The Yamaha PSR-E253 is an affordable 61 key digital piano. It’s part of Yamaha’s low-cost, entry level keyboard series. In the PSR series, Yamaha makes a PSR-E353 and PSR-E453, as well.
These keyboards are all part of the lower-priced series Yamaha makes. However, cheap does not mean poorly made. We’ll look at what kind of keyboard this is, how players looking for something entry-level can benefit from a keyboard like this, and overall whether it’s worth the investment.
We’ll also compare this keyboard to the PSR-E353, the Yamaha YPT-255, the Casio CTK 2400 and the Casio CTK 4400. All of these keyboards vary in price but are aimed at the same demographic of keyboard player.
But before we dive fully into this review, please take a moment to use our interactive table below to quickly see how the Yamaha PSR-E253 compares to its peers and competitors.
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
Dissecting the PSR-E253
The Yamaha PSR-E253 weighs a little less than nine pounds. For a 61-key keyboard, this is extremely light and very convenient for those who want to move the keyboard around a lot.
It’s light enough for a child to lift and adjust easily on a keyboard stand, too. This keyboard’s lack of heft is in part due to its soft touch keys. These keys are designed to be able to be pressed easily and quickly, allowing for more convenient playing (and helps out those who are uncomfortable about playing the heavier keys of a weighted keyboard).
Below, be sure to check out some of our favorite digital keyboards currently available on Amazon, and then compare them to the Yamaha PSR-E253:
However, because they’re so light, it is much easier to press the wrong key. On the other hand, working with lightweight keys can be a great way to learn better form and practice fingering.
Now, let’s talk about how it looks. The keys are sleek and shiny, and above them are tiny symbols. These symbols represent drum and effect sounds. Because drum sounds on keyboards can be hard to find, Yamaha has cleverly put pictures of each drum (cymbal, tom, kick, snare, etc.) above the corresponding key that needs to be pressed (when on the drums preset) to trigger that sound.
Above the drum symbols are chord types, written out in standard chord shorthand. When selecting a preset that plays all chords at once, you can identify the type of chord you’re playing based on the key you press. It’s a really neat way to learn about the different chords, especially if you want to start playing more complex chords for jazz and classical music.
In the center of the keyboard’s face is a little screen. On the left part of the screen, it shows you in sheet music which notes you’re playing. This applies for both bass and treble clefs, so you can learn which notes go where. The screen also tells you other information too, like the sound you’ve selected or the song or style.
It’s extremely helpful and user friendly.
To the right of the screen are buttons for selecting voice, song, and style, as well as a patch search function keypad. There are buttons below the keypad that do a couple of different things, too.
First, there is a portable grand button. This launches you back to the default sound. If you get lost in the menus and don’t know how to get back, all you need to do is press that button in order to get back to where you started.
You can access a stereo widener, which gives your sound a fuller mix, and you can also press the function button to do a variety of unique things. Above the screen is a set of three lists categorized by song, style, and voice. This list is an overview of all the onboard sounds, beats, and songs you can use for performance and learning. It’s an extremely helpful reference point to get you to the sound you want without scrolling through every single sound.
To the left of the screen is another cluster of buttons, this time dedicated to recording and learning. The learning function offers lessons on three styles of playing: listen and learn, timing, and waiting. All three are equally important when learning the piano, so it’s a good thing Yamaha chose to include them on this keyboard.
There are four buttons that control song playback. You can choose accompaniment, different parts, and to pause and play the music at any time. You can also choose to solo either the left hand or right hand parts for extra clarification. The PSR-253 also comes with a demo button, a metronome, a tempo tap, and a phrase recorder.
The Sound of the PSR-E253
There are 385 onboard sounds to choose from. They range from pianos, E. pianos, organs, accordions, bass and guitars, synths, strings, drums, and effects. Some of these sounds are fantastic. The pianos, synths, organs, and strings are all done beautifully.
Some of the other sounds are a little cheesy. The guitars and saxophones, for instance, aren’t super convincing.
But would a kid have fun with this? Absolutely. Yamaha made sure to put in a ton of exciting and unique sounds that all beginners can enjoy and love.
So how does the accompaniment work on this machine, you might wonder? Well, it actually tracks the chords you’re playing and follows along with a rhythm section. As a side note, rhythm sections usually include piano, drums, bass, and guitars.
The accompaniment follows your playing in real time and plays the same chords you are. The response time is really good, and it feels like you’re actually jamming in a group. The accompaniment makes sure your playing is the highlight of the show so you never have to worry about getting lost in the mix. You can adjust parts of the accompaniment in real time using the accompaniment buttons so your song doesn’t simply do the same thing over and over again.
In addition to playing to built-in accompaniment, you can also plug in an MP3 player to play along to your favorite songs. Plug a connecter cable into the Aux in port to rock out to a professional musicians’ songs. You can also plug headphones into the keyboard to practice quietly, or use the same output jack to plug into external speakers.
There’s also an input for a power adapter and a sustain pedal, so you can practice using the sustain pedal just like you would on a real piano.
Here are a handful of notable specs for the PSR-E25:
- 61 key soft touch keyboard
- AWM stereo sampling
- 32 note polyphony
- 385 voices
- Yamaha Education Suite
- 2.5W Speakers (2)
- 1 track recording
- Ultra Wide Stereo option
Now, let’s move onto the comparison part of this review.
How Does It Compare to Others?
While the Yamaha is really great for beginners because of its wide array of features and low cost, there are other keyboards to consider when picking out an instrument for a new student or a child.
Yamaha PSR-E253 vs Yamaha PSR-E353
The Yamaha PSR-E353 is a great place to start. It has a few more options than the PSR-E253 but is a little more expensive. For instance, it has over 500 sounds whereas the PSR-E253 only has 385.
It also has a USB to Host option, which can be great for players who want to connect their keyboard to the computer to use apps, DAWs, and learning programs, or simply download other resources available for the keyboard. Besides that, the speakers are the same, the keyboard size is the same, the polyphony, and the sampling is the same.
I’d say the main advantages to getting the PSR-E353 are the sounds and the connectivity. But those two features will cost you a little more. Beginners don’t necessarily need those features, but ultimately it’s up to you.
Yamaha PSR-E253 vs Yamaha YPT-255
Next, let’s look at the YPT-225. It’s pretty similar to the E253. The only real difference is the layout on the face of the keyboard. The buttons are placed slightly differently and they’re differently shaped, to boot. But they do basically the same exact thing.
I actually like the colors on the E253 a little more. The all-black color scheme on the face makes it look a little more professional, which could be a plus for beginners just because they might want their keyboard to a little fancier than its price would indicate.
Yamaha PSR-E253 vs Casio CTK-2400
The CTK-2400 is comparable to our PSR-E253 in many ways. It has a lot of voices, similar learning functions, and it has a little screen that displays the same stuff as the E253.
But for some reason, the piano sounds don’t sound as good. The sound come across a lot brighter, and the sensitivity seems a little off. However, there’s one function that is super fun: you to make your own samples by pressing the sample record button and making any sound you want. It records it and plays it back for you in sync with your beat and automatically assigns it to each key so you can play it at different pitches.
I wish the E253 had this feature.
Yamaha PSR-E253 vs Casio CTK-4400
So what about the CTK4400? Well, honestly, it sounds gorgeous. It’s functional, easy to use, and offers a lot of amazing sounds.
The keys feel great, and they’re sensitive enough to catch soft playing and get loud enough when you press a key hard. It also feels a lot more like an intermediate keyboard, especially considering it’s not much more expensive than the PSR-E253. However, because it’s more professional looking, the navigation is not as beginner-friendly. Kids might get confused when trying to figure out all of the functions on this one.
Some Final Thoughts
The Yamaha PSR-E253 is designed to be a starter keyboard. As far as starter keyboards go, it’s pretty phenomenal. I would definitely recommend it to newcomers and enthusiasts alike, and I think it’s great for players of all ages who want to learn and grow.
- GRADE: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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