before you buy a keyboard you should be aware of your needs and understand what kind of keyboards yamaha has to offer. some of my student students bought keyboards and only then realized that they actually needed a different kind of instrument.
the difference between digital pianos and keyboards is not so clear. let me try to clarify.
what is a digital piano?
basically, a digital piano is an 88 key digital instrument which imitates the sound and the touch of an acoustic piano. yamaha has two main kinds of digital pianos - clp clavinova, a nd cvp clavinova. the first has very few extra features, and the second has many added features such as unique sounds and rhythm banks, accompaniments and more.
so remember that the main issue in digital pianos is theit ability to imitate a real piano. click here to learn more about digital pianos.
what's a keyboard then?
to being with, while a digital piano always has 88 keys, a keyboard may have 61, 76 or 88 keys. the word keyboard covers instruments such as stage pianos, synthesizers, workstations, midi controllers, keyboards for beginners and more. each of these instruments has its own unique features.
there are hundreds of yamaha keyboards models. let's have a look at the main groups of yamaha keyboards and their special functions o.k.?
yamaha keyboards for a beginners
beginner who look for their first keyboard might need a simple instrument with 61 keys, and various electric features such as sounds bank, rhythms bank etc.
simple keyboards often don't include touch response, but here comes the advantage of the yamaha keyboards: you can find one that costs only $150 but includes touch response as well. as a piano teacher i find it necessary to have a keyboard that responds to the speed of falling to the key in order to produce music with dynamics. so i wouldn't compromise on this component if i were you.
i also recommend buying an economical instrument for younger children who just started to play music. it would be a shame to pay a big amount of money for an instrument when you are not sure if your child would like to continue studying and playing. but this changes from one student to the other.
some of beginner yamaha keyboards include special learning tools, that can help you to teach yourself how to play the piano.
yes - yamaha education suite is a fantastic tool which comes with built in lessons for each hand, chord dictionary, and you can learn to play various songs with it .
another special tool is the lighted keyboard. theyamaha ez-200 lighted keyboard teaches you how to play various songs by lightening the keys that should be pressed. this is a terrific tool for children. they love it!
you can even connect to the internet and download songs for your yamaha keyboard. children pick up this sort of thing very quickly, so these tools can be quite effective.
various models for beginners:
the yamaha psr keyboards series includes some models which are perfect for beginners. the yamaha ypt series includes keyboards that are identical to the psr keyboards. for example, the yamaha psr-e323 and the yamaha ypt-320 are actually the same instruments with different colors. the reason for they created it that way is for having different labels aimed to different markets.
a yamaha keyboard for a performer (portable)
there are so many models out there for you to perform with. the right instrument for a performer can vary from one performer to the other. if you use only the piano sound you will probably prefer a digital piano, but if you are interested in other features, well - the sky is the limit. yamaha has synthesizers that can replace a whole orchestra! these synthesizers have hundreds of different voices, accompaniment styles and many other features that can help us professional performers. you can find a good and quiet effective keyboard that will cost you less than $1000, but if you're looking for the best you can find the motif xf which costs more than $ 4,000. (that's the keyboard david uses in his piano lessons...)
one of the considerations when buying a keyboard for performances is its weight. the problem with digital pianos is that they often very heavy because of their graded hummer action .let me tell you from my experience that carrying a clavinova for gigs twice a week might break your back! that's why yamaha has produced a line of digital stage pianos that have the graded hummer action in a lighter version. the cp series is portable, has a professional touch, sounds like a real piano and includes other electric features as well.
here are some models of yamaha keyboards for performers:
stage piano cp series,
yamaha ypg series.
the yamaha keyboard workstation
a keyboard workstation is like having a music studio in one instrument. it offers a range of music-making functions with which you can create almost all kinds of music. i remember the first time i was sitting next to the tyros 3. after 10 hours i realized that i had forgotten to eat and drink. i was so absorbed that i totally lost all sense of time!
a workstation allows you to record, edit, and play back your songs without using the computer. it's very convenient having an instrument from which you don't have to shift back and forth between the keyboard and a computer.
