Replicating the conventional upright piano without the weighted keys and portability is the primary goal of a digital keyboard. In order to recreate such experience of having a genuine piano experience, the feel of the piano keys should be considered.
Nowadays, digital pianos with superb characteristics have weighted keys on them, and most were installed with graded hammer action. Thus, lower keys have heavier sensations compared to the higher keys, which would reflect the feeling of playing an acoustic piano.
Whether you are a beginner or someone who’s aiming to advance your skills in playing the piano, selecting the appropriately weighted keyboard for your capability is a must and one that requires an ample amount of research and time.
Moreover, you need to know what makes a weighted keyboard stand out from other keyboards available around and weigh in with yourself if you want to spend money to acquire an instrument that is hefty, less convenient, and not portable.
The Engineering Behind the Weighted Keys on a Keyboard
It may be confusing why you may want an additional weight for a keyboard when supposedly, keyboards are designed to be transportable and convenient to carry around compared to an acoustic piano which is stationary in one place. That aside, let’s talk about the engineering behind weighted keys.
There’s a feeling of resistance whenever a key is struck on an acoustic piano. When a key is pushed down gently, resistance is felt, but it’s inaudible – meaning, no sound is produced. It is because of the structure of how an acoustic piano works in creating a sound.
The whole scheme in creating sound works like a seesaw. First, when you push any keys on the keyboard, either black or white keys, the weighty rear part of the key moves up. In turn, as it advances, it propels a felt-tipped hammer. A string will be hit by this hammer which, in turn, makes that audible sound you hear from the instrument.
While the appearance of a keyboard seems pretty plain, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scene. Pressing a key lightly will not produce a sound since the hammer hasn’t hit a string. On the other hand, pushing a key heavy enough can create an intense sound on the piano.
The weights inside an acoustic piano are causing the weighty sensation in the rear of the keys as well as the resistance felt when pushing down a key. The electric piano is replicating this identical feeling with weighted keys. A built-in weight is installed in the instrument into its key system to recreate such a similar experience when playing.
Advantages of Using Weighted Keys Keyboard Piano for Novice Learners
Now that the engineering behind the weight keys on a piano was explained let’s go through the benefits of weighted keys for beginners. Whether if the weighted keys are semi-weight or graded-hammer weight, they each have their own advantages.
The primary importance of weighted keys is all about playability and authentic resistance. This, in turn, motivates some kind of energetic feeling similar to playing an acoustic piano. It is advantageous if you are exposed to playing an acoustic piano since adaptation and adjustment to a digital one with weighted keys will be convenient.
Another advantage of weighted keys is that it helps in enhancing finger strength. This improves your proficiency in playing the keyboard. All in all, it promotes a quality playing habit.
Weighted keys are vital in giving the players the opportunity of responding, sensing, and as well as the zestful vibe of an acoustic piano.
Factors To Consider Before Purchasing
1) Number of Piano Keys
Weighted keys are available in different keyboard sizes. The different keyboard numbers are associated with the overall number of piano keys, both white and black, in the keyboard. The conventional full-sized keyboard has 88 keys, whereas smaller ones have 61 keys and 76 keys respectively.
As expected, 61 keys and 76 keys are loosely inexpensive compared to that of the 88-key keyboard. However, if you felt uneasy with the budget, there are other elements that need to be considered when purchasing a keyboard.
These factors include the number of tones that a player needs and the player’s skill in playing the keyboard. This is to ensure that when you purchase a full 88-key keyboard, you may get the best out of it with your money spent.
On the other hand, small-scale keyboards are appropriate for novice learners. However, for advanced and skillful players, it may be best if they acquire at least 76 keys.
Other keyboard tutors asked their learner to own at least 61 keys. Therefore, when thinking about which keyboard to choose, choose the one that is suitable for your needs.
The most popular keyboard is the standard 88-key weighted keyboards since the instrument is as close to having an acoustic piano. The 88-key keyboard has almost the same appearance, sounding, and sensation with that of the acoustic piano.
This instrument provides you with the opportunity to play every note that is available to that of an acoustic piano as well as the similar experience and feedback.
