Which Yamaha Piano is the Best for you?
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Yamaha has been making pianos since the 1900s and fast forward 120 years later, the musical conglomerate has a bewildering number of piano models. Yamaha now makes grand pianos, upright pianos, hybrid pianos and digital pianos. Within just the digital piano category (which is the main focus of this article), Yamaha has at least 6 subcategories of digital pianos. While this massive product variety means that there will always be a digital piano with features suitable for any buyer, you may end up needing an aspirin just thinking about which one you should spend your hard earned money on.
For the purpose of this article, these digital pianos have between 73 to 88 full-sized weighted keys. Do not confuse digital pianos with synth action keyboards. If you do not know the difference between digital pianos, keyboards, arrangers, workstation and MIDI keyboards, you can check out this article I've made before continuing with this article.
Yamaha Portable Pianos
Yamaha's P-series, DGX, and CP series digital pianos are designed with portability in mind. These pianos are designed to be used on an extent or on a tabletop and are lightweight and compact enough to be carried around. For the P-series and DGX series, you can purchase specially designed wooden stands separately. These wooden stands are designed to give this portable digital pianos a more traditional factor and also function to blend in with your home furnishing. The consumer home centric intention of the P-series and DGX is evident from these optional wooden stands as well as the built in speakers.
The graded hammer action P-45, also commonly marketed exclusively as the P-71 by Amazon, has 10 voices, built-in speakers, a metronome, a headphone connector and a USB MIDI for connecting to external devices. Although it uses Yamaha's older AWM sampling technology, the sound quality is more than decent. It is more than sufficient for most beginner players.
While the P-45 and P-71 are basic digital pianos, the P-125 is a more recent model from Yamaha with an updated P or CF sound engine that comes with damper resonance. The P125 boasts of 24 songs such as Strings, Organs and Hapsichords, 20 rhythms covering genres from Pop, Rock, Jazz and Latin, and a higher voice polyphony than the P-45. In addition, their key action and speakers are also better designed and of a higher specification over the P-45. It also provides 2 headphone ports if you prefer to practice silently. The P-125 is also able to connect to the more updated Yamaha Smart Pianist App on both iOS and Android for added functionality.
If you would like a smaller keyboard, the P-121 is a 73 keys version of the P-125. Both are identical in terms of features and sound quality. If you would like a more in-depth review on the P-125 and P-121, I will leave a link to the video.
The well-built P-515 is the flagship P- series from Yamaha. It is actually a portable version of Yamaha's mid-range CLP series Clavinova. On the P-515, you get Yamaha's NWX wooden key action instead of plastic keys. You also get the by normal sample Yamaha CFX and Bosendorfer Imperial grand piano with key-off samples and virtual resonance modeling, in addition to 40 other different voices such as guitars, organ strings, and electric pianos. The P-515 also has the usual metronome, headphones, USB MIDI connectors, triple pedals and a pretty fancy song recorder. It is however, heavier than the P-45 and the P-125 due to its wooden keys and thus, the P-515 is the ultimate home digital piano that can be used as a portable keyboard if you need to gig with it.
This portable 88 keys, graded hammer action digital piano with arranger functions, and a microphone input is the only digital piano from Yamaha that meets these four requirements. It also boasts of more than 150 voices and 205 accompaniment rhythms across a diverse genres to play along with. The rhythms comes with intro, ending, 2 rhythmic fields, as well as 2 variations versatile. You can also trigger the accompaniment chords with as little as a single finger with the DGX-660 smart chord feature. There is also the AI full keyboard chord detection mode for the more advanced players. The large monochrome LCD screen, although dated, is really useful for manoeuvring around the different functionality of this arranger piano. The DGX-660 has the same sound engine as the P-125 however, the key bed of the P-125 is just slightly better. The sound quality of the DGX are also one of the better ones in the industry which are not found in the DP series.
Comprising of the 88 graded hammer action keys (CP88) and 73 balanced hammer action plastic keys (CP73), these keyboards are professional stage pianos that are meant to be used with stage stands and do not have built-in speakers. Stage pianos are built with a comprehensive set of connectors to external PA systems for larger venues and has features critical for live playing. The CP series is thus made for more professional stage pianist or keyboardist.
