If you’re looking to swap brands and make more expressive music, why not familiarize yourself with the best Yamaha keyboards? And if you want to pursue the piano as an instrument, why not test some of the best Yamaha digital pianos?
This manufacturer makes something for everyone. For that reason, there’s no short supply of older models, cheap models, premium models, and many innovative technologies.
Best Yamaha Keyboards & Digital Pianos for Hobbyists and Pros
Here’s my roundup of some of the best Yamaha digital pianos, synths, and keyboards to help you play the music you’ve been dreaming of, without breaking the bank.
Table of Contents
- Best Yamaha Keyboards & Digital Pianos for Hobbyists and Pros
- Digital Pianos vs. Keyboards – Main Differences
- Synthesizers – A Keyboard Subgroup Worth Knowing About
- How Important Is Key Action?
- Portability Matters Too
- Built-In Tones and Voices
- Control Interfaces
- Yamaha Prices
1. Yamaha P125
The Yamaha P125 is a complete 88-key digital piano for home use, rehearsal studios, recordings, and live performances. It comes with a power supply included as well as a sustain pedal that opens up a wider range of play.
This instrument is fitted with GHS weighted key action technology. It allows for stronger feedback on the lower keys and lighter feedback for the higher keys, similar to an acoustic piano.
A CF sound engine has been used to ensure the faithful reproduction of tones from the Yamaha 9 CFIIS grand concert piano. The sound engine isn’t just reliable but also powerful, as the P125 is capable of playing at very loud volume settings with minimal distortion or feedback.
You can use this instrument for studying with a teacher too. In addition, you can also take full advantage of the split mode function and play two voices at the same time. The digital piano comes in standard tuning and offers USB connectivity.
Although it’s not loaded with all the bells and whistles of most modern digital keyboards, the P125 can be used with the app. This will allow you to customize the tone further and introduce various rhythms, voices, and effects via your smartphone or tablet.
If you’re looking for a complete and realistic setup, the Arius Series YDP164B may be the digital piano for you. This is a console piano design that comes with its own bench, a stand, as well as three pedals. Unfortunately, neither the bench nor stand are adjustable so the standard package won’t apply to all users.
However, the piano itself is equipped with GHS weighted action which gives it a more realistic feel. The key tops have good moisture wicking properties and are non-slip.
In terms of tone, the YDP164B has been designed to recreate the sound of the Yamaha CFX grand concert piano. It does this thanks to the CFX sound engine. I also like the inclusion of a three-pedal unit, especially since the half-damper control allows for massive sustain.
Of course, this model is also compatible with the Smart Pianist App. So, you can use the app to further customize the tone, play along to songs, and make other minor adjustments. This model is slightly pricier but understandably so, given all the additional accessories it comes with.
The Yamaha DGX660B is more than just an entry-level digital piano. It has GHS weighted key action, a very realistic feel and one of the vastest libraries of sounds. It’s equipped with Yamaha’s Pure CF sound engine, which is a respected technology to say the least.
It also features a small display that makes it easier to navigate the complex menu and different samples and effects. You’ll also notice that the piano is capable of displaying music notation when you’re playing MIDI songs, therefore helping you along the way.
One of its best features is the Piano Room. This has a large selection of acoustic samples and piano models, which allows for superior tone customization.
I also like that the piano comes with a decent memory capacity, of up to 30,000 notes per song. You can also make use of the six-track recorder to record ideas or create complete songs by adding various rhythms and other layers on top.
4. Yamaha MODX8
The Yamaha MODX8 is a synthesizer with some impressive characteristics. It has the powerful Montage FM-X sound engine while boasting a much lighter build than the manufacturer’s flagship Montage synthesizer.
What I like most about this model is that it can run up to 27 simultaneous effects and play up to 16 tracks at the same time. This can be equivalent to around 130,000 notes and is impressive if you know your way around a synth.
Above the keyboard you have your pitch bend and mod wheel controls. The MODX8 only comes with four MIDI sliders and rotary encoders. This is a step down from the flagship model which features eight of each as well as LED markers for better visibility.
That said, you can still process external audio, send audio on up to 10 channels, as well as enjoy making music on weighted hammer action keys. Note that if you chose the 61- or 71-key model MODX8, you won’t get weighted hammer action keys.
This is a touch-sensitive portable piano with a 61-key interface. I find it ideal for travel purposes and even for beginners. It’s one of the cheapest Yamaha keyboard models that comes with the Yamaha Education Suite and plenty of customization options.
The keyboard has USB connectivity, on-board lessons, and a very reliable audio transfer technology. What’s a bit disappointing is the fact that there’s no power adapter included. So, this is a very cheap option if you already have a compatible adaptor laying around.