Apart from that, the 88-key keyboard is the ideal selection for a musician who is on an engagement or gig and desires for a superb instrument at home and on the stand. As a musician, you might not want to overlook some notes just because your keyboard can’t accommodate for the keys for your music.
2) Skill Level
A 61-key or 76-key keyboard can be the closest instrument for an excellent quality weighted keyboard for a novice learner or a young child. This is good enough for several months or years.
On the other hand, students who have intermediate and advanced skills looking to enhance their talent, it may be optimal to choose an 88-key keyboard. But then again, it just depends on the allocated finance though.
3) Tone Choices and Standards
Generally, people who own digital pianos only play the piano sound. However, acquiring and playing other tones provides broad selections. With extensive options, you will be able to test different tones and music while improving your overall musical ability.
However, some players tend to choose quality over quantity as they deemed the latter as more necessary than the other. The majority of the players with intermediate and professional skills will pay more on the quality of the tone.
4) Connectivity Options
The capability of your digital piano to link to any external devices such as phones and laptops is hugely advantageous. There are various smartphone apps online, which can help novice learners improve their skills and upgrade their learning experience.
However, these features can only be utilized if you can link your digital piano with such apps. Aside from apps, the capacity to couple your digital piano with a computer can help you unlock the opportunity to produce music on your own.
Therefore, it is exceptional to choose a digital keyboard that can connect to any device and has a wide range of connectivity options. Although some might think that such features aren’t that practical today, they might be useful in the future.
Top 4 Beginner’s Electronic Pianos with Weighted Keys
Choosing the best digital piano with weighted keys may not be an easy thing to do, given the fact that there are myriads of brands and models of digital pianos in the market today. In a way, you should do your research and read some expert reviews on which digital piano is best to buy. We also deemed it helpful here to list down and review the top 4 digital pianos with weighted keys to facilitate the buying process for you:
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may get a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
1) Yamaha DGX-660 Digital Piano
The Yamaha DGX-660 Digital Piano is a versatile digital keyboard that comes with many impressive features. It is the digital counterpart of the Grand Piano, and it comes with full-weighted keys. It replaces the DGX-650, which also had been very popular, and it is equipped with more polyphony and some new effects, sounds, and features that you would surely love.
As a hybrid of an arranger keyboard and a digital piano, it features hundreds of songs, styles, sounds, and rhythms, which make this model a perfect instrument for learning piano and making music. It features 88 full-weighted keys. It also comes with matte black keytops. Moreover, it features a graded hammer standard action for its keys as well as a touch sensitivity of hard, medium, soft, and fixed. It also comes with a 320 x 240 LCD. Thus, you will surely get a feel of the acoustic piano when playing this digital piano.
The Yamaha DGX-650 is equipped with Pure CF Sound Engine, which allows this digital piano to produce better tone and sound. Plus, it comes with 192-note polyphony, 554 built-in sounds, 205 styles (multi-finger, full keyboard, AI fingered), and 100 preset songs. It is also equipped with 41 reverb types, 44 chorus types, 26 harmony types, 237 DSP types, and 5 Master EQ types. Moreover, it comes with the Yamaha Education Suite 6-track MIDI recorder, USB audio recorder, and a metronome. The Yamaha DGX-650 has two 6W speakers.
You got plenty of options to connect to this digital piano. You can use USB to Host connection, or USB to Device connection. Plus, it features a headphone jack input, Aux-in, mic in, and sustain pedal jack.
Yet, the more remarkable feature of this digital piano is its keys that really simulate the real acoustic piano. Thus, this digital piano will surely be of great help to beginners who want to master the feel of an acoustic piano as well as to pros who want a seamless and smooth transition from acoustic to an electronic keyboard.
2) Yamaha P45, 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano (P45)
As the successor of Yamaha P35, the Yamaha P45 Digital Piano carries all the wonderful features of Yamaha P35 along with upgrades that you would surely love to have in a digital piano. This keyboard is engineered to deliver better sonic performance. It is simplistically designed but is still stylish. Its sleek yet straightforward design would surely enable amateurs to use it easily.
