Review: The Truth about Yamaha's Cheapest Digital Piano - Yamaha P45/P71
Updated: Oct 6, 2021
The P45 also known as the P71 on Amazon is one of Yamaha’s best-selling digital pianos and that’s no surprise. Many piano teachers around the world recommend it to their beginner students because the Yamaha brand is more than a century old and it is Yamaha’s cheapest 88-key hammer-action keyboard.
However, before you rush out and buy one, there are 8 things you need to know so you will not get any nasty surprises when you start playing it for the first time. My in-depth review will help you make an informed purchase when you look to buy one.
If you are looking for a keyboard with hundreds or even thousands of sounds, the Yamaha P45 isn’t the one for you. This keyboard is predominantly a digital piano first and most people who buy it are those who don’t really use the other sounds.
The P45 comes with 10 voices and what it lacks in quantity, makes up for it in quality.
You get 2 grand piano voices, one sampled from Yamaha’s Concert Grand Piano, which is the default sound, and the other is a brighter piano tone better suited for use when playing with other instrumentalists There are 2 electric piano tones, one is the iconic Rhodes electric piano sound and the other is from Yamaha’s iconic 1980’s DX7 keyboard
There are also 2 organ tones, an intimate baroque era organ, and a grand-sounding cathedral pipe organ. These 2 harpsichords suitable for those who enjoy baroque music are also included. Finally, there is a strings section and a vibraphone tone suitable for dual voice layering, which the P45 is capable of.
For most beginners, these 10 voices are more than sufficient.
You would need to look at the more expensive Yamaha P125 or digital pianos from Casio, Roland, and Korg if you need bass instrument sounds and the ability to split voices across the keyboard. If you like the P45/P71, You might be interested in this recommended list of digital pianos as well.
Serious classical pianists will find the 64 note polyphony on the Yamaha P45 to be inadequate. Note polyphony is the number of notes that can sound at once. Advanced pianists will be frustrated with note drop-offs when playing demanding music. While this will not be an issue for beginners, similarly priced digital pianos from other brands now have 128 and even 256 note polyphony.
No Triple Pedal Support
An acoustic piano typically has 3 pedals, soft, sostenuto, and damper. The P45 supports only the damper which is also known as the sustain function.
This rules out the P45 for more serious pianists playing more demanding music but beginners will do fine without it. Thankfully, half-pedaling is supported on the P45 if you purchase an additional sustain pedal.
However, if this is a downside for you, I have other recommendations for you which support triple pedaling.
Lack of LCD Screen
Without an LCD screen, even a basic one, it can be frustrating at times, not knowing what voice you have selected and the other parameters you may have changed, such as transposition, reverb, velocity curve, or the metronome tempo. An absolute beginner will not use these functions and having no LCD screen will not be a deal-breaker. However, there are a number of competing brands, at a similar price, with an LCD screen making operating the keyboard-less challenging
The Yamaha P45 can only be powered through an electrical outlet.
That may be a deal-breaker for some who may bring their keyboards to busk, gig, or jam with friends and an electrical outlet may not be within reach. The P45 has a pair of 6 watts amplifiers which can be easily powered with a set of AA batteries which is a welcome feature a few competing brands have as well. If you are looking for a digital piano with dual power options, I have a few recommendations for you.
The Yamaha P45 is a 6-year-old model and it is beginning to show its age where connectivity options are concerned. While there is the usual USB MIDI connector, for use with music learning apps on your smartphone and tablet.
Sad to say that Yamaha did not include an auxiliary audio input with the P45.
Many beginner music books now come with backing tracks you can download onto your phone. Learning with an audio backing track on the phone, routed through the keyboard’s onboard speakers with a simple cable, can help. to keep better time as well as make learning more interesting. However, instead of books, I have beginner piano courses and a beginner app that may be more suited for you
Wireless Bluetooth audio which is a feature that is pretty standard on many digital pianos from competing brands is also lacking. However, if you want to connect the P45 to more powerful speakers, the lack of a pair of ¼” stereo outputs can be a deal-breaker. if you are interested, I also have recommendations for speakers, headphones, microphones, and other connectivity devices which you might be looking for.
With these shortcomings, should you still buy a Yamaha P45? That depends. If you are an absolute beginner, the Yamaha P45 continues to be a solid choice. Even with a $50 price increase due to a global chip shortage, the P45 remains the cheapest digital piano from Yamaha with 88 hammer action keys.
The GHS key action, while not the shiniest, is well established. Coupled with the time-tested AWM voice samples, it will satisfy most, if not all, beginners. Even though the P45 is built like a tank with a chunky design, it remains relatively lightweight should you need to move it around.
The well-known Yamaha brand also guarantees a better resale value versus other brands, should you upgrade in the future. Compared to lesser-known brands, Yamaha spare parts availability, as well as customer service, is significantly better.
I hope you found my review of the Yamaha P45/P71 useful. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest and most updated information and prices of Yamaha P45/P71. Do also take a look at my other articles to find the best and most suited instrument for your personal need. Also, check out my Piano App and beginner keyboard course available for you.