Do I Need Weighted Keys to Learn Piano? How Essential are Weighted Keys?

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“Do I need weighted keys to learn how to play the piano?”

This is a question we’ve encountered a few times. When you are looking to buy a digital piano or keyboard you are met with loads of different options. How do you know what is best? What are some of the essential features that you simply can’t go without if you are looking to learn how to play?

What Are Weighted Keys?

Weighted keys are a fantastic feature for learning how to play. Digital pianos, and even keyboards, are sometimes made to feel as much like an acoustic piano as possible. One of the ways they can do this is to provide weighted keys. If you are wondering “do I need weighted keys?” it is important to understand exactly what they are.

These are a simulation of the method an acoustic piano uses to generate sound. Hitting a key on a piano would traditionally trigger a tiny “hammer” to hit a string and generate the sound we all know as the piano. Pressing harder means the notes have more volume or “velocity”.

Digital pianos don’t use this hammer action, but they can simulate it by working out how hard a note is hit, and then triggering louder sounds based on the velocity with which someone plays the note.

If a keyboard doesn’t have this feature, it will play a note at the same volume whenever it is hit. Think of a toy piano or keyboard, and the notes are very much either playing or not. This means that there is very little in the way of “dynamics“. This is a musical term, basically meaning how hard or soft a melody or chord progression is played.

Weighted keys allow the musician to interact more, and to play raging chord progressions or gentle melodies.

Do I Need Weighted Keys to Learn?

The answer is both “yes” and “no”. To learn how to play the shapes of chords, or to move around the keyboard playing a melody, weighted keys are not necessarily essential. The very basics of playing the piano can even be learned without a piano! You can see from our academy that even within your browser, you can learn so much about the piano, how it works, and how melodies are played.

If you do not have weighted keys, don’t let that stop you from learning. You can still make incredible progress and start to understand the chords and melodies you need to be able to play.

If you want to eventually play classical pieces of music, or get to the stage where you are playing at an elite or professional level then weighted keys will help.

If and when you switch to weighted keys you will notice how different it feels. There are so many more ways you can express yourself, and you need to ensure you thoroughly press the keys. Otherwise, you might lose the notes, as they can be so quiet they aren’t heard. There is a whole new aspect to the piano that you need to learn when you do switch over to weighted keys.

In Summary – Do I Need Weighted Keys?

You shouldn’t let a lack of weighted keys get in the way. Not all of us start with an ideal piano setup, and it shouldn’t matter. However, if you are able to get a digital piano or keyboard with weighted keys, it will prevent a learning curve in the future, if you switch to playing an acoustic piano or any other model with weighted keys. For expression and dynamics, at some point, you will want to switch to weighted.

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