There are people who want the features of a top end keyboard in a compact size. If you are one of them, you might be interested in the Yamaha P-121.
Usually, if I tell you about a keyboard, what comes to your mind is an instrument with less than 88 keys. The Yamaha NP-12, for instance, has 61 keys. Its superior, the Yamaha NP-32, increase the number to 76 keys.
Now Yamaha has launched the P-121, a product that continues the P-line of keyboards and has smaller dimensions and a bit smaller price.
To sum up, the P-125 is a great piano with a smaller design, while the P-121 features only 73 keys but anyway, it offers most of the advantages and traits present in the P-125.
Then, is the P-121 a product to spend your time and money on? This is what we will figure out in this Yamaha P-121 review. And for an additional helping, I recommend you use the following interactive grid to compare the P-121 with other important keyboards available.
An awesome key bed
Something that’s very common when you buy an under-88-key electric piano is that you feel the low quality of the key bed.
Probably you will feel the fake plastic touch of the keys and their low to null resistance while pushing them.
In other words, an under-88-key electric piano sometimes seems to be disappointing you with its trying to emulate an authentic piano.
And that’s obviously a matter of design
Because of that, it’s really cool to see how the keys of the Yamaha P-121 still emulate the touch of an authentic piano. The reason for this is that it has weighted and graded keys.
Info for piano newbies, graded are the keys that feel heavier on the lower side of the key bed and lighter on the higher side. Graded keys are quite appreciated by professionals because so they are in the real pianos, where the hammer has to be heavier in the lower side of the key bed since it has to hit a thicker string.
The Graded Hammer Standard action is also present in the P-121. To be honest, this is one of the least actions produced by the brand. Actions like the Graded Hammer, GH3, or NWX are better. But keep in mind that the P-121 is a model in a price range of $600. For that money, you can’t complain about the Graded Hammer Standard action.
There are two versions of the P-121: black and satin white. For a few more dollars, you obtain the stand and pedal kit in the case you want to install the piano permanently in one place.
I recommend you order the L1 stand, and the LP1 triple pedal kit.
Anyway, if you have to continuously move the piano around you can feel confident with the task since it barely weighs 22 pounds. Beside the P-125 and its 26 pounds, it is light as a feather.
You might think that an extra four pounds would be insignificant. But think about those extra 4-5 pounds on your back or your handbag and having to take it with you the whole day. Trust me, you will feel it drawing your energy as the day goes by.
Nice sound and recording function
This model includes two 7-watt speakers. Ok, that’s not much of a sound system, but again, for such an affordable piano, it’s not that despicable.
Four-layer samples also come included in the P-121. Moreover, there are 20 demo rhythms like rock, pop, classical and even party music.
It has 21 built-in songs and also 50 piano themes. It even includes hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s in its storage.
If you are a starter, or even an amateur player, you may feel delighted with the fact that it has the reasonable number of 24 built-in voices. That means that you can play along with a Wurlitzer piano theme. Moreover, it has some features like a jazz organ voice, string ensembles, choral voices and a lot more.
As most keyboards nowadays, the P-121 comes with a recording function. With this you can record your playing and compositions and play along with them.
One good detail in this model are the demo rhythms. To sum up, this keyboard has inbuilt drum and bass samples. You can play them as an accompaniment to play along.
Basically, the bass plays beneath your playing. This is a great feature for learning or just playing for fun. But what’s even better, this feature will make you feel the experience of being playing with a band, even when you are home playing on your own.
So, this is a great function for both having fun and accompany you in your learning process.
Split, Layer and Duo Mode
An electric keyboard is a great help for learning beside its acoustic big brother. It applies technology to enrich the standard teaching in order to go further with your musical development. While nothing compares to playing an acoustic piano, it has a notable drawback (besides of being big and heavy and requiring tuning) which is the creative limitation proper of an acoustic instrument.
It comes with many nice features that make up for its being only 73-key. You must already be acquainted with the split function. If you are not, the split is as you can imagine a function to divide the piano into halves. Each side of the keyboard can play then a different sound.
