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Yamaha P95 Review

Updated on December 18, 2014

The Yamaha P95: My Favorite Entry-Level Digital Piano

Digital pianos have come a long way since they were first introduced commercially in the mid 1970s. For many years, these instruments have offered many advantages over their acoustic counterparts that include cost, portability, MIDI interface ports, and headphone connections. Digital pianos also never go out of tune, thus eliminating the need for that annual visit from your local piano tuner.

As with all electronic equipment, digital pianos are always in a continuous state of improvement. If you are a pianist or have even had some minimal piano training and are on a budget, you no longer have to settle for anything less than a full set of 88 keys with some weighted action, features that used to be sold at a premium. You can ever get some additional bells and whistles that didn't used to be available years ago without spending a lot.

The main area in which most lower-cost digital pianos still fall short, however, is in providing to the pianist a touch and feel that satisfactorily mimics a good acoustic piano. Although almost all but the very cheapest digital pianos have weighted keys these days, not all weighted actions on these instruments are created equal, even for a given manufacturer. To get the very best digital keyboard action available, e.g., one that is almost indistinguishable from a top-of-the-line Yamaha, Baldwin, or Steinway acoustic grand piano, you still have to pay a premium, though not nearly as much as you would for the real thing.

To me, the Yamaha P95 is the best compromise in cost and acoustic piano feel. Made by one of the top manufacturers in the world of both acoustic and digital pianos, this is the one digital piano model I would recommend if you are on a budget. In my opinion, this instrument offers very good value for the money, but, as with any lower-cost digital piano, it does have some limitations which may not make it suitable for everyone.

Photo credit: DIY Mary

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Yamaha P95 Features

The Yamaha P95 is a highly rated and popular digital piano with 88 keys, graded hammer weighted action, 64-note polyphony, matte black key tops, built-in speakers, and 10 different voices including grand piano, electric piano, organ, harpsichord, vibraphone, strings, choir and jazz organ. This instrument is very portable and comes with 50 built-in songs, a recorder, headphone connections, a sheet music rest, a pedal foot switch, and MIDI In/Out ports.

The Yamaha P95 is well suited to those on a budget who need fewer bells and whistles in favor of improved piano weighted action. This instrument makes a great stand-alone keyboard and is also ideal for those who, like me, are looking for something that plays and sounds like a real acoustic piano that can also be used as a MIDI keyboard controller.

Note that the Yamaha P95 does not come with the standard three pedals that you would find on a standard acoustic piano. They must either be purchased separately or as a part of the Bundled Package (see below).

Image credit: amazon.com

Yamaha P95B Digital Piano, Black

Yamaha P95B Digital Piano, Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Yamaha P95B Digital Piano, Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

The Yamaha P95 is, in my opinion, the best digital piano in its price range. While it does not include as many bells and whistles as other comparably priced instruments, it feels more like a real acoustic piano than the rest.

 

The Yamaha P95 Digital Piano Bundle

Yamaha P95 Digital Piano Bundle with Bench, Stand, Triple Pedal Board, Headphones, Book, and Dust Cover - Black
Yamaha P95 Digital Piano Bundle with Bench, Stand, Triple Pedal Board, Headphones, Book, and Dust Cover - Black

The bundled package includes a bench, a stand, a triple pedal board, headphones, Fastrack Book, and a dust cover.

 

The Yamaha P95 Vs. Higher-Priced Yamaha Models

One of the main differences between the Yamaha P95 and the higher-priced Yamaha models is the type of graded hammer action employed.

Graded hammer action is when the keys in the left hand (bass) are weighted more heavily and gradually become lighter as you move up the keyboard, as with an acoustic piano. Yamaha uses several different key mechanisms in all their digital piano products. For the Yamaha P95, the GHS ("Graded Hammer Standard") mechanism is used. The hammers are graded, but the touch is somewhat lighter than what you will find on their higher-priced models.

For higher-priced models such as the Yamaha P-155 and the Yamaha CP-33, the GH (also called GHE) mechanism is used, which is the next level up from GHS. This mechanism is slightly heavier than GHS and also allows for greater expression.

