Recently I discovered a rather wonderful YouTube channel called 8-Bit Keys. Featuring a variety of keyboards from the 1980s right up to today, the presenter delves into the fascinating exploration of ‘toy’ keyboards.
Some keyboards are more wacky than others and soon I became addicted to viewing the videos hosted on his channel. It is not just how he reviews the instruments, but how he opens them up, takes a peek inside and reveals the electronics involved. He also restores the keyboards to their former glory, in particular turning the now aging yellowing of the keys back to their bright white past. Trust me, it is fascinating viewing.
One keyboard appearing on his channel stood out more than the others, mainly due to the fact I remembered owning one when I was very young – probably around 7 – 8 years old. The Yamaha PSS-270, my first Yamaha keyboard… Very first keyboard from any manufacturer in fact. So, with this in mind, we can easily point to this particular model and say this is where my interest in creating music began.
I distinctly remember that while the voices didn’t always sound particularly realistic, hey they were FM synthesized after all, powered by the Yamaha YM2413 chip – they still managed to portray an impressive amount of musicality. Yes it had tiny keys, which would usually result in most people considering this a ‘toy’ class keyboard, however it also featured an impressive selection of 100 voices, 9 voice polyphony, built-in stereo speakers and for recording – line out sockets. Oh, and did I mention it had a fair few basic backing styles also!
Of course in more recent years, the Yamaha Tyros 4 became my music instrument of choice, which at the time was the Yamaha flagship model – but it is thanks to the Yamaha PSS-270, where my keyboard journey began.
Image credit: 8-Bit Guy