Even though you might think that you know enough about digital pianos, the most important characteristic is the key action.
That is what makes a digital piano sounds as close as it can be to an acoustic piano. Digital pianos kind of imitate the resistance of real piano keys.
A digital piano key actions can change your decision about purchasing a certain digital piano that suits you by other parameters.
In this article, we will talk about the best digital pianos that have a sound quality close to an acoustic piano because of the key action they have.
Professionals suggest the key action shouldn’t be too light or too heavy. It should be somewhere in the middle.
The Top-7 review of the best digital pianos and our detailed buying guide will help you to choose the one, that will please you for many years.
In our opinion, the winner is Yamaha P125. It provides the best key action, producing a sound similar to a real acoustic piano.
Now let’s move on to some explanations of what is the key action, and how it affects the way a digital piano sound.
- 1 What is the key action?
- 2 The ultimate buying guide: what is important to consider?
- 2.1 1. What is the difference between digital piano and acoustic piano actions?
- 2.2 2. What are the types of digital pianos according to the key action?
- 2.3 3. Does the keybed affect the key action?
- 2.4 4. The importance of the velocity settings of the digital piano
- 2.5 5. Trigged sound vs sustained sound
- 2.6 6. Types of digital piano key actions according to the top brands
- 3 What digital piano has the best key action?
- 4 FAQ
- 5 What Is the Best Digital Piano Action? – To summarize
What is the key action?
The key action is the resistance the keys provide in response to you touching them when you are playing a digital piano.
When the resistance is high, you would call the piano response heavy and the opposite. When it is easy to press the keys, the action is low.
Most people do not pay enough attention to this characteristic when selecting a digital piano, but it can be the most important thing.
It defines the way the piano will be playing and whether you are going to be comfortable with it.
If the key action is nowhere close to the real acoustic piano, there is a chance you are going to be playing the piano wrong.
It is critical, especially if you are a beginner, to learn the right technique, if you are planning to switch to an acoustic piano someday.
Playing piano for quite some time in a row and not following the correct technique, besides affecting your comfort, is going to affect the way a digital piano will sound.
In fact, it can lead to medical problems with your hands, which will prevent you from playing altogether.
It is best to purchase a digital piano after you have tested it yourself and confirmed, that the key action and the other characteristics are the ones you are fully comfortable with.
What should you be searching for when shopping for digital pianos? Let’s take a look.
The ultimate buying guide: what is important to consider?
Many people do not know what are the most essential features that digital pianos must have.
Below are the characteristics you should be looking at.
Remember, digital pianos should be tested at the store first, to ensure you are buying something you are going to be happy with.
1. What is the difference between digital piano and acoustic piano actions?
Acoustic pianos have hammers that hit certain strings when a certain key is pressed. The hammers are joined to the keys with special levers.
That is why the feeling you get when you hit the keys is heavy. The resistance is high.
Digital pianos on the other hand do not have hammers attached to the keys.
All they can do is imitate the resistance which results in how the keys will feel, heavy or light.
A fully weighted keyboard has springs underneath the keys. That is what is causing them to have weight when pressed.
Depending on the spring, the whole keyboard either feels heavy, or light.
Usually, most digital pianos for beginners have either light keys or semi-weighted keys.
This is because they often take turns playing a digital piano and a synth.
Some digital pianos have keys that are fully weighted, which in turn gives more resistance.
Professional pianists who play grand pianos or an upright piano prefer the realistic hammer action pianos.
Modern days, many brands make digital pianos that have a progressive hammer action, giving a realistic piano-playing experience.
2. What are the types of digital pianos according to the key action?
Hammer action keyboards have actual hammers, which allows for replicating the touch feeling of the keys to acoustic pianos.
The hammers go up when you hit the keys, and fall back when you release the keys. That is what gives a more realistic touch feel.
If you want to get even closer to experiencing the acoustic pianos’ feel touch, look into purchasing a digital piano, that has a progressive hammer action or graded hammer action.
It is basically the same thing. When you hit the keys of such a piano, they will get heavy, and heavy close towards the bass end of the keyboard.
An acoustic grand piano has different strings. They are shorter in the treble part of the keyboard, which means less resistance, and longer and thicker down the piano keyboard, providing heavy resistance.
That is exactly what digital pianos with graded hammer action keys replicate.
The materials the keys are made out of are important as well.
Two types of materials are used. It is either wood keys or plastic keys.
Wooden keys are much more realistic than usual, a grand piano features wooden keys. Bear in mind, that it will put the price up on a digital piano.
If you find the weighted keys, the material doesn’t really matter that much, and plastic will do just fine.
Remember, even the stage pianos all sound and feel different.
Same with digital pianos, you just have to find the one, that will sound right for you and the feel touch is comfortable.
3. Does the keybed affect the key action?
A keyboard results in a way, you will be playing a digital piano. Note, not all digital pianos produce keyboards themselves.
