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As a piano player, I am awful called upon to play the church organ for many wedding and funerals that occur in my local parish - a great little earner! However, as I moved away from the area a while ago, I generally only agree to play these days, only for friends and family who are getting married. A friend of mine contacted me some months ago and asked if I would mind playing the organ at her wedding, to which I agreed as it meant a little weekend home, and I said I would play the music as a wedding present. Shortly before the big day, I got a phone call from her telling me that the organ at the church was broken and I would have to play a keyboard which was being borrowed from a Local secondary school. The Keyboard in question was the Yamaha PSR-290.
I was surprised by how light weight this instrument is, so light weight that I was a little worried about the quality of it as I managed to carry both the instrument and the adapter to the church from the car unassisted. It was very easy to set up, simply plug it into the mains supply and away you go. The range is approx. 5 octaves.
As I had expected, the sound isn't amazing, there is a range of 100 voices on this instrument, and quite a lot of them sounded rather artificial and somewhat laughable, the original 'piano' sound being one of them. I ended up settling for 'chapel organ' sound to play most of the hymns on, and the 'string ensemble' sound to play the bridal march (Pachelbel's Canon) and some of the instrumental Irish slow airs.
This keyboard has two speakers built into the front of it and the sound was adequate to carry across a fairly large sized catholic church, there is however a plug in the back which can be used to plug in an amplifier if required. While this instrument was fine for what the bride requested - simply traditional church songs and a few Irish slow airs, I would not recommend it for more advanced players who may want to play pieces such as Bach's Ave Maria or Laudate Dominum.
All in all, I got away with using this instrument for the wedding, however, I was not happy and felt that the performance would have sounded 100 times better on the traiditional organ. I think this would be good as a practice instrument, or for someone who is not sure about the commitment of buying an acoustic or electronic piano... I cant see it serving well for those with lots of experience though.
Is there a Mozart within you? :)
I always wanted to learn the piano, but got talked out of it as a kid by my parents... (a guitar *is* cheaper & you CAN take it anywhere... & turns out my Mom is a fan of guitars too..:) but still.. Trouble is I'm still in love with pianos...)
Later on as a teen I got a small cheapie keyboard with tiny keys that wasn't much good, but with my 1st paycheck a few years ago I wanted to invest into something more 'proper' that would actually help me learn piano! (people talked me out of buying a proper piano, as it is rather big & difficult to move around if you move etc)
Yamaha PSR 290 has 5 octaves & big enough keys so that playing is realistic in comparison to the piano. The keys are not heavy though, so they do not 'feel' realistic. I like it that the keys are dynamic (touch responsive keyboard) - if you press stronger, you get louder music...
It is a bit big and bulky, & a bit annoying to move it around.. If you have enough space to keep it in one place, it's okay..
It is not a synth for performing... Unfortunately I only fully realized & was told that once I had already bought it... (A friend suggested it could be geared up & miked too, but we've never actually tried it.. It looks slightly unprofessional too.. in comparison to 'bigger' & 'badder' keyboards..) But it is an okay synth to practice..
Of course the 'real' synths for performing (with heavy keys) were at the time in a price range I couldn't afford, so this seemed quite a good option at the time...
It has 100 songs in its database, 135 styles & 605 voices.. 208 options from the MDB database..
Sound-wise, I really like the 'grand piano' sound & the rock'n'roll/swing sounds and a few others (maybe 10% of all), but a lot of the sounds just sound rather 'tacky' or very '90s', & a bit like one-man-bands that play at the terrace of a cheap hotel... many prearranged rhythms & styles & songs from the music bank are a bit tacky too, & nothing like the originals...
So if you mostly only need 'grand piano' sounds & the rock'n'roll/swing sounds I guess it's okay.. I was disappointed with a few other sounds & song versions though.. Do listen to YMCA & such before if you intend to use 'em!
I love the 'single button' for getting the grand piano sound.. as that is clearly the best sound of them all, in my opinion..
Separate buttons for beginning or ending a song come handy too, though I'm afraid I haven't mastered them seamlessly yet :)
I admit maybe my reluctance to practise might be related a bit to the synth not sounding & looking so awesome.. (it also works both ways, so maybe my inability to get greatness out of it MAY be related to my reluctance to practice too...:))
If you are considering buying a synth please do listen to a variety of styles & sounds & songs from the database fully - especially those you think you might use (or even those you think you might not)- I didn't, & was sorry later. I thought, 'Oh, all synths are alike' - but it isn't true. Actually, I like my neighbour's much cheaper (& smaller & older) synth better! (& the cool stuff on it...)
Also check out the feel, the buttons and all.. /I still don't know what some of the buttons are for, & can't seem to figure out some functions! Maybe actually getting a synth teacher would be good too../
And think about where you will put it.. Go for a leaner and lighter model if you don't have much space... (especially if you might have problems with your back at times)
The new models can be linked directly to the computer (mostly via USB) I hear, but it doesn't hurt to check. This one needed an USB interface & I still haven't figured exactly how to use it proper & record MIDI on the PC..
Unfortunately it doesn't have the option to insert a diskette or a USB key, though some stuff can be recorded on it directly - haven't tried that yet though..
Also the usual headphones don't fit in (nifty function if you want to practise & not upset the neighbours), I suppose Yamaha headphones with a bigger plug-in, or a special adapter would be needed for that..
Basically, even a non-techie like me can use it for basic stuff.. Even to impress the even-less-knowledgeable.. (like my Dad - yes, there are some polka songs/styles on that too!)
/Perhaps especially with the 100 'Demo' versions where you don't have to do a thing! some are a bit tacky though../
I haven't used the 'tutorial/learning' functions, as I prefer notes & chords on paper & directions from a human to a small LCD screen..
Basically, it's NOT a piano - & pianos are still VERY magical for me.. but for occasional practise this may do just fine... (except if you really want a piano or something classier!!)
PSR290 A full 61-note, touch responsive keyboard is just one of the fantastic features to be found on this exciting new keyboard. 61 keys allow the player to perform a vast selection of music, from classics to pop and the sound quality has to be heard to be believed thanks to the PSR290s powerful stereo speaker system. Make multi-track recordings using the built in 6-track song record system, boogie the night away with the new DJ feature or perform a delicate piece of Mozart. Whatever your taste in music, the PSR290 is the ideal choice Specifications 61 regular size, touch responsive keys Back-lit LCD screen 32-note polyphonic 610 voices Stereo sampled piano voice with portable grand feature Dual & split voices 135 accompaniments, 100 songs 6-track song recorder New Yamaha Education Suite 2 way, 4 speaker stereo amplification / speaker system Multi-pad system General MIDI Pitch Bend Wheel Music Database Headphone socket for silent practice