Although many people know of Yamaha as a manufacturer of motorbikes and other electronic equipment, other than synthesisers, they actually started out in business manufacturing pianos. In fact Yamaha first started producing pianos in 1887 and it was not until after WWII that they started to produce motorbikes and in 1955 the Yamaha Motor Company Limited was founded. Strangely the motorbike company and the musical instrument company use the same logo (above left) which depicts piano tuning forks.
Musicians and keyboard players will know Yamaha for their superb pianos, electronic instruments and synthesisers. Their first experiments in electronic instruments where in organs and in 1935 they produced a prototype called the Magna organ. In 1970 they experimented with analogue synthesizers and the technology was made available through their range of Electone electronic organs. In 1973 Yamaha produced the astonishing GX-1 which looked very much like a three tiered organ but was, essentially, 4 analogue synthesisers built into one unit. Two tiers were 2 oscillator synths, the lead tier was a 1 oscillator monosynth and the bass pedal section was a 3 oscillator synth. Obviously such complexity came at a price and in 1973 that price was an eye watering $60,000.
In 1976 Yamaha released the CS80, a 200 lb (91 kg) monster synth which was considerably cheaper than the GX-1 but still expensive at $6900. The CS80 produces a superbly lush sound and remains very much in demand today but with sellers demainding prices up to £16,000 (eBay 2012) most find themselves in professional studios or private collections. Yamaha produced a number of more affordable synthesisers in their CS range right down to the popular CS-01 which was a single oscillator monophonic plastic keyboard with minikeys.
In 1983 Yamaha released the DX7 synthesiser which featured a purely digital sound engine using their Frequency Modulation (FM) method of synthesis. Priced just below $2,000 the DX7 became an instant hit and it remains the second most popular keyboard, after the Korg M1, of all time. A broad range of synths using FM were released over the years including the amazing TX802 which is basically eight DX7IIs in a rackmount module.
For now I will leave the rest of the history of Yamaha until we have sampled more recent examples of their equipment (such as the stunning FS1R). If you want to know more about Yamaha keyboards and modules there is a comprehensive list on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Yamaha_products#Synthesizers_.2F_Samplers
The Yamaha synthesizers which we have sampled and currently have available to purchase are as follows: