When choosing a digital piano, you will come across the options of semi-weighted and weighted keyboards. Both types of keyboards have special characteristics that make a difference in sound when you play your piano. Deciding which style is right for you will help you make a decision on the appropriate piano to purchase.
Weighted keys are designed to imitate the feel and heaviness of an acoustic piano's keys. Semi-weighted keys weigh less than weighted keys. The difference in weight depends largely on the manufacturer. An advantage of semi-weighted keyboards is that the total weight of the keyboard is reduced. This is an important consideration for keyboardists who perform on the road and have to travel a lot.
The pressure applied to weighted keys comes very close to the pressure required on an actual piano. For a pianist who plans to practice on a digital piano and then perform professionally, a weighted keyboard will more accurately replicate the tones of a piano with hammers and strings. Semi-weighted keys may present problems for pianists who are used to resting their hands lightly on a regular piano keyboard. When the weight is reduced, the keys are more easily depressed, making it easier to accidentally hit a wrong key.
Weighted and semi-weighted keyboards generally have the same dynamic range. However, when a key is fully weighted, it offers resistance against the fingers that makes it possible to create subtle dynamic changes. A semi-weighted keyboard offers less resistance, which makes it harder to push down on a key slowly to create a specific sound. The sensitive finger control required to keep from depressing the keys too harshly and quickly on a semi-weighted keyboard can be learned.
Realism in Weighted Keys
Overall, weighted keyboards will feel more realistic to a pianist than the semi-weighted keyboards. Although a professional must be prepared to play any piano available, playing on a piano that most resembles a concert piano is the best choice. Beginners should use weighted pianos to help them develop strength and finger independence. Starting on a semi-weighted keyboard gives a false expectation of what playing an actual piano feels like.
Manufacturing a weighted keyboard costs more than building a semi-weighted keyboard. For this reason, weighted will typically be more expensive. If the semi-weighted keyboard has additional MIDI inputs to connect to recording devices or hardware to aid in recording and playback of your music, semi-weighted might cost more than a weighted keyboard. When all other features are equal, however, weighted keyboards will almost always be more expensive.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images