Semi-Weighted Piano Keys vs. Weighted

by Steven J. Miller
Weighted keys add an element of realism to digital pianos.

Weighted keys add an element of realism to digital pianos.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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.

Key Pressure

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.

About the Author

Steven Miller graduated with a master's degree in 2010. He writes for several companies including Lowe's and IBM. He also works with local schools to create community gardens and learn environmentally responsible gardening. An avid gardener for 15 years, his experience includes organic gardening, ornamental plants and do-it-yourself home projects.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images