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Yamaha Reface YC?

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  • Yamaha Reface YC?


    I have seen lots of organs, for low prices or even totally free in local classifieds, and recently a free one just a ways down my street. I would have loved to pick one of these up, however I can't because if there is something wrong with one, I don't know if I could be able to repair it, or afford to get it repaired. The bigger issue is that due to my current and my foreseen living situation, I do not have the space for or the ability to keep an instrument so large that it's essentially also a piece of furniture. The one down my street was a Farfisa, it was on the side of the road "as is" for a little over a week, but it's gone as of a couple days ago, I don't know what happened to it.

    However I have discovered the Yamha Reface YC, which is of course more of a Synthesizer, but it's one dedicated to replicating a few popular organs, including the Hammond, Farfisa, and the YC-45D (I think?).

    It's more expensive than these big ones in my local classifieds, at $400 Canadian, and $452 when the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (Federal/Provincial) is counted, but it is in the form of a miniature keyboard, and so I easily have the space for that.

    From what I have seen it has very good reviews, some people don't like mini keys, but others say that the keys on it are very good quality for mini keys and that it's really not a problem. Personally being new to keyboard based instruments, liking organs, but also wanting to be able to play other keyboard based instruments as well, I think it'd be a good idea for me to learn on mini keys and get accustom to them because many synths and midi keyboard these days do not use full size piano keys. I am also learning on a Yamaha PSS-F30 mini keyboard obviously with mini keys, so it's really a non-issue for me.

    I am thinking this could be a good thing to buy in a month or so from now, so that I can technically play an organ, and then later in life, when I have the ability and the space, I can get a larger more "proper" one.

    I like that it has built in speakers, headphone out, as well as line in/out, midi in/out as well as USB for midi to/from a computer as well.

    However when I read the specifications for it on the Long & McQuade website (a reputable music store chain in Canada) it includes:

    OUTPUT: L/MONO, R (6.3 mm, TS phone jack, unbalanced)

    I am unsure if that means that the left and right channels are not balanced, or if it means something else?

    Later on, when I can play a few things decently I would like to be able to connect it to powered speakers or something and have sound coming from both the left and right to fill a room while performing, I may also get a keyboard amplifier down the line, but I will have to probably get a used one or something because I am working on a budget here. Of course for speaker use, I would need the left and right channels to be balanced.

    Does anyone know what the "unbalanced" means in this case? What are your thoughts, are there any alternatives I should also consider?

  • #2
    Sounds like you already convinced yourself of this model despite keys size, etc.

    It surely could be used as a sound module as well, via Midi, and played via a Midi controller keyboard with full sized keys, or potentially even connecting two keyboards (upper and lower manual) to it. Not sure about the pedalboard.

    Not sure if mini keys inhibit proper playing technique or not, but there are also Hammond B3 VSTs. Together with a proper 61 full size keys Midi controller (assuming you own a PC, Mac or iPad), probably will cost about the same or even less than the Yamaha Reface.

    I don’t want to talk you out of it, and I understand the cuteness factor of it, but there are probably better options that are likely more future proof.


    • #3
      I do also own a Suzuki Melodion M-37C Melodcia, and the keys on it are the same size (or so marginally larger that I can't really tell) than the keys on my PSS-F30, which is a sub $100 keyboard aimed at older children/teengers. Despite being pretty much the same size, the Suzuki's keys feel very nice to me and are much better quality than the PSS-F30, so to me it seems to not be so much about the size of the keys, but more about the quality of the keys.

      The Reface YC comes with HQ (high quality mini keys) which should be good then.

      As for a 61 full-size key midi controller, and using a computer. I may get one in the future, but looking at them online they still seem a little too big for the amount of space I have.

      I understand I won't be getting the full range with a 37 key keyboard, and that certain features like pedals (except for an expression pedal which it can use) are not present on the YC, but the core things are.

      The fact that it's small portable and completely self-contained are the major selling points for me, because otherwise, I would just get a cheap or even free organ from those local classifieds. I also don't really want the hassle of having something connected to a computer just for regular use.

      So I maybe should have clarified, are there any alternatives which are small like this and completely one self-contained unit, or is the YC the only one of these, is it the only thing that "fits the bill"? If there is something else small and portable like this, and also relatively inexpensive, I would take a look at that as well.
      Last edited by Twiggy; 07-01-2020, 12:35 AM.


