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#2454171 - 08/26/15 07:50 PM Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!)
fryderykchopin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/06/15
Posts: 7
Hello everyone!

I learnt to play about 10 years ago on a 61-key unweighted electronic keyboard, which was very light and easy to play. Last month I decided to start playing again after so many years but in a decent one so I bought a Yamaha Arius YDP162 digital piano with 88 weighted keys.

In the first week I started feeling some pain in my fingers and now, after one month, I can say my fingers really hurt so I have decided to stop for some time until I get better. I supposed that the reason is that I am not used to a weighted keyboard where you need to press keys a bit harder. However, today I found a street (upright acoustic) piano and decided to try it, out of curiosity, just to find out that the action of that piano was extremely light compared to my digital piano. It was very easy to play and I could play much faster than I can with my digital piano, with no effort. This made me wonder if my digital piano's action is too heavy/hard.

I have been reading some articles in Internet about light/heavy actions and I found what they call the touch weight, which is the weight needed to depress a key. According to what I have seen, about 50 grams is an average value; anything below 45 grams is in the light side; and anything above 65 grams is the heavy side, with typical values in the range 30-70 grams.

Well, I did the experiment with my digital piano and I was surprised to find that the touch weight is 80 grams! That's in the middle G key and it is more in lower pitch keys (and less in higher pitch keys). So this seems to indicate that my digital piano has an extremely heavy action indeed.

My doubt is whether this piano really has a normal action but it's me who needs to get used to a weighted keyboard, or the action is too heavy in this piano. Does anyone have the same model and experience with other pianos? Will the action become lighter/softer after some more use?

Sorry for long post and thanks in advance!

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#2454175 - 08/26/15 08:11 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
bill5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/13
Posts: 150
Even others who have had similar experience can't really answer your question IMO...you'd need to stick with it to know, perhaps scaling back how much or how "hard" you play, figuratively and literally, and building your way up. It might be you're simply over-doing it initially. If it continues, I'd definitely consider a semi-weighted keyboard or maybe if you can find one that's weighted with a lighter-than-usual touch (don't know of any offhand). g/l

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#2454214 - 08/26/15 11:31 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
Charles Cohen Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 2070
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
The YDP162 has a "GH" action, same as the P155. It's not light, but it's no heavier than many other DP's.

Suggestions:

a) If the YDP162 has a "Touch" setting in its menu system, _use it_. Set the "Touch" to the lowest value it has, to start. The default is "medium touch" (whatever that means!), which is giving you trouble now.

The lighter "Touch" setting will let you use less force on the keys, and still generate solid "FF" tones.

b) If you don't have a teacher, GET ONE!

Piano technique is significantly different from synth (unweighted keyboard) technique. You _must_ use "arm weight", rather than finger strength, to play. I don't know how to teach the difference, but experienced piano teachers will be able to help you change.

It would be worth taking lessons, only for this problem. Ignore the music -- you need to get the mechanics of playing fixed-up.
_________________________
. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / ZXA1 speaker

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#2454216 - 08/26/15 11:43 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
Michiyo-Fir Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 251
I do think it's a matter of technique as well, and likely not the piano unless your particular unit has a problem with the keyboard. I started out on a keyboard as well as a 4 year old child, and transitioned to an actual piano at 7 years old and basically other than reading the notes and rhythms, I had to relearn everything because the way your hand/wrist/arm moves to press the keys are different. When playing the piano, often it's necessary to use the wrist and the weight of the arm/hard opposed to just the fingers (which would probably have been fine on a keyboard). I haven't touched an unweighted keyboard for many years though, and am probably not that qualified to talk about different technique for the two instruments.

I've tried the YDP162 in the past and although I don't consider it to be a light action, it is within the normal range of touch weight. It doesn't feel heavier than many acoustics I've played over the years.

The acoustic piano you tried on the street could have been an old spinet which sometimes do have very shallow, light action. That could have been the difference you were feeling. I can say for sure that most acoustic grands are around the same heaviness in terms of feeling (for me anyway) as the YDP162. That is to say some may be a bit lighter, or a bit heavier, but not so much that my fingers hurt from playing.

You could get the store that you bought your YDP162 from to send a technician and double check nothing is wrong with your piano. Other than that, you may have to find a piano teacher to improve on technique and reduce chances of injury.

I cannot remember a time where my fingers have hurt from practicing piano...not even during days where I used to play 4-6 hours. Sometimes my wrist gets tired but never pain in the fingers.
_________________________
Yamaha Avant Grand N1, Bosendorfer 290, Steingraeber A170

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#2454227 - Yesterday at 01:00 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
peterws Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 4461
Loc: Northern England.
Originally Posted By fryderykchopin
Hello everyone!

I learnt to play about 10 years ago on a 61-key unweighted electronic keyboard, which was very light and easy to play. Last month I decided to start playing again after so many years but in a decent one so I bought a Yamaha Arius YDP162 digital piano with 88 weighted keys.

In the first week I started feeling some pain in my fingers and now, after one month, I can say my fingers really hurt so I have decided to stop for some time until I get better. I supposed that the reason is that I am not used to a weighted keyboard where you need to press keys a bit harder. However, today I found a street (upright acoustic) piano and decided to try it, out of curiosity, just to find out that the action of that piano was extremely light compared to my digital piano. It was very easy to play and I could play much faster than I can with my digital piano, with no effort. This made me wonder if my digital piano's action is too heavy/hard.

I have been reading some articles in Internet about light/heavy actions and I found what they call the touch weight, which is the weight needed to depress a key. According to what I have seen, about 50 grams is an average value; anything below 45 grams is in the light side; and anything above 65 grams is the heavy side, with typical values in the range 30-70 grams.

Well, I did the experiment with my digital piano and I was surprised to find that the touch weight is 80 grams! That's in the middle G key and it is more in lower pitch keys (and less in higher pitch keys). So this seems to indicate that my digital piano has an extremely heavy action indeed.

My doubt is whether this piano really has a normal action but it's me who needs to get used to a weighted keyboard, or the action is too heavy in this piano. Does anyone have the same model and experience with other pianos? Will the action become lighter/softer after some more use?

Sorry for long post and thanks in advance!


My experience is similar to yours. My first digital was heavy to play, i resolved to uograde to a better one.
But the upgrades were if anything, heavier and my test playing piece, riddled with black notes, was performed worse not better. So i had to go cheap.
This isnt the case now, im sure. But I would find a replacement out there and psrt company with your 162. There are lighter options from other makers as well as Yamaha.
Your fingers are precious. Look after them!
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2454230 - Yesterday at 01:02 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
Ivan M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/20/15
Posts: 23
Fryderyk, the Yamaha "GH" keys have a peculiarly high initial resistance but basically the same resistance overall through the key travel as most new acoustics. I did not notice any changes over time with them.

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#2454239 - Yesterday at 02:28 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
fryderykchopin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/06/15
Posts: 7
Thank you all for your comments.

Answering some of your questions:

My DP has three levels of touch sensitivity. The default is medium, and changing it to soft/low I see that the sound becomes louder with the same amount of physical effort so I can reduce the energy I use to play. However, the keys still feel a bit heavy compared to the other piano I tried. After all, the touch weight I mentioned in my first post is a physical property of the keyboard and has nothing to do with the sound.

I don't think my particular unit has a problem, it feels right like the unit of the same model I tried in the shop before buying it. I also tried other DPs and had the impression that all them are equally heavy (maybe because I'm not used to it). However, I don't know how it compares to real acoustic pianos. I was glad to read that this model is comparable to grand pianos in terms of light/heavy action, apparently the piano I tried in the street gave me a wrong impression. I don't plan to replace it at the moment because I would like to be able to play a normal piano, so for the time being I will keep this one.

Definitely I need to re-learn to play in terms of technique since I have never played a "real" weighted keyboard before having my DP. I'm going to stop playing for 10 days (I have to travel) and then I will start again, scaling my playing. I will also take some lessons to correct my playing and adapt it to a real piano, hopefully that should solve the problem!

