The Best Sustain Pedals for Keyboards and Digital and Electric Pianos - Rolling Stone
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The Best Sustain Pedals for Electric Keyboards and Digital Pianos

A good sustain pedal helps to bring out the emotions and nuances of a song

best sustain pedalbest sustain pedal


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Most acoustic pianos come equipped with two or three pedals, but it is the sustain pedal, which allows notes to continue ringing after removing pressure from the key, which is most essential, whether you’re playing an old-fashioned upright or electric keyboard. However, unlike a standard acoustic piano, not all electric keyboards or digital pianos come equipped with their own sustain pedals. And even when they do, the included piece of equipment often leaves something to be desired in terms of quality.

The good news: you can easily purchase a sustain pedal for your keyboard, whether you want to add it to your setup or to upgrade the cheap pedal that came with your digital piano kit.

What Makes a Good Sustain Pedal?

Not all sustain pedals are created equal in terms of quality and responsiveness. Here is what to look for when buying a pedal.

Polarity: There is no manufacturer polarity standard, which means that a pedal that works perfectly with one keyboard may have the inverse effect—turn the sustain off rather than on—on a different keyboard. One way to avoid this is to simply purchase a pedal from the same manufacturer as the keyboard. You can also find a pedal with a polarity switch, which makes the device more or less universally compatible.

Action: When pressed, you should feel more or less the same resistance and responsiveness from a sustain pedal on an electric keyboard as you would on an acoustic piano.

Non-Slip: To keep the pedal from sliding backwards while playing, it is essential to have some kind of rubberized bottom or rubber feet. This will also keep the pedal somewhat protected from hard or harsh surfaces like cement.

Durability: Look for pedals made from durable materials and which won’t give out after only a few months of regular use.

1. M Audio SP 2 Sustain Pedal

This sustain pedal earns general praise for its high-quality construction and action, and is a favorite of musicians who prefer a classic piano style. The manufacturer notes that its soft resistance mimics the responsiveness you’d get from a full-sized piano pedal, and when pressed, the note lingers the way it should. Users like that unlike many other sustain pedals for electric keyboards, this one’s polarity switch makes it universally compatible with any professional keyboard.

universal sustain pedal piano m audio sp 2


Buy: M Audio SP 2 Sustain Pedal at $25.00

2. Sustain Pedal Universal

Though a little lighter in weight than similar products, this pedal is extremely durable. According to the manufacturer, it is made of chrome-plated metal with a high-strength plastic shell, while users appreciate the superior quality of the rubber feet, which keep the pedal from sliding on the floor and offer some protection both to the device and your surfaces. Piano players also mention the six and a half foot cable, which is conveniently lengthy. And like our top pick, this pedal is universally compatible thanks to the polarity switch.

sustain pedal universal keyboard piano


Buy: Sustain Pedal Universal at $18.99

3. Yamaha FC5 Compact Sustain Pedal

Pedals that slide around underfoot are a common source of irritation for keyboard players, which is why musicians appreciate how firmly this device stays in place, whether you’re playing while standing or sitting. Though hefty, it is also a favorite for gig bags, as it travels well and has a long life, making it perfect to take on the road or keep as a backup. There is no polarity switch on this pedal, so it is not technically universal, but you can usually reverse the polarity on your own with a few simple online hacks.

yamaha compact sustain pedal portable keyboard


Buy: Yamaha FC5 Compact Sustain Pedal at $14.99

4. Donner DSP-001 Sustain Pedal

Players praise the foot-feel and responsiveness of this sustain pedal, which resembles the weightiness you’d find on an acoustic piano. The pedal provides comfortable resistance and spring when pressed, for precise control when playing. Users also like the polarity switch and durable construction, as well as smaller details like the right-angle of the plug, which allows the cord to lie flush against the keyboard when plugged in.

donner sustain pedal digital keyboard


Buy: Donner DSP-001 Sustain Pedal at $18.99

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