What’s all the fuss about “Graded Hammer Action”?
In this post we’re going to discuss what’s often known as “Graded Hammer Action” (though there are other terms, as you will see). This will be particularly useful for beginners or those who are not that familiar with the way digital pianos work.
Background – Acoustic pianos
If you’ve ever played an acoustic piano – whether it be an upright or grand piano – you’ll have noticed that the keys on the low end offer more resistance than those on the high-end. Or, put slightly differently, the keys on the low end feel heavier and the keys on the high end feel lighter.
Some digital pianos seek to recreate this effect on their keyboards. In other words, the idea is that when you play the digital piano, the keys will be heavier in the low end and get lighter as you move up the keyboard, just as they do on an acoustic piano.
The commonest term to describe this is “graded hammer action.” However, different brands/manufacturers use slightly different expressions. Yamaha, for example, use the expression “Graded hammer action.” Casio call it “scaled hammer action.” Roland call it “progressive hammer action.”
Rest assured – these different terms all refer to the same phenomenon (which we might call the “weighted-keys effect”).
Why would you want “graded hammer action” / weighted keys?
Many people are interested in buying a digital piano because they simply don’t have the space for an acoustic upright or grand piano. However, these people still want to play something that feels like a “real” piano.
For these people, graded hammer action is of the utmost importance. It’s what allows them to enjoy the “weighted key effect” that one experiences on an acoustic or grand piano. If it’s important to you that a digital should feel like an acoustic, you’ll want to find digital pianos that have graded hammer action (or “scaled hammer action” if you’re buying a casio etc.)
There are other reasons why you may want (or even need) a digital piano with weighted keys. If you’re taking piano lessons, for example, your piano teacher may insist that you practise on a keyboard with weighted keys.
Assuming you don’t have the space for an upright or grand piano (or simply don’t want to pay for one), your best bet is to get a digital piano with scaled or graded hammer action. If you like Casio, you could try the Casio CDP-100 or the Casio PX-130. If you prefer Yamaha, check out the Yamaha P80 or Yamaha P95.
Hopefully this post has helped you understand what “graded/scaled hammer action is” and why you might want it. It’s very easy to find out if a digital piano has this feature. You’ll find it high up in the specifications list on any product page.
You can also simply look through the digital pianos featured on this site. We make it very clear which have graded hammer action and which do not.
NOTE: Some users say that the keys on certain digital pianos actually feel a little heavier than on an acoustic.This is not necessarily a bad thing. For it allows you to develop strength in your hands and fingers. And this makes switching to an upright or grand piano a lot easier.
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