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#2454278 - Yesterday at 08:15 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
maurus Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 1035
Charles Cohen hits the nail on the head: Change your technique, and get a teacher.
The action in your YDP162 is NOT the problem here.

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#2454283 - Yesterday at 08:54 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
phunqe Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/21/14
Posts: 71
I screwed up my posts, so Cliff notes;

I recently got a Powerball and a finger trainer (the type with 4 push buttons on it) and even if I was trained properly (although admittedly a long time ago) I feel an improvement when it comes to fatigue and dexterity.
The fingers and wrists needs training in any case. If you need to start on a new technique now, these tools would probably help, since you won't have the benefit of getting the same type of strenght/dextery training you would get while learning to play in the first place (i.e learning to play the piano while using a correct technique).

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#2454306 - Yesterday at 11:19 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: phunqe]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12974
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By phunqe
I screwed up my posts, so Cliff notes;

I recently got a Powerball and a finger trainer (the type with 4 push buttons on it) and even if I was trained properly (although admittedly a long time ago) I feel an improvement when it comes to fatigue and dexterity.
The fingers and wrists needs training in any case. If you need to start on a new technique now, these tools would probably help, since you won't have the benefit of getting the same type of strenght/dextery training you would get while learning to play in the first place (i.e learning to play the piano while using a correct technique).


Just to note: it's not so much about what your fingers can do, as there is very little muscle in them at all. Same with wrists. They have tendons that are used when playing and while some stretching is good that will help strengthen them and keep them limber, it should be unnecessary for playing piano. You get better at playing by playing, and doing so with arm weight.

There are specific exercises one can do at the piano to improve their technique and use of arm weight and I recommend the OP have some lessons with a knowledgable teacher on how to accomplish this.

In the meantime, it's better to play for shorter periods of time before pain or fatigue sets in. This could mean practicing for only 15 minutes.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher FT



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#2454333 - Yesterday at 01:41 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
fryderykchopin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/06/15
Posts: 7
Definitely I'm going to take a break, start slowly afterwards, and look for an experienced teacher to help me.

At the moment I can feel an unconfortable feeling in all my fingers, 24/7... I can do normal things like for example typing in a computer (obvius), but it's annoying. I'm going on holidays for about 10 days and won't press a key in all this time, this should be more than enough to recover.

Then I will resume slowly. I think one of my problems is having started too hard, about 4 hours/day from the first day, after not having played at all in 10 years, and never in a proper keyboard (I admit I was too excited with my new piano). Playing pieces like Chopin's nocturnes is ok, but I struggle with anything of average speed/intensity, and playing Chopin's minute waltz (which I used to do in my keyboard) is mission impossible at the moment.

I had no idea of that powerball and finger trainer stuff. Maybe they are not essential as mentioned above but I don't think it will hurt either, so I will give it a go.

Thanks all!

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#2454336 - Yesterday at 02:07 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
Doritos Flavoured Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/12
Posts: 405
Loc: Brazil
you're telling us you used to play Chopin on weightless keyboards? is that even possible?
_________________________
unlocked by keys
wordless poetry sings free
- piano music -

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#2454337 - Yesterday at 02:19 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: Doritos Flavoured]
fryderykchopin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/06/15
Posts: 7
Originally Posted By Doritos Flavoured
you're telling us you used to play Chopin on weightless keyboards? is that even possible?


Well it's possible to play the notes in the keyboard, but of course I had no dynamics at all in that keyboard and couldn't play all passages due to the lack of octaves. To make things worse, there was no pedal either - I used a light sustain effect. As you may imagine, that had nothing to do with Chopin played in a proper piano, but it was enough for me at that time.

My parents bought that keyboard when I was a kid, I told them I would learn by myself, obviously they didn't spend a fortune because they weren't sure a kid would actually learn by himself (and because they couldn't afford much more to be honest) but I ended up learning, although not in the best conditions smile

Adapting to a proper piano has been an exciting experience. I think the most difficult part for me was memorising notes and learning to coordinate hands, which I did in the keyboard by practicing a lot. Now in my new piano I have had to learn how to control the dynamics and expression you can actually get out of a proper piano, and also the pedal which is a bit tricky at the beginning (still getting there though). After one month of practice in my new piano and listening to my recordings I think I sound decently.


