A musical keyboard’s feel is just as crucial to making beautiful music as to how the keyboard sounds when you play it. If the feeling weren’t important, we wouldn’t need to add haptics to our cell phones and laptop trackpads. We just need that real feel when we’re typing and when we are making music to get the full experience of it.
So what gives a good keyboard an interactive tactile feel? Weighted action and touch sensitivity are what make that keyboard feel real when you play it. The weighted action of a piano or keyboard enhances musical expression and develops the hand strength and stability needed for good musicianship.
We’ve put together a list of the top 6 weighted keyboards for beginner and more advanced pianists in this article. We’ve rated them based on weighted action, price, sound, portability, and connectivity so you can choose the weighted keyboard that works best for you and your family
Quick glance at the best weighted keyboards:
The Yamaha P125 is a full-size keyboard with 88 weighted action keys. At a mere 18 pounds, this keyboard is pretty portable, although it is a little large due to the full-size keyboard. In addition, the graded hammer standard gives the keyboard a very realistic feel by giving the lower notes a heavier-feeling action and the higher notes a lighter-feeling action, just like you would find on a typical grand piano.
The Yamaha keyboard includes easy app integration, split keyboard function, and USB midi connection. These functions make the keyboard easy to use for recreational playing and learning how to play well.
We love this keyboard for students and seasoned players, those looking for a recreational keyboard, and anyone with somewhat limited space. It gets best all-around because you get great sound and feel without a hefty price tag. We also love that you can take it to gigs with the enclosed carry bag.
The Ingbelle is a uniquely designed keyboard that folds in half to save space when you aren’t using it. Although the semi-weighted keys do not feel as natural as fully-weighted ones, they have responsive touch action that you can adjust to suit your needs. Semi-weighted keys reduce the cost of the keyboard without completely giving up the capacity for musical expression. In addition, this keyboard is highly portable and easy to store.
We love this keyboard for its unique, space-saving feature, even though it definitely compromises on feel and sound. This would be ideal for a college student on a budget or a family living in a small space but wanting to add piano playing to their lives. A budding pianist may quickly outgrow the capabilities of this keyboard, but it is a great place to start due to its size and price.
The Souidmy G-110W is a semi-weighted keyboard that offers lots of sound effects, transposition, tuning, an extensive sound library, rhythms, songs, a metronome, and a built-in arranger. It also provides a USB slot for recording, built-in speakers, and smart chord accompaniment. In addition, the semi-weighted keys reduce the price and allow for more digital features, such as extensive sound effects.
This keyboard is great for anyone who wants a variety of sounds and accompaniments for a budget price. This keyboard is aimed at the recreational player rather than a serious student who will quickly outgrow the way the semi-weighted keys function. However, given the price point, it does make a great starting point to test the waters of piano lessons before investing in a more expensive piano or keyboard.
The Alesis Recital 61 is a small-sized beginner’s keyboard with a big sound. In addition, it incorporates 10preset voices, which make the keyboard very easy to use, especially for younger beginners.
We love this keyboard for the younger beginner who might not be ready to start with a piano teacher. Although the keys are only semi-weighted, they are also adjustable. This keyboard includes 60 free virtual lessons. Its small size means it is very portable (just perfect for that trip to Grandma’s house!)
The Roland FP-30X is an upgraded version of their entry-level model keyboard. This keyboard easily meets and exceeds Roland’s reputation for high-performance electric pianos and keyboards with its high-quality sound bank and realistic playing feel. In addition, this keyboard includes three months of free piano lessons and easily connects to apps such as Garage Band.
We love this keyboard because it is budget-friendly enough for a beginner pianist but has enough feel, touch sensitivity, and quality sound for a more seasoned player. In addition, Bluetooth connectivity gives you the option for wireless headphones and music apps. At the same time, the enhanced sound bank offers a large variety of high-end sounds with a wide range of musical dynamics.
Ideally, you would purchase the optional stand and three-pedal unit to get even more from your digital piano keyboard.
The Yamaha YDP164 is an electric piano with weighted keys. This large keyboard imitates the graded feel of an acoustic grand piano. In addition, it includes half-damper control, which allows you to control the amount of sustain pedal used while playing. These characteristics lead to excellent musical expression with its 10on-board voices.
We love this keyboard for its rich piano voice and amazing feel. This piano would work well for a student who does not have the room or ability to upkeep an actual grand piano but desires to have a full range of musical expression.
For a keyboard to be included in our list, it had to meet several of the following criteria. But here’s the thing, no single keyboard can master all of those individual items. Instead, it’s the combination of particular characteristics that make a keyboard such a good fit for your unique needs.
For example, if you’re looking for a space-saving keyboard, you’re probably not going to find something small and portable that has all 88 keys. But, on the other hand, if you aren’t worried about portability, then 88 keys might be perfect for reaching your musical potential. So here are the criteria for our top six weighted action keyboards.
