Happy New Synth Day! - Yamaha PS-20

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by Shaytan, May 2, 2021.

  1. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-holic

    Age:
    23
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    I guess I'm jumping onto the bandwagon of synth purchases, around here! I've been looking for an organ for several years, now, as I've always had the interest into learning the instrument, as well as evolving in my music theory knowledge with perhaps the best instrument to visualize it.

    Well - as far as which organ went, I just couldn't afford a proper learning tool, so why not having some fun within the more budget range? I've been keeping a close eye for the iconic keyboard used by one of my favorite bands, Beach House, in almost all their albums. Victoria Legrand, the lead singer and Co-founder of the band got her Yamaha PS 20 at a pawn shop and used it up until a few years back.

    50679_2.jpg 1645835b6c8fa6610a23013aedb9fb5d--beach-house-band-pants-outfit.jpg
    Here's Victoria Legrand playing her Yamaha PS-20.

    Nationally, I've only found a PS 10, the inferior model with similar insides but less keys, and it had a price tag way too high which the seller wouldn't bulge on. Over at the likes of eBay, Reverb and similars, people know what they are and are known for and ask ridiculous prices for these.

    Well! today's the day. A friend of mine to whom I've spoken about this subject quite a lot and he's interested in synths himself had a newly posted ad for *the* PS 20 being recommended to him at FB Marketplace and he immediately forwarded it to me, with the warning there were already some folks interested and commenting on it over at a local musical sales group.

    I've agreed at a very reasonable price and next thing I know, I'm at the guy's house testing it out. And that's how I've finally became the happy owner of one of the most iconic old synths!

    Functionally wise, it's an analog synth with full-sized keys, built-in speaker with line-out option, 10 different voicings, built-in beat machine and a chord mode I'm still getting the hang of. Nothing to brag home about, yet playing some chords and I've immediately recognised the sonority of a couple of presets from some of my favorite songs.

    I'm considering having it serviced by a local technician given one of the sliders is making noise, other than that, I think it was a wonderful purchase and a definite keeper that'll assure me plenty of fun.

    IMG_20210502_201303~2.jpg IMG_20210502_201820.jpg

    Here are a couple of my favorite Beach House songs featuring the classic synth (or, at least, its iconic samples):



     
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
  2. grizzlewulf

    grizzlewulf Squier-holic

    Age:
    37
    Dec 11, 2020
    Lucerne, California
    Congrats! It's very cool you knew what you wanted and stayed patient, especially with the synth world, there are sooo many options out there that it can make a newcomer's head spin. Smart to target something specific, I think.

    What do you think of the beat machine it has?
     
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  3. Loin Lover

    Loin Lover Squier-holic

    Jul 26, 2018
    Backwoods, USA
  4. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-holic

    Age:
    23
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Thank you for your messages. I've had the opportunity to sit down yesterday after work to learn some songs and further experiment with the different voicings. It's definitely a fun machine and, while by today's standards and as an instrument it's pretty basic and barebones (which I was totally aware of), it's a very solid instrument - it lived through 40 years just fine, after all! - and also the voicings are just so good, they really have that 80s vibe to them while also having the familiar sonority of my favorite Beach House tracks.

    I'll call the tech today for a quote of a full servicing just for peace of mind. It's all fine other than the master volume slider being scratchy, but I'd rather not find out too late some condenser was leaking, or some connection somehow corroded and caused a short or something.

    Indeed! I'll be fully honest, I had already been looking elsewhere. My main backup plan was getting a MicroKorg (which I might still get some day), considering I can program it to sound reminiscing of this one, while also being widely used by Indie artists, doubling as a MIDI keyboard and having an instrument input option for synth effects, though I couldn't quite afford such thing ATM.

    Given the rarity of this particular keyboard and ongoing values for those who know what it is, I wasn't really hopeful at all I'd ever find a deal and so my idea turned into getting a PS-55, its successor model that's quite more common around here, as well as going for cheaper prices. Actually, one popped up for sale locally days prior to this one - I was considering pulling the trigger on that, but at the same time it wasn't the one I actually wanted... well, I can only imagine how much I'd beat myself had I picked it only to see this popping up days later!

    About the drum machine, it's basic at best. You have four different beats which all have this 8 bit type of vibe to them and, AFAIK, are all in 4/4 time sig. You can control its tempo using an analog slider, as well as its individual volume in the mix.
     
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  5. grizzlewulf

    grizzlewulf Squier-holic

    Age:
    37
    Dec 11, 2020
    Lucerne, California
    I don't know what your purposes are, if you'll be using this stuff for full song building or just as individual instruments in a band, but have you looked much at combo sequencer/synth systems, like Native Instruments Maschine, Akai, etc?
     
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  6. 65refinyellow

    65refinyellow Squier-Nut

    806
    Jun 29, 2015
    norcal
    That's iconic!!! I have only seen a DX-7 and Dave Smith Sequential Circuits Prophet 8 in the used category. Mostly around me, it's just new stuff that I see and it's hard to buy used synths sight unseen.

    I would love a Pro One but they're notoriously unreliable. Yamaha is solid though but couldn't up the reliability of the Prophets and Pro Ones when they purchased Sequential Circuits.

    Of the big four in digital synths, Yamaha is king with Casio slightly behind, with Korg and Roland taking the slack. In analog synths sales, its Behringer all the way.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2021
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  7. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-holic

    Age:
    23
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Ah, nothing like that, at least not short-term. My current professional plans outside of the music world for the next two years won't leave much time for music projects other than as an hobby and a few rehearsals and gigs within the groups I'm in.

    I know my theory basics, but never learnt how to play the piano, so having a tool where I could evolve in that regard was the starting point several years ago, but at the time I ultimately decided instead to pick a Portuguese guitar as a secondary instrument.

    Besides learning, I also wanted to add a synth base of chords for a small project I've been slowly working for the past year. While literally any MIDI controller and a free plug-in emulating these old synths would do, I preferred to have on-board sounds and full-sized keyboards for proper playing technique and practicing.

    Then, since it was the sounds of these old synths I was looking for, why not getting one right away considering they can go for so cheap, rather than the emulation route? And while at it, also shooting for that one synth that shapes the sound of one of the most influential bands for me over the past two years?

    Yes, there's always that aspect: to me, this one synth is partially a sort of memorabilia/merch I associate to the band itself, rather than being yet another toy piano from the 80s - you may have a Strat like David Gilmour or even his signature model, but what about having *the* one instrument just like your idol, mostly considering in the digital world, all the instruments of a given production but the faulty ones should sound the same.

    I fully understand and agree with your point, this is a home player one, if I ever get to play live or gig with some folks, I'll definitely get a Microkorg, a Novation MiniNova or something among those lines, that I could program my own sounds or samples and wouldn't be as hard to replace or hold the same sentimental value if I ever had it broken or stolen. ;)
     
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  8. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Squier-Nut

    565
    Jul 13, 2018
    USA
    Congratulations!

    I have an old Roland Alpha Juno-1. It still works and makes cool analog sounds! But, I'm not sure how to incorporate it into my current kind of music. I'm actually thinking of selling it.
     
  9. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer John Silver Supporting Member

    Age:
    59
    Nov 24, 2018
    RC addiction....
    Very cool, congrats.
     
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