Semi-Weighted vs Weighted Keys: What’s the Difference? (2023)

Semi-Weighted vs Weighted Keys


Well, the day has come when I need to get a new keyboard and the decision falls upon the often disregarded question: should it be a semi-weighted or weighted keyboard?

The research I’ve conducted and after talking with some of my producer friends, I’ve come to a decision that there are big differences between both types and that the decision must be made based on my playing style and that I prefer.

So since I’ve done all the basic research and made a nice list of pros and cons between both types, I’ve decided to share that with you and ease up your choice if you are at the same stage as me – getting a new keyboard for the studio.

Overview of Semi-Weighted and Weighted Keys

So let’s go over the basics when we compare the two types. Most importantly, one of them is better for beginners and the other is great for already established musicians and keyboard players.

When it to the semi-weighted keyboards, they have a softer touch and that is great for players that are new and need to learn the way around a keyboard since they do not need to apply too much pressure to the keys to get the sound out.

On the other hand, the weighed keyboards have stiffer keys and more pressure must be applied to get the sound out, but this has other perks. With this type, you might need to spend some time practicing until you get used to it, but you will notice that the playing is much lighter and easier.

Weighted keyboards use graded hammer action which mimics the feel found in grand pianos and allows for a smoother transition from note to note without any abrupt changes in dynamics or sound quality. This helps create an authentic experience and makes learning complicated pieces easier because you become accustomed to pressing down harder on certain notes and lighter on others.

Semi-weighted keyboards don’t have this same level of control over dynamic range but they still have their advantages such as making it simpler for someone new to playing keyboards since there isn’t as much resistance when pushing down on the keys. In terms of price, the semi-weighed keyboard is usually cheaper, so if you are on a budget, this type will be good for you to get you started and get your way around a keyboard.

So no matter what kind of keyboard you are going to choose, you will need to pick the one that feels better for you and the style of playing that you have. To break it down – the weighed is in close comparison to the real acoustic pianos and the semi-weighted is providing an easier way to start learning to play this instrument.

Semi-Weighted vs Weighted Keys

Benefits of Semi-Weighted Keys

So here are some of the benefits that the semi-weighted keyboard brings to the table. The semi-weighted type has a great balance between the easiness of playing and the pressure action on the keys compared to the weighted type. With this keyboard, you will be able to focus more on playing without worrying about the pressure, yet still have great outcomes with professional sound.

When it comes to playability, you are not losing on the performance – just the semi-weighted keyboard will let you focus more on the playing than on the pressure you apply. This means that they are great for beginners since you will not need to shift your focus on the pressure but concentrate on learning the craft. Simple.

Another thing that comes to mind about the semi-weighted keyboards is that they are not as heavy as the weighted ones. This means that they are great for traveling and you do not need to break your back carrying them around.

Consider all these benefits that the semi-weighted keyboards bring, and if you find yourself in this section where all of them are good for you, then it is simple what you need to do next.

So if you are a beginner, they will be good for you, but even if you are a seasoned professional that travels a lot, these keyboards might be good for all the gigs that you plan to attend. Below we are providing several articles I’ve written on picking a keyboard. They are separated by the keys they have and I believe you can find a keyboard that will suit you.

Benefits of Weighted Keys

If you are a professional that is used to the weighted keys, then there is nothing much to discuss – go with the weighted version and you will be good. They are almost identical to the pressure on the acoustic or digital pianos which means that you will have an authentic experience when it comes to the pressure that needs to be applied.

Also, they will give you more dynamic range when playing since all the keyboards now are pressure sensitive and you will get really natural sound outcome.

One other thing that the weighted keyboards provide is the accuracy they have. The resistance they have on the keys will help you develop your technique and with that have a better playing experience. Also, the balance between control and speed of playing is great when you play more classical pieces or jazz music – which is authentic for such keyboards.

With the weighted keyboards, you will also improve finger strength and dexterity which will serve you for easier playing further on, no matter the type of keyboard. Once your fingers become more used to such pressure, you will build them up and you will notice the agility you gain over time, which will build you into a more complete piano player.

