The Most Common Types of Piano and Keyboard Pedals

As you get more comfortable playing the piano or keyboard, you’ll want to learn as much about your instrument as you can. Once you’ve had a few keyboard lessons under your belt and have mastered various fingering techniques, the next logical step is learning about pedals!

Both pianos and keyboards use a variety of pedals, which serve to enrich and enhance sound, enabling you to put your own spin on things. While both types of instruments come with pedals, the pedals for each are not exactly the same. Read on to discover the most popular types of pedals for pianos and keyboards.

Types of Piano Pedals

A traditional piano normally has three different pedals: the sustain pedal, sostenuto pedal, and the soft pedal.

The Sustain Pedal

The sustain pedal, also known as the damper pedal, is the one farthest to the right. Out of all three pedals, it is the one most frequently used. Its main function is to hold a note and allow the strings to continue to ring even when you stop pressing a key. The best part? It raises the damper (a device that mutes the strings) of all the strings, causing multiple keys to ring at once and result in more sound variation.

Sostenuto Pedal

The middle pedal can be different for some people depending on the kind of piano they have. However, most often, the middle pedal is a sostenuto pedal. In many ways, a sostenuto pedal is very similar to a sustain pedal with one main distinction. While both types of piano pedals are made to sustain notes, the sostenuto pedal gives musicians the ability to sustain a specific note or a collection of notes while also playing other notes normally. This key difference is what differentiates a sostenuto pedal from a sustain pedal, which instead sustains all the notes as they are played.

Soft Pedal

The left piano pedal is known as the soft pedal, or more formally, the una corda pedal. Essentially, the soft pedal is used to lower or soften sound. Because of the way the pedal is designed, it can lower the volume without impacting tone. It is primarily used as an expressive device to add more depth and nuance to the music.

 Digital Piano Pedals

Unlike a traditional piano which has built-in piano pedals, a digital piano or keyboard is not equipped with pedals. Instead, keyboard pedals are externally plugged into a keyboard and the effects are digitally created. That means that you can pick and choose your own keyboard pedals. 

While there are a bunch of different types of electronic pedals to choose from, each with their own unique function, the two most popular types used by the majority of keyboardists today are the sustain pedal and the volume pedal. The sustain pedals for a digital piano serves the same purpose as one on a traditional piano: to allow the notes to continue to resonate and create a smoother sound; the only difference is how the two types of piano pedals work. A volume pedal, on the other hand, allows you to control the volume of your keyboard and emphasize certain parts of a song when needed.

If you’re looking to enhance your sound and add some variety to your keyboard or piano playing, pedals are the way to go! These handy devices help to alter sound in a variety of ways, ultimately allowing for more musical expression. For help learning how to properly use piano or keyboard pedals or anything else related to these instruments, sign up for keyboard lessons at Scottsdale Music Academy today!