Do You Need Piano Pedals On Digital Or Acoustic Pianos

Do You Need Piano Pedals On Digital Or Acoustic Pianos?

Do you need piano pedals on digital or acoustic pianos? Let us find out how a piano pedal works and assess if you really need it when playing the musical instrument or not.

How Do Piano Pedals Work?

Nowadays, almost all modern acoustic pianos and digital ones usually come with three pedals; however, when it comes to older pianos, you can typically see them come with two pedals. So, how do these pedals work? We are going to discuss the specifics of how those things work and how they can help you in your playing or performance as a pianist.

Soft Pedal

If you have seen the piano pedals located below on your acoustic or digital pianos, and you have noticed that there is a left pedal in it, then that is what they call the una corda pedal, or known by many as the soft pedal. This pedal was also invented by the one who also made the first piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori.

The soft pedal is considered to be the first invention that could modify the sound of a piano. However, both the names of una corda and soft pedal really do not truly describe what this pedal can really do, as an una corda is made to modify not only the volume of the piano but also its timbre.

So, why is it also called a soft pedal? On grand pianos, when stepping on the una corda pedal, it entirely shifts its mechanism to the right, resulting in the hammer to only two of the usual three strings. With this, the piano will also sound softer compared to its usual, and since the strings are hit by a different part of the piano’s hammer, its piano sound will also result like it is muted and less bright. On upright pianos, stepping on the pedal will move the piano’s mechanism closer to the string, resulting in a softer sound but without any alteration in its tone.

So, as you can conclude, stepping on an una corda pedal will result in the piano thinning out its tone as it shifts the entire keyboard and its action a little bit on its right, so the piano’s hammers do not strike all of its strings. The shifting of the piano’s actions also results in it allowing the piano hammers to strike the strings with a different part of their head.

After some time, with all the striking, the felt of the piano’s hammer head can become compressed, and when the keyboard is shifted, the piano’s hammer also hits the strings with a softer touch with its head, resulting in a slight change of sound.

Sostenuto Pedal

If you have seen the middle pedal on acoustic and digital pianos, then that is what you call the sostenuto pedal. Similar to those sustain pedals on an electronic keyboard, its only difference is that it can only hold notes that are already being played at the time that the pedal is pushed down with your feet. Those notes that were played before the pedal was stepped on will not be affected, resulting in a selective sustain without affecting the sound.

This pedal was first shown to the public in 1844; however, it was only in 1874 that Albert Steinway was able to perfect and patent the sostenuto pedal. As it is just a more recent addition to the piano compared to others, it is rarely used by many pianists in the 20th century; however, more progressive composers integrate the pedal into their works, such as Debussy and Ravel.

Sustain Pedal

As the most used pedal of the three, the sustain pedal is located on the right side of the pedals. When stepping on this pedal, it removes the damper from the piano strings, which results in the notes ringing out longer than usual if you have already taken your foot off the pedal. This is also the reason why it is known to many as the damper pedal.

Top Digital Piano Pedals

Yamaha LP1 3-Pedal Unit

If you are an owner of either a Yamaha P-121, P-125, P-515, or DGX-670, which are all digital pianos, and you might need a new piano pedal, the best thing you can look upon as it is specifically made for these pianos is the Yamaha LP1 3-Pedal Unit.

This piano pedal can give you the piano-style sustain, sostenuto, and soft control function that you get from piano pedals, so you won’t feel lacking with playing your Yamaha P-121, P-125, P-515, or DGX-670. To properly install it on your digital piano, you will need either a Yamaha L125 or L300 piano stand. With its multiple DIN cable, you won’t have any problems hooking it up to your digital piano.

The Yamaha LP1 can also support a half-damper response, which is a nice feature, especially if you are looking for the same feeling that you get with acoustic pianos. It has a metal construction, which you can really expect that it can withstand all the rigors that come with daily use, and with its affordable price, its value is really for what you are paying for.

Roland RPU-3

If you are looking for a handy digital piano pedal that not only gives the same feeling that comes with playing an acoustic piano but also offers convenience and is easy to fix, the Roland RPU-3 usually works with the famous Roland digital pianos, such as the RD-2000, FP-90, FP-60, FP-7F, and the RD-700 and 800 series. With its half-damper capability, you can control your playing style and expression.

With its soft, sostenuto, and sustain pedals in one compartment, it also comes with three separate cables for the pedals, so you have the option not to use any of the three, depending on your preference as a pianist. The pedal also has a negative polarity, which is usual for normally-closed pianos and keyboards.

This piano pedal also allows you to have hands-free control over many functions of your Roland digital piano. So, if you are playing with a Roland FP-7F, which has an onboard looper and lots of harmony effects, you won’t have any problem with controlling them.

Nord Triple Pedal

If you are a Nord lover and maybe own a Nord Stage 2 or 3 digital piano, its three-pedal unit would be a game-changer in your playing, as it will help you take your skills to the next level. Just like the pedal on an acoustic piano, it also has a una corda, a sostenuto, and a sustain pedal; however, it has a dynamic control feature, which reduces the noise that comes from its mechanical operation. 

You can also do half-pedaling techniques and release and catch techniques, which can be an advantage if you know how to do these things as a pianist. So, if you own a Nord digital piano, always go for this pedal to maximize your instrument’s potential.

So, do you need piano pedals on digital or acoustic pianos, or not? Although you can play an acoustic or digital piano without using a piano pedal; however, you are not maximizing all the beautiful things that you can do with your musical instrument. So, if you are serious about your playing, you should always use a piano pedal to be able to deliver a better sound.