      • #4
        You're going to find the Reface very hard to use as a performance/playing keyboard in the way it sounds like you want to as the keyboard is just too small to use in that way. The main purpose of the Reface series really is for a synthesizer and you would use the mini keyboard as an input device into a multi-track recorder or computer for creating pieces there.

        Are you sure you can't get a compact MIDI controller like the Keystation 61 note and use it in the way musicmaker said? Or a 61 normal size key synth if you want something integrated? You could just stand it on end away somewhere when not in use for more space and then it would also come in handy to create a larger setup when you're able to.


        • #5
          By "performing" I mean just playing a quick something for the family, etc, I am still just a very beginner keyboard player, I am not talking being in a band, or performing in front of lots of others.

          Also the reasons I am looking to avoid midi keyboards is because they are not their own instruments really, but rather for controlling software, or other instruments which have the capability to be controlled. I took a little look at the Keystation 61, looks far too large for my needs, the same video also showed the 49 key version, still a bit large, I need something small enough that I can easily store it away in my closet. I see there are some midi keyboards that size, but they are only like 2 octaves, some are three octaves, so that's not an advantage over the YC. I would also like a single self-contained hardware unit, that I can just take out and play with no computer, or laptop required.

          So right now all I see that can do that organ emulation wise, is the YC, but as I said, is there anything else like it? Any competitors around the same price range? If so, I'll take a look at those for sure.


          • #6
            Completely self contained and can for many hours on AA batteries. Doesn’t sport drawbars but plenty organ samples plus many other sounds and styles. This is the arranger version without integrated loudspeakers. The EK 10 is the keyboard version with plenty amplification.
            i3 - Inspiring, Intuitive, and Instant


            • #7
              I was unable to find an EK 10 (except for an old one), however I did find results for an EK 50, and they do seem good, as well as not that expensive, but the least expensive one I have seen from a Canadian reseller is $500, so $100 more and with tax, that adds another $13 to the tax amount as well, making the real price $563. Also, while it is technically portable, it's the kind of portable that you can take from one room to another, but still not easily, and you can't use it in the back of a regular car for example, and it is obviously too large for my bedroom, not to mention where I would store it.

              My parents who I live with and rent from, would not like something that big in their home taking up that much horizontal storage space, they already don't like my vintage computers.

              Are there any other candidates, ones that are also mini and similar in price, that can truly compete within my limited parameters with the YC? If there are as I said, I'll take a look.


              • #8
                Sorry. Typo. I meant EK 50. I don’t think there is something like the Yamaha.


                • #9
                  and there's the catch, I can't seem to find a viable alternative myself either. I guess the YC is just unique and currently the only thing of it's kind. Though if anyone else reading this thread does know of a viable alternative, something self-contained, similar in size, price, and ability please do mention it.

                  I do think that a "mini organ" like it is a good idea, so hopefully other companies do make similar products in the future, so that there's competition and even better options down the road.

                  Thank you for your responses, and conversation though, and I will keep these midi and Korg keyboards you mentioned in mind for later on, when something like that becomes useful and viable for me, whenever that will be, right now I need to continue my daily practice.


                  • #10
                    I kinda hate trying to discourage anyone contemplating purchasing a new Yamaha keyboard instrument, but I'm going to anyway. I own LOTS of Yamaha organs, and several have mini keys for the solo manuals ( see my sig ). While Yamaha probably makes the best feeling mini keys keyboards, they were never designed for learning how to play the keys on. They are mainly intended for playing lead lines ; IE, one note at a time melody lines. Playing chords on them is hard to do, if even possible.

                    The whole Reface line is a rather specialized segment of the keyboard market. If you have a genuine use for such a thing, they are great. As a general purpose keyboard they are not one, and were never intended to be used as one. The analog sound of a YC Yamaha is also a very niche sound these days - not nearly as versatile as a general purpose keyboard would be.

                    If you are serious about learning to play even somewhat properly, learning on mini keys will mess you up when you play a normal size keyboard. There are always plenty of used general purpose keyboards available in the used markets, and usually for quite cheap. Many parents buy a keyboard for their child > the child looses interest > the keyboard gets sold for pennies on the dollar. For just one example, the Yamaha PSR line is a decent one with several different models. Just find a functional used one with 61 normal size keys, and you will be much happier with all the sounds available to you, as well as have an instrument that will allow you to learn good technique on. Most of these sorts of keyboards will also have decent MIDI capabilities - I think probably only the lowest models of any Mfg would not include MIDI anymore. Most all of those sorts of keyboards do not weigh a whole lot, and they can be stood on end in a closet when not being used.
                    Regards, Larry

                    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.


