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#2117445 - 07/14/13 10:18 AM Weighted keys important for digital only playing?
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
I hope this does not sound too foolish.
Many digital pianos tout their weighted key action.
I assume this is to emulate the action of an accoustic instrument.
But what if you never intend to buy or play an accoustic piano?

Surely a beginner would get used to any key action provided it was consistent.

This becomes even more confusing when you learn that some keyboards have adjustable weights

Some very expensive synths still do not have this feature. Neither do accordians and people have no difficulty with them.

Am I missing something here? BTW i have a P95 which does have weighted keys but I may buy a synth by the end of the year.

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#2117453 - 07/14/13 10:53 AM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 995
Loc: Southern California
My understanding is that weighted keys give a person more control over dynamics (press harder means a louder sound). I started with a Yamaha NP11 with a plastic keyboard, and upgraded to a Casio PX-150 with weighted keys. The NP11 has like three speeds, if you will, the PX-150 with its tri-sensors more like 20, in terms of how much control is possible. An acoustic piano has the entire range, because it doesn't use digital increments.

So it depends on what a person wants to do. Plenty of musicians get by with limited dynamic control. For example, if a person is in a band playing pop music, the volume slider might be enough. What the synths give is more tracks, such as drum loops, and more instruments. If a person is recording at home, they can sound lay down multiple tracks. A basic digital piano usually won't have those capabilities, but will have weighted keys.

If a person wants to learn to play piano, weighted keys are recommended. That said, a beginner can learn a lot, and play some interesting music on a keyboard.
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#2117501 - 07/14/13 01:14 PM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
de cajon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/13
Posts: 176
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: Schroeder II
...I assume this is to emulate the action of an accoustic instrument.
But what if you never intend to buy or play an accoustic piano?

Surely a beginner would get used to any key action provided it was consistent...


I think you're correct. If you're never, ever, ever planning to practise such that you could play an accoustic piano expressively, then you don't need a weighted action.

Any decent MIDI keyboard will have velocity sensing so that you can vary the loudness (or anything else you assign to velocity); and many will have after-touch for such things as pushing into vibrato or distortion.
_________________________
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#2117542 - 07/14/13 03:01 PM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
with synthesizers and accordions the sound continues while the key is pressed or the bellows operated. Once a piano key is struck the sound is beginning to fade and cannot be changed or manipulated.

In order to make the piano play expressively you cannot simply play a sequence of notes at the same volume intensity and expect it to sing. You must manage the volumes such that each new note blends better with the last note and attack it differently depending on whether it is rising or falling in pitch. This requires very fine control of arm weight. If the keys are not weighted it is too difficult to judge the amount of pressure needed for the next note. Weighted keys are easier to control even if the weight (around 50 grams) is too small for an inexperienced player to tell the difference.

Organs and synths are played with the fingers and a quiet hand. Pianos are played with the arms and fingers with most of the force coming from the shoulder. If you want to play piano expressively, whether digital or acoustic, you need fully weighted keys.
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Richard

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#2117657 - 07/14/13 07:15 PM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1423
Loc: Australia
there is no such thing as a foolish question here.................sometimes foolish answers lol


Edited by earlofmar (07/14/13 07:15 PM)
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#2117713 - 07/14/13 08:45 PM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Schroeder II, I have read your post, here:

I hope this does not sound too foolish.
Many digital pianos tout their weighted key action.
I assume this is to emulate the action of an accoustic instrument. But what if you never intend to buy or play an accoustic piano? Surely a beginner would get used to any key action provided it was consistent. This becomes even more confusing when you learn that some keyboards have adjustable weights. Some very expensive synths still do not have this feature. Neither do accordians and people have no difficulty with them.

Am I missing something here? BTW i have a P95 which does have weighted keys but I may buy a synth by the end of the year.

_____________________________________________

Great post.

- I hope this does not sound too foolish.
Many digital pianos tout their weighted key action.
I assume this is to emulate the action of an accoustic instrument. But what if you never intend to buy or play an accoustic piano? Surely a beginner would get used to any key action provided it was consistent. This becomes even more confusing when you learn that some keyboards have adjustable weights. Some very expensive synths still do not have this feature. Neither do accordians and people have no difficulty with them.

I played in a blues band 20 years ago and the keyboard player played a keyboard that didn't have weighted keys. So no reason to have weighted keys.

- Am I missing something here? BTW i have a P95 which does have weighted keys but I may buy a synth by the end of the year.

You are not missing anything. I have a P95, too. It is an awesome keyboard. I play it all the time. I also have an acoustic and I play it all the time.
They are both great, but they are totally different.

If you played an acoustic, you would feel, hear, and know the difference between and digital with weighted and unweighted keys. And I say that the differences between the digital and the acoustic pianos is never the keys, it is the action of the keys and the sound differences between strings vs electronics re decay, etc.

So it is never, ever necessary to have weighted keys to play piano music.

So, no, it does not sound, too, foolish. And, no, you are not missing something here.

Yes, and like me - you will be able to play the P95 which does have weighted keys but the synth you may buy by the end of the year will be awesome, too, and you can play both without any problem.

cheers, and enjoy,


Edited by Michael_99 (07/14/13 08:47 PM)

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#2117721 - 07/14/13 08:51 PM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
The question is whether you are a budding classical pianist or someone who wants to play "piano music" in a more generic sense. As a first step in becoming a classical pianist, learning on an unweighted "synth action" type keyboard is likely a huge mistake.