For deluxe models such as the Clavinovas, Yamaha uses the GH3 ("Graded Hammer Premium") mechanism. This mechanism is the heaviest of the three, giving the piano a feel that is the closest to that of a real, top-of-the-line Yamaha acoustic piano.

The Yamaha P95 Vs. The Casio PX-130

If you are shopping around for a lower-cost digital piano and have read some online reviews, then you may have also come across the Casio PX-130 which is another major contender in the entry-level digital piano market. The Casio PX-130 is slightly cheaper than the Yamaha P95, has more features, and is better in many respects (e.g., portability, 128- vs. 64-note polyphony, higher powered speakers, and more built-in sounds). It also connects to your computer via USB rather than conventional MIDI, which many find to be more convenient.

Given these differences, I was curious to see how the two instruments compare as to feel and tone and performed some simple tests (see below). So far as tone is concerned, the two instruments are comparable, but for me, the Yamaha P95 outperforms the Casio PX-130 by far in the area of touch and feel. Whereas the keys on the Casio PX-130 almost seems to spring back when you are playing quickly, the Yamaha P95 feels weighted but, at the same time, had a certain smoothness which feels to me more like a real piano (albeit a little less heavy).

Photo credit: DIY Mary

Yamaha P95 And Casio PX-130 Tests

1) When turning off the sound and playing rapid scales on each instrument, I found the Casio PX-130 to be more noisy and "clicky" than the Yamaha P95, where I hardly noticed any noise at all. When both instruments are turned on at a normal playing volume, though, this keyboard noise is hardly noticeable.

2) The keys on the Casio PX-130 have somewhat more side-to-side play than those of the Yamaha P95, especially the black keys. (For both instruments, I tested the side-by-side play by grabbing each key with my thumb and index finger and moving it from side to side.) Note that there will always be some play in the keys of any piano, but it should never be so bad as to cause adjacent keys to touch. For both the Casio PX-130 and Yamaha P95, this did not seem to be a problem.

3) As far as touch sensitivity is concerned, both instruments seemed to be about equal. I confirmed that each one had six levels (pp, p, mp, mf, f, and ff) by hitting the Middle C at different velocities and listening for differences in the volume.

4) In a real acoustic piano, there are differences in timber when a key is struck at different velocities. This can be heard especially in the lower registers, when the sound takes on a more percussive timbre the harder a key is hit. In this respect, the Casio PX-130 built-in piano sounds mimic a real piano better due to its sound sampling techniques than does the Yamaha P95, although to me, this percussive effect in the Casio PX-130 sounded a bit clangy (see also the video below).

5) For both instruments, there was some resistance when pressing down a key, and also some resistance upon return which was less (as it should be). But when playing rapid passages, I noticed a springiness in the Casio PX-130 keys that was totally absent in those of the Yamaha P95.

6) Both the Casio PX-130 and Yamaha P95 have pretty good graded weighted key actions, which I confirmed by rapidly playing some scales on both instruments.

7) The sustainability is about the same for both the Casio PX-130 and Yamaha P95. When I played the Middle C and held it without using the sustain pedal, the tone lasted for a full 10 seconds on both instruments.

Yamaha P95 And Casio PX-130 Sound Comparison

Why I Prefer The Yamaha P95

Although the Casio PX-130 offers more features for the money than the Yamaha P95, for me, the touch and action of the Casio was something I found less than satisfactory. It felt springy and, as one reviewer on the pianoworld.com forums aptly described it, "pneumatic." Ideally, a piano should feel weighted going down, and somewhat less weighted upon return, like a well maintained acoustic piano. To me, it felt as if the Casio PX-130 keys seemed to almost fight back upon return, especially when playing fast. When I then tested the Yamaha P95, playing this instrument was a pleasure and it felt so much more natural to me than the Casio PX-130.

I should stress, however, that when it comes to digital piano touch and feel, what one person may find objectionable, another may actually prefer. When reading through the many forum postings on pianoworld.com (and also on amazon.com), you will find many who prefer the feel of the Casio PX-130 over that of the Yamaha P95. If you have tested both the Casio PX-130 and Yamaha P95 and prefer the touch of the former, then the decision as to which of these two digital pianos to purchase is a no-brainer since the Casio PX-130 is slightly lower in price and has more features. If, however, you find, as I do, that its touch and feel are a deal breaker and you are on a budget, then the Yamaha P95 is the way to go. (As an added bonus, Yamaha has a 5-year warranty, whereas Casio's is only 3 years.)

For Those Who Prefer The Feel Of The Casio PX-130

If you have tested a Casio PX-130 digital piano and like the way it feels, this highly popular instrument also offers good value for the money. Also, Casio has a good reputation for customer support and their units come with a 3-year warranty. Note that the touch and feel of higher-end Casio PX-series digital pianos is exactly the same as that of the PX-130. The higher-priced models such as the PX-330 differ only in the number of features.

Limitations Of Lower-Priced Digital Pianos

Although lower-priced digital pianos such as the Yamaha P95 all have weighted keys and have fairly good graded keyboard action (i.e., the keys feel heavier at the bottom than at the top), they are generally of medium weight overall, giving them a somewhat looser feel than that of good acoustic pianos. If you are just learning to play the piano, it is best that the digital piano you are practicing on has heavily-weighted keys, because this will strengthen your finger muscles and make the transition to a real acoustic piano a lot less problematic. These are important considerations if you are a student and are trying to take your skills to the next level.

I was classically trained for many years from elementary through high school and since then, I have played on and off all my life. Right now, I mainly compose whenever I get the chance, and I still play some of my old classical repertoire from time to time to keep my fingers limber, but when I was a student, I used to practice around 2-3 hours per day. If you are a serious piano student, 2-3 hours of practice per day is typical, especially if you are studying classical music or jazz. Professionals may practice as much as 8 hours per day or more.

A lower-cost digital piano such as the Yamaha P95 is probably fine if you are in the beginning stages where power and velocity do not yet come into play. If you are just starting out, you are also probably not yet at the stage where your daily practice sessions are very long (maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour at the most). To become an advanced pianist is a fairly athletic undertaking. If you have gotten to the point where you are about to embark on a daily strength training program with scales and Hanon exercises and will be practicing for more than one hour per day, then you should probably upgrade as soon as possible to the best digital piano you can afford.

Although the Yamaha P95 feels quite good to me and I would gladly take this instrument over a poorly maintained acoustic piano any day, I would hesitate to recommend it as a practice piano to serious piano students who are approaching the intermediate level, especially those studying classical music or jazz.

Note: Always consult with your teacher as to which practice piano(s) are best for you and give whatever digital piano(s) you have in mind a test run before you buy.

Image credit: Nicolas Guilmain

Yamaha P95 Demos

Is the Yamaha P95 for you?

The Yamaha P95 is an excellent choice if you are on a budget and any of the following apply:

  • you are just starting the piano and not sure at this point how long you will stick with it.
  • you want a MIDI keyboard controller that feels like a real acoustic piano and you don't need a lot of bells and whistles.
  • you dislike the feel of the Casio PX-130.
  • you need a spare keyboard that is portable for performing or taking with you on vacations.
  • you are dedicated and anxious to get started learning the piano but simply cannot afford anything better (consult with your teacher).
  • you have more than one child who will be starting piano lessons at different times. (For your first child, you can buy her a Yamaha P95, and when your second child begins the piano, you can then hand her down the Yamaha and upgrade your first child's piano to something better suited to her playing level.)
  • your teacher gives it her blessings.

What are your experiences with digital pianos?

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    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Wonderful points and great review! I don't know much about digital pianos but I know that the key action would have to feel right for me to be able to play on it. I took lessons as a kid for awhile on a regular piano and would undoubtedly compare a digital version to those memories. :)

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Great review. My Daughter has a digital piano and I love to hear it.

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 5 years ago

      I don't play the piano (I do love listening to classical piano music, though) but if I was in the market for one, your review would certainly have me considering the P95!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I like my Yamaha for the most part, but it' longer body doesn't fit as well in my car when transporting to gigs as some other models I've had. Good action, though, over all, and good tone quality. My favorite all-time was my wonderful Kurzweil PC88 that I dragged all over the country playing until I killed it :(

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      I don't play the piano but I once owned a Yamaha guitar until I traded up to a Martin. Nice lens!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      Obviosuly, I'm out of tune. I didn't realize that you would call such a piano a digital piano.

    • cynthiannleighton profile image

      cynthiannleighton 5 years ago

      Listening!

    • jeffersonline profile image

      jeffersonline 5 years ago

      Great lens, a real in depth review, and you are sitting at number 12 today on the big Goog. Shows us the power of squidoo to rank well if the content is 'all there'.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      I've been wondering about these for some time...I found this a really helpful review from a pianists point of view. Angel Blessings

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Nice lens! Congrats on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • ashroc profile image

      ashroc 5 years ago

      I started with a yamaha keyboard. still have it actually, But love my current digital piano

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      I used to love playing electronic organ when I was young. We now have a new, but traditional upright piano. Blessings.

    • fdurham profile image

      fdurham 5 years ago

      Excellent review of this interesting subject. I am an appreciative observer of music making and this was quite helpful.

    • eilval profile image

      Eileen 5 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

      Thanks for sharing this interesting lens !

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I never know about this product, if I am not visited this lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i am in the market for a digital piano and this was a very helpful review: extremely thoughtful, extensive, and answers exactly the questions i am grappling with. As an intermediate level jazz student I think i might now opt for a more expensive keyboard (Roland RD 300nx). Thanks for the advice!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      I digital piano is great as it is portable, don't need big space, and the sound is great.

      very informative lens. Thanks

    • profile image

      Aquablocks 5 years ago

      I bought one late last year and has been wonderful though i took some time to understand some functions. This is a great lens, informative, thorough and enlightening. Keep it up.

    • aksem profile image

      aksem 5 years ago

      I'm thinking about buying one. Thank you for info.

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 5 years ago

      Blessed the Yamaha p95 and this review for the informed advice about digital pianos.

    • profile image

      joshuarosspiano 5 years ago

      Their great, but the action will never match a real piano, no matter how much companies try. They are convenient though and give you great options, and the best part about them? you can take digital instruments anywhere!

    • profile image

      stiven-yentzch 5 years ago

      I always dreams to buy yamaha pianos

      Stiv - minijuegos

    • rachelscott profile image

      rachelscott 5 years ago

      I love piano.

    • rachelscott profile image

      rachelscott 5 years ago

      I love piano.

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      I'd love to own one of these! Nice lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      My husband is a composer, so we have two digital pianos, both Kurzweil. Yamaha makes excellent pianos. I think I've seen the P95 on display at Costco.

    • profile image

      EnjoyLens 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • whodiesinthenew profile image

      whodiesinthenew 5 years ago

      I have tough time deciding between Yamaha and Casio. Hopefully your article will help me to decide.

    • alina nicoleta92 profile image

      alina nicoleta92 5 years ago

      Like it!!

    • profile image

      gaser983 4 years ago

      Nice lens, well done!

    • profile image

      gaser983 4 years ago

      Nice lens, well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am the starving artist. When I was married I had access to the greatest pianos in the world, Steinway 9 foot, Baldwin 9 foot, Massnchek 9 foot Kawai's and more concert grands. But I have since moved away from the University and live in 400 sf apartment. I just sold my Kawai MP5 because I did not like the amplified sound and the weight was too much to handle. So Casio or Yamaha?

      Thank you for the most useful review on the internet! While I can deal with the action, the sound is paramount, I have found the Yamaha's to be more playable in controlling my "sound". Even though the Casio sound better on paper, as an instrument I am going with the Yamaha.

    • profile image

      prejithp 4 years ago

      good review

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Such great info. Will study this lens further. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      what a nice keyboard.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      A well written review.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 4 years ago from South Africa

      We have a boudoir grand piano (size between baby and normal) and your standard electric organ, which none of us play. I bought them for my daughter who now lives overseas when she was just a toddler and now they're just 'part of the family'. Blessed by a Squid Angel x

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