Yamaha Digital Console Pianos
Yamaha's digital console pianos compromises of the Yamaha Arius and Clavinova (CLP, CSP, CVP) pianos. Digital console pianos comes with 3 pedals and a furniture style cabinet that look similars to an acoustic piano.
The good thing about getting a digital console piano is that you get a full-fledged instrument right away that comes with everything you need to experience an authentic playing experience and in addition, you don't need to buy a separate stand or pedals. However, digital console pianos costs more and are heavy and are meant to stay in a fixed location. You can move them around easier than traditional pianos, but they are also not designed to be moved around.
Ranges from $900 to $2,500 USD
The Arius pianos comes in 2 variants, the YDP and the YDP-S series. The YDPs comes with a folding key cover whereas the YDP comes with a sliding key cover. Depending on the price you pay, you get either the older GHS or GH3 key action. All the Arius pianos also comes with 10 voices, the usual headphones input jack, a metronome, a decent pair of speakers, matching bend, triple pedals and supporting damper sustain neutral and soft functions. However, you do not get rhythms or auxiliary output connectors and all the keys are made from plastic (other than the flagship YDP-184). The Arius series also does not come with key-off samples, virtual resonance modeling, and damper resonance which makes it sound less realistic than an acoustic piano.
The Arius YDP and YDP-S are a good starting point for beginners but just be aware that it is about as basic as a digital console piano can get. As a warning, try to avoid the entry level Yamaha YDP-103 and get the YDP-S34 or the YDP-144 at the very bare minimum.
Yamaha is famous for their trademarked, premium and expensive Clavinova (CLP, CSP, CVP) digital pianos. The Yamaha Clavinova is divided into three sub categories — the CLP, the CVP and the CSP series.
The CLP series is for those who are only concerned about the piano sound, key touch and any other frills are secondary. Yamaha CLP gets the $200,000 USD Yamaha CX and the quarter million dollars Bosendorfer Imperial samples, as well as Yamaha's new grand touch and NWX key bed. These key actions also comes with an escapement feel, similar to acoustic grand pianos. You do get key-off samples, damper, string resonance and as well as the capability to connect the piano to your iOS device or your computer using the USB port to use with Yamaha Smart Pianist App. You also get 20 basic rhythms, a metronome to play along with, an audio recorder and player.
If all you need is a good piano sound and a good touch with no need for very much else, there's really no need to pay more for the other Clavinovas.
The CVP series is marketed as an ensemble digital piano. It is a combination of the sounds, accompaniment, rhythms and features of Yamaha's flagship PSR-SX and Geno's arranger keyboards, coupled with the piano samples of the Yamaha CLP series.
On the CVP, You get a beautiful, colored LCD touchscreen and lots of buttons on the panel for tweaking every imaginal parameter you can think of. You can create new styles, added sounds, multitrack record, as well as plug in a guitar or a microphone to sing along with. There is also a vocal harmonizer that can provide backup vocals, all in a tightly integrated console.
However, something to note is that the CVP series does depreciate quickly and Yamaha does not provide replacement parts for this series beyond 10 years.
To come up this CSP-series, Yamaha took the CVP and offloaded almost all the arranger features and the colored touchscreen functionality to an iPad. Most of the buttons on the CSP are relegated to the massive touchscreen of your iPad. Therefore, things like registration memory, triggering fields, intro, ending sound editing etc are all done on the iPad with the accompanying software. This dependency on the iPad is a growing trend with even the prestigious Steinway Spirio. Every Steinway Spirio piano comes bundled with an iPad upon purchase. However, if one day should future iPads or apps be no longer supported, the Clavinova CSP will have most of its functionality disabled.
If you already own an iOS device, it makes sense for the consumer to harness the very powerful Apple A12 neuro engine bionic chip to do all the heavy lifting in your digital piano. If not, you would have to spend additionally to purchase the IOS device which is not worth it at all.
That's all from me! I hope you found this article useful in determining which Yamaha piano is the best for you. Do check out my other articles for more piano and keyboard reviews, or just simply tips and tricks of buying an instrument for your use. Thank you!