We all know Yamaha for its amazing digital piano products. Their entry-level Yamaha P71 is no exception. In this article, I will review the differences between the Yamaha P45 vs. P71 and discuss whether the Yamaha P71 is still the best digital piano for beginners in 2021.
For beginners, there are many features on the Yamaha P71 that are still useful for beginners in 2021 despite its entry into the market in 2015. There is no doubt that Yamaha is one of the best piano manufacturers in the world. The portable P-series line is still extremely popular years after its introduction because of its simplicity, high-quality realism features, and affordable price tag.
But is it still the best choice for beginners? I am inclined to answer in the negative. Since it hit the market, there have been several solid competitors for the entry-level piano, albeit a bit more expensive. If you are looking for a new beginner piano, my recommendation would be to find something more advanced. However, you might need to pay a little bit more.
Regardless of my misgivings, I think the Yamaha P71 is still an excellent option for beginner players. So let’s dive into this review. I will first address the Yamaha P45 vs. P71 debate and then look at the design, features, and everything in between. Hopefully, by the end of this review, you will see why it’s still quite popular in 2021.
- Yamaha P45 vs. P71 What's the difference?
- KEY ACTION
- WHO IT’S FOR
- PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Yamaha P45 vs. P71 What’s the difference?
You might be wondering why I’m using the P45/P71 phrase interchangeably. It’s because the two pianos are identical.
The launch of this P series by Yamaha caused a lot of confusion among buyers. The Yamaha P45 looks identical to the Yamaha P71, although they are sold at different prices and by other retailers. The P45 is slightly more expensive than its P71 counterpart, so why did Yamaha release two seemingly identical pianos with different names?
The only difference I could spot was that the Yamaha P71 is sold exclusively by Amazon at a lower price. At the same time, the P45 is a generic model that you can buy at several retailers. Suppose you prefer buying your digital piano at a physical shop. In that case, the P45 will be easier to find in retail stores. The Yamaha P71 has special offers and bundles on accessories, so you’re likely getting more for less compared to the P45.
The bottom line is that they are both entry-level suitable for beginners through to intermediary players. A close analysis of the two pianos reveals that the two digital pianos have the exact functions and features. So picking either model has no advantage save for price and type of accessories.
Now that we are clear that I’m talking about the same piano, I’ll start my discussion about the design.
Yamaha P71 has a compact and lightweight design identical to that of its predecessor, the P35. It has a minimalistic look that is easy on the eyes and helpful for beginners who might get overwhelmed with a more complicated presentation and layout.
It comes in the classic black and white color, and the frame is made of plastic with a matte finish. By sticking to a simple design, Yamaha managed to keep the overall look of the piano classy and elegant.
Despite its affordable price tag, the piano looks sturdy and durable. Although I’m not a fan of the bottom part of the piano, which makes it appear a bit bulkier. Overall it has an attractive aesthetic even though it borders on average.
The Yamaha P71 has a music rest that is wide enough to accommodate your electronic devices as well as two and a half A4 size papers. In other words, it is huge. It is made from non-slip plastic, and it’s easy to remove and place back on. The construction is perfectly sturdy, with little to no wobbling noticed.
As is Yamaha’s trademark, there is nothing significant about the music rest design-wise. The focus seems to be more on functionality over aesthetics on this one.
The control board for this model is pretty basic. The layout is straightforward and only has three buttons, a power button, a function button, and a volume slide. There is also an accidental pressing protection to prevent the digital piano from turning off while you play.
You can use the function button to access the Grand Piano feature or access all the other functions, sounds, and features of the P71. While navigating the control board can seem simple,
What I didn’t like about the Yamaha P71 is the lack of an LCD screen. This is made worse by the fact that some of the functions are not labeled.
For example, you’ll need to press the function button and one of the piano keys simultaneously to access some functions like sounds, touch sensitivity, tempo, etc. So you might have to refer to the manual as it might take you a bit of time to understand and navigate through all the functions and features.
The Yamaha P71 keys are made with plastic which is very common among these types of pianos. It features a matte finish on the black keys to help keep your fingers in place during long practice sessions.
Unlike higher-end models, the white keys on the P71 have a glossy finish and do not absorb moisture. This can cause slipping after you’ve been playing for a while.
Size & Weight
The Yamaha P71 is a portable stage piano. The size is extremely competitive when it comes to size and weight. It measures 133 x 30 x 16 cm (52″ x 12″ x 6”) and it weighs about 11.5kgs (24 lbs) alone without the stand, making it very easy to carry around.
The P71 features a fully weighted 88-key keyboard with the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS). It has heavier touch in the low end and lighter touch in the high end, just like an actual acoustic piano. This feature has been crowned Yamaha’s most affordable hammer action typical of most entry-level pianos from Yamaha.
Being fully weighted, the feel and action of the keys are heavier and provide the proper resistance needed for beginner players. They mimic the feel of the hammers inside an acoustic instrument, using actual little hammers inside the keyboard rather than springs which are semi-weighted actions.
The more accurate the key action, the better the piano. It’s also worth noting that Yamaha’s GHS action sounds less noisy than other entry-level digital pianos in its price range. This effect is more noticeable when playing at a low volume or when using headphones. Its realism feature is also great but could be better.
Read more: Best Headphones For Digital Piano
The keyboard is touch-sensitive, meaning the volume or timbre changes depending on how hard or soft you play the keys. This feature has four different settings. The fixed setting allows you to produce sounds with the same volume quality regardless of the strike.
The medium setting is the only default setting and reproduces the rich, dynamic range of a grand piano. You can expect the widest dynamic range on the hard setting where the strike has to be really hard to produce a loud sound.
Ultimately the weighted keys on the Yamaha P71 will suit the needs of both beginners and intermediate piano players. Most users describe the keys as smooth to touch. The response is amazingly realistic and outshines most rivals by a big margin.
As a top-of-the-range entry-level digital piano, Yamaha uses its well-known AWM dynamic sound engine. This technology allows the piano to accurately capture the sound of an acoustic instrument and create high-quality samples.
The AWM sampling is famous for its deep, rich, and spacious sound. It features a recorded L to R set of waveforms that uses two microphones to capture the good quality of the acoustic piano sound. As a result, the Yamaha P71 can deliver a very realistic and natural sound.
There are two piano sounds on the Yamaha P71 that offer different characteristics. Piano 1 is more suitable for classical music, while piano 2 sounds better with pop. Additional features include making the sound deeper and more expressive by adding any one of the 4 reverberation effects.
Yamaha also recorded the sound on 10 different tone levels that change depending on how hard a key is played. Unfortunately, this is as far as the sound effects go.
The piano is equipped with a pair of 6-Watt built-in speakers measuring 2x12cm. While the speakers are good enough for home practice, they fail dismally in a big room. They tend to produce a weak and thin sound. So if you want to perform at a live concert playing along with other instruments, you’d definitely need to use an external amplifier as the sound is too weak for such occasions.
As long as you avoid playing with a high volume, the speakers will deliver solid and accurate sound without any distortion. Overall as far as entry-level digital pianos go, the sound is somewhat satisfactory but could have been better.
There isn’t much to expect as an entry-level piano in terms of features, especially at that price tag. That said, the Yamaha P71 has decent enough features suitable for beginner players. However, I would consider them basic compared to newer entry-level digital pianos.
It comes with a limited polyphony of only 64 that allows you to play some complex classical pieces. The piano does not come with Bluetooth; it has no internal recording or battery power capability. Because there isn’t much to go to town about on the features, I decided to discuss the features that are present in the Yamaha P71.
The piano has a dual-mode that allows you to layer two instrument sounds so that they play simultaneously across the entire keyboard range. The Yamaha P71 also enables you to adjust the volume balance between the sounds to make one instrument sound louder than the other.
Another additional feature is the duo mode that splits the keyboard into two equal sections that play at the piano at the same pitch. It allows two people to sit side by side and play the same notes at the same time. This is one feature that makes this piano great for beginners who want to play alongside their teachers.
Transpose and fine-tuning
The Yamaha P71, like all digital pianos, has no need for fine-tuning. It comes tuned at an A440 pitch. The transpose function can be raised or lowered in 0.2Hz installments. This is an excellent feature if you’re trying to match the piano’s pitch with another instrument or a singer, for example. This is a useful function if you have a difficult song written in a hard key or a piece that doesn’t use a lot of black keys.
Recording and playback
The Yamaha P71 doesn’t have a built-in MIDI or audio recorder. These features allow you to record and playback your performances. This is where you truly see the age of the piano. You can, however, use the USB (MIDI) connection to record your music.
The built-in metronome helps the piano keep a steady tempo for you by ticking consistently. Practicing using this metronome feature helps beginner players develop essential skills such as timekeeping and developing a sense of rhythm.
You can adjust the time signature (beat), tempo, and volume of the metronome. An optional auto power-off function prevents unnecessary energy consumption if the instrument lies idle for 30 minutes.
The Yamaha P71 has several ports and jacks essential for connectivity to external devices like headphones, external amplifiers, sustain pedals, etc. All the connectors are on the back of the piano.
You can use the USB port to connect the piano to a computer if you purchase an additional A to B USB cable. Luckily they don’t cost too much.
This connection will also allow you to use the keyboard as a MIDI controller and use software such as FlowKey(Android, IOS), Musescore(Android, IOS), etc. These apps will overcome the lack of a recording feature on the piano.
