Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) vs. Graded Hammer Effect (GH / GHE) vs. Graded Hammer Effect 3 (GH3)

I am doing some search as I am looking to buy a new piano keyboard. I am basically looking for a keyboard with the feel and touch of a real piano.

Looking at the specs on some of the Yamaha pianos, the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action seems to be available on most entry level digital pianos, whereas the Graded Hammer (GH) action seems to appear only in the more expensive pianos.

I also read somewhere about Graded Hammer Effect 3 (GH3) but not sure what it is?

Though I understand a bit now after my research, just to confirm, can somebody tell me the differences between these actions?

When one talks about a pianos action, it actually includes everything from the tips of the keys to the end of the hammers. That is why most manufacturers use professional grade components to provide a smoother and quieter mechanism when striking the keys.

The Graded hammer effect (GH) is Yamaha’s premium weighted action, suitable for the intermediate and the advanced pianists, and is available on the high-end products. This mechanism provides greater accuracy, and is easier to play repetitive passages faster, that is required by the experienced players. The graded hammer standard (GHS) action, on the other hand, is well-suited for the beginner pianist.

Piano teachers usually recommend graded, weighted touch keys, as on the acoustic pianos, to build proper piano playing technique. The graded hammer standard (GHS) action does offer such a keyboard touch.

I know it can be confusing, and the Yamaha site also does not do a great job about making it easier to understand these terms. Ranked from the lowest to the highest, Yamaha’s key actions can be put in the following sequence.

GHS -> GH / GHE -> GH3 -> Wood
Graded hammer Standard (GHS) has a different action and is succeeded by the GH/GHE and GH3 actions.
Graded hammer (GH) and Graded Hammer Effect (GHE) mean the same thing.
GH and Graded Hammer Effect 3 (GH3) are the same action, but GH3 has improved sensors that make it possible to have a much faster note repetition, just as in acoustic pianos.

It doesn’t mean that GHS does not feel like a real (acoustic) piano. GHS is not at all like the keys on an entry level arranger keyboard, its far better. Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) vs. Graded Hammer Effect (GH / GHE) vs. Graded Hammer Effect 3 (GH3)

All entry level pianos will have GHS and as you go higher (more expensive ones), you will find GH3 or NW (Natural wood). So within the same series of digital pianos, some models may have GHS action whereas some others may have GH or GH3 action depending on the price.

Here are few examples.

  • GHS – Yamaha entry level graded hammer action (all entry level models such as P70/85, YDP-S30, etc.)
  • GH or GHE – Yamaha Mid level graded hammer action (most mid-high end stage pianos: P140, CP33/300)
  • GH3 – Yamaha’s new generation graded hammer action (CLP230-270, CVP403+)
  • NW – Natural wood (white key) action (CLP280 or CVP409, some grand models CVP309GP/CGP1000, CLP295GP)
    Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) vs. Graded Hammer Effect (GH / GHE) vs. Graded Hammer Effect 3 (GH3)

Its also a good idea to visit a local dealer and try out the various actions for yourself. That’s the best way to realise and judge how it is going to feel, instead of reading tons of posts on this topic. You never know, you may walk out with a totally different brand / model even after reading so much about the keyboard touch on a particular brand/model. – Suresh

Should I swap the highest-octave B key with middle B key on my Yamaha digital piano? I have a Yamaha YDP-161 digital piano. About 2 month ago one of its key became heavy to push (middle B). When I called the local dealer to use the guarantee service they send a technician who brought a new B key. He swapped the highest-octave B key to the one which is heavy and then replaced the highest-octave B key with the one that he brought from his office. I asked him whether it’s fine to swap the key in weighted graded hammer keyboard because I read on the internet that the piano keys are heavier in the bass octaves and lighter in the treble areas like in the real piano. He answered saying that it wasn’t a problem, but I’m not sure of his answer. I tried to feel the key but I don’t know how it is supposed to be because I have never touched a real piano. Can I have clear explanation about this, about whether its fine to swap the highest-octave B key with middle B key in weighted graded hammer keyboard. – Ivan Christiawan Budi (Indonesia)

1 Comment
  1. Reply
    moody July 30, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    kindly i need help as here not so easy to buy a piano in my city , but i found yamaha ydp 103 which has GHS key , and i graduted from 8 grade level ,, so it will be useful for me or not , as no many options here but also i dont want to feel i play on organ

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