Yamaha has several standard weighted keys that they use in their digital pianos. Many people don’t really understand the differences between each one though, especially since Yamaha’s own website does not seem to divulge any information on these keys.
If they do, it’s extremely difficult to navigate around their website to find it. Today, I will explain the differences between each keyboard action in a basic manner.
Before I start, you need to have some basic knowledge of an acoustic piano.
Acoustic pianos use strings to make a sound. Each string is of different size. Bass strings are thicker than the treble strings, and at the same time, you need different hammers to hit different strings. Bigger and heavier hammers are used to hit the lower notes while the smaller and lighter hammers are used to hit the higher notes.
What this does is create a unique feel for every single key. The keys in the lower notes feel heavier than the keys in the higher notes.
Digital pianos, though, don’t have this entire mechanism within the compact machine. Instead, it uses samples of sounds to recreate the sound of an acoustic piano.
However, that means that the keys all feel the same. To help simulate the feel of an acoustic piano, companies have created a graded and weighted action keyboard. Each digital piano has a graded keyboard, which means that the keys get heavier as the notes get lower. Naturally, this also means that they are weighted.
Now, that you are equipped with this basic knowledge, we can discuss the differences between each key.
GST (Graded Soft Touch)
The Graded Soft Touch technology is used in the most basic Yamaha digital pianos. These are what you would call the “cheapest” action. They are graded like an actual piano but they are extremely light.
In other words, the higher notes feel lighter than the lower notes, but because they are so light, they don’t feel like they give off enough resistance. Some people call the GST as being “semi-weighted”, which is a simple way of describing it.
These are not for serious pianists. Rather, these keys are primarily for casual players. The keys just simulate the feel of an acoustic piano at all.
GHS (Graded Hammer Standard)
Now, these keys are much closer to simulating the feel of an acoustic piano. These are typically in the “entry-level” digital pianos, which are more expensive than the models using the GST action.
The GHS keyboards are graded, and the keys aren’t so light as to be considered “negligible”. The GHS is still lighter than your average acoustic piano, but they are good enough for the beginner.
The GHS feature is recommended for beginners who need weighted keys to develop the right techniques. Without weighted keys, many pianists tend to develop bad habits and lose self-confidence when they need to adjust.
GH/GHE (Graded Hammer Effect)
Finally, we get to the GH/E action (GH and GHE are the same thing), and this action is much better than GHS. It’s not just graded accurately, but it also very accurately simulates the grand piano in weight.
If you’re an intermediate level player, you want to go for at least the GH/E action. It’s seriously a huge improvement over the GHS, which is merely an acceptable form for beginners. Despite this, Yamaha has managed to create even better keys…
GH3 (Graded Hammer 3)
The Graded Hammer 3 technology is Yamaha’s new and ultimate action. In many ways, it’s similar to the GH/E feature, but there are a few differences. The major difference is that the GH3 has a third sensor.
What this does is allow the user to allow faster repetitions, which allow him/her to play much more quickly. Other than that, it allows you to experience the weight of the keys even more by allowing you to feel the weight even in its most depressed state.
This means that you will feel the full weight of the keys even when you press the keys all the way done.
NW (Natural Wood)
The Natural Wood action is basically the GH3 with one exception. It uses white, wooden keys. Some say that there is a slight difference in how these two play in that the NW keys feel “harder” and slightly closer to the acoustic piano.
This option is completely up to the user though since it uses the exact same action as the GH3. It may or may not be worth the extra dollars.