The harder keys will also hugely improve the expression you will give to the music and you will be more connected to the instrument. That is something that lighter keys cannot provide and this is only unique to the weighted keys. The touch sensitivity is something that the weighted keys can provide and improve the overall quality of the musical piece.

Overall, those are the benefits of the weighted keys: better accuracy of playing, nice dynamic range, building great muscle memory, and better expression of the music. So to summarize on them, they are great for professional players and players that are past the beginner stage and want to improve their playing style and versatility.

Musician playing a Piano in studio

Cost Considerations

So another thing to consider when you are in the market to get a new keyboard hugely falls on the cost of the keyboard you are after. Here are some points that you can look into before deciding on the wanted keyboard:

  1. Equal weight between keys: Weighted keys are designed to create an even feel when playing across the keyboard, as acoustic pianos and grand pianos have different key depths and hammer mechanism types.
  2. Compatibility of keyboards: Some keyboards may only be compatible with semi-weighted or unweighted options, so research must be done before investing in weighted keys.
  3. Price point: Weighted keys can range in price depending on brand and features; some budget for a higher cost than usual when considering this option.

Again, the final decision is yours and you need to weigh all the pros and cons of both types of keyboards before purchasing one.

Accumulate all the details and let is rest for a day or two. Do not make a hasty decision that you will regret later. Talk with your musician friends as well, they might give you more insights on it and pitch in some suggestions that you might like.

Player Preferences

So when it comes to picking a keyboard, the most important point is to pick one that suits your playing style as we already mentioned. I cannot put enough stress on this, so please consider this as the most important part of choosing.

Again, the weighted keys are great for professional players like classical or jazz/soul players compared to the semi-weighted ones that are amazing for beginners.

The SKA type of keyboards (synthetic keyboard action) are great for beginners and the semi-weighted are falling into this category compared to the Hammer Action Instruments (HAI) that are very closely remodeled after an actual piano. Here are some features that you can see that both these types have compared to each other:

Input ResistanceLowHigh
Playing TechniqueLimitedImproved
Muscle DevelopmentMinimalEnhanced

All this is important to consider when you are picking between semi-weighted or fully-weighted key instruments. Check what you are after and the answer will present itself to you. Even if you are this far into reading this article I believe that you already decide what type of keyboard do you need, but is always good to check the facts before getting one.

Final Decision

Now it is time for you to let all those details sink in and see what type is good for you. As a pianist, you may have learned on a traditional upright piano in your piano lesson, or are familiar with the performance aspects of one.

Here are the final points that you can check before making the purchase:

  • Semi-weighted keys offer more sensitivity and responsiveness than fully-weighted keys, allowing for greater expression when playing.
  • Fully weighted keys replicate the feel of an acoustic piano more closely but also add weight and bulk to the instrument’s design.
  • Both types of keyboards come with pros and cons depending on what style of music is being played and how often it will be used.
  • The type of player should also be taken into account – from beginner to experienced – as this will affect their preference in weighting.

When making your final decision, it’s important to take all these factors into regard before spending money on a keyboard, since this is something that you do not buy every day and you need to pay close attention to the process. Think about what kind of feel is most comfortable for you, how much portability matters, and any particular sounds or features that appeal to you personally.

Ultimately, doing your research beforehand can help ensure that you select an instrument that is tailored to suit both your needs and preferences as a musician!

Conclusion: Semi-Weighted vs Weighted Keys

Having weighed all the pros and cons, it all comes down to personal preference when choosing the type of keyboard. Personally, I go for the semi-weighted for easiness of playing and portability.

That is not the case with more professional players, since they will probably always go for the weighted keys because they are used to such type and pressure and accuracy and everything in between 🙂

So whichever type you choose, have in mind what will benefit your music outcome in the end and that is the most important thing. Do not sacrifice the quality of the music for an uninformed purchase – familiarize yourself and go shopping!


Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

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