2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
39 members (butchkoch, Alex McG, Christopher90, Alex Hutor, 1903wrightflyer, clothearednincompo, brennbaer, 9 invisible), 236 guests, and 458 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
D
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
I am a rank beginner at the piano, having played some classical guitar for about 10 years in my youth. I recently wanted to experiment with learning and playing the keys, with an eye (and ear of course!) towards greater polyphony than the guitar (especially the classic kind), so I figured I would get a cheap Yamaha keyboard, a PSR-E373, 61 unweighted keys with a bunch of sounds in it and a pretty good sounding piano tone via headphones. Really, read the reviews, it's much better than its predecessors, apparently!

For a few months now, I have been playing and learning online and with the Faber Adventures Adult All-In-One books (1 and 2) and have also been playing chords along some favorite music with the built-in audio interface of the keyboard (with the help of the Yamaha Chord Tracker IOS app), as well as feeding MIDI files to the keyboard and thru MuseScore and GarageBand. Honestly, this keyboard purchase has probably been the best $200 I spent in my whole life! So much value in that little plastic box! cool

Here is my question to this great group of knowledgeable and experienced people who have played on all kinds of keys, from the best concert grands, to the most incredible church organs, harpsichords, digital or acoustic pianos, hybrids and everything in between: why is the preferred action for a piano trying to emulate an acoustic piano and therefore ends up using heavier keys in the bass range than in the high range? Is it because it allows for more control of the finger motions, more control over the dynamics, just because that's how the acoustic do it (because the strings and hammer are bigger and therefore heavier in the bass), or some other reason?

It seems like not having a heavier burden on the fingers and hands might make it easier to play and avoid stress and potential injury over the long term and perhaps make instruments lighter to carry around, etc... Based on what I am reading in this forum, synths and organs playing benefits from a lighter action. Again, why? Why is it different from the piano? I could be persuaded to upgrade this keyboard to a proper (and fully weighted!) digital piano once the goods start flowing again after this pandemic, as I find 61 keys to be limiting already, especially on the bass end.

Please enlighten me and don't be afraid to tell me that I don't know anything or the question is stupid, 'cuz in that particular music field, that's mostly true, and I also have a somewhat thick skin. Thanks!

PS: As for my handle, pianophile was already taken and my name is Philippe, or Phil. So there you go. smile


Complete beginner, started 12/2020 with Yamaha PSR-E373. I used to play guitar some 40 years ago and recall some music theory, sheet music reading. I am starting to make some neural connections to the keys after finishing Faber's Adult All-in-One method book.
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 544
E
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
E
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 544
Acoustic pianos form the core of pianism, mimicking its behavior covers the largest commonalities among users. Without the weight, the finger timing trained on acoustic is more difficult to translate.

Mechanically you are correct, there is absolutely no reason a digital input system has to simulate the weight. We can hooked up electrodes or even use infrared cameras for a completely weightless non-contact input system.

We can even go further, and remove the human player. This is ultimately the goal in AI-convergence. There is no reason why AI can't play piano better. Humanity is on its way out.

Last edited by EinLudov; 05/16/21 07:55 PM.
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 6,021
A
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 6,021
Originally Posted by DPPianoPhil
why is the preferred action for a piano trying to emulate an acoustic piano and therefore ends up using heavier keys in the bass range than in the high range? Is it because it allows for more control of the finger motions, more control over the dynamics, just because that's how the acoustic do it (because the strings and hammer are bigger and therefore heavier in the bass), or some other reason?

It seems like not having a heavier burden on the fingers and hands might make it easier to play and avoid stress and potential injury over the long term and perhaps make instruments lighter to carry around, etc... Based on what I am reading in this forum, synths and organs playing benefits from a lighter action. Again, why?

The subject line question, "why is a weighted action better" for piano is that it gives better control over dynamics. Though that's not the question you asked in the text. There, you asked why it is better to have "heavier keys in the bass range than in the high range." That's a very different question, and a more controversial one. It is not inherently better, however it is more faithful to the acoustic piano experience, so its value depends on whether that is one of your goals. There are numerous weighted (hammer) action boards that are not graded like that, but in fact do have the same weight from top to bottom.

