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How to Use Touch and Tone to Choose Your Piano

It might surprise you to know that a lot of the customers who come into the showroom looking for a piano don’t know what they like.

If you’re a little confused about what to look for in a piano, we’d like to help you figure out what type of piano would best fit your personal playing and sound preferences.

A piano has two characteristics that you’ll quickly notice: touch and tone

There are plenty of other differences between pianos, but touch and tone are the two that you will notice as the player.


Touch, or “touchweight,” is the amount of pressure it takes to press a key on the piano.

  • “Heavy touch” is used to describe a piano with keys that are more difficult to press
  • “Light touch” is used to describe a piano with keys that take little effort to press

There are several different factors that have an effect on a piano’s touch. In general, touch changes with the mechanics of the action.

A piano can have a heavier touch because the materials used to build the action and pinblock are heavier. It can have a light touch because the piano is old and its action is worn in.

Touch is important because:

  • Each piano has a unique touch that makes it seem “easier” or “harder” to play.
  • Inconsistent touch makes it difficult to play evenly from key to key.
  • Touchweight affects your finger strength and fatigue from playing.

Every pianist is different and will have an individual preference for a heavier or lighter touch. The best way to find out what touchweight you prefer is to visit a piano showroom and try out as many pianos as you can.


Tone is used to describe the sound that an individual piano makes. The spectrum of tone runs from bright tone to mellow (sometimes called “European”) tone.

It’s hard to describe tone in words, so we’ve chosen some videos of pianos that fit into these three categories.


To demonstrate a bright tone, we’ve chosen a Hallet, Davis & Co. HS148. Other examples of pianos with light tone are Yamaha and Kawai, though there are some exceptions.


To show you a mellow or “European” tone, we’ve chosen a video of a Steinway & Sons Model O. Steinway is renowned in the piano world for building pianos with a mellow tone.

Stop by our showroom to try different kinds of tones

It can be difficult for beginners to identify different tones. The best way to get an idea of what tone you want is to play several different pianos with different tones. And the best way to do that is to stop by our showroom! We have a wide variety of pianos in stock, and you can play them all.

Jordan does an exceptional job with our pianos. I recommend Jordan for all your piano needs. Jason Hughley
Music Minister