Let’s answer the question, Do I need weighted keys? It is mandatory to have weighted keys to qualify the instrument like a piano as it will be referred to as a mere electronic keyboard if it doesn’t have weighted keys. It is better to have a digital piano with weighted keys rather than to play on a keyboard with unweighted keys.
Beginner pianists who wish to develop timing and coordination while learning the piano will opt for a keyboard, whereas to develop subtle music composition technique and touch sensitivity, it is important to play the piano. Pianos with weighted keys are also extremely beneficial in developing finger strength and finger technique and the weighted keys are also great for encouraging precise playing in different styles of music.
Table of Contents
- Keys in a Full-Sized Piano
- Importance of having weighted keys in the piano
- Types of weighted keys
- 4 Types of Weighted keys.
- Do I need a piano with weighted keys?
- Significance of Weighted Keys
- Features of Weighted Keys
- Points to keep in mind, while purchasing weighted keys piano
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Keys in a Full-Sized Piano
Melodies are produced by the sensation of wooden hammers hitting the strings of the acoustic stringed instrument termed a piano. It is well known that a full-sized piano does have an 88-key keyboard. The most giant piano ever built has 108 keys, however, these are not common. A full-sized piano has 88 keys, 52 of which are white, and 36 of which are black. are represented by the black keys, whereas the white ones stand in for natural music notes.
Some of the black keys on enlarged pianos are labeled to indicate to the artist that this is an expanded piano. The piano manufacturer Steinway was the first to suggest the idea of an 88-key piano. They started doing this in the 1880s, and many other producers have since copied them. On an 88-key piano, there are seven octaves plus three lower notes available below the lowest C. The iconic Grand Piano serves as the clearest example of this. Other types of pianos include the upright piano, a specialty piano, and various hybrid variants. Electronic equivalents have also been developed throughout time.
Importance of having weighted keys in the piano
The ultimate aim of investing in a weighted key is to advance one’s skills as a musician. Quality pianos with weighted keys can simulate the playing action of a real piano and they could also be affordable and practical options for home practice. When we play the piano, we have to push the keys downward with enough force, to reach the hammer through two or three strings. Only when the hammer strikes these strings, will the sounds be produced. There is also a lever system that connects each of these keys with the hammer and it also offers a sense of weight to the keys.
Thus, playing the piano without weighted keys will not give the weighted feel of a genuine piano and could be confusing for the pianist at the start. there are many other advantages of using weighted keys on the piano and they are as follows.
a. Gives the feel of an acoustic piano
The weighted keys of the piano give it the feel of a grand acoustic piano and help the players to feel the sensitivity of the keys by requiring them to push the keys down at different levels of control and force. The keys of the piano that are not unweighted will not offer the same resistance that is required to develop piano playing skills.
b. Helps in building finger strength
The weighted keys on the piano are different than the touch-sensitive keys that respond to the amount of force exerted on them. Weighted keys on pianos are driven by gravity and the weight pressing them, in contrast with spring-loaded pianos. The weighted keys are of paramount importance to learning pianos as they help in enhancing the finger strength of the pianist.
The first and most important lesson in learning the piano is learning to use the muscles properly. This includes teaching the brain to use the forearm and shoulders appropriately to transfer the force to the keys, without putting tension on the wrist. Weighted keys help in this learning and prevent you from ending up in any sort of injury.
c. Helps in enhancing music performance
It is not possible to achieve the performance aspects of the keyboard if the instrument doesn’t possess weighted hammer action keys. If the pianist trains on keys that have equal weight across the keys, then he is preparing himself to play acoustic instruments in the future. Any time a student goes for a piano lesson or wishes to take up a stage performance they will not feel the instrument to be foreign to their performance. As they have trained their muscles for playing the instrument, they would be able to do it with great speed and precision.
Types of weighted keys
The weighted keys in the pianos are generally of three types, namely semi-weighted keys, hammer action keyboards, and graded weighting keys. Semi-weighted keys are not recommended for piano practice. Hammer action keyboards are built on a mechanism that replicates the feel of the hammer action of the pianos. As you press the keys, you will feel resistance, similar to the real piano.
Graded hammer action keys are similar to the hammer action keys and are made to feel similar to that the piano. With graded actin, the keys at the lower register will hold a heavier feel and the keys at the higher end will have a lighter feel. This is very much close to the actual resistance that you will find in the piano with hammer action keys.
