If you know a thing or so about digital pianos, you are probably wondering what distinction lies between hammer action pianos and weighted key pianos.
Hammers Vs Springs
To begin with hammer action digital pianos try to mimic the “feel” of acoustic pianos. These pianos mimic the key resistance found in their traditional counterparts by having a small hammer attached near the keys using a lever system. Additionally, like their acoustic counterparts, these digital pianos have a “click” whenever the keys are pressed, which, for some people, is the hallmark of a premium quality piano.
Weighted-key digital pianos are similar to hammer-action digital pianos in that they are designed to match the playing experience of acoustic pianos. But, instead of hammers, these keyboards rely on springs to create the acoustic piano “feel.” There are semi-weighted as well as fully-weighted pianos, with the latter typically featuring touch sensitivity that ensures that lighter key strikes cause soft sounds while harder strikes cause louder sounds.
Hammer-action Pianos Go A Step Further
To put everything into perspective, while both hammer action and weighted key digital pianos try to create the playing experience of high-end acoustic pianos, the hammer action variant goes a step further in trying to replicate this experience.
For instance, in addition to recreating the click, some hammer action pianos also try to make it harder to strike some keys than others using “graded hammer weighting” or “progressive hammer-action” feature, as is the case with real acoustic pianos due to varying string thickness. The bass keys tend to be harder to hit than the treble keys in these pianos.
What’s The Need For All This?
So, why go to all this trouble to make digital pianos, which have little need for the mechanical structure of acoustic pianos, sound and feel like acoustic pianos? The answer is simple. Initially, manufacturers never bothered to mimic acoustic pianos when designing digital pianos. Unfortunately, this resulted in the pianos feeling “different” and “uncharacteristic” to the touch. The “click” was also absent. So, manufacturers had no option but to recreate the effects of acoustic pianos on the digital variants using the hammers and springs.
It is also worth noting that there is no standard as to what acoustic keys feel, or how the “click” should sound like. Each manufacturer obviously tries to promote the qualities of its popular acoustic versions. Still, if you are looking for the best digital piano among the hammer-action and the weighted-key variants, you will be better off with the hammer action variant for its greater focus on offering the premium grand piano playing experience. You might have to try out a few versions out first before you make your purchase though – each piano maker has its own standards on what constitutes an acoustic piano playing experience.