I like the control interface as it’s very intuitive. The lit display offers good readability from all angles and all the buttons are mapped out in detail. There are over 570 instrument voices in the library which opens up all musical genres.
There are also many backing tracks as well as a feature that allows the piano to pick a suitable track based on your chord playing. Of course, the Duo mode which splits the keyboard is fun too, but the piano is a bit small to use in a duet.
The Yamaha YPG535 is another favorite of mine when it comes to 88-key interfaces and recording on the road. The piano is lighter than many similar models. However, this means that it has a graded soft touch key action instead of fully weighted.
While the feel may not be as realistic, to someone without prior experience on an acoustic, this won’t matter. What’s great is the six-track sequencer. This allows you to record and create full songs with backing instruments.
The dual voice feature is also nice as is the use of Yamaha’s XGlite and GM voice samples. One of the coolest features is in fact the database. This features over 200 custom keyboard setups which you can browse by song title, should you want to play like your favorite band or artist.
Even though the piano is one of the less expensive models it does feature a notation and chord display, has USB storage, and also comes with a stand and adapter.
If digital pianos aren’t your thing, then perhaps a Yamaha keyboard sound engine is a better option. This model comes with stomp box effects and direct control, as well as 128-note polyphony.
The keyboard interface has just 37 keys which makes it very easy to play electronic music. The keys are not weighted and have a very fast response. They’re also not slippery at all, which makes things even better.
The speaker system is ok but nothing too special. You’re still better off connecting the REFACE CP keyboard to a speaker system or at least to your computer.
Among the effects you’ll find chorus, phaser, delay, reverb, as well as tremolo and a wah-wah effect. All effects with the exception of the reverb have a two-band EQ for additional tone customization.
You should also know that the REFACE CP combines four Yamaha keyboards, mainly the electric piano, FM Synth, modeling synth, and combo organ. The latter is known for its high-quality vintage sounds.
8. Yamaha NP32
The NP32 is a well-rounded digital instrument. It offers 64-notes polyphony, which isn’t bad at this price range. It comes with 10 preloaded demo songs as well as 10 different voices for pianos as well as string instruments.
The 76-key interface is not only more accessible to youngsters and beginners but also good enough for practice purposes for advanced players too. However, I want to point out that these are touch sensitive, not weighted keys.
Therefore, the feel won’t be as realistic or intuitive if you’re transitioning from an acoustic piano. That said, I like that this piano comes with USB connectivity too, as well as its own recording function with layering functionality.
The metronome sound is punchy and cuts through the keyboard’s speakers without any issues. Note that the keyboard can be purchased standalone or in a power supply and sustain pedal bundle. The bundle has a considerably higher price.
9. Yamaha P71
Although this isn’t the best-sounding Yamaha digital piano, it’s quite versatile. It’s only real drawback is that it’s only available to order online, so you can’t test it at your local music store. That said, here are some of its features.
It comes with an 88-key interface, fully weighted keys, and a power adapter and pedal included. The piano doesn’t have too many samples. It only allows 10 voices, which include digitally sampled acoustic piano sounds.
I like that the P71 comes with a Dual Mode too. This can help you play in more genres and combine two instruments such as pianos and strings. However, there’s not a lot you can do in terms of sound customization.
Therefore, I recommend this model for beginners or amateur hobbyists. It won’t offer much for professional players, not even in terms of practice. I should also point out that the P71 doesn’t have MIDI output so you’ll have to rely on a USB cable to use it together with your favorite music software.
10. Yamaha YPT-260
The Yamaha YPT-260 comes with its own power supply. This is a portable keyboard that features just 61 keys and thus offers a more beginner-friendly interface.
It’s also important to note that the YPT-260 doesn’t feature USB connectivity. That said, its own speakers are powerful enough for light studying or even jamming in an acoustic setting.
I particularly like that this instrument comes loaded with backing tracks, rhythms, songs, and voices. The Yamaha Education Suite is also included and helps provide an introduction to piano playing.
This is a great gift idea for someone interested in picking up a piano or for a kid that would struggle at first with an 88-key interface. The smaller size, affordable pricing, and auxiliary input make this a very attractive and versatile instrument.
You may also appreciate the fact that the piano is able to record too. So, you can take it out while on the road and record some ideas for your band. The tonal qualities are ok but will start to give diminishing returns once you hook up the YPT-260 to a more high-end audio system.
Digital Pianos vs. Keyboards – Main Differences
The main difference tends to be in terms of sound. Digital pianos and keyboards are somewhat interchangeable terms. However, when it comes to sound, true digital pianos feature better samples of acoustic pianos and also come with built-in speakers.
Keyboards don’t often feature speakers. Their design tends to favor portability.