4 Types of Weighted keys.
- Semi-weighted: Most keyboards in the “beginning” category and above will have a semi-weighted action. A sprung-action key with more resistance than an unweighted keyboard is used in this scenario. As a result, the playing experience is far more touch-responsive. You will notice the difference if you can upgrade to semi-weighted keyboards within your means.
- Non-weighted: The majority of pianos and inexpensive keyboards lack a weighted action; but, professional-grade studio and stage keyboards or pianos occasionally do. In the absence of weights within the key bed, keyboards are nonetheless typically touched and velocity-sensitive, allowing you to still experience responsive noises.
- Weighted hammer action: When a stage piano or digital piano claims to have a hammer action keyboard, it means that the keys have a mechanism that simulates the hammer action of an acoustic piano. This is typically accomplished by mounting a lever system close to the key to increase the resistance of the keys you are playing.
- Graded weighted: On acoustic pianos as well as some higher-end digital & stage pianos, graded weighting is indeed a standard feature. When playing keys on an acoustic piano, you will recognize that there is greater resistance in the lower range and less as you move up to the higher ranges. When playing on a digital keyboard or piano, you should use a heavier touch for the low notes as well as a lighter touch for the upper sounds. Typically, each of these keys is separately weighted to improve playability and provide an acoustic piano-like effect. Keys on graded-weighted digital pianos are frequently constructed of wood instead of plastic. Some choices, however, have keys that simulate the weight and feel of ivory.
Do I need a piano with weighted keys?
In terms of the overall development of the pianist, pianos with hammer action will help the muscles to grow and help them learn the key action. Hammer action weighted keys also help the budding pianist to play the acoustic instrument if they had to. Also training themselves on the weighted keys helps them to develop a unique sound, play accurate and dynamic notes and also execute articulations in the piano notes.
But there are also certain pitfalls of training on weighted keys. If the student is training with the synthetic keyboards, then they will find it hard to play on the weighted keys. The grand acoustic pianos with weighted keys are costly if you are thinking of purchasing one for home, to help with consistent practice and performance. They are huge and heavy and could take up a lot of space at home. You might also require help, moving them around the home.
To answer the question, Do I need weighted keys? Choosing a piano with weighted keys is truly a choice of personal preference. But buying them is worth the investment for budding piano students. They will be remarkable milestones in your music journey and will contribute positively to developing you as a musician.
Though they are costlier than keyboards with non-weighted keys, the price is worth the investment. They are great in developing the essential dexterity and finger strength of the pianist and help them to learn how to control the piano dynamics. Also, a quality piano with weighted keys will last for a long time and it is okay to spend additional dollars on such a durable instrument. Plus, the piano will stay as your music companion for life.
Significance of Weighted Keys
If you have ever used a keyboard lacking weighted keys, you know how disorienting it can be at first to not have the weighted sensation of a real piano. Keyboard keys can be depressed with less power than necessary when playing the piano since they are made to spring back up immediately after being depressed. Going back to and from a keyboard and a piano can be challenging, especially if you are practicing on a keyboard at home and then must use a piano for music lessons or performances.
The two very distinct keys require a challenging adjustment that can have an impact on the finger and dynamic control due to the way they feel so differently. Keyboards with weighted keys feel a lot more like traditional pianos, making the transition between instruments much less drastic and simpler. Weighted keys help you practice more productively and can aid in the development of suitable finger strength and dexterity.
You become a better musician overall because of all these things. Weighted key keyboards also offer other advantages. They are more adaptable than pianos as they are moveable and don’t require tuning. You can practice in more places and at more hours of the day if you use headphones to avoid disturbing people. Additionally, using sealed headphones can help you practice more effectively by reducing distractions.
Features of Weighted Keys
The keys of an acoustic piano are connected to a lever that employs hammers to strike strings of varying gauges. In most acoustic pianos, the hammer’s head size as well as the width of the rods which make up its lever system change in proportion to the gauge of the string it strikes. The acoustic piano keys will respond differently at various keyboard locations just based on that. In addition to the inherent variations in every acoustic piano keyboard, some manufacturers give the hammerheads and the keys themselves more weight.
They frequently achieve it by adding lead, which enables them to adjust how the piano keyboard’s keys feel. Each maker has a unique strategy and conception of what the ideal feel should be. Manufacturers of digital pianos frequently give the keys more weight to mimic the responsiveness of a high-quality acoustic counterpart. It affects how individuals play this and, in turn, how the song sounds to the listener, and how the keyboard feels to the musician. A piano is referred to as a “pianoforte,” which means “soft-loud” in Italian.
