Hammer Action vs. Weighted Keys of Digital Pianos

When it comes to choosing a digital piano, whether for beginners or seasoned musicians, the decision often revolves around the type of keys – specifically, piano hammer action versus weighted keys. In this article, we are exploring the differences between hammer action vs. weighted keys.

If you are in the market for a digital piano and want it to feel more like a piano than a keyboard, you will need to know about graded hammer action and weighted keys. These are two different terms used in different models of digital pianos, and they mean slightly different things.

Understanding the differences and weighing the pros and cons of each can help you make informed decisions.

Differences Between Hammer Action vs. Weighted Keys

Let’s first take a look at the hammer action in an acoustic piano. When a key is pressed, a series of levers and hammers strike the strings inside the piano, producing sound.

Key actions on digital pianos are produced electronically to mimic the hammer action of acoustic pianos.

Digital Piano Weighted Keys

Weighted keys

Weighted keys are designed to simulate the feel of an acoustic piano without replicating the specific hammer action mechanism. They offer resistance similar to that of traditional piano keys.

However, weighted keys usually mean that every key on a digital piano keyboard is given a semi-realistic weight of the feel of playing acoustic piano keys. Typically, weighted keys indicate that every key up and down the keyboard has the exact same weight. This does not truly replicate the playing experience of an acoustic piano.

Hammer Action of Digital Pianos

Digital pianos with hammer action attempt to replicate the sensation of a traditional acoustic piano, providing players with a more authentic piano-playing experience.

While digital piano does not have hammers on the felt in the back of the keys as in a traditional piano, many models create the digital sound by simulating hammer action, hence producing realistic acoustic piano sounds, including the feel of bounce back on the keys.

What is the Graded Hammer Action of a Digital Piano?

Nowadays, many digital pianos offer graded hammer action. This means the weight of the keys at the bottom (bass section) feels a bit heavier, and the weight at the top (treble section) feels slightly lighter.

For instance, Roland FP-90X has Progressive Hammer Action 50 (PHA-50), a wood hybrid action. The key action comes with triple sensor technology and escapement, closely mimicking the acoustic piano hammer action.

Pros and Cons – Hammer Action vs. Weighted Keys

pros and cons

Hammer Action

  • Realistic Feel: Piano hammer action keys closely mimic the feel of playing an acoustic piano. The graded weight and resistance of the keys resemble those of a traditional piano, allowing piano players to develop proper finger strength and technique.
  • Expressiveness: The nuanced response of hammer action keys enables greater control over dynamics and expression. Players can achieve a wider range of dynamics, from soft pianissimo to powerful fortissimo, enhancing the musicality of their performances.
  • Suitable for Classical Repertoire: Piano hammer action keys are particularly well-suited for classical repertoire, where precise control and articulation are essential. The authentic feel of these keys allows players to interpret classical compositions with accuracy and finesse.
  • Cost: Digital pianos with hammer action keys are usually more expensive than those with weighted keys. The complex mechanism required to replicate the feel of an acoustic piano contributes to the higher cost.
  • Weight and Size: Piano hammer action keys may add weight and bulk to the instrument, making it less portable. This can be a concern for musicians who need to transport their instruments frequently.

Weighted Keys

  • Affordability: Digital pianos with weighted keys are often more affordable than those with piano hammer action. This makes them accessible to many musicians, including beginners and casual players.
  • Versatility: Weighted keys suit various musical styles and genres, from classical to contemporary. They offer a comfortable playing experience for pianists who prioritize versatility and adaptability in their performances.
  • Portability: Digital pianos with weighted keys are typically lighter and more compact. This makes them ideal for musicians transporting their instruments for gigs, rehearsals, or performances.
  • Less Authentic Feel: While weighted keys provide a realistic playing experience, they may not fully replicate the feel of an acoustic piano with hammer action. Some pianists may find the response of weighted keys to be slightly different from that of a traditional piano.
  • Limited Expressiveness: Weighted keys may offer slightly less control over dynamics and expression than hammer action keys. While still capable of producing various dynamics, players may find it more challenging to achieve subtle nuances in their playing.


In summary, if you buy a new digital piano, hammer action vs. weighted keys is one of the critical decision factors. Try to go for one with weighted keys. If you can spend a little bit extra, find a model with graded hammer action because it gives you the most realistic feel of an acoustic piano.

If you want to perform recitals on a traditional piano, you will want to practice on a digital piano with graded hammer action.

On the other hand, if you want to have fun with your digital piano and not worry too much about technique or performance, a keyboard or digital piano with weighted keys is good enough.

Ultimately, you should try out different types of keys and consider their individual playing style, musical goals, and budgets before deciding. Whether opting for hammer action or weighted keys, two kinds of digital pianos offer unique advantages and contribute to the joy and artistry of piano playing.

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