A keyboard with a full range will have 88 keys. This is important for people who are working on advanced classical music because their pieces are written for an acoustic piano. On the other hand, a keyboardist focusing more on popular music can probably get just as much use out of a keyboard with only 61 keys. A brand-new beginner pianist won't need a full range of keys just yet. But as they advance, they may need to expand from a 61 key keyboard to a full 88 keys, so you might want to start with 88.
Polyphony is the number of sounds or notes that a keyboard can produce simultaneously. For example, an acoustic piano, in theory, can produce sound for all 88 keys simultaneously if you were able to press all of the notes simultaneously. However, many electronic keyboards limit how many notes can actually sound at once. At the lower end of the scale is 128 notes or sounds. This is perfectly acceptable for the early beginner pianist; however, a more advanced pianist needs to have at least 192 to 256 note polyphony.
Even though you may only physically be able to play a few notes at a time, the tones will continue to ring after they have been played, especially if you are using a sustain pedal.
Lower polyphony means the notes may cut off unnaturally, leading to a more computerized and less authentic sound.
Weighted action is definitely one of the most critical aspects of an authentic feel when playing the keyboard. The levers of an acoustic piano will create resistance will pushing down on the keys and a bit of spring when the key returns to its normal position. Because the strings are larger on the lower notes of an acoustic piano, the lower notes have more resistance. With smaller, thinner strings, the higher notes will have less resistance.
This variation in resistance is known as the Graded Hammer Standard in keyboards. A good keyboard or digital piano will mimic the feel and responsiveness you would find in an acoustic piano. This is critical for physical strength and music development. Without this feel and responsiveness, the keys become little more than on-off switches for the notes.
Weighted keys act more like an actual acoustic piano. On the other hand, semi-weighted keys have the musical responsiveness of a weighted key but not the same feel as a weighted key, making them a somewhat less expensive – and less expressive- option.
Another factor you may want to consider when shopping for a keyboard is portability. If you don’t plan on taking your keyboard anywhere, you don’t need to worry about how heavy, large, or portable it is. However, if you intend to use your keyboard in other locations or bring it along for vacations, you’ll want to look into a smaller, lighter keyboard to keep it easy to transport.
You may want to consider what kind of sound bank your new keyboard will have. For example, if your keyboard is more of a digital piano, it may only have around 10 very high-quality sounds, such as acoustic piano and organ. On the other hand, if your keyboard is more of a synthesizer, it will have a very extensive sound bank with the ability to edit sounds. Something in the middle will be cost-effective and may have available apps to add or edit sounds.
Older models of weighted keyboards don’t have a lot of connectivity, but in our digital world, we are used to accessing all kinds of apps. For example, you may be interested in keyboards that use Bluetooth for wireless headphone connection or various apps for piano lessons, composition, sound editing, and more.
Of course, price is almost always a significant consideration when shopping for anything, especially a weighted keyboard. Therefore, we’ve included a variety of keyboards and noted which ones were especially budget-friendly for the features.
There is a distinction between keyboards and electric or digital pianos. However, when you are looking for a keyboard with weighted keys, the line between the two becomes somewhat blurred.
Generally, electric pianos are larger pieces of furniture that focus on the quality of sound rather than the quantity of sound. As a result, they can excel at a weighted key feel and may actually have weighted keys, making them unportable. On the other hand, keyboards tend to be a little smaller, lighter, and much more portable—many keyboards at the entry-level focus on the quantity of sounds and functions rather than quality.
However, when you are looking for a keyboard with weighted or weighted-action keys, you’ll find a much smaller distinction between keyboards and electric pianos. Many times the terms are used interchangeably.
To choose the best keyboard for you, you’ll need to know what kind of playing you’ll be doing. You can start with almost any keyboard or piano if you're a very early beginner. However, if you are going to become a serious student, you will quickly advance past the capabilities of a fundamental keyboard and need a more advanced version.
If you plan to take your keyboard with you when you travel or move, you’ll want to focus on portability. On the other hand, if you plan only to use it at home, you may want to forgo portability for quality of weighted action to develop your finger strength and musical expression.
Any of these keyboards can make beautiful music in the hands of the right musician, and you would certainly be able to start piano lessons on any of them. Our favorite, however, is the Yamaha P125 88 Key Weighted Action Digital Piano. This keyboard is a great choice for the beginning musician and the seasoned pianist, as well.
Yamahas are known for their realistic sound banks, responsive keys, and intuitive interfaces. This keyboard is excellent because it uses the Graded Hammer Standard. With a low weight of 18 pounds, this keyboard is highly portable and has that exceptional feel and responsiveness needed to gain hand strength and practice musical expression.
This keyboard works well for budding musicians because it offers such realistic and expressive sound at a reasonable price. However, to get the most out of this keyboard, we recommend purchasing the additional 3-pedal set rather than using the included footswitch.
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