Let’s suppose that you want to play, for instance, a bass voice with one hand and a string, piano, or drum voice with the other hand. This function allows you to do that.
Above all, you can layer two different sounds together. This way you can layer an acoustic piano sound, for instance, over a string ensemble sound if you want to get a tear-jerking effect suitable for the climax of a final scene in a romantic comedy.
There is also a feature called Duo Mode. This mode allows you to divide the piano into two middle C halves. This is especially useful when you want to help the friend of a friend to manage some particularly difficult part on the piano.
The real function of the Duo Mode is to allow the teacher and the student to play alongside on the same piano, one on the left register and the other on the right register. This way two people can play the same notes on two different registers.
That’s not all, anyway. Cause if you buy the LP1 triple-pedal unit, it will also split when using the Duo Mode and each end’s pedal will work as a sustain pedal for each register or for each person sitting on each side of the keyboard.
Well, this is just what you expect technology to serve for: give you the chance to learn at your own pace and with your own methods.
Now we will talk about the Yamaha P-121’s connection ports. You will find several ports right in the back of the unit. And that is quite alright.
First you have a power input to plug in the instrument. Close to it, there are left and right audio outputs. These are ¼ inch.
Then there is the pedal kit port. Here you can plug your LP1 kit in the case you purchased it separately. The LP1 triple-pedal kit is a Yamaha product.
And at last you have the sustain pedal port and the USB port for you to link your keyboard to your PC or even your iPhone or iPad (we’re going to talk about that later).
Smart Pianist App
You can as well link your keyboard to the Smart Pianist App by Yamaha. This app is just awesome since it allows you to control all the inbuilt functions of the keyboard from the screen of your iPhone or iPad.
That’s to say, you can link your iPhone or iPad to your piano and manage voices, recording, and even play some popular tunes with the notes displayed on your phone to play along with them.
This last function is the Chord Chart. Though it is not compatible with each of the songs you store in your phone or tablet, you have the official site to check what song is or is not compatible with this exclusive function on the Smart Pianist App.
We already mentioned the connectivity features of the keyboard. Now I want to give you instructions to have this app working with the P-121. First you have to download the app from the AppStore, naturally. But you also must have an Apple camera connection kit and attach it with a normal USB cord to the back of the Yamaha P-121.
You may be thinking that this app could run wireless. But in fact, a wireless interaction will most likely result in a delay in the audio feedback. This will break your rhythm and end up spoiling the meaning of the app which is supposed to be an additional help for the player.
Yamaha P-121 Vs Yamaha P-125
Like we do in most of our reviews, we reached the part where we compare one keyboard with another keyboard, or maybe a new model with the former model of the same brand, and we start to list the main advantages one has over the other.
Maybe the sound quality of one keyboard is higher or lower than the other one.
Or in some cases the polyphony level is larger in the new one. Or at least one has more songs or voices than the other.
But in fact, those differences are inexistent when it comes to the P-121 model and the P-125 model. The P-121 is a more compact and less heavy edition of the P-125.
They have the same sound emission: Pure FC. Same Polyphony level: 192. Same number of voices: 24.
So, if a lightweight piano is what you want, having less keys doesn’t matter, and like the idea of saving some money (and perhaps invest that money in the stand kit or the LP1 triple-pedal), you’ll probably go for the Yamaha P-121.
The Yamaha P-121 is a righteous product. It’s a fine mid-level electric keyboard between models like the Yamaha NP-12 or NP-32 and the Yamaha P-125. It shares all the characteristics of the latter but it is a bit lighter with a bit more than four pounds less, which is great for carrying around.
I would usually encourage you to buy a keyboard with 88 fully-weighted keys. If you are aware of that but you are constantly traveling from place to place and need a lighter equipment and want to save a few bucks which you will eventually invest in a major-league 88-key piano in the end of the road, you will probably feel pleased by the performance of the Yamaha P-121.