But if that's not the path you're embarking on, the limitations in the action of the keyboard may or may not be any disadvantage at all. Depends on the style in which you aspire to play. But there most certainly are limits to how expressive you can be on that type of keyboard, you've just gotta decide if those limits will affect you or not.
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

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#2117759 - 07/14/13 10:05 PM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: zrtf90]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11473
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
with synthesizers and accordions the sound continues while the key is pressed or the bellows operated. Once a piano key is struck the sound is beginning to fade and cannot be changed or manipulated.

In order to make the piano play expressively you cannot simply play a sequence of notes at the same volume intensity and expect it to sing. You must manage the volumes such that each new note blends better with the last note and attack it differently depending on whether it is rising or falling in pitch. This requires very fine control of arm weight. If the keys are not weighted it is too difficult to judge the amount of pressure needed for the next note. Weighted keys are easier to control even if the weight (around 50 grams) is too small for an inexperienced player to tell the difference.

Organs and synths are played with the fingers and a quiet hand. Pianos are played with the arms and fingers with most of the force coming from the shoulder. If you want to play piano expressively, whether digital or acoustic, you need fully weighted keys.

Well put, zrtf90. If the OP wishes to play classical piano (and possibly jazz) then weighted keys are recommended. If not, then it's probably unnecessary, but the higher end instruments will most likely have weighted keys as they are better to play on usually. If it's not a priority then you're fine, look for instruments that have the features you do want. They may be weighted, or they may not. In other words, I wouldn't go out of your way to avoid them.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2117831 - 07/15/13 12:16 AM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1184
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: Schroeder II
. . .
1. Surely a beginner would get used to any key action provided it was consistent.

2. This becomes even more confusing when you learn that some keyboards have adjustable weights

3. Some very expensive synths still do not have this feature.
4. Neither do accordians and people have no difficulty with them.

Am I missing something here? BTW i have a P95 which does have weighted keys but I may buy a synth by the end of the year.


FWIW --

1. The problem is two-fold:

a) If you ever _do_ play an acoustic piano, you'll be a bit freaked-out by the difference between weighted and spring-action (synth) touch.

b) A lot of people (including me, and others here) find it easier to play "touch-sensitive" music -- where the volume of each note depends on how hard the key is struck -- on a weighted keyboard, rather than on an synth-style keyboard.

2. The _weight_ of the keys isn't adjustable. What "adjusts" is the relationship between physical key-down velocity (how fast the key move downward) and "MIDI velocity" -- the "velocity" signal that controls how loud the note plays. "Light touch" means that relatively light key-presses give loud sounds; "heavy touch" means that relatively light key-presses give soft sounds. [I suspect most synth keyboards allow you the same adjustment, but I haven't checked. I know the X5D has several "touch" settings.]

3. Yup. Some synth players prefer spring actions. Some synths (the MOX series, I think) has springs on the 61-key synths, and weighted keys on the 88-key synths.

4. Accordion keyboards, like organ keyboards, aren't touch-sensitive. Just an on/off switch for each key (or the mechanical equivalent).

I have an old Korg X5D, and I used to play piano. When I started up playing (after a _long_ break), I found that the spring-action X5D keyboard just didn't feel right. And, if I wanted to re-develop decent technique, I couldn't do it on that synth, and transfer it to a piano. So I got a PX-350, with a reasonably "piano-like" action -- weighted keys, heavier in the bass.

If you have the P95, and get a spring-action synth, you could always link the two with MIDI. Play the P95 from the synth, or play the synth from the P95 keyboard.

Weighted-key synths tend to be heavy and expensive; there's no compelling reason to _not_ get a MOX6, just because of the synth keyboard. If you wanted something that "played like an acoustic piano", a MOX8 would be a better choice.

. charles

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#2117837 - 07/15/13 12:41 AM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11473
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
One last point, I know that people who play organ will practice regularly on the piano to keep their playing clean and accurate. This is because the keys on organs are not weighted and as a result the lesser resistance may induce a bit of sloppiness in playing.

Also, I just bought the MOX6, love it!! But not the feel of the keys, but I didn't buy it for that. If you want to buy one that can do piano and synth, the MOX8 is a great choice. It has a decent acoustic piano sound, but if you get pickier you can always use other software piano sounds with the keyboard.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2117883 - 07/15/13 05:35 AM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Morodiene]
UKIkarus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/05/13
Posts: 278
Loc: England, South East
I can vouch for the MOX8, still figuring out how to use everything it has to offer though haha.

It doesn't have after-touch although I am not really certain where I'd use that, I'm sure a few of you could fill me in there as I practice on an acoustic too and need to get familiar with the term.

How are the MOX6 keys? on the MOX8 it has fully weighted keys very much like my teachers upright (only ever so slightly lighter)

Never had the chance to play on a 6 series but from what I remember it was semi-weighted?


Edited by UKIkarus (07/15/13 05:37 AM)
_________________________
Yamaha MOX8 Synthesizer


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#2117899 - 07/15/13 06:36 AM Re: Weighted keys important for digital only playing? [Re: Schroeder II]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3461
Loc: Northern England.
This is a topic of interest to me. nless you spend loads on an instrument with a decent keyboard, either digital or acoustic (most o` those aren`t so good) then a springboard might be better. One I used at the Crematorium enabled me to play stuff with more complexity than the weighted keyboard I had ever did. But how it would be for expression, I really can`t say . . .
Having said all this, the bottom end DPs are pretty good for the money and generally acceptable for most stuff except top end classics . .
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