Our Highest Rated Piano Keyboards
|Yamaha P-255||Read Our Review||See prices on Amazon.com|
|Yamaha DGX-650||Read Our Review||See prices on Amazon.com|
|Casio PX-5S||Read Our Review||See prices on Amazon.com|
|Yamaha P-45||Read Our Review||See prices on Amazon.com|
|Casio CTK-4400||Read Our Review||See prices on Amazon.com|
Yamaha Keyboards – A 500 Pound Gorilla Under Your Finger Tips
In the world of musical instruments, especially pianos and keyboards, the Yamaha Music Corporation is the 500-pound gorilla. They are the largest producer of musical instruments in the world. The Yamaha Keyboard is pervasive worldwide.
They manufacture and market more models of pianos and keyboards that any other company there is, and their products are recognized by the industry as being top-quality, and ultra-reliable.
In addition, Yamaha has been the major pioneer in the field of electronic instruments, and music education. Many standard features on modern keyboards are Yamaha innovations. Where Did It All Start? Yamaha had very humble beginnings, in Japan.
In 1887, a small company called the Nippon Gakki Co., LTD, began producing reed organs. They quickly became known for their quality workmanship, and the company adopted the name Yamaha, and began exploring music technology. They continued to expand, and became a world leader in many diverse areas, including sporting goods, motorcycles, industrial robots, and music education, as well as music technology. In 1966, they started the Yamaha Music Foundation, to promote music education and concerts world-wide.
The Yamaha Corporation of America was started in 1960, to offer a full line of musical and audio/visual products tailored specifically for the American market. They were early pioneers in the field of sampled musical sounds, allowing different instrument sounds such as brass, strings and woodwinds, to be played from a keyboard. They continue to be at the forefront of music technology. When you acquire a Yamaha, it is backed by a solid company with a reputation for excellent customer service.
A Few Basics….
There are a few terms you should be familiar with before you go out shopping for pianos and keyboards: Polyphony – just means the number of sounds that can be played at one time. Polyphony is usually either 32-note, 64-note, or even 128-note, depending on the instruments sound card.
Unless you plan to score complete orchestrated masterpieces, you probably won’t need 128-note polyphony. But, bear in mind that some instrument sounds, such as ‘Woodwinds’, or ‘Brass Section’ are actually several voice, and each part counts towards the polyphony.
Strings Attached – No Pun Intended
Strings are another voice that uses a lot of polyphony. Auto Accompaniment also uses up a lot, so keep this in consideration when looking for a new instrument. Weighted Keys, Hammer-Action Keys, Graded Soft Touch, etc…- These refer to the simulated action of a mechanical hammer hitting a physical string on an acoustic piano. This feeling is simulated electronically so that the digital instrument feels and plays like an acoustical one (in theory, anyway…). AWS, RGE, XG, Sweet Voice, Cool Voice, etc…-different types of sampling of real instruments, recreated digitally in the instrument.
On your end, it just means that it will sound incredible…… MIDI IN-OUT, SCSI, USB-different ways of connecting to a computer, or other digital equipment.
USB has pretty much replaced MIDI, and SCSI connectors, so unless you have older equipment, go with USB. Flash ROM-a particular way of storing electronic information on-board, such as recorded songs, panel set-ups, etc… Extra things can be downloaded from the Internet and stored in the Flash drive as well, such as new songs, lyrics, etc.
Modern Digital Pianos
A digital piano is a modern electronic instrument that is designed to look, feel, play, and sound like an acoustic piano, but with some expanded functionality. These are best suited for someone who wants to play an acoustic piano, but would like some of the features of electronic keyboards, such as more voices, USB connectivity, ability to record performances on-board, without the need for external recording gear, and the ability to practice silently with headphones. They have many advantages over a standard acoustic piano:
The sounds are recreated electronically from actual sampled keyboards, which means they have no strings, and no need to ever be tuned. They can also be moved without going out of tune, unlike acoustic pianos. They can be easily and safely moved, without the need for special Piano-Mover services. They generally are smaller, and take up less space than most acoustic pianos, and weigh much less. With an acoustic piano, you are stuck with the sound you get.
Digital pianos offer several sounds such as classic acoustic pianos, vintage electronic pianos, harpsichords, claviers, and much more, all at the touch of a button.
Many models come with learning software, making it easier to learn how to play. Yamaha’s top-of-the-line digital pianos are the MODUS models, featuring beautiful craftsmanship, stunning grand piano sounds, and other outstanding sampled instruments, USB connectivity, allowing you to play along with sequences, and recording ability. These are for the pianist that wants the very best in both looks, and playability.