Edited by fryderykchopin (Yesterday at 02:27 PM)

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#2454355 - Yesterday at 04:19 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
Doritos Flavoured Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/12
Posts: 405
Loc: Brazil
well, just be sure to learn proper technique. As they said, use arm weight rather than trying to push keys all the way down with the fingers alone. Don't push, just let gravity do most of the job. Some strenghening of the fingers is expected, but not to the point of causing injuries... slow it down, go legato feeling them...
_________________________
unlocked by keys
wordless poetry sings free
- piano music -

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#2454419 - Yesterday at 09:56 PM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
damos3000 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/15
Posts: 5
I had the same experience when playing the YDP162 (GH keys) and YDP142 (GHS keys) side by side at the piano shop. I found the action on the lighter and 'lower end' GHS keys to be more realistic to my experiences with acoustic uprights. So I had to forgo the better speakers and slightly higher cabinet of the YDP-162 in favor of the keyboard that I liked best.


Edited by damos3000 (Yesterday at 09:57 PM)

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#2454478 - Today at 03:16 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
JoeT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/14
Posts: 246
Loc: Europe
Digitals emulate grands, not uprights.

This touch weight is measured without damper weight, so first you lift all dampers using the pedal, then you check the key weight. The AP action will get lighter (to about 50 g), but your DP action won't, it doesn't have separate damper weights.

Also in upright pianos the hammers and dampers are upright, so their full weight doesn't lie on the keys.

Yamaha grands seem to be on the heavy side and that is what they model their digitals after.

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#2454479 - Today at 03:22 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
johan d Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/14
Posts: 466
Loc: Belgium
I had an YDP 162 in the beginning and had also tension injuries (thumb). After a year I sold it and bought a small upright acoustic. I had also tension problem on the acoustic.
Problem is that i play too tensed. Today I still need to pay attention to playing not too tensed and limit my time at the piano to 1/2 hour sessions.

Relaxed playing is the key tou our problem.
_________________________
Jazz is not an intellectual process. You use your intellect to take apart the materials and learn to understand them and learn to work with them, but actually it takes years and years of playing to develop the facility so that you can forget all of that and just relax and just play. Bill Evans

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#2454482 - Today at 03:33 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
JoeT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/14
Posts: 246
Loc: Europe
Just another addition: Piano beginners tend to set the volume slider to low on digitals while compensating that with their fingers.

Try using headphones and set the piano volume to the maximum. If it feels too loud, go easier on the keys.

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#2454488 - Today at 04:39 AM Re: Touch weight of digital pianos (my fingers hurt!) [Re: fryderykchopin]
C R Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 08/12/15
Posts: 17
I played the piano for a couple decades, then stopped for a while as life took over (and the lack of piano at home didn't help). I recently started again, without tendinitis or cramps of any kind (in the fingers or back) even after hours of practice, unlike the previous years. And not light stuff - today was more Liszt, the Annees de Pelerinage - all octaves and jumps and chord trills and big repeated chords...

The difference was simply that I took up strength training in the meantime. Someone told me I was getting cramps because my back and fingers were too weak and so got tired faster. Training for strength would mean getting tired less quickly as the strain on the fingers per action was less. Kind of like how you get tired faster walking up hills than down.

Try this: once a week, do a seated row or a weighted pullup or pulldown at the maximum weight you can move, very slowly to avoid injury (5-10 seconds up, 5-10 seconds down) without resting at any point, aiming to "fail" (when you can't move the weight anymore) within a minute or so. Just once (it's enough... trust me). Then wait a week - this is important, for recovery and growth - and do it again with 5% more weight. You'll be amazed the difference it makes in even a month. You get both grip strength and back strength growing with these movements, grip strength probably first. If you do this right the soreness post workout lasts about 3-4 days but recovery can take 10 days, so don't go back to the gym for at least a week.

Usual disclaimers, I'm not an MD, YMMV, etc.

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