the keys have a mechanism that can respond to how hard the user is pressing them, mimicking the same feel of an upright piano.
To achieve this realistic feel and sound, a lever system is attached near each key to increase resistance for greater dynamics. Therefore hammer action keyboards offer great sensitivity and articulation control, making them ideal for more expressive performances.
Acoustic pianos, as well as certain high-end stage and digital pianos, often feature graded weighting. It requires more force to press down on the keys of an acoustic piano in the lower range, while the higher ranges require less force. When using an entry-level digital keyboard or piano, you must press harder when playing the low notes and more lightly as the notes get higher.
These specially-weighted keys are intended to provide additional playability and help recreate the feeling of playing an acoustic piano. Most digital pianos featuring graded weighting use hardwood keys rather than plastic ones.
However, some models may feature "ivory feel" keys that help further replicate the feeling when playing an acoustic instrument. Graded weighting is a standard feature that you can find on many types of electronic keyboards and digital pianos nowadays.
The answer is that it really comes down to your goals, needs, and budget. For recording or playing live, non-weighted or semi-weighted keys may be the best choice since there's no need for an acoustic piano. Those traveling frequently will likely find that non-weighted keyboards are much more lightweight and easier to transport.
On the other hand, if you have committed to learning the piano and need an instrument for practice at home, then a weighted keyboard is definitely recommended. Weighted keys help strengthen your fingers and improve dexterity when transitioning from unweighted keyboards to grand pianos. Ultimately, it depends on what you want to accomplish with your pianistic adventure!
When looking for the best weighted digital pianos and keyboards, there are five standouts.
The Roland FP-90 Digital Piano in Black is an amazing choice that you shouldn't miss out on. It's equipped with the PHA-50 (Progressive Hammer Action with Escapement) keyboard for a sublime grand piano feel and its keys are crafted with both molded and wood materials, making them long-lasting and durable.
The Nord Grand 88-Note Digital Piano is another. This weighted digital piano was designed with precision in mind, providing professional performers and discerning players alike with outstanding playability and realism. The Kawai Responsive Hammer action keybed gives the same feel as playing an acoustic piano.
Another on the list is the amazing Yamaha P45 Digital Piano Keyboard. It has been crafted to provide everyone from beginners to professional piano players with a lush authentic Grand Piano sound and feel on a budget.
This model has 88 weighted keys with an ivory touch, allowing users to get the same experience as a traditional piano without costing too much. Featuring a combination of the tactile feel and SuperNATURAL Piano engine, beginners and experienced players can easily access powerful learning and performing resources.
What's more is that it weighs just 15kg, making it highly portable should you need to take it out for practice or gigs.
When it comes to choosing the top five weighted keyboards and digital pianos, it's hard to beat the Korg Grandstage 73 Digital Piano. This amazing instrument is built for stage use but also has plenty of features to make practicing at home a breeze.
Korg’s famous Real Weighted Hammer Action 3 (RH3) keybed gives this weighted keyboard an acoustic piano-like feel, thanks to its division into four parts. The Real Weighted Hammer Action makes each section of your simple keyboard feel different, with lower notes being heavier and lighter as you go higher up the sensitive keyboard.