Yamaha P121 Review: A Compact and an Affordable Instrument for Gigging Musicians

There are two kinds of the pianist in the world. One the acoustic type and the other, the digital type. But when it comes to digital pianos, Yamaha is undoubtedly the best in the world with their wide variety and their ability to come close to the acoustic ones through their ever-advancing technology. With the release of Yamaha P121, Yamaha has added a boost to its P series. Yamaha P121 is nothing but a smaller version of Yamaha P 125.


  • Keys: 73 keys with Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) 
  • Dimensions: Width x height x depth = 1114 mm x 166 mm x 295 mm
  • Polyphony: 192 Voices
  • Preset Voices: 24
  • Functions: Dual/Split/Duo
  • Metronome Tempo Range: 5 - 280
  • Weight: 10.0kg (22.05 lbs)


Yamaha P121 is provided with just 73 keys which imitates the feel of an acoustic piano. The 73 keys set is a really good start for beginners. And for most of the purposes, these 73 key set piano carters the needs. But this might not be enough if you are looking for a fully professional classical music.

It has the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) that is present in a few other models of Yamaha piano ranges. The GHS provides realistic touch which is very similar to that of an acoustic piano. The keys feel heavier which are present in the lower register than the ones which are present higher up in the keyboard.

This effect simulates the feel of an acoustic piano. The keyboard responds to the touch as it is sensitive to the force with which the key is struck. This changes the volume depending upon the style of play. The setting can be adjusted accordingly in the keyboard to four different preset touch sensitivity settings. Fixed, Soft, Medium and Hard being the four settings, the keyboard comes with a Medium setting as default preset setting.

The black keys have a matte black finish which prevents mistakes and enhances control while playing. The non-slippery attribute of this matte black finish helps the user to play for extended periods. While only the expensive models offer synthetic ivory keytops. GHS aids in developing prospering fingering techniques on keys and placements as on acoustic pianos. This helps the user bridge the gap and difficulty in playing acoustic pianos.

Most of the functions are set using a standard accessibility method. By pressing the function button and some keys on the keyboard, it is possible to switch between the different functions on the piano. There is also a dozen of other function buttons along with a volume control fader which can be found in many P series of Yamaha.

Sound Quality

Yamaha P121 main distinctions come at the sound. With a push of a button, samples of sounds played on different instruments can be selected and different tunes. Yamaha P series is one of the best-selling digital pianos in the market.

Yamaha boasts great quality, dynamics and an excellent stereo speaker system which is a built-in feature along with the Yamaha P 121. Even though Yamaha P 121 lacks the full set of 88 keys, it does not fail to impress with its tone, features and feel.

Yamaha P 121 comes with 24 voices along with polyphony. They provide four piano, four clavichords, four electric piano, four basses, four strings and four vibraphone voices with different variations in every one of them.

Yamaha P 121 performs great at lower frequencies which gives the feel of the authentic acoustic piano. This is something Yamaha offers at a beginner’s level as a great deal.

The Pure CF Engine

The piano also comes with the Pure CF sound engine. This Pure CF engine is from the expertise that Yamaha has gained throughout piano making history. This is a piece of great news in the AWM technology of sampling. Yamaha Pure CF engine provides a rich tone of the original piano. This creates a very wide range of dynamic tones on the piano. This also offers deep reverberations, and more detailed work of sound is obtained. It does not have key-off simulations and string resonance which is an added advantage that provides a lively feel for the piano.

 Four different reverb types can be used to get that extra depth and ambiance to the note. The four reverb types being Club, Chamber, Concert Hall and Recital Hall. Yamaha also provides the option to adjust the effect of depth on each of these reverb types. 

Yamaha’s well known CFIIIS 9’ grand concert piano sound is reproduced ever so faithfully allowing incredible expressiveness and dynamics in the digital pianos through this Pure CF sound engine.

Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC)

Playing at a low volume meant a loss of bass and treble in the music. But with Intelligent Acoustic Control, the digital pianos of Yamaha addressed the problem of loss of treble and bass. The instrument balances the mix between both bass and treble and thus creating a very deep and truer sound. Yamaha has made sure that sound quality is not compromised on the lower volume spectrum through Intelligent Acoustic Control.


The speakers are located on either end of the piano. They are not the most powerful speakers just like many digital pianos on this range. But the power of 14 W (Each speaker can produce a sound of 7 W) is enough to practice at home or even a very small performance on family gatherings.

The speakers are also enhanced by Yamaha through Acoustic optimiser which is the proprietary item of Yamaha. Yamaha has developed this optimiser post-in-depth knowledge on various acoustic instruments. This promisingly delivers smooth, natural richness across the tone of the entire spectrum of the keyboard. This is achieved by regulating the sound flow and tone control from the instrument cabinet of the piano.

The sound quality of the speakers is well balanced and covers the whole frequency range without any distortions or disturbances. The distortions are not present even at the maximum volume of the piano which is another added advantage. But in most of the practical cases of daily or regular usage, there is no requirement of using the piano at the maximum volume in case of having neighbours close by. But something that distinguishes Yamaha P 121 from other models is that the presence of speakers that are situated at lower ends of the piano.

The Yamaha P 121 is also good at low-frequency sounds, and they have a special function called Table EQ which optimises the sound when the instrument is played on a flat surface.


Polyphony indicates the number of notes that a digital piano can produce at the same time. And this is one of the most important aspects of pianos if several layered sounds and multiple track recordings must be done. But Yamaha P 121 offers a polyphony of 192 notes.

This is something which is very good for the range, and this is something that should not be worried upon. This 192 notes polyphony allows to create intricate, creative layered sounds and track recordings with very high sophistication and backing tracks to support the recording. This polyphony specification is very sophisticated and can be relied upon even for the most intricate detailing and track support notes which must be played at the same time. 



Yamaha P 121 provides the user with three different functions so that one can easily practice multiple sounds of the instruments that are required for the recording while still playing the piano for composing the duets

Dual Voice

This mode facilitates the layering of two different voices. Once the layering is complete, when the piano is played, these layered sounds can be played alongside the playing of the piano. This creates a creative rich mixture of beautiful tone and can be used to recreate multiple instrument tones. It also has the option to balance the mixing of these two layered instruments according to the need.

Duo Function

This is the perfect mode for someone who is looking to master four-hand also known as play two piano repertoire. This mode also helps teachers that it can be used to teach this in their classes with the students. This makes the teacher play a tune on one end while the student can repeat the same tune on the other end of the piano. This is a very convenient way of making the student understand the tone better. This mode helps in splitting the piano into two halves which are identical of same pitch patterns such that each half gets its middle C.

Split Function

As the name suggests this allows the piano to be split into two different instruments. The user can choose what kind of instrument is to be on the left side of the piano and what instrument is to be present on the right side of the piano. The splitting point can also be decided by the user. This feature aids in exploring other instruments and playing more instrument cluster at the same time. This enhances creativity and provides a variety of sound and surround styles.

Music Library

Yamaha P 121 comes with fifty piano songs and twelve demo songs which can be used practice sessions or also for the listening enjoyment. Yamaha has also provided an option on the piano to practice more songs than the ones on the library. These songs can be uploaded from the user’s computer to the piano. These songs should be of the format of MIDI (SMF). These can be found on websites like Yamaha music etc. These songs are like that of preset songs transferring procedures. This provides a bigger window for the user to choose what to learn and how to learn. This gives more flexibility to the options that the user is provided with.

Recording and Playback

Yamaha provides a built-in recorder with P 121. It also provides the internal memory on the instrument for one user song.  This is very useful in recording and playback the performances without the usages of any additional software or devices right onboard.


