A few weeks ago I bought a Roland G-1000 and this YS200 came with it as a package deal. Weird little synthesizer but I read good things about it. It’s insanely dirty and it looks like 2 keys are broken so lets dig in 🙂
The YS200 is a 4-operator digital FM synthesizer released in 1988. It has a 8 track sequencer and limited onboard editting options. However: if you connect it to a computer (or old Atari) I’ve read that you can get some pretty impressive sounds out of this thing. You can load the original patches of the TX81Z, DX11, DX21, DX27 and DX100 making this funny looking synth a cheap option if you want some cool Yamaha FM sounds.
- 61 keys with velocity and aftertouch!
- Polyphony: 8 voices
- Oscillator: 4-operator
- Synthesis: FM
- Filters: None.
- storage for 300 patches (100 presets, 100 user and 100 on a storage card)
- 2 LFO’s, vibrato
- Effects: Reverb, delay, distortion
Soundwise it produces deep dance/techno basses and eighties digital synth sounds. It uses the same synthesis as the TX81Z. This gives you 8 waveforms to choose from rather than just sinewaves, which gives it a wide range of possible sounds.
Right. Let’s open it up.
First: this thing is so dirty that just looking at it makes me want to wash my hands. The keys once where white but now covered in grease and.. just.. disgusting. So the first thing I did was remove the keys.
Taking it apart was pretty easy. No huge circuitboards in there that get in the way. Pretty straightforward. I put some soapy hot water in the sink and tossed in all the keys to let them soak for a while. Credits to Yamaha for coming up with a great way to retain the keys to to keybed. On an old Roland you click the keys into place and then you have to glue a plastic strip on the back of the keybed to prevent the keys from falling off. If you don’t do that you can pull the keys a millimeter or 2 backwards and they can pop out. The way Yamaha fixed this with a rubber strip that slides in behind the keys.. perfection. 🙂 Very nice to see an other manufacturers take on this small problem.
Mental note: you remove this rubber strip by sliding it out one side. Sliding it back in is impossible. Instead you just push it back in place from the top. Very easy!
The keys cleaned up really nice from their bath. Hardly any yellowing. In the meanwhile I removed some buttons from the synth and cleaned the top. It’s starting to look so much better now.
Two keys where actually broken. I could try to super glue these but I doubt that would last. So I went to eBay and bought a G key and a black key.
When they come in I will put the whole thing back together and find out if everything works again.
Update march 21st 2020
The keys came in the mail 🙂
Although the top (user) side looks exactly the same there are a few tiny differences on the bottom side. The notches that retain the metal spring are a little different on my eBay keys. