Yamaha P-45 Review
If you are starting out or are taking the first few steps of a life as a pianist then you need something that is easy and doesn’t offer too many options as that can become confusing and distracting to a beginner. Another good quality a beginner piano should possess is an aggressive price. Once you become proficient, you should be able to buy a more advanced piano without losing a lot of money on your first piano. With that in mind, we got our hands on the Yamaha P45 piano which has been made and designed for the beginner. In this product review we will base our judgment of the P45 on this criteria and see if it really is a great piano for the beginner.
First impressions: It seems simple and unimposing
Anyone who has ever taken a journey of musical learning will be able to associate with the self-doubt that invariably creeps up. There will be voices inside you that will suggest that maybe you are not cut out to be a musician. It is all a part of the whole learning experience. In such a situation it is really important that the instrument you use is not a complicated one. The last thing a person who is having second thoughts about their abilities needs is a complicated and intimidating piano. Also, a piano with too many unnecessary features can be a distraction too as it could cause you to divide your attention on other things instead of putting all your focus on getting a strong foundation.
The Yamaha P45 is very good at being a simplistic digital piano that is all about giving the beginner musician a very welcoming and laid back instrument to hone their skills on. There are no complicated knobs and buttons and everything about this digital piano is great for the beginner. The looks have to be commended as Yamaha has made the simple design quite elegant and it does look quite classy.
A decent enough sound and not too much choice
At this price, it is unrealistic and unnecessary to include hundreds of sound samples. Many cheap variants of the digital piano, in an effort to appease a wider crowd often include upwards of 300 tones, all of which turn out to be totally useless the moment you become even slightly proficient with the piano playing. What Yamaha has done here is include only 10 sounds but they have ensured that each of the sounds is of high enough quality that even intermediate players will find them useful.
There are two grand piano sounds which are really good and actually quite usable even in a professional setup. The other sounds including EP, organ, strings, harpsichord, vibraphone are all pretty good and will give the beginner and even the intermediate player enough flexibility to experiment around a bit. The onboard speakers do feel a little lacking in punch but are more than sufficient while practicing. This digital piano does sound pretty good through an external sound system though.
An excellent piano-action especially at this price
This is perhaps what took us by surprise the most. This is easily one of the cheapest digital pianos with a fully-graded hammer action. This is not the best hammer-action keyboard out there but for a beginner this is as good as it is going to get. It also makes transitioning from this digital piano to a high-end digital piano or a grand piano quite easy which is another important quality a beginner’s digital piano should possess. It also comes with 4 touch sensitivity options. This further helps the starter as you can start from the soft and the move on to medium and hard as and when you feel you are expert enough to handle them.
Another thing that we really liked about the keyboard is that the keys are quite noiseless. This is really helpful if you are practicing at low volumes. The keys are not the moisture absorbing type found on more expensive digital pianos but aren’t too slippery either. The black keys have a nice matte finish to them that provides plenty of grip and even the white keys though they appear glossy are actually quite non-slippery. We tried really hard to find a flaw in this section but as long as you judge it as a beginner’s piano, it has none. The action could have been a little more sensitive but that is asking too much at this price.
All the basic features you would need
While this is an affordable digital piano, it does not sacrifice any of the basic features that even the beginner would need. The 10 tones that we mentioned are pretty capable of playing most kind of piano music. It has a dual feature as well which allows you to combine two tones which can produce a more layered and deep sound. Yamaha has thoughtfully included a ‘Duo’ mode that splits the keyboard into two equal sections allowing for a teacher and student to sit together which in our opinion is the most effective way to learn the piano. It also comes with a split mode that splits the keyboard into two sections with different tones allowing you to play two sounds simultaneously.
Where this digital piano falls short is in the effects section. There are only four reverb effects available and they tend to make the sound muddy rather than enhance them. We know it is asking a lot but in an instrument having only ten tones and one effect type, a little more attention to quality would have gone a long way in making this so much better. It doesn’t have any recording capabilities either which is also a bit disappointing as including recording capabilities for even a few minutes would really come in handy for someone learning the tricks of the trade.
Decent hardware and connectivity
Yamaha are known for making some robust instruments and the P45 is a really good example of that. It is like the manufacturers knew that a beginner might tend to use their digital piano a bit roughly. It can handle a fair bit of abuse. This thing is built to last. It is also quite portable considering it is an 88-key digital piano. It is lightweight as well making it even better to carry around. On the connectivity side, there is nothing crazy going on but the essentials are there. It has a USB port that allows you to hook it with a computer and use it as a MIDI controller. We tried this with multiple DAWs and it worked in a true plug-and-play manner.
The touch sensitivity information was also conveyed quite accurately for the most part. The data does get slightly unreliable with the really low keys but for the most part it worked admirably well. Apart from this there is an audio-out port which can be used to connect a headphone or an external sound system which we recommend. Finally there is a sustain pedal jack though you would have to buy a good sustain pedal if you want to use this option as the one supplied with the P45 is quite shaky and feels very ungainly.
Excellent value for money
At just under $500, this digital piano offers a few high-quality tones, excellent build quality, a simple approach and most importantly, a fully weighted hammer-action set of keys. If you are the kind of person who values quality and attention to detail then you will find the Yamaha P45 very reasonably priced. You could find cheaper options but none of them have the same sound quality or feel to them.
So, is it the best beginner’s piano?
We will get this out of the way first. This is strictly meant to be someone’s first digital piano. If you are an intermediate or an expert pianist then this is way too under-powered for you. Even Yamaha market it as the beginner’s tool. The big question is “How good is it as a beginner’s option?” This is one of the most crowded segment when it comes to digital pianos and while we haven’t checked out every single affordable digital piano out there, we do have a fair bit of experience with the most popular ones. The other digital pianos all suffer from one common flaw and that is the fact that they all try too hard.
To attract the wide-eyed beginner, they add flashy features like way too many sounds or a useless learning suite. They do this and sacrifice the more important qualities like a realistic piano feel or a high-quality piano sound. In short, they all go for volume rather than substance.
Yamaha has taken the brave decision to swim against this tide as it has retained the basic fundamentals that make a digital piano great without going for the bling. It is not perfect by any means but if you look at it from a beginner’s perspective then this is one of the best options out there. Just be ready to upgrade in a couple of years as you will outgrow the Yamaha P45 as soon as you become a proficient pianist.
– Fully graded hammer-action keys
– Great piano sound
– Excellent pricing
– Good build qualities
– Inferior effects
– Lacks recording and playback options
- Rated 3 stars
- Yamaha P-45
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