You should also know that there are some differences between keys. Digital pianos almost always feature some sort of sensitive touch keys. Some will be fully weighted, others semi-weighted, or have some sort of graded sensitivity.
This allows the piano to reproduce notes with higher fidelity and account for the nuances of your playing. Keyboards, on the other hand, have a cheaper feel if you will. The keys are rarely responsive to hit velocity so they’re called soft keys.
But, as keyboards go up in pricing, you’ll be able to find graded hammer action keys too.
Synthesizers – A Keyboard Subgroup Worth Knowing About
As you’ve seen, some of the keyboards in this article are in fact synthesizers. These are specialty keyboards that focus mainly on sound design and more detailed editing.
You’ll notice that synthesizers often come with much fewer keys than keyboards and digital pianos. That’s because there’s not so much need for a wide note range. 49 keys are usually considered more than enough for creating cool and catchy patterns.
If you want to become a producer or even a sound designer, then a synthesizer should be higher up on your list of priorities. And, while they do have a learning curve, playing the actual interface isn’t as difficult and requires less music theory.
How Important Is Key Action?
If you ask me, I think it’s very important. Key action and responsiveness are two of the main reasons why digital pianos are more popular with experienced musicians, as opposed to regular keyboards.
The fact that the keys can better mimic the feedback you get from an acoustic piano is very important in developing proper left and right hand technique. It can also allow you to play complex classic piano pieces the way they were intended, without having to invest heavily into an acoustic piano.
Fully weighted keys will give you the most realistic feel. Semi-weighted keys can still sound fuller but are noticeably different in play style compared to an acoustic piano. You may find semi-weighted keys on more compact models or portable models.
If you’re going for fidelity, realism, and expressivity, how well the keys are weighted and calibrated will impact the sound a great deal.
Portability Matters Too
Not everyone can play at home. And, not everyone needs a digital piano or a keyboard at home. So for some users, portability can weigh in a lot on what features are important.
Console and hybrid digital pianos are quite big. In addition to usually having a full 88-key interface, they also tend to come with stands.
Portable digital pianos won’t always have 88 keys. Some will have only 76, 73, or even as few as 61 keys. Although this will impact the note range, the smaller frame and lighter build will make the unit more portable.
It’s worth noting that the size of the digital piano or keyboard shouldn’t really affect the tonal quality or the number of built-in features and voices.
Built-In Tones and Voices
Here’s where things get very interesting and complicated at the same time. Digital pianos usually have around 10 voices or tones. Some will be samples of various acoustic pianos and others will likely be string instruments.
Even pricier models typically top out at around 30 voices. Keyboards, on the other hand, can feature hundreds of tones. Many of which can be customizable too. Depending of course on how advanced the keyboard is and what EQ features it has.
So in terms of built-in samples, digital pianos will have only the basics. Piano sounds and some string sounds. Few of them will even have rhythms.
But if you want to play in every genre and you don’t care too much about how the keys feel, then keyboards are your best bet.
You can access tens or hundreds of samples, along with various backing tracks, demo songs, and even add layers of instruments while you record your own songs.
More and more digital pianos today come with smartphone and tablet compatibility. This means that they can feature a companion app that lets you make some additional adjustments to the software via your phone or tablet.
This is very nice and I recommend getting a digital piano that supports this, of which Yamaha is in no short supply, by the way. The reason is simple. Although the changes you can make are minimal, it’s still something that you can’t otherwise do from the hardware interface.
Keyboards don’t need this as they feature much more advanced control interfaces and have seamless compatibility with various DAW software. It’s worth noting that not all digital pianos will offer USB connectivity too, so having a companion app may be even more important.
Yamaha’s prices vary greatly. As one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments in the world, it makes sense that it caters to a very wide range of users.
So, you won’t have a hard time locating a very cheap keyboard or a very expensive digital piano, or synthesizer for that matter.
But how do these instruments stack performance-wise compared to those made by other manufacturers? Yamaha uses some unique sound engines. Therefore, at least in terms of sound they’re instantly recognizable.
The build quality is also there, at least when midrange and more expensive instruments are concerned. That said, Yamaha isn’t the cheapest manufacturer of digital pianos and keyboards. It’s not the most expensive one either, but it can have some abnormal spikes in pricing if you nitpick at the features and instrument categories.
If Yamaha’s Good Enough for the Top Pianists It’s Good Enough for You Too
Simply put, Yamaha makes some of the best digital pianos, keyboards, and synthesizers on the market. In every price range. So the only thing you have to do is figure out what you’re looking to get out of this type of instrument.
Once you know the genre you want to pursue, the type of music you want to make, and everything along those lines, picking the right instrument won’t be an issue.