The Yamaha Corporation is one of the best companies when dealing with musical instruments in the market today. They constantly have quality products that often stack up either close to or above some of the best models of digital pianos. If you’re looking for a new digital piano, the truth is one of the first places you’ll likely want to look is the Arius series.
These pianos are known for incorporating many of the great features of a digital piano while adding the physical features of an upright piano. The Yamaha YDP-S51 was a beautiful piano that I was able to come across, and after spending some time with this machine I came away completely impressed.
It wasn’t a hard piano to find, either. In fact, it is one of the pianos Yamaha is most willing to market. I came across this version at my local Guitar Center, and once I had seen it I had to take a strong look at it.
There were some features of the piano that I could easily see were not going to be found on other models. It had a wonderful look and design, and I could see why the piano has such a sizeable list price. After playing with the machine however, I could see that many of the features were worth the price.
Below, check out a table we’ve created that compares the Yamaha YDP-S51 amongst some of its piano peers. We make the comparisons based on things like number of keys, weight, and price. Please do note, however, that the YDP-S52 has now been released.
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
|Yamaha YDP-S52||88||82 lbs.||$$$||4.6/5|
|Yamaha YDP-143||88||83 lbs.||$$$||4.6/5|
|Yamaha YDP-163||88||92.5 lbs||$$$||4.6/5|
|Yamaha YDP-181||88||110 lbs.||$$$||4.9/5|
|Yamaha YDP-V240||88||108 lbs.||$$$||4.6/5|
|Casio PX-860||88||78.26 lbs.||$$$||4.9/5|
The Design of the Yamaha YDP-S51
There are lots of great features on the Yamaha YDP-S51. One of the first things you notice when coming in contact with the piano is the cover. This particular Arius model carries a key cover which has a soft-cover lid design that fits nicely over the keys. It rotates on adequate hinges upwards and downwards, and the cover has a nice, gentle fit.
The entire piano has a beautiful black wood-like finish that is sleek and easy on the eyes. The size of the piano is pretty good for an upright digital piano, with the piano being 53 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and about 30 inches tall off the ground.
When the lid is open it is about 38 inches, so that should be accounted for when thinking about space.
The piano weighs a whopping 79 pounds, but a heavier weight is certain to be expected when dealing with an upright piano. In awesome fashion, the piano also comes with a beautiful 3-pedal system (damper, soft and sostenuto pedals).
Below, please take a look at some of the best selling upright digital pianos currently available for sale on Amazon, and see how their specs and features compare to the S51:
We encourage you to also read our review of the Yamaha Arius YDP-S52!
Voices, Tones and Rhythms
This piano comes with the set of sounds expected from a digital piano and not a synthesizer or workstation piano. There are only ten sounds on board, but all of them are designed to exquisite perfection and are exactly what the traditional piano player is going to be looking for.
There are three different versions of a Grand Piano sound, two different electric pianos, a harpsichord, a vibraphone, pipe organ, jazz organ, and a strings sound. I particularly fell in love with the Electric Piano 1 sound, which had a smooth and mellow feel that reminded me of an authentic Rhodes. The piano also comes with a sweet mechanism that allows you to reach any function of the piano with a touch of a button. For example, you can switch between tones by simply pressing the piano/voice button while simultaneously pressing any of the keys from C1 to B1. You can play any of the 50 preset songs while pressing the demo/song button and any of the keys in the next five higher octaves. There are also options to change the reverb, damper resonance, shift octaves, and change the volume in duet mode.
Engineering and Touch
The Yamaha YDP-S51 is a full-length 88-key piano, so you certainly can expect to find all of the features and accessories privy to the big boy machines.
The piano comes with Yamaha’s Graded Hammer (GH) keyboard action. While this certainly isn’t the best or the most high-end option they have, for a digital piano it is suitable. For the price range and the model, you would expect some of the better key action systems that Yamaha has to offer, such as the third generation Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) or the Natural Wood (NH).
This piano also offers great touch sensitivity along with the key action, having four different settings: Hard, Medium, Soft, and Fixed.
On board this machine is Yamaha’s Pure CF Sound Engine, with includes sampling from some of Yamaha’s world-renowned CF stage grand pianos. It is not the latest Pure CFIIIS system, but it is certainly enough. There are also 128 notes of polyphony, which for most pianos is more than enough, so you should never have to worry about dropped notes when you play an intense piece or layer different instruments.
There are a number of different features and functions that this Arius model has to bring to the table. The YDP-S51 comes with an amazing two track recording feature that can hold up to 100 KB of data, which can be increased with the use of connectivity to other interfaces.
There is a metronome on board, too, which will allow you to be able to practice in tempo at any pace that you might like, with a tempo range of 5 – 280 preset into the piano’s computer (I couldn’t imagine playing a piece at 280 bpm!).
The piano comes with a nice option for two dual headphone connections, which a great feature for two people trying to practice for a duet recital or for a teacher and student situation that needs to take place without disturbing the whole house.
There is USB to HOST connectivity, which will allow the user to connect to a computer or iPad, or any other user interface that is compatible. This is great for recording to outside sources or using the piano as a possible MIDI controller.
Sometimes it can be hard to determine if a certain piano is the right one for you. Sometimes the best thing to do can be to compare certain models with others.
The Yamaha Arius YDP-S51 is comparable with some Arius line models, as well as upright pianos from other makers as well. One piano that is along the same lines as the YDP-S51 is the Arius YDP-C71PE.
This piano has the same 128 notes of polyphony as the S51, with the same Graded Hammer key action system, as well as the same 2 track recording system to go with it. Both of these pianos are also in the same price range, with the C71PE having a list price of a couple extra hundred dollars.
However, the C71 comes with Yamaha’s 3 level Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) Dynamic Stereo Sampling tone generation system. This system is a bit of a step backwards from the Pure CF series, but it is still a good system.
YDP-S51 vs Casio PX850
When looking outside of the Arius line, the YDP-S51 is comparable to machines like the Casio Privia PX850, too.
The PX850 is also full length and 88 keys, and is also an upright piano. It comes in a similar wonderful wood finish cabinet with a 3 pedal system and key cover. However, this piano comes with a whopping 256 notes of polyphony, which the S51 cannot compare with, and a comparable Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer action key system. The Casio’s AiR (Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator) system is a bit better than the Pure CF system, with 4 layers of grand piano sampling.
The Yamaha YDP-S51 is a wonderful upright piano that gives a great feel and is a delight for serious piano players looking for an option to bring right into their living rooms. While it may be a bit scary that this piano has a rather large list price of about $2200, you can easily find this machine online for around $1300-$1400.
With that said, should you be interested in a piano that’s not the S51 but is certainly comparable, here are five other instruments that I’d recommend:
And remember, for more great reviews of digital pianos, please be sure to bookmark our Digital Piano Review Guide homepage, as we often add new reviews to our interactive table.
Also, if you prefer a Yamaha piano but don’t necessarily care whether or not it’s from the Arius line, please check out our following helpful article: