How To Get Sustain On A Keyboard Without A Sustain Pedal?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

Is It Possible To Get Sustain On A Keyboard Without A Pedal?

Yes, it is very possible to get sustain on a keyboard without access to a sustain pedal. There are certain techniques you may apply to your playing to achieve sustain. However, these techniques will cause you to exert more effort compared to simply just purchasing a sustain pedal.

Ways To Sustain A Note On A Keyboard Without A Pedal

There are several ways to sustain a note without a sustain pedal. These techniques include holding down the keys longer, choosing more pad and certain strings voices, repeating chords on each beat of the bar, and some personal DIY hacks. 

Pressing Down On The Keys Longer

One of the most well-known techniques pianists adapt when they have no access to a sustain pedal is to press down on keys much longer. This makes a note ring out longer than usual, giving the impression of a prolonged, sustained effect.

Using The Right String Voice And Adjusting Pad

Another technique you may apply is the use of more pads and choosing a certain string voice that produces longer ringing sounds similar to the sound of a sustain. But of course, you should also choose the right string voice to ensure that the sound fits perfectly to your piece. 

Repetition Of Chords

The next technique you may do if you have no sustain pedal is to repeat the chords on each beat on the bar. By doing so, you are manually sustaining the notes for the whole beat which will add rhythm, especially when playing solo. 

Do It Yourself Hack (Aluminum Foil)

A Do-it-yourself hack can let you achieve sustain without using a pedal. You can achieve a sustained effect on your digital keyboard even if you don’t have a pedal simply by rolling pieces of aluminum foil together and constructing an audio jack.  For reference, look at the audio port on your piano that is designated for the pedals, or look at other jacks that you could copy for your aluminum jack. 

The next step is to connect it to the pedal port that is usually located near the back of your keyboard. Because aluminum foil is a good conductor of electricity, it is important to be cautious or use nitrile gloves because this may cause an electric current to flow. 

This hack has been testified by various people to work, however, one that works for others may not work for you.

What Is The Difference Between A Sustain Pedal And An Alternative Sustain On The Keyboard In Terms Of Sound Quality?

The most common difference in terms of sound quality between a sustain pedal and an alternative sustain is the smoothness of sound and transition. The sound when you have a sustain pedal is much smoother especially when it comes to the transition of notes compared to alternative sustain techniques. Over the years, as you grow acclimated to this alternative technique, it might eventually sound similar to having a pedal.

Do All Keyboards Contain A Sustain Option?

Yes, all keyboards offer an alternative option for their users to achieve a sustained effect. The majority of keyboards allow their user to connect a sustain pedal. However, not all keyboards come with a sustain pedal when they are bought. Due to this reason, people still search for alternative options and techniques to still be able to have sustain without the use of pedals. These options are all mentioned and explained above.  

Final Remarks

Sustain is something all pianists consider a vital element every piano should have. There is no better and easier way to achieve and access sustain but with pedals. With the use of pedals, pianists can effortlessly access a sustained effect. They can focus more on playing their musical pieces worry-free rather than thinking and practicing alternative techniques to achieve other sustain options mentioned above 

These other approaches for achieving sustain without the use of pedals necessitate more effort and time on the part of the user. 

The cost of sustain pedals varies according to their quality and brand, which is why people resort to alternative and cheaper options.  But you should note that spending money is always worthwhile when it is spent for the convenience of performing something you enjoy, which is why pianists should prioritize investing in quality pedals.