This digital piano is a full-sized electronic piano that is equipped with many features. It is also engineered to simulate the feel and tone of the acoustic piano. Its weighted keys allow you to get the feel of how it is to play a real acoustic piano. It is undoubtedly perfect for beginners who are aching to learn the rudiments of piano playing.
The Yamaha P45 features 88-key weighted action (GHS) that comes lighter in its high end and heavier in its low end. It also features an Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) Stereo sampling that recreates the sound of the natural acoustic piano in stereo, giving this digital piano a deep and more spacious sound.
Moreover, it has a 64-note polyphony that enables you to play slightly dense piano passages. Plus, its dual-mode allows you to mix two voices or instrumental like those of strings and piano for creative new playing. It also comes with a USB-to-Host port. This enables it to interact and connect with different types of music. The Yamaha P45 is undoubtedly a perfect digital piano for aspiring pianists.
3) Casio Privia PX-160BK 88-Key Full-Size Digital Piano
The Casio Privia PX-160BK 88-Key Full-size Digital Piano is a great choice if you are looking for an affordable digital piano that comes with weighted keys. Despite its affordable price, it still brings in high-quality sound. Moreover, its design is stylish. Plus, it comes with many helpful features that you would surely love to tinker with.
The Casio Privia PX-160 is one hell of a compact digital piano. Its weighted keys sport the real feel of ivory. Moreover, you can choose between gold and black colors for this digital piano. Its other features include its 128-note polyphony, two onboard amplifiers, two rear-ported speakers, and speaker openings on its front. It also comes with a music stand as well as a damper pedal.
You will surely find the Casio Privia PX-160BK cool and straightforward to operate. With its two-track MIDI function, you can play each of your hands simultaneously and separately. Moreover, it comes with built-in songs that you can use for practice sessions. You can also record and add songs that you like to these built-in songs.
The Casio Privia PX-160BK features 3 levels of hammer sensitivity that are powered by Morphing AIR Sound Source Tones of Casio. It is also equipped with 18 various tones. Plus, it comes with a metronome that allows you to play beats at various tempos ranging from 20 to 255. Moreover, its duet mode lets you split the keyboard into 2 equal ranges, allowing you and your teacher to play the piano simultaneously. This digital piano, of course, is perfect for beginners who are just learning the basics of piano playing.
4) Alesis Recital - 88 Key Beginner Digital Piano
The Alesis Recital – 88 Key Beginner Digital Piano is specifically designed for those who are just learning the rudiments of piano playing. As such, you should check this digital piano model out if you are a beginner. It features 88 keys that are full-sized and semi-weighted. Its semi-weighted keys feature an adjustable touch response.
The Alesis Recital also comes with many great features, including its LAYER Mode that allows you to combine or split voices. It also has other options like those of the Chorus, Reverb, and Pedal Resonance FX, allowing you to tinker around with many functions. Additionally, it features 5 premium sounds, namely: piano, acoustic, electric piano, organ, synth, and bass. Its 20-W speakers also deliver great sounds that are clear and room-filling.
When it comes to connectivity, the Alesis Recital has provisions for a 1/4″ sustain pedal input, stereo headphone output, and stereo RCA outputs for connecting to speakers or amplifiers. It also comes with a power adapter, yet, you can also power it with 6 D-cell batteries. Lastly, this digital piano is very much affordable.
The main difference between electronic pianos and acoustic pianos is the feel of the keys. Piano keys, of course, have a resistance that is caused by the interaction of its internal components. It is this interaction that manufacturers of digital pianos want to simulate. So, if you’re going to master the acoustic piano using a digital piano, you need to get a digital piano with weighted keys that simulate the weight of the keys of the acoustic piano. Your best options, of course, are those with full-weighted keys, for they best simulate the keys of acoustic pianos.
Another factor that you need to consider is that of the velocity sensitivity. Your choice should have keys that can readily sense subtle differences in the velocity of your touch. Its keys should be able to determine the volume and attack of each note. Some cheaper digital pianos come with volume level switches. Some, however, have volume controls in slider or knob forms.
Lastly, there are myriads of brands and models of digital pianos, and if you are a beginner, you may be confused with the variety of choices you have out there. However, as a beginner, you must choose something affordable yet of great quality. You should also choose something within the entry-level range of price.