NAMM 2020 VIDEO: Yamaha’s YC61 drawbar organ might also be your perfect stage keyboard

NAMM 2020: The Yamaha YC61 might be notable for its drawbar organ features, but it looks like it could have plenty to offer to any gigging keyboard player. Yes, organ tones are its speciality, but there are plenty of other sounds in here, too. What’s more, it’s compact and lightweight enough to be lugged around with ease.

Believe it or not, the YC61 is the first Yamaha stage keyboard to include real drawbars - nine of them, to be precise - while the organ sound comes courtesy of a new engine that’s powered by the company’s Virtual Circuit Modeling technology (VCM). This is designed to recreate the behaviour of all the transistors and resistors of real tonewheel and drawbar circuits, and you get detailed control over your organ’s parameters.

As you’d expect, there’s a rotary speaker emulation in the YC61, along with effects. The 61-note waterfall keyboard has been developed specifically with organ players in mind, while the drawbars are partially transparent so that you can easily read the LED indicators underneath. We’re also told that the drawbars are optimised for haptic feedback, which sounds intriguing.

Yamaha says that it hasn’t scrimped on the non-organ elements of the YC61, either: there are two concert grands (the CFX and S700), electric pianos (including FM models) and synths. Possibly everything you need in one keyboard, then; the YC61 definitely has the whiff (and the look) of a more compact version of Yamaha’s excellent CP stage piano, those drawbars notwithstanding.

What’s more, the control set has been kept deliberately simple and free of menus, and we’re also told that the YC61 has been built to withstand life on the road. An optional soft case will be available to provide protection for the instrument while it’s in transit.

The YC61 will be shipping in June priced at $2,000/£2,015. Find out more on the Yamaha website.

Yamaha YC61

(Image credit: Yamaha)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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