The Feel Good Factor


Photo of a Yamaha piano keyboard with hands playing


The Feel Good Factor - by Gary Hopkins

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a digital piano is how it feels. This all comes down to the keyboard mechanism. The technical term for this is called the action. The action on any piano is a complex mechanism. Thankfully, we’ve been making traditional pianos for around 200 years, so our experts know a thing or two, and we continue to draw upon that knowledge to recreate the right feel in a digital piano.

I’m going to run through a few of the key (see what I did there?) differences between the different types we make. So, here we go - less chat, more action:

GHS - Graded Hammer Standard
This is our entry-level piano action. Graded because the weight of the keys is graded from heavy at the low end and lighter at the top. Out of all of our weighted keyboard actions, this has a lighter overall touch. It’s a solid starting point for a beginner pianist and is suitable up to the intermediate grades. It’s a more economic version of our GH Graded Hammer action.

GH3 - Graded Hammer 3
No, this isn’t a sequel. Three really is the magic number here. Unlike our older or entry level key actions which have 2 contact sensors, this has a third sensor. That’s where the 3 comes into it. Why? Grand pianos have a part of the mechanism called escapement. Once the hammer has struck the string, it’s quickly released so that the key can be play repetitively at high speed. These keys are weightier and more stable and the extra response means you can use some more advanced techniques in your playing.

GH3X - Graded Hammer 3 with Escapement.
A refined version of GH3 which adds in the feel of that escapement mechanism. Press slowly down on the key and you’ll feel a little notch of resistance halfway down. Now it feels like you’re playing a proper grand action.

NWX - Natural Wood Action with Escapement
Up until this point, you’ve been experiencing keys made of plastic, but true piano keys are made of wood. With NWX the white keys are made of wood and feels much more natural to the touch. The keys respond in a different way to plastic keys, so it frees up your playing that bit more.

The name describes this best. Every action up until this point is divided into four weighted sections, but that’s not quite how a piano is weighted. Every hammer on a piano is fractionally smaller than the last, all the way up. Every key on GrandTouch has its own individual weight to replicate this.
Next up is the length. A hammer strikes a string an eighth of the way along its length. The longer the piano, the longer the key. GrandTouch keys are longer so that the fulcrum is central rather than at the back of the key - so much more control!

GrandTouch with counterweights
If you look at a cutaway of a piano action, you’ll see little weights inserted into the key. These are called counterweights, so called because they counter the weight of the mechanism. The key is much more precise and the return to position quicker. Just like a concert grand, these keys play effortlessly and give another level of control to your playing.

Specialised Grand Piano Action
This one is reserved for our AvantGrand range of pianos. This is a real piano action, derived from our premium grand pianos. There are no contact sensors in these. Special continuous sensors work with fibre-optics to make the control super-fine. They’re built around the key so the the key plays as normal. This is the real thing!
The NU1X has an upright version of this action.

The better the action you get, the better the technique you’ll develop from the outset, so don’t think that any action is too good for your playing. Getting something that has a more natural action will give you an advantage when developing your style.

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