Choosing a digital piano with weighted keys or non-weighted keys is one of the main considerations when purchasing a piano. Digital pianos are designed to be an alternative instrument to a real piano. So, when making a piano, weighted action is one of the important aspects that manufacturers focus on.
As the techniques of digital pianos improve, the weighted action of digital pianos on the market has become more realistic than before and it’s getting closer and closer to an acoustic piano. Therefore, it’s possible that you can have a very natural and realistic feel while playing it, just like playing on a real piano.
In the article, you’ll get to know:
- What are the weighted keys?
- Different types of weighted keys?
- What are the benefits of weighted keys?
The main purposes of the article are to explain these questions related to weighted keys as well as recommend Top 7 best digital pianos with weighted keys.
Top 7 Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys On the Market
Buying Guide for the Best Digital Piano with Weighted Keys
‘Weighted keys’ is one of the important factors while buying a keyboard or a digital piano. It’s a term that mainly uses on digital pianos. Importantly, weighted keys play a vital role in making a digital piano more like a real piano. You can have a more authentic feel while playing on a weighted digital piano.
Let’s take a look at what the weighted keys are and what the benefits of weighted keys are.
1. What are Weighted Keys?
Basically, weighted keys are that when you press the keys, there is some resistance responding to your finger and you can feel some natural weight while pressing. Weighted action is a technique that is built to imitate the key action of an acoustic piano.
So, how does it work, and how does it make the sound?
In a real piano, there is a mechanical part built-in, including hammers, strings, and a lever system. The musical sound is produced by a hammer hitting the strings and then vibrates to create sound. The hammer is connected to a lever system that has weight and resistance. So that’s why we can feel the keys are weighted when we’re playing the piano.
You may have played the keyboards before, normally the keys on a keyboard are very light and you can find it’s super easy to press the keys down.
But on a weighted digital piano, it’s different. If you don’t press it properly, the piano won’t generate sound due to the weighted action. It’s an important way for you to practice finger strength. Additionally, compared with playing on a keyboard, playing on a digital piano with weighted keys gives you a way more realistic feel.
Plus, the quality of the key actions determines how authentic the keys are. It depends on what key action technique the manufacturers use.
2. Four Different Types of Weighted Keys
1. Non-weighted keys
Most keyboards and MIDI controllers are equipped with non-weighted keys. It means you cannot feel weight and resistance when you press the keys.
Keyboards with non-weighted keys are normally designed to be portable so that you can carry it around.
As for the budget, non-weighted keyboards are usually at a low price. If you’re not sure whether the piano is going to be something you stick to or not, it could be a wise idea to buy a non-weighted keyboard before committing to it.
Additionally, it’s fine for some beginners to use non-weighted keyboards as a model to learn music basics and simple playing techniques. But they may provide little room for you to progress.
2. Semi-weighted Keys
Semi-weighted keys are something between non-weighted keys and fully-weighted keys. It uses a spring-loaded mechanism and is made to be similar to the keys of synth. Additionally, some weights are added to each key, allowing you to feel some resistance while pressing.
It’s better than non-weighted keys obviously as you can feel some weights instead of feeling you’re clicking some very light and plastic-like keys. Semi-weighted key is enough for playing pop music or improvising.
Plus, the weight of a digital piano with semi-weighted keys is around 15 pounds. It could be one of the advantages.
However, if you want to use it for training piano techniques and reach a higher level further, semi-weighted keys may not give you a proper response and cannot satisfy your needs.
3. Fully-weighted Keys
The feel of fully-weighted keys is closer to an acoustic piano compared with the previous two. It tries to simulate the weighted feel of a real piano. But like semi-weighted keys, it still uses a spring-loaded mechanism to let the keys go back to its natural position.
Compared with digital pianos with semi-weighted keys, fully-weighted digital piano have more weights attached to each key, so it can be a great choice for you to train your finger techniques.
4. Hammer-Action Keys
Hammer action keys and fully-weighted are sometimes used to express the same meaning. However, actually, they represent different techniques of weighted action.
The difference between fully-weighted keys and hammer action keys basically is how much resistance you can feel.
Fully-weighted keys have a completely balanced weight on each key from the lowest register to the highest register. Whereas hammer action keys allow you to have a heavier feel on the low notes and lighter feel on the high notes. It means the lower down the notes you go, the heavier it feels to press the keys.
The technique of hammer action keys simulates the hammer mechanism on a real piano accurately, allowing you to have authentic touch and get the same playing experiences as on an acoustic piano.
Additionally, some manufacturers add ivory and ebony surfaces on the top of keys to improve the feel of the keys. You are able to avoid slipping off the keys by using textured keys.
Top 7 Best Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys Reviews 2020
Let’s take a look at 7 best digital pianos with weighted keys and dig into the detailed features of them.
- Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II
- Ivory and Ebony key surfaces
- Built-in Lessons
- 2 track MIDI recorder
Watch out for:
- Sound quality is not the best
The model is equipped with Casio’s famous Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II, which uses a 3-sensor detection system to capture the dynamics of your playing and gives you a proper response, providing an authentic touch of the keys.
The realistic weighted action is further enhanced by ivory and Ebony key surfaces. So, you can feel that the keys are textured instead of plastic. Plus, Casio PX-160 is the only model that has ivory and ebony key surfaces.
It’s also loaded with other features, including Built-in lessons allowing you to learn music basics, 2-track MIDI recorder which is not common in this price range, etc.
The bonus of Casio PX-160 is its price. It could be one of the best cheap digital pianos with weighted keys yet offers loads of powerful features. The model is great for novice and intermediate players.
- PHA-4 Standard
- ivory key surfaces
- Bluetooth MIDI
- Portable and Compact
Watch out for:
- No line out jacks
It seems that weighted keys and portability cannot exist at the same time. However, not all weighted digital pianos are heavy to carry around. Roland FP-10 is one of the examples. It comes with a compact and portable design which is only 20 pounds and it can definitely win over most weighted digital pianos in portability.
You can connect your digital piano to other smart devices or apps wirelessly for learning, creating thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, Roland manufacturer provides a powerful app named Piano Partner 2. You can use it as a remote controller to set different functions and it offers extra features for you to explore.
Featuring Bluetooth connectivity, 35 built-in voices, and portable design, Roland FP-10 also comes with hammer action keys and ivory key surfaces, which is suitable for both stage performance and home use.
- GH weighted action
- A solid upright digital piano
- Three pedals unit included
- Powerful speaker system (20W + 20W)
Watch out for:
- A bit Expensive
Yamaha Arius YDP162R is probably the most expensive model on the list. But it’s not like others which are sold as a keyboard on its own. This model comes with a furniture stand and a 3-pedal unit to make it looks like a standard piano.
Yamaha has three different types of weighted actions, including Graded Hammer Standard (GHS), Graded Hammer Effect (GH/GHE) and Graded Hammer 3 (GH3).
Among them, GH is a mid-level hammer action that is used in mid-range digital pianos and advanced models. It can be a solid, long-term action for intermediate and advanced players. It allows fast note repetition, which is great for those who play complex pieces.
Additionally, Yamaha Arius YDP162R offers high-quality sound thanks to the Pure CF Sound Engine. And it is equipped with 2 speakers, providing rich and spacious sound.
Overall, Yamaha Arius YDP-162R is one of the best Yamaha piano keyboards. this model is a perfect fit for intermediate and advanced players. If you’re a beginner and want to have the same feel as an acoustic piano, Yamaha Arius YDP162R can be a solid option as well.
- Graded Hammer Standard action
- Best affordable
- High-quality sound
- Compact design
- Great for practice
Watch out for:
- 64 polyphony notes
- Keys are not textured
The model is equipped with GHS weighted action, which is marketed as an entry-level graded hammer action. It’s used not only on entry-level digital pianos but also on lots of more advanced models, such as Yamaha DGX-660.
Although GHS weighted action is not as good as GH weighted action, it’s great for beginner players and intermediate players to practice and have the weighted feel. Plus, check the price, and you’ll get shocked.
It does not offer ivory and ebony textured keys, but there is a matte finish on the top of the black keys which offers non-slippery feel.
The sound quality of Yamaha p71 is one of the shining features. The sound sampling was recorded from an acoustic piano, giving you pleasant hearing experiences.
Yamaha P-71 doesn’t come with lots of fancy features and some so-called bells and whistles. It’s loaded with all the vital piano elements and you can get the best bang of your buck.
- 120 polyphony notes
- Comes with everything you need
- Authentic sound
- Easy to operate
Watch out for:
- No ivory and ebony key surface
Korg brand is known for producing synthesizers and keyboards, but you’ll be impressed by their digital pianos as well.
Korg B1SP is an 88-key digital piano with weighted keys. It’s loaded with many features that make it a perfect digital piano for beginners.
The model is an easy-to-operate digital piano without loads of buttons to distract you. So, there is no need to worry about endless buttons of voices and rhythms if you only want a weighted digital piano for practicing.
It’s equipped with Natural Weighted Hammer Action (NH weighted action), which simulates the resistance of an acoustic piano. The first time I played Korg B1SP, I believe NH weighted action is similar to Yamaha’s GHS. It’s a solid option for entry-level and intermediate players, as well as kids.