Next is the Clavinova Series, with both Grand, and Upright models. Most models feature many stunning voices, accompaniment styles that sound like you have an entire orchestra playing with you, USB connectivity, and some models even feature Vocal Harmony, allowing you to plug a microphone in, and sing, while the piano makes copies of your voice and pitch-shifts them to what ever you are playing, making it sound like you have several back-up singers. All Clavinovas feature a full 88-key range, with Graded-Action keys, making it play just like an acoustic piano.
Clavinovas are best suited for the player that wants to ‘jam’ with other instruments, and simulate a live stage concert in the comfort of their home. They are a bit complicated for the student due to the sheer volume of choices available for voices, accompaniments, etc… They can quickly overwhelm novices. On the ‘plus’ side, a student can quickly ‘grow-into’ the Clavinovas, eliminating the need to upgrade later. ARIUS is Yamaha’s ‘bare-bones’ basic digital piano line. They are great for both students, and the experienced pianist who would just like a few good piano voices, and a little extra functionality, like being able to record. They feature 88 Graded-Action keys, and traditional acoustic piano looks.
The P-Series are full-featured versions of the Clavinova series, in a portable package. They have detachable panels so they can be used on a keyboard stand, or as a standard upright. They have 88 Weighted-Action keys, lots of voices, and full MIDI, and USB connectivity. They can be plugged into amplifiers and sound systems for on-stage use. Yamaha’s CP Series of stage pianos feature the great voices of the other series, with more streamlined controls to make it easier to play on stage, built much tougher to withstand the rigors of playing on-stage, and being transported from gig-to-gig.
Stage pianos are best for professional, and aspiring professional pianists who regularly play and travel as part of a band. Electronic keyboards differ from digital pianos in that they are geared towards complete music creation, not necessarily piano-based.
As a rule, they will have fewer keys, with some models only having 56-76, and usually they are unweighted. This is a bit disconcerting to someone used to playing standard pianos, and many pianists are unable to make the transition. They also usually do not come with built-in pedals, again, making it difficult for piano players to adapt.
Keyboards can be broken down into several categories: Arranger Workstations are ridiculously feature-rich electronic keyboards with hundreds of voices and styles, all fully user-editable, complete on-board recording ability, MIDI, USB and Direct Internet connections, and too many more features here to list them all. It is not necessary to know how to play a piano to use one of these, because they come with neat features like single-finger chording, automatic accompaniment and more.
All you need is the most basic understanding of a little (very little) music theory, and some practice time. Almost anyone can learn to use these keyboards.
These are best suited for someone wanting to create complete musical scores with full orchestration, and/or solo stage performers wanting full music backing, and do not want to use a laptop computer for backing tracks.
Yamaha’s Flagship Line
Yamaha’s flagship line is the proven Tyros4, which pretty much does everything for you but sing on it’s own.
The other models are the PSR line. The smaller the number, the less features it has, and less keys. But even the basic model has more than enough features for any songwriter or performer. If you want a killer music creation/jam machine with a light learning curve, then these keyboards may be right up your alley.
Portable Keyboards are relatively lightweight, easily portable, and feature anywhere from 10-100 voices. Some have accompaniment, and some do not. They have many of the features of Workstations, but in a smaller package. Most have less than 88 keys, and some have weighted keys, some do not.
Yamaha’s Portable Keyboard models will be designated either as PSR-E, DGX, or YPT. They have many features that make it easier to learn how to use keyboards. These are best suited for casual users who just want to make some music, and be able to move them around easily.
Some models only weigh 12 pounds. Many are even battery-powered, so they can be taken outdoors to parks, or other places without electricity, and played. They are great for younger players just getting into the world of music.
One model, the EZ-100 even has lighted keys to assist in the learning process.
Synthesizers are basically tone generators that allow you to create your own sounds. They use various electronic filters to modify the basic sound wave into any sound imaginable, such as a Tyranosaurus rex making love to a violin set on full-distortion.
Many famous musicians have made good use of synthesizers, such as Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney. Synthesizers are best suited for experienced keyboard players wanting to push the envelope into uncharted musical territories.
Yamaha’s Motif Series are the industry-standard for synthesizer/workstations, and are used by some of the top names in the music business.
The S-Series features the sounds of the Motifs, with the ease of a stage piano, making them great choices for live performances. It is not uncommon to see a stage keyboardist with an S-Series mounted over a stage piano, and playing both at the same time.
One more instrument deserves mention, Yamaha’s Hybrid Piano, the NU1. It has the look, feel and sound of an acoustic piano, but never needs tuning. This model is ideal for the die-hard acoustic piano player that just doesn’t ever want to have to tune up. It has the same sound as Yamaha’s premier acoustic piano, the CFX Full-Concert Grand.
Something for Every Keyboardist
As you can see, Yamaha has something for every keyboardist, in every price range. Their Customer Service is second to none.