Digital pianos are pretty much used everywhere these days. They are much easier to travel with than traditional pianos, are much less expensive, and have tons of added features built in.
If you’ve ever played a digital piano before, you know how crucial it is to have a good sustain pedal to go along with it.
While some digital pianos come with sustain pedals, some don’t, and those ones require you to buy third-party pedals if you want to use the sustain features. To make sure you get the most from your sustain pedal, it’s important that you purchase the right one.
“Are you telling me that there are actually differences between these little old sustain pedals?!”
Why yes there are...
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, you should know that there are two basic types of sustain pedals: Piano Style and Flat
Piano Style Sustain Pedals are made to resemble those pedals found on traditional pianos in size and shape. They typically offer the traditional-style resistance that you get from that old piano at your grandparents’ house and are a bit heavier and larger.
Flat Sustain Pedals are much smaller and thinner and are typically more comfortable under your foot, especially if you’re someone who isn’t used to playing a traditional piano. The biggest advantage is that they are lighter in weight and easier to take with you on the go.
The Top Piano / Keyboard Sustain Pedals Compared
The M-Audio SP-2 has a sleek and straightforward traditional piano design and gives you a comfortable feel as you play your keyboard. Not only is it surprisingly affordable, but it also gives you a world of responsiveness with the slight resistance that traditional piano players long for.
It is entirely universal as well, meaning it can be used with any keyboard your little heart desires. The footplate is made with a scratch-resistant chrome and is very high-quality. It may not be the best to travel with, as it is heavier than plastic, though the tradeoff in having tons of expressiveness makes up for it tenfold.
At the bottom of the pedal are slip-resistant rubber feet that grip well to the floor. This is especially important if you plan to take your keyboard to the stage where the floors are typically made of wood.
The cable is relatively long at 6 feet, allowing you to rig your set up in many different ways. Lastly, you get a one-year warranty in case of any unwarranted breakages.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a pedal that imitates the feel and resistance of a traditional sustain pedal, this one functions just like it. The M-Audio SP-2 gives you everything you need in a keyboard sustain pedal in a sleek package with an easy-to-use design.
Everyone and their mother knows about Yamaha and the high-quality music products they provide. Their FC5 sustain pedal gives you expressiveness and convenience, wrapped up in a portable package. Even with the flat, rubber design, you get tons of control.
It’s also incredibly durable and will easily stay by your side and under your foot for many world tours to come. Even with the difference in design, the FC5 still gives you resistance that somewhat mimics that of a traditional piano.
The cord is 5 feet long, giving you plenty of room to work with, and comes with a ¼ inch jack for your standard sustain input. If you’re a synth or effect kind of guy/gal, you can also use the Yamaha FC5 pedal as an on/off switch for activating or deactivating other effects and pedals.
Bottom Line: The Yamaha FC5 is probably one of the most popular and widely used flat-style sustain pedals on the market. For such an inexpensive and simple looking unit, it is incredibly versatile.
Best Budget Option
If you’re on a serious budget, look no further than the MIDIPlus SP-2. This is just about the lowest price you can pay for a solid sustain pedal before you don’t have any sustain pedal at all.
The lightweight, plastic design has a lot to do with the price, though it is actually quite usable once you get down to business. The pedal comes with a polarity switch and ¼ inch jack, meaning it can be used with just about any electronic keyboard.
The best thing about this pedal is how lightweight it is, making it perfect for the musician on the go who can’t afford to add any extra weight to their rig. It comes with a pretty solid black finish and protective plastic cover too.
Bottom Line: Though it may not be the highest quality on the market, the MIDIPlus SP-2 is definitely the best bang for your buck regarding usable sustain pedals.
The Nektar NP-2 offers just about the same sturdiness as the M-Audio SP-2 with a slightly heavier build. Professional keyboardists and amateurs alike will enjoy this pedal just as much though.
The overall design of the pedal is incredibly durable and straightforward and gives you the feel of a traditional piano sustain pedal at a moderate price. The base is made of a sturdy, long-lasting metal and is covered in rubber.
For non-slip playing, Nektar has added the rubber foot plate to grip the floor while you play. You can pretty much use the Nektar NP-2 with any electronic keyboard too, thanks to the long 6-foot cord and ¼ inch input jack.
Bottom Line: Regardless of whether you decide to use this keyboard sustain pedal for the stage or the studio, it will do you solid. The rubber feet give it tons of stability, the metal design gives it durability, and the built-in polarity switch lets you use it with any keyboard that can handle a sustain pedal.
On-Stage is pretty well renowned for their high-quality stage equipment. Their KSP100 is no different. It’s a full-sized, traditional-style piano pedal that gives you tons of responsiveness and a lot of control over the type of sustain. This is thanks to the built-in spring system that offers durability and a little extra resistance to give you that real deal feel.
You can use this pedal with pretty much any electronic keyboard out there, as it comes with a polarity switch that is located on the underbelly.
It also comes with a ¼ inch jack and 6-foot cord that gives you versatility in your setup space. The scratch-proof cover makes it an excellent sustain pedal to travel with too and is easily removable for when you’re ready to play.
Bottom Line: If you want a traditional-style pedal with seriously piano-like resistance and responsiveness, and also have the extra money to spend, we would highly recommend the On Stage KSP100.
The Decision is Sustained
The M-Audio SP-2 is our favorite sustain pedal for digital pianos. It’s made of high-quality materials, has the perfect amount of resistance and responsiveness, and is incredibly versatile.
Regardless of whether you were on the lookout for an aesthetically pleasing traditional pedal or inexpensive flat pedal, we hope you found something in our guide.
All of the pedals on our list are great for a wide array of keyboards from old-school synths to new-school electronic keyboards.
The most important thing to look for with any sustain pedal is universality. In doing so, you can make sure that you’ll be able to get a solid sustain no matter what you plug your pedal into.
Though they may not be the most thought of parts of a keyboard rig, sustain pedals are far more critical than you may think. So grab a pedal and hammer away.