                    • #11
                      I already do have a Yamaha keyboard with full-size keys from the 90s, as PSR-150. (It was my much older brother's at one point, but it still works) So I can learn on full-size keys as well. I also have the mini PSS-F30, so I guess I can learn to be competent with both sizes of keys.

                      I realize I neglected to mention that.

                      So I am not considering the YC as something to learn on, but rather something to use for fun and the closest thing to a true organ I'd be able to get for a while.

                      I guess in that case, it's really up to me and if I feel comfortable spending that money on it. I mean I do rather enjoy organ music, and I listen to the "hammond organ in rock" playlist on spotify often, so something that can give me that kind of sound is cool. From the demo videos I have watched of the YC it does seem quite capable of giving many different types of sounds depending on which organ you choose to emulate, the percussion, distortion, chorus/reverb, rotary speaker speed, etc.

                      So I guess what I really meant to ask in this thread was, is there anything else that can actually directly compete with the YC?

                      So far, from what I have seen, there doesn't seem to be.

                      But yeah, no need to worry, I have a more proper keyboard to learn on.

                      P.S: I did see some people on reddit saying it's not good for piano (the psr-150) because it doesn't have weighted keys, only has 60 keys, instead of 88, and doesn't have a sustain pedal, but it will have to do for now, and maybe a few months from now if I am still at this, my parents will allow for the space of a full 88 key keyboard and help me with buying one, like they covered half the cost of my new bicycle.

                      That said, I don't want to only play piano, but basically any keyboard based instrument including organs, and synths.

                      Right now of course, I am "self-learning" because of the pandemic, using guides online, youtube videos, etc. I am considering getting lessons when the pandemic slows enough for it to be safe, because I feel I could benefit from in-person instruction as well.
                      Last edited by Twiggy; 07-02-2020, 10:46 PM.


                      • #12
                        Well OK then, that clarifies some things. Piano keys are not needed if you will be mainly using synth and organ sounds. If you mainly want to mainly use piano sounds then a weighted keyboard is better.

                        I don't have any hands on experience with the Reface YC organ; everything I say about the sounds is based on the the original vintage ones . I don't know if perhaps the Reface version has more features and sounds than the originals had. The real YC organs were basically a cut down version of the E and D series analog home organs. Those organs have nice flutes, and you can get a version of the Hammond sound out of them. However, it is not all that close to a real Hammond, if that is something you are looking for. The strings and reeds are real nice, but they are definitely analog sounding. If they did the Reface as true as possible to the original ones, it will have a distinctive Yamaha sound to it. Some people really like the sounds of a vintage analog Yamaha; some have no use at all for them. Guess which camp I'm in ! LOL

                        This video shows some of the analog sounds I'm speaking of. Bear in mind that it is done on the YC series era top of the line instrument, so even an original YC can't do all that this one can do. . However, to my recollection, the YC-45D could do a number of the sounds you hear on this recording.
                        Regards, Larry

                        At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.


                        • #13

                          Yes the Reface YC can emulate many different organs, Hammond, Farfisa, Acetone, and their own YC-45D, and given that it is their own product, I'd expect the YC-45D emulation to be pretty accurate. I did hear in reviews that it does sound good, for all of the organ "voices". There is one other organ it can also emulate, but all I know is it's "British" and not the specific model. Yamaha themselves doesn't say which models they emulate (probably for legal reasons) but people have figured things out for themselves.

                          I very much enjoyed watching the video that was a fun song.

                          Here's a short demo of the reface YC


                          • Silken Path
                            Silken Path commented
                            Editing a comment
                            This video reminds me of Cameron Carpenter playing the toy organ and STILL sounding better than I do.

                        • #14
                          Twiggy , Thanks for the compliment - fun song to play too. Ya, it looks like they added way more stuff than the originals had. I hope it has some way of saving / recalling setups. There is not a very big control panel, so sounds are kinda hidden behind some of them I'm thinking. Your current keyboard must have MIDI, right ? So you could play the YC from full size keys if you want to. Looks like a handy little instrument.
                          Regards, Larry

                          At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.


                          • #15
                            Unfortunately, no it doesn't.

                            However I am not against buying a new keyboard in the future which these days should include midi, and it will have full-size keys. The PSR-150 would then be sent to the attic.