A piece of music’s dynamics greatly contributes to its ability to express a certain emotional feeling. An acoustic piano’s keys are weighted to allow players to express themselves musically by making use of the instrument’s capacity to produce both loud and gentle sounds. A player’s approach to playing with emotion changes after they become accustomed to the feel and responsiveness of a weighted keyboard.
Almost all digital pianos are capable of simulating an acoustic piano by translating the force with which a player hits the keys into equivalent sounds. However, the degree of control a performer has over the subtleties that separate playing music that is note-perfect from playing music that is truly excellent can be impacted by the difference in feel.
Points to keep in mind, while purchasing weighted keys piano
- While a true pianist will probably need the most accurate keyboard feel possible, not all pianists adore all about weighted keyboards. Some people find the cost of premium-weighted keyboards to be exorbitant, while others believe that even if they can buy them, they are not worth the money. Others find that a weighted keyboard offers no advantages for the style of music they prefer playing.
- An unweighted keyboard versus a semi-weighted or graded keyboard may cost significantly different amounts. The graded keyboard model may cost twice as much as the instrument with the unweighted keyboard, even if the sound quality from all three instruments is equal. One might have to make do with a subpar keyboard if they cannot purchase the graded one.
- Weighted keyboards promote finger strength; thus, this is similar to working out in the gym. The simpler it is to lift lesser weights the more often you lift higher weights. However, if one plays non-weighted keys, the finger dexterity and strength will only apply to non-weighted keys, and it might be uncomfortable to play a weighted keyboard. Consider this while buying your keyboard because unweighted keys will not help you develop the strength necessary to play a concert piano.
- Get a keyboard either with non-weighted keys or semi-weighted keys if you frequently take your piano on the road because they are much lighter to transport. We strongly advise utilizing a weighted keyboard if you plan to study music, require a piano for use in the house, or are devoted to learning to play the piano.
Weighted keys’ keyboards are more expensive than non-weighted key keyboards, but the advantages far exceed the expense. A weighted key keyboard is a need since it facilitates switching between the keyboard and a piano, helps you build finger strength and dexterity, and teaches you how to precisely regulate dynamics. Even if the keyboard will be an investment, buying a good piano would still be more expensive. Here is the best option out for your purchase consideration:
The Roland FP-90 is among the greatest options for weighted digital pianos on the market right now. The PHA-50 (Progressive Hammer Action with Escapement) keyboard, which offers graded weighting akin to that of a grand piano, gives this a tonne of the real grand piano touch. The keys provide a great feel and long-lasting durability thanks to their blend of wood with molded materials.
With the help of the most recent Supernatural Piano Modelling technology, which accurately mimics the sound of an acoustic piano down to the precise responsiveness and dynamics of your playing, the Roland FP-90 Digital Piano generates sounds that are breathtaking. This is a great alternative for small-scale performances, classroom instruction, and at-home playing because of the four built-in speakers’ robust and deep sound. You will like that the Roland FP-90 can wirelessly pair with your smartphone or tablet if you’re practicing or learning the piano.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the significant difference between weighted keys and unweighted?
Weighted keys, when compared to those on most keyboards that are unweighted, will enable the beginner pianist to feel the delicacy required to push down the keys using varying levels of control, emulating that of an acoustic piano.
- Why it is recommended for beginners to lean on weighted keys?
The student must feel as though they are pushing against the key when playing a note and must also feel as though the key is pushing back upwards while returning to its resting state in order to start improving their piano technique. This is somewhat akin to sitting on one side of a seesaw on a greater scale.
- How can one identify if the piano is made with weighted keys?
Like a genuine piano, fully-weighted keys offer varying levels of resistance across the keys. In other words, the keys feel lighter the further to the right you move, and vice versa. Keys on 88-key digital pianos typically have weights.
- Are weighted keys difficult to play?
To play a note on a piano having weighted keys, more finger pressure is needed. If you have ever played around with a keyboard lacking weighted keys, you know how flexible and simple to press they are.
- How does a weighted key sound?
Due to their greater stationary motion, weighted keys respond to finger touches in a distinct way. This makes it easier for one to link their movements to the sound, which makes the piano playing appear more expressive.