Here is a list of the features you can find on the Yamaha P71:
- Sounds: 10 in total
- 2 Grand pianos
- 2 Electric pianos
- 2 Pipe organs
- 2 Harpsichords
- Polyphony: 64
- Key sensitivity:
- Fixed: turns off key sensitivity
- Medium (default)
- Reverb settings (each with 10 levels):
- Hall 1
- Hall 2
- Dual-mode: two instrument sound simultaneously
- Duo mode: split the keyboard into identical halves
- 10 Demo songs and 10 piano songs
- USB to Host port
The Yamaha P71 comes with a music rest, sustain pedal, and power supply. I would, however, recommend purchasing a bench and a stand as they are not included in the standard Amazon package. An additional purchase that you’ll need to make is for headphones. The Stereophonic Optimizer function will ease the poor sound quality. This function will mimic the dispersed sound heard when sitting in front of an acoustic piano.
Because the Yamaha P71 uses weighted keys, a sustain pedal is an essential accessory. Unfortunately, the Yamaha FC5 sustain footswitch included is not very durable and does not support half-pedaling. It also isn’t very nice to look at and takes away some beauty points for the overall look of the piano.
I recommend switching to the M-Audio SP-2 Universal Sustain Pedal. It responds just like the real thing, and it’s very durable with a rubber bottom that prevents slipping.
Another good accessory to purchase is a carrying case, although it is not included in the initial bundle. A great option would be the Gator cases padded keyboard gig bag to easily carry your Yamaha P71 around. It is made using heavy-duty ballistic nylon. It will definitely be worth every cent you spend.
Yamaha P45 vs. P71 Accessory differences
As I’ve mentioned before, there are different bundles of Yamaha P45 vs. P71. I did some research and discovered that other retailers offer various accessories for both the Yamaha P45 and the P71. So to ensure that you get the best bundle to suit your needs, let’s see what is on offer; maybe you can save a few bucks.
The Yamaha P45
Although the P45 can be found at different retailers, you’ll find some models for sale on Amazon. There are three other bundles available. You can pick the Digital Piano Bundle, the Starter Bundle, or the Home Bundle. Below is an explanation of what each bundle entails.
The Digital Piano Bundle
It is the most affordable of the three bundles, and it is also the most basic option. You can buy the P45 on this bundle along with a sustain pedal and a standard power supply. This is an excellent choice if you already own a stand and a bench.
The Starter Bundle
This bundle is slightly more expensive than the Digital Piano Bundle. This option includes a sustain pedal, the power supply, an adjustable double-braced X-style stand, and one adjustable padded X-style bench.
All these accessories come in black, so they should add to the aesthetics of your Yamaha P45. This is a great option if you’re starting from scratch. The X-style bench is lightweight, portable, and is easily foldable.
The Home Bundle
It is the most expensive option of the three. This bundle comes with a sustain pedal, power supply, and bench. However, instead of the X-style stand, this bundle comes equipped with a matching stand that you can attach to the digital piano. The stand gives the Yamaha P45 a very professional and elegant look that’s great for mini-concerts.
The Amazon exclusive Yamaha P71
The Yamaha P71 is also available in three bundles: the Digital Piano Bundle, the Basic Bundle, and the Deluxe Bundle. They are almost identical to the Yamaha P45’s bundles.
The Digital Piano Bundle
This bundle is also the cheapest option and most basic option. When you purchase a Yamaha P71 on Amazon, you will receive a sustain pedal and a standard power supply. If you are on a budget, this option is the most cost-efficient choice, especially if you have no use for the stand or the bench.
The Basic Bundle
Again this bundle is slightly more expensive than the Digital Piano Bundle. This bundle comes with an adjustable X-style stand and an adjustable X-style bench. You will also receive the sustain pedal and a standard power supply. You can fold both the stand and the bench making this option great for users who need portability.
The Deluxe Bundle
The most expensive bundle on Amazon offers a sustain pedal, power supply, and bench. The stand, however, has a really cool black and white color that provides a fantastic, aesthetically pleasing finish.
WHO IT’S FOR
The Yamaha P71 is still a relatively great piano for beginners on a budget. The GHS key action assists new players in learning the proper techniques. This feature also helps beginners to build finger strength and stamina during practice.
The duo mode feature makes it easy for beginner players to learn alongside their teachers. This makes the sessions more interactive. The piano is also very portable, so lugging it around won’t be a cumbersome task.
However, I would not recommend it for someone who wants to advance their piano skills, and it’s definitely not suitable for intermediate or skilled players. The features are very basic and somewhat outdated and will limit a professional musician’s options significantly.
The limited polyphony feature will make it extremely difficult to play complex classical music because it will cut off any sound older than the last 64. The duo sensor also makes it hard to play repeated notes fast.
In my opinion, it’s more suitable for children and early beginners. If you have any plans to advance, you might need to consider an upgrade somewhere along the line.
This nifty beginner piano is perfect for home use. It is extremely portable and has some very basic features that will not confuse new players.
As for whether it’s still the best beginner piano to purchase in 2021, I personally feel that there are better options currently available on the market. While Yamaha did a fantastic job five years ago, the Yamaha P71 is slowly becoming too outdated, even for beginners.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this review. And if you happen to have some experience with the Yamaha P71, please share with us in the comment below.