Why do organs benefit from a lighter action? Because you can play faster, and perform some organ-specific techniques that are difficult-to-impossible to do on a fully weighted action. So you may ask, are you losing the advantage I mentioned above, that weighted actions give you better control of dynamics? The answer is no, because organ doesn't have dynamics that vary based on the force with which a key is struck, so it is not an issue.

Synths are a nebulous middle ground. If you're playing classic synth sounds (e.g. the ARP, Moog, Oberheim, Prophet sounds of the 70s), like organs, they generally did not respond to velocity, so again, there is no dynamics advantage to be had from a weighted piano-style hammer action. OTOH, newer synths can employ velocity, and velocity is also used for acoustic instrument emulations (strings, brass, and the like), in which case an argument can be made for an advantage to the more weighted actions.

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,736
R
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
R
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,736
Originally Posted by DPPianoPhil
...why is the preferred action for a piano trying to emulate an acoustic piano...

Most of the 88 key digital pianos are made for the marketplace consisting of consumers who want a less expensive, small footprint, possibly portable, replica of an acoustic piano. Thus, the need to mimic, as well as cost constraints permit, an acoustic piano.

Originally Posted by DPPianoPhil
...and therefore ends up using heavier keys in the bass range than in the high range? Is it because it allows for more control of the finger motions, more control over the dynamics, just because that's how the acoustic do it (because the strings and hammer are bigger and therefore heavier in the bass), or some other reason?

The hammers at the bass end of an acoustic piano are larger, and therefore heavier. This is because the bass strings, consisting of steel cores covered with copper windings, have far greater mass then their counterparts at the opposite end, the treble end. It takes a larger hammer to supply the necessary mass to properly excite the big bass strings than it does to properly excite the tiny treble strings. The larger hammers weigh more than the small hammers, and this additional weight is felt by the pianist through the keys. The keys therefore offer more resistance in the bass range than in the treble range.

Dynamic control, and repetition control are side effects of that resistance or weight. Dynamic control is aided by the resistance of the keys. If there was no resistance, it would be difficult to modulate volume as the keystroke would just propel the key toward the string without the pianist having much opportunity to determine the hammer speed. Too much resistance would make the piano unplayable. Exactly how much weight/mass is optimal depends on how the piano designer wants the piano to perform. Similarly, the speed at which the key returns when you release pressure is important to your ability to play repetitions fast. Gravity, acting upon the mass of the hammers, brings the key back to its resting position, where it must be for your next keystroke. Exactly how much weight/mass is optimal also depends on how the piano designer wants the piano to perform.

The graduated, weighted key feature of 88 key digital pianos represents the manufacturers effort to provide the consumer an affordable and convenient simulation of an acoustic piano.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 05/16/21 09:37 PM.

Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX
Pianist since April, 2015
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 1,223
A
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 1,223
It depends. If you’re arranging music and other instruments like drums and percussions, weighted keys only make things frustrating. Semi weighted suites better in these scenarios


Kawai MP7SE, Yamaha MOTF XF6, Yamaha WX5, Yamaha Pacifica 112v
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 211
J
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 211
Semi weighted is fine if you are used to them - but they do vary in quality a lot. Look for long pivot length (the fulcrum should not be at the point where the keys just dissappear, but back under the hood at least another inch or two) and they should have some weight resistance to give you better control. Look at this guy playing classical style on an arranger keyboard (I also have a Korg pa) and it doesn't seem to hold him back at all (he is actually using a soundfont I adapted for the Korg - but thats another topic)

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 6,021
A
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 6,021
Originally Posted by Jonky Ponky
Look at this guy playing classical style on an arranger keyboard (I also have a Korg pa) and it doesn't seem to hold him back at all
It is certainly possble to play with dynamic control on a semi-weighted action... but some semi-weighted are more adept at this than others, and still, however naturally expressive you can be on a semi-weighted action, odds are you will be better on a hammer action. As for this particular example, I believe the Pa4X does have a particularly nice SW action as such actions go... and it is, after all, a $4,000 keyboard so it should be up with the best of class. Still, my guess if that if you put the same player on a sub-$1000 Korg with a hammer action, he would find the dynamic response to be better.

Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 6,999
6000 Post Club Member
Online Content
6000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 6,999
A hammer action uses weight, i.e. mass which has inertia and requires force + time to be accelerated and then preserves the velocity because of the momentum. Your fingers feel the acceleration and can this control the velocity.

