Yamaha PSS-16 (beginners FM keyboard with accompaniment & demos)

This FM keyboard is nothing really great and behaves unpleasantly stubborn and unflexible, but it has many demo musics. Its special features are the "ad- lib" (simply a pre- programmed monophonic melody fill-in track) and "harmony" (trio) function, those Yamaha gladly named "computer aided music".

Although it has in total 100 preset sounds, many of these are simply variations of other with additional chorus, layer ("dual voice") or key split sound combinations. All preset sounds are simple 2 operator FM imitations of natural instruments those sound a little harsh and contain nothing avantgardistic or tekkno- like. The 22 preset rhythms have an optional single finger accompaniment (only a few standard chords) and consist of only 4 thin sounding low- res percussion samples. There are also 4 rubber drumpads for them. This instrument was previously released in 1990 as Yamaha PSS-190 (with blue drumpads and boring black control panel).

main features:


The user interface of this instrument has various similarities with the Yamaha PSS-31. Very annoying is that Yamaha divided the preset sounds into groups with or without chorus, layer ("dual voice"), key split etc. with only quite few sounds per group. Why didn't they instead add separate OBS effect buttons (or at least effect function numbers or similar) to let the user decide to add such effects to any preset you want?! (The great Yamaha PSS-390 had a separate "dual voice" and "sustain" button like it should be.) The cipher buttons and "enter" play a hihat noise, which disturbs live play. The "enter" button is basically useless because all preset sound numbers consist of exactly 2 digits; by my knowledge no other Yamaha beginners keyboard has this button. (I haven't examined the hardware yet.)

The main voice sounds of this instrument are plain ordinary 2- operator FM. Unfortunately the sound set is strictly focussed on natural instruments (fairly realistic imitated) and include no typical synth or tekkno sounds. No even the "mandolin" rings. The "ensemble" and "dual voice" sounds layer 2 subvoices to create more complex timbres. The "harmony" button turns the main voice into a monophonic trio. During accompaniment it plays in the corresponding key.

(The full sound list can be found in the manual of this instrument, downloadable on the Yamaha Manual Library site.)

The "ad-lib" button plays for the duration of a bar (or so long the button is held) a monophonic jazzy improvisation part in the style of the selected rhythm. It can be played to it, and with accompaniment it plays in the same key. This concept exists in a more versatile and sophisticated form also in Kawai keyboards like the Kawai MS20 or MS720.

The rhythms consist of only 4 thin sounding low- res samples, and selecting a new rhythm (white keys + select button) waits until pattern end before the change takes effect. The single finger accompaniments sound good and employ many different sounds, but they behave static and unlike e.g. the great Yamaha PSS-390 there are neither fill- ins nor intro/ ending features. The disco patterns are nice, and their rough and slightly harsh sound style has some similarities with Casio MA-130, despite the PSS-16 has FM timbres while MA-130 is completely sample- based. Unfortunately there are no separate rhythm or accompaniment volume controls, and there is no manual chord mode without rhythm, which is particularly annoying because only during accompaniment the key of the "ad-lib" and trio sounds can be changed.

The PSS-16 has a song bank of 15 polyphonic demo melodies. They are not bad, although these ones are way simpler orchestrated than on Yamaha PSS-6 and PSS-31 and sound rather establishment.

  1. Joy to the World
  2. Brother John
  3. The Old Folks at Home
  4. House of Rising Sun
  5. A Little Brown Jug
  6. Silent Night
  7. Jingle Bells
  8. Ave Maria
  9. Die Lorelei
  10. Camptown Races
  11. When the Saints Go Marching In
  12. Brahms' Lullaby
  13. Yesterday (Beatles song)
  14. Hey Jude (Beatles song)
  15. Venus
When the demo button is pressed while the demo is playing, the main voice is muted and thus the player can improvise to the demos. Every song repeats in a loop when not stopped. Interesting is that many of these songs were previously also released on Casio ROM- Pack cartridges, thus Yamaha apparently copied the selection from them, although the Casio arrangements sound nicer and more complex.

A shorter mono variant of the PSS-190/ PSS-16 was released as Yamaha PSS-50 and PSS-9. These had only 32 keys and thus lack the first 3 rhythms and 2 demos (since they are selected by the missing 5 leftmost keys) and also miss the drumpads. (Likely these all can be re- added as keyboard matrix eastereggs). Unlike the light blue control panel of the PSS-16, the PSS-9 panel is brown.

 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
back to tablehooters collection