Digital Pianos

Graham Howard’s 7 Things You Must Know Before You Buy a Digital Piano is an extremely useful guide that breaks down everything from confusing terminology to simple tests you can do in a piano store before making a decision. The UK-based Howard aims to help you make the right decisions regarding a purchase, but he says the guide will, more importantly, “stop you from making very expensive mistakes.”

One of the most heavily advertised and prominently featured aspects of a digital piano is key weighting, says Howard. “You’ll likely come across terminology such as, light-weighted, semi-weighted, weighted, medium-weighted, fully-weighted, and heavy-weighted. The difference between the key weights is only slight. Ideally, you should aim to get a piano that has a fully-weighted or heavy-weighted touch. Manufacturers usually write their own descriptions, so they choose the terminology to describe their key touch, which can often be very misleading. I’ve seen pianos described as having fully-weighted keys, when they really only have medium-weighted keys.”

Touch sensitive and graded hammer action are terms associated with key weight as well. Howard notes that the former refers to “the force with which you play—press the key softly, you get a quiet sound, press it with some force and you get a loud sound. Graded hammer has heavier key weighting in the bass, gradually getting lighter as you go up the keyboard. This mimics the exact feel of an upright or grand piano.”

String resonance (aka damper resonance) is another important component to consider according to Howard. “When you press down a key on an acoustic piano, a note sounds. If other keys are already pressed down, then they and their harmonics will also sound very faintly. The combination of these other notes and harmonics give acoustic pianos their full, rich, vibrant sound. Many pianists complain that digital pianos sound dull and lifeless, which can be attributed to the missing string resonance. Here’s a way to test for string resonance: Without making the notes sound, press and hold down middle C, the E to the right, and the G to the right of that (a C Major chord). While holding down the C chord, play the C to the left of middle C firmly. You should be able to hear the C Major chord quietly, as if you actually played it.”

If you want all of Howard’s useful tips on purchasing a digital piano, you can get the entire 7 Things You MUST Know Before You Buy a Digital for free at: or send him your questions at


Yamaha P-95 digital piano
Yamaha P-95 digital piano has dynamic, high-quality sound via its Advanced Wave Memory sampling system, creating the realism of an acoustic instrument. The Graded Hammer Standard keyboard provides natural piano touch response. $500 range.


Casio privia
Casio Privia PX-130 digital piano comes with a Tri-Sensor 88-note scaled hammer-action keyboard, built-in USB/MIDI interface, four dynamic layers of stereo piano samples integrated with proprietary Linear Morphing System. Its Acoustic Resonance DSP allows it to simulate the sound of open strings. $800 range.
Korg lp350
Korg LP-350 Lifestyle Digital Piano features two large 10-centimeter speakers powered by a pair of 11-watt amplifiers, yielding extended low-end response for a deep, full sound. Real Weighted Hammer Action 3 provides a heavier playing touch in the lower register. $1000 range.
Roland F-120
Roland F-120 SuperNatural Piano yields authentic sound and touch. Its onboard piano engine provides the ultimate piano sound and response, and its Ivory Feel-G keyboard offers a supreme touch that looks and feels like a grand. $1300 range


This article is from our September-October 2012 issue. Click to order!

Instead of being dedicated to one instrument, young musicians, or professionals, is a lifestyle resource for all music makers, regardless of age, instrument, or ability. We focus on providing educational articles teaching people how to play an instrument, but we also favor travel pieces, music related health articles, interesting news stories, and plenty more.

Leave a Reply