Some of them purchase keyboards from different suppliers. This impacts an authentic piano experience of a digital piano.
A keybed defines the key actions, how fast they return after pressing them, the whole texture of the keys, and the material used for the keys.
The escapement mechanism is the way the hammer falls away from the string when you hit the key.
A digital piano imitates the real grand piano touch feel, but all the keys must always return to the zero point, so it feels as natural as it can be.
Search for the pianos that have full-size keys.
The length of the keyboard isn’t critical if you are a beginner and only starting your playing a digital piano journey.
We would recommend getting the full-size keyboard, so you don’t have to change the instrument later when you become more experience.
The more space you have to hit the white and black keys, the easier it is. The velocity of the keyboard is affected as well. Why is it important, though? Read further to find out.
4. The importance of the velocity settings of the digital piano
The velocity of the keyboard is the connection between pressing the key and hearing a sound.
It is the speed between reaching the sound after hitting a key.
Digital pianos allow you to change this setting in the menu.
You just choose the velocity you like and are more comfortable with, after testing and playing at different settings.
To conduct a real test, turn a piano off and try playing it like that to feel the keys.
Velocity along with other keyboard characteristics depends on how a piano is programmed, but the key action is related to hardware.
Unless you touch the keys yourself, you won’t know whether they suit you or not.
5. Trigged sound vs sustained sound
All pianos require different pressure to be applied when you hit the note and sustain it.
You need more pressure if you want to make a note sustain, and less pressure to trigger a note.
Though, modern digital pianos offer two different responses, which you both should test before purchasing a piano to ensure it is comfortable and as you like it to be.
6. Types of digital piano key actions according to the top brands
All brands developed their own key action systems they successfully implement in their latest models of digital pianos.
Below is a quick summary of the most popular piano models and their unique key action systems.
Hopefully, it will help you to make a decision on which one would you want to try.
Yamaha key actions
Yamaha is one of the most popular companies.
They are known for making grand piano models and digital piano models as well.
That allowed them to develop digital hammer systems, which bring the whole experience of playing a digital piano closer to a stage piano.
There are different types of key action systems, but the most popular one is the graded hammer action.
It suits a pianist of any level, from beginners to professionals. Weighted and graded keys bring the piano sound closer to an acoustic piano.
Casio Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action
Casio is another popular brand, known for the quality of the pianos and their exceptional piano sound.
The latest models of pianos have one of the two key action systems. It is either Tri-sensor scaled hammer action keyboard I or II.
Unlike other systems, the Casio key action system has three sensors under every key.
This makes it easier to play sustained notes because you don’t have to return the keys to the original position every time.
Roland Progressive Hammer Action
Roland brand ensures it follows all the latest trends and modern technologies to produce a fantastic digital piano.
The main system they use is called progressive hammer action.
This key action system imitates a touch of a grand piano and the response of the keys too.
Kawai Grand Feel, Responsive Hammer action
Kawai is another top-of-the-list company producing acoustic and good digital pianos.
Despite their pianos being pricey, the quality of the instruments is high.
The grand feel responsive hammer action is almost exactly the same as the grand piano due to the weighted keys made from wood.
Korg Responsive Hammer Action
Korg company produces digital instruments only.
The hammer action is quite good and can compete with other brands with its response.
If you are searching for a powerful piano, the Korg is the brand that should definitely be considered.
What digital piano has the best key action?
Now it is time to review the best models of digital keyboards with the best key action.
1. YAMAHA P125 – The winner
Yamaha has a full-size keyboard with 88 keys that are weighted.
The graded hammer standard keyboard offers a heavier touch at the low end and lighter keys at the high end.
This makes it sound close to an acoustic piano. 2 way speaker system covers larger space.
The free smart pianist app can be installed on any device.
You can choose voices, rhymes and other effects on your phone or your tablet.
The number of features takes your playng experience onto the next level.
The grand piano sound and bösendorfer imperial piano sound makes this model quite attractive to the professionals.
This portable digital piano can easily be carried around to all your lessons or perfomances.
The split mode is a useful feature deviding the keyboard into two seperate ones.
It is helpful when you are learning how to play and practise along with your teacher.
It has a usb port and Midi and audio transfer, which means you will require a single cable to connect to any software.
2. Roland FP-30X – runner up
This piano can be purchased at an affordable price.
You get a lot of realistic sounds due to the full-size keyboard with weighted keys.
It comes with a piano bench, an adjustable stand, a sustain pedal, a polishing cloth, and instructions.
The keyboard offers a nice ivory touch feel.
A natural clear sound is possible due to the supernatural engine they use in this model.
Each key has a decent amount of weight on it, which results in precise accuracy when playing.
The grand piano sound is quite detailed and beautiful.
This is the perfect model for everyone, starting from beginners to professionals.
If you are looking for the best portable piano with spring-loaded key action, the FP-30X is one of them.