This tool helps in learning and training. This helps in getting the data of whether the tune is played accurately or not. This determines the skill of the user at the basic level. This also estimates how fast or slow a person plays. Even the details of how silent or how fast the loud tunes are played and much more. This helps in improving the timing skill of the user. Rhythm can also be optimised and evaluated accordingly with this tool. With all these data sets, the accuracy, skill set and the sharpness of the user increase. This feature acts more as a mentor of the self-improvement process.

Transpose Function

This function helps in shifting the pitch. Using this the entire piano’s pitch can be moved up or down in semitone steps to carter the needs of the user.This is generally used to reduce the complexity of notes of the songs written in difficult keys. It can also be used to aid the movement of fingers as the user need not change his/her fingering style for different tones by just changing the pitch using this transpose function. This aids in composing very intricate tunes in a better way and gives more control on the layering of the tunes and enhances the output of the tunes.

Tuning Function

This function is also like that of the transpose function but the only difference being the pitch can be changed in the instrument in the steps of 0.2 Hz. 

Stereophonic Optimizer

This optimiser is unique to Yamaha. This optimiser provides spacing of sounds when listening to and playing the instrument through headphones. These spacing of sounds from piano creates a better surround sound experience and helps in understanding the intricate nuances. When playing the sound seems to come from the body of the piano instead of the headphone to provide a more realistic feel and natural experience. This will help in playing the instrument for long hours in a private playing condition with the natural feel of playing the instrument.

Auto Power Off

This feature helps in shutting down the instrument throughout inactivity. This feature can be disabled or can be customised too. The time after which the auto power off should trigger is something which user can set upon their needs and requirements. This is a small step towards energy conservation that Yamaha follows to promote a greener environment.


Two quarter inches stereo jacks are provided at the bottom of Yamaha P 121. These jacks can be used to connect headphones and earphones. These jacks can also be used as external line outs to connect external amplifiers, audio systems, PA, etc. The USB to Host port which is required to connect your piano to an iOS or a computer is found at the bottom of the piano. The A to B USB cable must purchase separately to connect the piano to the computer.

To work with the computer, the Yamaha driver USB - MIDI must be downloaded on the computer.  Post these file exchanges are hassle-free between the instrument and the computer as MIDI files can enhance the learning and making of music from the computer. There are several Yamaha apps that P 121 is compatible with the iOS platform.

Smart Pianist is one of the well-known apps that is used to control different functions and parameters of the piano which can make up for the lack of display in the piano. 

For Android users concerned, there is nothing that Yamaha offers for the users who use the Android operating system. There is an option for DC 12V for power supply.


The major accessory that must be bought alongside the piano is the specially designed soft case for it, and a universal keyboard stand as this is piano is one of the most compacts, and this is preferred for people who move around with the piano. The L 121 furniture stand could be a good buy as it complements the décor of any place. Another accessory that could help is the three pedals which support half pedal for getting better nuances out of Yamaha P 121.


P121 is newly released version by Yamaha to attract the mid range consumers. P121 has 73 keys which makes the piano super-light weight, you can easily move it around. However, Many other pianos in the similar segment has more keys such as P125 OR P45. Also when compared to other models, P121 costs lesser.

Keys are of high quality and feels more like an acoustic piano keys. P121 got most of the features and would be much better for someone whose new to playing pianos.

If you travel alot with your piano or if you're on tight budget, then P121 is good chance you won't regret it. However, if you're a person who don't move around the piano often and have a good budget, then it's better to get an 88 key piano like P45 or P71.

About the Author Wendell A Wiese

I'm the lead researcher and content manager at PianoNadu. I test various different digital pianos and share our unbiased reviews here. We test them on various different aspects and make sure it passes our quality criteria. During my college years, I was a part of my college band known as DMT. I was the Pianist in our band. My love for playing the piano grew during middle school. Read more about me here

1 comment
Alan Hales says October 4, 2019

How do you change the middle C to an higher octave on the Yamaha P 121.
Also, Can you put lead from the headphone jack into a amplifier.

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