A non-weighted action uses a spring and a very low mass which can be almost instantaneously accelerated with no inertia: it will return immediately when released. This gives no feedback to the fingers and makes it more difficult to control the velocity because it will permanently push against your finger with a constant force: that of the spring.


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 450
_
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
_
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 450
A also have one $200 4kg cheapo.
The keys are very light (at the tips) and I think it is easier to mess up because of this.
And it feels somehow unpleasantly spongy as the keys are fully pressed down, I assume this comes from squishing the rubber switch (in the absence of other key mass). At chords that have several fingers near the fallboard it isn't really light.
But I've played synths that had better feel under fingers.

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 635
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 635
I guess if you are never going to play an acoustic and you are able to produce satisfactory nuances with a lighter keybed, you could just use them.

But, in my experience, I have found that my daily practice with the Kawai VPC1 translates seamlessly to my Yamaha U3H, and now I am also able to play better the synth-type actions, as the ones on my Genos and Montage and even the lesser quality keybeds of my NI Komplete Kontrol S61 MkII and Arturia Keylab 61 MkII. So IMHO, playing a heavier action is a big benefit for my technique and extrapolates to lighter actions easily.


Yamaha U3H
Kawai VPC1
...plus some other DPs, synths, controllers and VSTs

[Linked Image]
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
D
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Thank you all so much for your instructive replies. Each and everyone was constructive and informative. I appreciate that. And some added humor, always a good thing.

My takeaway of all this? Yes, heavier keys are copied after acoustic pianos but other than the grading part (which is an unintended consequence of the physics of piano strings), there is a good reason for it: much improved control over dynamics. Having only touched a(n acoustic) piano once, moons and ages ago, but never really played it, I can't really relate to how much improvement over my little springy keyboard that is, but I trust you that it's there. I need to go to a store and experience that myself now that I can play a little bit.

A follow up question then is: am I damaging my future piano playing ability by keeping on using this little springy keyboard, after 5 months of 1 to 3-4 hours of practice per day, even knowing that I am probably never going to play on an acoustic piano? Am I training myself all wrong (I don't have a teacher either, yet)? Do I need a hammer action now? I was hoping to upgrade my keyboard to a proper piano a bit down the road when my home location is sorted out (we are in the process of deciding when/where to move in retirement, but that could take a year to fully realize) because, as you know, pianos are not the easiest things to move! Even the digital kind and even the slab kind: looking at you ES920, P515 and FP90x...

Again, thank you for your help.


Complete beginner, started 12/2020 with Yamaha PSR-E373. I used to play guitar some 40 years ago and recall some music theory, sheet music reading. I am starting to make some neural connections to the keys after finishing Faber's Adult All-in-One method book.
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 13,800
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 13,800
@DPPianoPhil: Everything points to waiting a while for your next piano.
- You don't yet have a teacher.
- You don't plan to play on an acoustic piano.
- You have other things in your life to sort out.
- It's hard to find a piano because of the shortages. They're frequently on backorder.

So ... just wait until next year.
You'll have your life sorted out.
You'll have more experience with the piano, putting you in a better position to judge the feel of the available pianos.
The shortages might come to end by that time, giving you more pianos to try.
And, by next year you'll need not fear getting covid in a piano shop.

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 6,021
A
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 6,021
One more difference not yet touched on... the typically harder (less rounded) key edges and greater initial resistance of a hammer action board makes it easier to avoid bum notes when you're quickly reaching to a note that is some distance away. On a semi-weighted board, often, just "brushing by" the wrong note on your way to the right one can trigger it. This can actually sound good for organ sounds, but invariably sounds awful for piano. So you actually may have to be more precise/accurate when playing piano on the non-hammer board, as there is no "guard rail" to prevent you from easily striking an unintended note that was adjacent to your target.

Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
D
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Thanks @MacMacMac. That makes a lot of sense, and it was my gut feeling take too. I just hope I am not setting myself up for something that might be really hard to change down the road, you know, with bad habits.

It (almost) ought be illegal to have that much fun for that long for $200! thumb smile


Complete beginner, started 12/2020 with Yamaha PSR-E373. I used to play guitar some 40 years ago and recall some music theory, sheet music reading. I am starting to make some neural connections to the keys after finishing Faber's Adult All-in-One method book.
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
D
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Originally Posted by anotherscott
One more difference not yet touched on... the typically harder (less rounded) key edges and greater initial resistance of a hammer action board makes it easier to avoid bum notes when you're quickly reaching to a note that is some distance away. On a semi-weighted board, often, just "brushing by" the wrong note on your way to the right one can trigger it. This can actually sound good for organ sounds, but invariably sounds awful for piano. So you actually may have to be more precise/accurate when playing piano on the non-hammer board, as there is no "guard rail" to prevent you from easily striking an unintended note that was adjacent to your target.

Great point! And that's something that I have experienced too, as well as the occasional slipping from one key to another and making an awfully loud (max velocity) and unexpected sound. So, you are saying that if I am getting decent at avoiding this while I wait a while to get a proper set of keys, I'll be like a virtuoso of accuracy down the road? Alright, I'll take it! Thanks.


Complete beginner, started 12/2020 with Yamaha PSR-E373. I used to play guitar some 40 years ago and recall some music theory, sheet music reading. I am starting to make some neural connections to the keys after finishing Faber's Adult All-in-One method book.
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,882
S
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
S
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,882
Don't be surprised, if or when you first try to play any of your repertoire learned so far, on an acoustic, maybe a digital too, that you cannot! How long it will take to re-adjust or re-learn your technique thereafter is up to you.

Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,130
B
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,130
Originally Posted by DPPianoPhil
why is the preferred action for a piano trying to emulate an acoustic piano and therefore ends up using heavier keys in the bass range than in the high range?
Acoustic piano manufacturers strive to minimize the key weight difference between bass and treble. The only reason there is a difference is because the bass strings are larger requiring heavier hammers to impart more energy into them. The top manufacturers only have about a 4 gram difference between A0 and C8. The damper weight may also vary across the keys (not just the hammer weight).

So 'the preferred action' actually has no weight difference been any of the keys. The reason it exists is purely an unintended limitation caused by the physics of an acoustic piano.

Last edited by Burkey; 05/18/21 03:01 AM.

Pianos are one of the best human inventions of the past 320 years - help evangelize the magic!
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 2,053
S
2000 Post Club Member
Offline
2000 Post Club Member
S
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 2,053
I would agree that the main benefit of a grading the weight in a hammer action for a digital piano is realistic simulation of an acoustic piano and somewhat improved translation of practice sessions between the digital instrument and an acoustic one. It is an over-rated, but desirable feature of digital pianos. The grading of hammer weight on an acoustic piano is not standardized, so a pianist also must adapt when moving from acoustic to acoustic.


Play classical repertoire from score. Improvise blues.
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 544
E
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
E
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 544
It's an embellishment, not necessary, but a nice flourish.

There is a cost if you want to idealize the input architecture, but since we're still dealing with what's an analog output, I don't personally think it's too important to debate this. Take it or leave it. Makes little difference.

Last edited by EinLudov; 05/18/21 04:19 PM.
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
D
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Originally Posted by Burkey
So 'the preferred action' actually has no weight difference been any of the keys. The reason it exists is purely an unintended limitation caused by the physics of an acoustic piano.

Yes, I get that. But why replicate it on digital pianos? Some folks already answered that.

But my real concern, clumsily worded, was actually more about unweighted vs. weighted keys. Some kind folks also answered that: better control of dynamics. I can produce maybe 3 or 4 different level of loudness with my cheap keyboard with unweighted (or semi-weighted ?) springy keys, compared to at least twice or 4 times that, from ppp to fff, on an acoustic or a proper digital piano. I was also explained how the increased control actually works with the weight of the keys against the fingers.

Now, it looks like I may be stuck with what I have for a while longer and maybe having to relearn everything if and when I finally get my hands on a "proper" action. Well, it is what it is, and we'll cross that bridge when we get there: I am still having fun in the meantime.

Thanks to you all who responded. thumb


Complete beginner, started 12/2020 with Yamaha PSR-E373. I used to play guitar some 40 years ago and recall some music theory, sheet music reading. I am starting to make some neural connections to the keys after finishing Faber's Adult All-in-One method book.
Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Piano World 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
pianoteq keystroke sound control
by ronlefebvre - 06/23/21 10:16 PM
Bachendorff Piano
by trr04002 - 06/23/21 09:56 PM
Hardware for Pianoteq on an NV5S
by Vikendios - 06/23/21 07:39 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics207,677
Posts3,106,758
Members101,892
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5