most workstations, including the yamaha mo series, feature 16-track midi recording in which you can create hours of music.
here are some of the yamaha keyboard workstations:
yamaha mo series,
yamaha ypt advanced keyboards.
midi controllers - yamaha kx series.
of course, a yamaha keyboard such as the motif can have two functions- a stage instrument and a workstation as well.
how to buy a yamaha keyboard?
let's see the main features that you should examine when buying a yamaha keyboard (or any other keyboard):
touch response - it means that the faster you'll fall to the key the louder the sound you're going to get. today, most yamaha keyboards have a touch response, while there are some levels of quality of this feature. (click here to learn more about the higher level of touch- graded hammer action).
piano sound - the yamaha company has invested a lot of resources in order to make their keyboards sound like a real piano. the price of a keyboard goes up when it sounds more authentic. if you are interested in a keyboard in place of a piano, you should be prepared to pay $1000 and more.
how many keys? - a keyboard with 61 keys is a 5 octave keyboard. in my opinion this is the minimum required (although you can find keyboards with even less i would definitely recommend you not to buy). keyboards with 76 keys and 6 octaves are good for almost everything since 99.9% of the time a player doesn't play on the keys at the ends of the keyboard. an 88 keys instrument is what you get in a real piano. unless you are a beginner i advise you to pay a little more and get the full keyboard.
bank of sounds- how many voices does the keyboard include? in the psr-e413 you get around 100 different voices, while in the tyros3 you get 749. the number of voices is not the only issue here; the quality is a very important issue too. the higher the price, the more authentic are the sounds.
effects - almost all yamaha keyboards have a reverb effect. it is quite impossible to explain what a reverb is; you must hear this effect to understand what that is. anyway, professional keyboards contain other effects as well, such as equalizer feature, vocal harmony and more.
accompaniment styles - the cheaper yamaha keyboards contain around 100 accompaniment styles and the professional ones contain more than 400. this feature is very important if you want to play duos with a singer. you don't need a full band because you have it all in just one instrument. another issue here is the ability to create your own accompaniment styles, record them, and use them when you need to.
lessons - this feature is very helpful for a beginner. some of the yamaha keyboards contain built in lessons which help you to make your first steps in playing the keyboard.
lighted keys - a special feature that comes with built in lessons. in ez-200 the keys are lighted to show you where to press the keys. i was very happy to see that some of my students came to a lesson after learning songs by themselves with this feature.
recording - most yamaha keyboards allow you to record your music. there are some issues here:
how many tracks can you use?
how many different songs can you record?
how long are the songs you can record?
in psr-e323 for example you can record only 5 songs on two different tracks.
the psr-s910 has 16 different tracks and you can record as much as you want, depending on the capacity of the hard drive. it all depends on your needs.
polyphony - this term refers to the number of tones that can be heard at the same time. you may ask why one needs more than 10 different tones to sound simultaneously? ( since we have 10 fingers). well, remember that in keyboards you can use accompaniment, drums etc. you need a keyboard that will allow you to play many different sounds simultaneously.
today, all yamaha keyboards feature minimum 32-note polyphony, e.g. the psr-e203. a professional yamaha keyboard, like the motif, features 128 notes polyphony. a beginner doesn't need more that the basic polyphony of 32 different voices.
internet connection - the technology develops quickly, and the internet plays a major part in our lives. with connectivity to the internet you can download and upload midi songs. i don't believe this is essential for a beginner, but on the other hand, downloading songs to a keyboard may be motivating for the student to play these songs.
foot pedal - the pedal is an important component of the piano. usually i teach using the pedal only after one year, so i don't find it essential for a beginner.
speakers - the speakers yamaha keyboards produce a very good sound. check if the instrument you buy has stereo.
size and weight - consider this issue when buying a yamaha keyboard. do you want to play gigs with it? does your child have to move it from one place to the other? be aware that some of the keyboards are too heavy for a child to move.
well, that covers pretty much everything. if you have questions you are welcome to post them on our piano forum and we'll get back to you promptly.