Another great thing about Korg B1SP is its excellent sound. It can emulate with the sound of a grand piano. You can truly enjoy playing it.
In addition, Korg B1SP is sold as a bundle, including a decent furniture stand (three pedals attached), a bench and a piano book for learning. It’s great for beginners as you don’t have to spend time looking for accessories that are compatible with the digital piano.
- LCD display for leaning
- 554 voices
- High-quality sound
- Wireless audio and MIDI connectivity
- Microphone input for singing while playing
Watch out for:
- May be a bit complicated to use and set
Another Yamaha digital piano with weighted keys is on the list. Yamaha DGX-660 is a popular model in Yamaha DGX series as it combines the features of both digital pianos and arranger keyboards (AKA hybrid digital piano). It could be a high-tech option for players from all levels.
The model is equipped with GHS weighted action, which is the same as Yamaha P-71. It allows you to feel heavier feel in low registers and a lighter feel in high registers.
It has 554 built-in voices, giving you endless options to explore and you can get familiar with multiple instrument voices.
Yamaha DGX-660 uses Yamaha’s premium Pure CF Sound Engine to recreate the sound of a concert grand piano.
If you’re not satisfying a digital piano which only has piano essentials, Yamaha DGX-660 is loaded with lots of technical features waiting for you to explore. The sound quality and weighted action will never let you down as well.
- Easy to assemble
- Excellent weighted action
- Compact design
- 30 high-quality sound
Watch out for:
- Old-style MIDI connection
The last item on the list is another weighted digital piano option from Korg. Korg LP380 is an advanced digital piano model which has high-end weighted action technology.
From its appearance, the model has a slim design with elegant upright piano looking. You can put it in your room without taking up too much space.
Korg LP380 is equipped with Korg’s premium RH3 weighted action (Real Weighted Hammer Action 3), which is designed for advanced players. Compared with RH weighted action, it offers a more realistic weighted feel.
The model is great for using in private piano lessons as well. It has Partner Mode allowing you and your teacher to play the same range of notes at the same time. Plus, two people can use headphones simultaneously thanks to the two headphone jacks.
Overall, if you’re looking for a digital piano that has powerful functions but the price is lower than its competitors, you can go for Korg LP380 without hesitant. It values for the price.
Benefits of the Best Digital Piano with Weighted Keys
1. Strengthen Your Fingers & Train Hand Muscles
As it has been mentioned before, if you don’t press the keys with proper or enough force, the piano won’t generate sound because of the hammer mechanism. So it means that you should press the keys by using appropriate force.
Although digital pianos do not have a hammer mechanism, weighted keys are designed to mimic the same feel and touch. Therefore, as you practice more, the strength of your fingers and hand muscles will be built to be more suitable for piano playing.
Additionally, it doesn’t mean that you should play every note strongly. It’s also important for you to know how to control the fingers to generate the sound you want.
2. Get Proper Hand Position
If you ever had piano lessons, you definitely know that the first thing to start learning piano is to learn a hand position. It plays a vital role in every stage of your piano learning and performance.
Hand position, to some extent, is affected by the weight of the keys. It happens to some of my students. Some of them started learning piano with a non-weighted keyboard. When they transfer to a weighted digital piano, students may struggle with the hand position since they cannot get used to the weights attached to keys. And then, one issue may come up, which is the collapsing knuckles.
A correct hand position should form an arc, like holding an egg or a ball. Collapsing knuckles is one of those things you should avoid while playing the piano.
You may subconsciously collapse your finger joints when you play on a weighted digital piano because the keys on the non-weighted keyboards are too light and you don’t need to push hard to press them down. For kids and teenagers, collapsing joints may hurt their joints if they press the keys hard.
Therefore, if you’ve committed to the piano or you have professional or high-level intentions, it’s essential to get a weighted digital piano at the initial stage. It allows you to get used to the weight and make sure you have a correct hand position while playing.
3. Prepare for the Transition to a Real Piano
Weighted action is one of the vital piano elements. A weighted digital piano often comes with touch-sensitive keys and high-quality sound as well, ensuring you can get a realistic touch and authentic feel that is close to an acoustic piano. It makes it easier for you to transfer to a real piano further.
Our Picks for Best Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys
There are plenty of digital pianos with weighted keys for you to choose from. Although they are equipped with weighted action technology, the weighted feel of each one varies from model to model.
These weighted digital pianos listed can be divided into the digital piano for beginners and for advanced players in terms of weighted action and other features.
It’s essential to consider other factors such as portability, sound quality, and tech features and do some researches before purchasing. Get to know as much as you can, and choose the one that satisfies your needs best.
If you’re working on a tight budget, you can check the list of Top 5 Best Digital Piano under $500.
You can keep reading to find the right keyboard you need: