Yamaha Portatone Electronic Keyboard Buying Guide

Like if this guide is helpful
Yamaha Portatone Electronic Keyboard Buying Guide

Electronically amplified keyboards have become standard equipment in professional recording studios, as well as on many live stages. The instrument's ability to reproduce a large variety of musical tones at the push of a button or pedal has seen it revolutionise the music industry. The extensive use of the electronic keyboard during the 1980s clearly signalled the arrival of, what is now termed, techno music. Yamaha have employed the best of this technology in the making of its Portatone Electronic Keyboard range.

About the Electronic Keyboard

The sound of an acoustic keyboard is generated when a key is pressed and a small hammer drops onto the corresponding string, causing it to vibrate. The movement of air that results produces audible sound waves that the brain will then interpret. The electrical keyboard relies on two methods of sound reproduction.


Sound is initiated by electrical signals that are changing continuously. The signals are manipulated in various ways and then transmitted through amplifiers. Amplification of the rapid directional changes of the electrical signal causes movement of air that finally results in sound.


Sound wave patterns are captured as a series of numbers. A digital-to-analogue, or DAC, then converts the numbers into a continuous electrical signal, which is then sent to an amplifier. Air is moved and sound produced.

Musical instrument Digital Interface, MIDI, was developed to accommodate both analogue and digital technologies in the transference of information between different electronic instruments, such as a keyboard and a computer, and between the technologies employed by different instrument manufacturers. If a computer is to be used along with the electronic keyboard, then MIDI IN and MIDI OUT connections must be available to interpret possible variances in signals. Yamaha makes provision for MIDI connectivity. The manufacturer has also packaged almost every feature required for experimenting with sound and tone into its electronic keyboards. It has also given the Yamaha Portatone Electronic Keyboard a variety of voices. The table below lists a number of Yamaha models in the Portatone range together with features peculiar to each.


Yamaha's one-touch setting will instantly configure, by means of melody, tempo, voice, and volume, any musical style selected by a user. Two hundred selection options are available, as well as provision for 16 user settings. Each musical style features its own intro and ending variations as well as main A/B. It also has four fill-in patterns that can be used for greater musical expression. Would-be composers will find this keyboard's music sequencer a valuable tool for the recording and playback of pieces written. Recording can be done in step or in real-time mode, and 6 tracks are available for intricate melodies as well as chord and rhythm accompaniment. A metronome function adds to the ease of establishing consistency of rhythm. The effects processor provides up to four effect categories for any voice, including that of a grand piano and drum kit. The touch response function allows an impressively expressive piano tone, and the style button will ensure sophisticated piano style accompaniment. Effects also include 8 types of reverb, 4 chorus, 33 DSP effects and 28 harmonies. Yamaha also makes ample provision for learners with the Yamaha Education Suite, chord guide, smart chord and EZ chord.


This Portatone model makes use of dynamic filtering technology, a touch response function and a dedicated button to enhance its piano-playing experience. Using these features, the keyboard will respond like an acoustic piano. Chords are automatically changed as a player changes theirs, while the melody is layered on top. A backlit LCD displays chord information as well as that of various other functions being used. The instrument is GM MIDI compatible, which means that accurate sounds are transmitted should edited musical data be sent to friends and family via email. With a large number of XGilite voices, the compatibility with Yamaha XG software is extended to 3rd parties. A split button allows for the keyboard to access 2 different voices, from a choice of 480, and play them individually, while a layering function allows for two sounds to be combined. All Yamaha keyboards are equipped with stereo sound for greater spatial depth. Numerous functions facilitate an easy learning experience.


Yamaha again demonstrate their commitment to learners with the PSR-290. The Yamaha Education Suite, YES-2, is a built-in feature. Easy 7-step piano lessons make playing a simple exercise. A PC button facilitates easy connection to a PC and MIDI makes compatibility a certainty. Songs can be downloaded from the Internet and stored in a built-in flash ROM; this model also has 100 built-in songs to enjoy. Jacks for a headphone and a sustain pedal are provided, as well as an on-board sequencer to record up to 5 songs. Yamaha's Advanced Wave Memory technology promotes exquisite tones.


This Yamaha model has a USB port that interacts with MIDI without the need of peripherals, such as cables and adapters, to transfer songs from a computer. A PC button commits MIDI settings to memory and a simple press of a button will return these settings. 487 voices, 10 drum kits, 2 sound-effects kits and a selection of sweet sounds that include the flute, trumpet, pan flute, tenor saxes, and soprano flesh out an impressive array of functions. The PSR-295 also features 32-note polyphony, which is the number of notes that a keyboard can reproduce at the same time.


A music-database button configures the most appropriate selection of instruments relevant to a song that has been chosen from the 100 styles of music on offer. Users can expand this selection by Internet downloads or by purchasing further styles from Yamaha MusicSoft. Twelve drum kits provide percussion tracks with a number of other kits, such as Room & Rock and Symphonic and Sound, for enhancing the sound experience. A 6-track sequencer and 5 user song locations make recording and storing of songs easy and convenient. The model also features the standard education functions that make learning easy. Songs are learned one hand at a time and errors will prompt the keyboard to respond with a pause until the correct note is found. The keyboard will also advise a user verbally of what progress has been made.


A music rest, a songbook and an owner's manual come standard with the Yamaha Portatone Electronic Keyboard. Keyboard stands, headphones, sustain pedals and some education software is freely available for purchase independently.

How to Find Yamaha Portatone Electronic Keyboards on eBay

Starting from the eBay Homepage, open the All Categories tab and select Musial Instruments. Type 'Yamaha Portatone Electronic Keyboard' into the search tab and search. If a particular keyboard model is being sought, then the search can be refined by typing the model description into the search tab and searching. Details of all available items required will be displayed together with details of purchase.


Yamaha manufacture fully interactive electronic keyboards of high quality at affordable prices. Several types of keyboard are available for different purposes. Users should determine their selection of electronic keyboard by considering the purpose for which it is intended. Key size can be important, as well as the number of octaves that may be required, which is dependent on whether the instrument is for instructional use, or for live performance or recording purposes. If a sequencer or computer is to be used for recording and playback, then the question of whether the instrument is able to produce more than one timbre at a time is relevant. It is also crucial that the keyboard has the connectivity required for certain functional needs. If the instrument is to be used for instruction purposes, then it is also worth investigating the Watch & Learn Video Series that features Yamaha's top product specialist, Tom Folenta.

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides