Yamaha YPG-235 Review
Yamaha is one of the most versatile manufacturers out there. They make everything from motorcycles to guitars. One avenue where they have made a name for themselves is in the piano industry. They have a long and rich history of manufacturing and selling highly versatile and useful musical instruments. Occasionally they put this experience and their flair for making great instruments to produce something truly different and the Yamaha YPG-235 happens to be one of them. By reading this review you will soon know everything you need to know about it.
The Yamaha YPG-235 is marketed as a portable grand piano but it is so much more than that. It is aimed at those who are looking for a portable grand that is affordable and offers excellent bang for the buck without skimping on the features. Even though it sits at the lower end of the price spectrum, it packs in quite the punch. The YPG-235 is a serious contender that can be used satisfactorily for years. It has 76 keys and while that might not cover the entire range of a full-size piano, it is more than adequate for most applications. It is, in fact, the perfect size for someone looking to take the next step up from a 61-key keyboard which is the most common configuration most musicians begin with. It is, however, not suited for the experienced pianists out there as it can feel restrictive and it doesn’t offer the kind of feel experienced players would be looking for.
Design and build quality
The one thing that most portable pianos are accused of is being too drab to look at. The Yamaha YPG-235 bucks that trend by being quite striking to look at. The color is a slightly different hue of silver than what is normally found on keyboards. The design and the placement of buttons go for a minimalistic approach which while being easy on the eyes does make accessibility a bit of a problem. The buttons and knobs are placed a bit too close to each other and can be a problem during performances. While this digital piano looks expensive it certainly doesn’t feel so but having said that, the build quality is far better than most digital pianos in this price segment and more than offers enough bang for the buck.
Obviously, there are no exotic materials used in the construction but the plastic used is of pretty decent quality and can withstand a life on the road provided it is housed in an adequately padded bag or case while in transit. The keys feel solid and so do the buttons and the knobs. We will get to the playability in a bit. There are no sharp edges or fragile parts that can bend and break easily making this a truly sturdy keyboard.
Most modern digital pianos are all guilty of pairing their amazing instruments with really crappy speakers that sucks the life out of the music. To truly exploit the amazing tones available on most digital systems, you have to further invest in monitors or amps which defeats the entire purpose of a portable grand. Right out of the box, the speaker system on the Yamaha YPG-235 impressed us. It looks good with a set of separate woofers and tweeters on either sides which is more than we expected from something at this price point. The sound output is crisp and accurate. Pretty much all of the octaves sound good and vibrant and you will enjoy performing on this digital piano. Even every practice chance will feel enriching thanks to this sound system and you can practice or create music without needing any extra equipment. There is a catch though. The sound quality degrades quite badly once the volume is turned up beyond 3 quarters of the way. Having said that, the volume is good enough at even the halfway point to practice by yourself. You will anyways need to connect to an external sound system while performing live.
Most other pianos in this price range are far inferior in sound quality compared to the Yamaha YPG-235 and it is one of the biggest plus points of this keyboard and one of the biggest reasons to invest in this instrument.
Tones and playability
The true connoisseurs of piano music prefer an authentic version of the piano rather than a digital version. This is understandable because digital pianos in the past sounded quite phony and you just couldn’t get the same feel out of it as you would on an acoustic piano. Things have changed and technology has advanced so much that even budget digital pianos can now decently replicate the sounds of more than one type of piano quite authentically and the Yamaha YPG-235 is an excellent example. That combined with their portability makes them a true force of music that in the right hands can make powerful and soul-stirring music.
One of the reasons pianists prefer acoustic pianos is because of their dynamic range. They can make the piano speak by subtle variations in the pressure they exert on the keys. While digital pianos in the past have tried to reproduce this feeling, they have always come up short. The Yamaha YPG-235 is sadly a continuation of that trend as the velocity curve just isn’t right. The AWM stereo sampling system that is the heart and brains of this portable piano is quite capable and intelligent. It can accurately select the right sample to be played back depending on the amount of force you are exerting most of the time but begins to falter when you start making subtle changes to the amount of force you exert. To the untrained ear it sounds very close to a real piano but advance players will realize that it is very difficult to get a nuanced performance out of this keyboard.
One area where it does make up for it is in the range of sounds you can get out of this thing. As any modern keyboard player will tell you that the piano sound isn’t enough to play modern music. You need a range of other tones to fit different styles and the Yamaha YPG-235 has over 500 of them. This gives the Yamaha YPG-235 great potential and your creativity is the limit to what can be achieved through this amazing instrument.
Some of you might be rolling your eyes right now because even cheap keyboards today come with plenty of sounds but most of them are of poor quality and are unusable in most musical genres. The Yamaha YPG-235 is thankfully not so and a good number of the onboard tones are useful, especially if you are into modern music.
This is another area where the Yamaha YPG-235 excels which is surprising as most portable pianos don’t place much emphasis on the connectivity features they offer. The Yamaha YPG-235 is actually quite well-equipped and can give most synthesizers a run for their money. It can be connected to a computer using a USB cable which allows it to double up as a MIDI controller compatible with most Digital Audio Workstations or DAWs. So, if you moonlight as a composer while also being a pianist then this is a versatile instrument that will allow you to do both. It is a true plug-and-play device and most DAWs on Mac and PC recognize it out of the box. This expands the possibilities manifolds and using virtual instruments you can pretty much reproduce any sound on earth while also being able to create some of your own. The decent velocity control of the keyboard comes in very handy as it allows you to make authentic sounding music even when using ethnic instruments in your DAWs.
You can also use the computer as a controller and use it to navigate through the menus and features available on this digital piano. This is both very user-friendly and can make you look cool on stage. Another feature that is outdated but some might find useful is the included CD-ROM. This allows you to play songs through the speakers of the piano thereby allowing you to play along. That brings us to the Yamaha Education Suite that comes in-built. It has 30 songs on board and another 70 included on the CD-ROM that comes with the keyboard. These songs are of varying degrees of difficulty and are a fun way to learn the piano. While absolute novices might find following the instruction a bit too difficult, the amateur musician can hone their skills using this system. However, we do not know of many people who mastered the piano through such a method and therefore this has to be dismissed as just a gimmick.
Ease of use
The main aim behind the creation of this digital piano was to make it so user-friendly that anyone with a mediocre level of expertise at playing the piano could just pick it up and make amazing music with it. Unlike most keyboards that can take days to feel familiar, everything about the Yamaha YPG-235 facilitates its ease of use. The OTS (One Touch Setting) comes in quite handy if you like to play music from different genres. The “Performance Assistant Technology” is another innovative solution that makes multitasking quite easy and you can play complicated parts while also managing the auto-accompaniment section. In short, this is a digital piano that will allow you to focus on the music rather than some mundane task such as selecting a sub-menu. This is one area where the Yamaha YPG-235 is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
- Very versatile
- Pretty decent speaker system
- Great range in tone
- High-quality sound samples
- Excellent build quality
- Superb connectivity options
- 76 keys which can feel restricting to someone accustomed to an 88-key piano
- Skewed velocity control
- Too many features if you are looking for just a portable piano
- Placement of buttons and knobs could have been better
- An outdated CD-ROM technology
There are very few products in the musical instruments industry that tick all the right boxes. Usually, the good ones are too expensive while the affordable ones feel like a compromise. The Yamaha YPG-235 tries pretty hard to be an awesome digital piano at a very affordable price point.
Whether it is the digital piano you are looking for depends purely on you. Even though it is feature rich, the cost cutting does show up in certain areas that really matter. If you are a beginner then this piano will serve you well to gain more expertise and become even more proficient. It is great for composers and casual players who want a cheap and versatile instrument. It is not, however, for the serious pianists as it is nowhere close to the feel and range of an acoustic piano. It does offer great value for money and would make a great option for people looking for a decent second keyboard but it falls short when high quality and precision in response is required.
- Rated 2.5 stars
- Yamaha YPG-235
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