8

I am looking to upgrade my keyboard from one with unweighted (springy) keys to one with weighted keys that feels more like a real piano.

I'd like to buy the new CASIO PX-S1100. When I look at a lot of reviews of the keyboard there seems to be some contention over the black keys being lighter than the white keys. When I played the PX-S1000 in the store I could not tell the difference between the white and black keys but that is probably because I am a beginner and the difference may become more noticible as I get more experienced.

I am looking for some clarity on piano key weighting.

What causes the "weight" of a key in a real piano?

Is there a weight range that piano manufacturers aim to be in with their key weighting?

I understand that keys get lighter as you move to the higher keys. Why is that? Is that consistent across every piano?

Wouldn't every piano manufacturer aim to have the black keys lighter because the length of the key is shorter so it is a shorter lever that might "feel" heavier?

If I spend a lot of time practicing with the PX-S1100, when I play on a real piano will having equally weighted keys feel weird?


EDIT - Here are some of the reviews from different perspectives that I have watched regarding the PX-S1100:

Merriam Music mentions the weighting issue at 10 minutes & talks about it for the rest of the video.

Pretty much the entire ThePianoforever video is about the key weighting issue.

PianoManChuck didn't consider key weights important enough to mention is his video at all.

8
  • It seems like the core question is whether the reviews you read are meaningful. Link(s) to where you're getting your information would be helpful.
    – Aaron
    Sep 29 at 23:53
  • Thanks for the suggestion @Aaron but I believe that these reviews are biased sources and I do not think the quality my question will be improved by posting them. If I get any answers I'd rather have them stand on their own merit in isolation rather than as a response to a monetized video.
    – Jerome
    Sep 30 at 1:05
  • 1
    The issue isn't bias; the issue is validity. Lots of people post reviews, but lots of people also don't know what they're talking about. I strongly suggest either posting a link or, if the reviews genuinely aren't relevant to your question, just remove the reference.
    – Aaron
    Sep 30 at 1:18
  • Fair enough, I'll edit some of them into my question.
    – Jerome
    Sep 30 at 1:20
  • 3
    I'd have thought that due to the length difference (therefore leverage), the black keys would be weighted differently. However, only sufficient to give them the same feel as the white keys - otherwise there's no point.
    – Tim
    Sep 30 at 7:09
1

On a typical piano or organ keyboard, the fulcrum of each key lever is located significantly behind the back of the keyboard. As a consequence, while pushing the back of the exposed part of each key will require more force than pushing the front, the difference won't be particularly huge.

The complaint in the PianoForever video is primarily that a keyboard which is designed to be as compact as possible won't be able to place the fulcrum as far back as it would be on a more conventional keyboard. This greatly increases the amount by which the amount of force needed to actuate each key will vary with distance from the fulcrum.

If a compact keyboard were deisgned to use equal springs on the white and black keys, it would feel uneven because the back keys aren't as long as the white keys. Casio designed their mechanism to try to compensate for this, but the amount of compensation required would vary depending upon whether someone plays nearer the tips of the keys or nearer the backs. It sounds as though Casio may have over-compensated for key lengths, but what ratio of white key and back key strength would be optimal would be different for different performers.

0
17

TL;DR: It's a matter of personal taste.


Preface: I've played scores of different pianos and keyboards, and it has never once dawned on me that the black and white keys were weighted differently.

A semi-scientific test: I measured the key weights of C4 (middle C), C#4, C6 (two octaves above middle C), and C#6 on two different (acoustic) pianos. I used stacks of nickels1 placed at the leading edge of each key and looked to see how many were required to depress and hold the key past its escapement.

Results (in # of nickels):

Piano C4 C#4 C6 C#6
Baldwin 6'3" grand 19 18 18 16
Yamaha 45" vertical 20 21 16 18

Observations: The black keys are lighter than the white on the Baldwin, but heavier on the Yamaha. However, I've played both pianos for 10 years or more, am perfectly happy with both, and can play the same music comfortably on both.2

Conclusion: Key weight, and differences in key weight between white and black keys, vary from instrument to instrument (and technician to technician, presumably), and are a matter of personal preference or indifference.


Notes:

1 According to the U.S. Mint Coin Specifications, a nickel weighs 5 grams.

2 Although I've never noticed the key weights to matter, the action itself does. Pieces with rapidly repeated notes are much easier to play on the grand.


See also:

I stumbled onto the following discussion, in which someone performed a similar test.

7
  • 4
    I'm sure there is more than four keys on a piano ;).
    – Tom
    Sep 30 at 6:23
  • 19
    @Tom Well, some have more, but they're really expensive.
    – Aaron
    Sep 30 at 6:42
  • Apparently, even if they require a lot of nickels, they are fairly appreciated!
    – Tom
    Sep 30 at 20:29
  • 3
    @Tom Some have only five keys. Oct 1 at 12:28
  • 1
    @andrewleach You need a keyboard for every budget!
    – Tom
    Oct 1 at 17:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.