3. Casio PX-S1100BK
This is one digital piano that has a great number of features and a stylish, expensive look.
Casio PX S1100 BK is a perfect digital piano for every level pianist.
Smart hammer action highlights the keys that are coated in ivory-type material.
The keyboard has full-size.
18 preinstalled tones include electric pianos and organs.
60 preset songs will allow you to practice your learning skills.
Casio PX-S1100 BK is the only piano on the list that can be battery-operated.
This is a great advantage when you need to perform outdoors.
It has Bluetooth midi and audio, mp3, and WAV recording.
The range of connectivity options is wide.
The combination of the quality of the sound and the price is the defining point for choosing Casio PX-S1100BK.
4. Kawai ES120
Kawai ES120 is a full-size keyboard with responsive action.
It is an affordable and nice digital piano with realistic sounds.
Despite the fact that the keyboard comes with 2 sensor technology and there is no ivory feel touch on the keys, the keyboard is quite responsive.
It has a fast bounce on the keys and the semi-weighted keys are going to be ideal for beginners.
8 piano tones and 17 other piano characteristics allow creating your own music.
Built-in songs are a good addition to those, who want to practice their piano-playing skills.
It comes with Bluetooth and midi connectivity, which allows connecting to any mobile device.
If you want to take the piano playing experience to the next level, try connecting the piano to external speakers.
5. Korg D1
If you are only starting your journey of playing a musical instrument, you should look at this one.
The bundle includes everything you might need in the beginning: a bench, a stand, a dust cover, a polishing cloth, and a manual book.
You don’t need to purchase anything separately. This is a great advantage.
Even though it is not a digital piano, but a stage one, it is still worth looking into.
It doesn’t have internal speakers, so you either use your headphones or purchase an external speaker.
The keyboard doesn’t look that posh, but the feel of touch will surprise you.
The semi-weighted keys are perfect for playing any kind of music.
30 preinstalled songs will allow you to practice your skills.
Korg D1 new digital piano will be perfecr for learning how to play.
6. Yamaha P-515
Yamaha P-515 is one of the most popular digital keyboards on the market.
You can connect to a free smart pianist app and use all the effects for intermediate and advanced players.
A graded hammer keyboard allows you to experience the best selection of sound Yamaha p 515 offers.
It is ideal for performing indoors in the concert hall, or outdoors – at the events. Yamaha p-515 can produce a wide range of different clear and detailed sounds.
Yamaha graded hammer effect ensures precise accuracy when playing the piano.
An advanced technology offers clarity of sound even when you are using headphones.
The keys are wooden, which brings the experience of playing this instrument close to a real one.
Powerful speaker systems ensure the perfect immersive distribution of sound no matter where you are playing.
7. Roland FP-60X
Roland FP 60x is one of the most popular digital pianos on the market.
Roland FP 60x comes with a bundle of necessary accessories such as a three-pedal board, a stand, a bench, a cloth, and a DVD with instructions on how to set it up.
Roland FP 60x is lightweight and easy to transport to your lessons or performance venues, no matter where they are.
Powerful speakers produce immersive sound.
You can connect an external speaker for stage performance, or headphones when you need to be quiet.
A wide selection of tones and rhymes will allow you to play music of any kind.
Roland FP 60x has a full-size keyboard with hammer actions and escapement and an ivory touch feel of the keys will bring the playing experience close to the real instrument.
What is the best digital piano that feels like a real piano?
When deciding which piano to purchase, read the information above to know what you are looking for.
Consider the top brands, as their reputation says it all.
Yamaha, Casio, Roland, and Kawai are the ones that will give you the touch and sound close to a piano.
Which digital piano has the lightest action?
Yamaha p-515 has the lightest action.
Check out Casio and Roland brands of pianos as they also have models with light actions.
Which digital piano sounds like Steinway?
Rolland’s pianos are inspired by Steinway and the sound that these pianos produce is the closest to Steinway that you will ever find.
What is key action on digital pianos?
Every brand has its own hammer action, which results in the way what sounds the piano produces and how close they are to a grand piano.
What Is the Best Digital Piano Action? – To summarize
Now you understand the importance of hammer action, as the keyboard sounds and your correct playing technique depend on it.
When you are choosing a piano, you have to test it at the store to ensure the touch feel is comfortable and the keyboard responds just as you wish. Based on our digital piano reviews, Yamaha P125 has the best keyboard action.
We hope this article has helped you to decide, what digital piano you are going to be testing at the store. Share this information with your friends. If you still have some questions that weren’t covered in this post, please let us know in the comment section below.
Hello! My name is Lucy.
I am a musician, pianist, and piano teacher with over 10 years of experience. I, along with my professional team, created this website. Here I want to share my experience and knowledge with you. I write articles about learning the piano, its features and history, and reviews of the best digital pianos and accessories.
I hope my site will be useful to you!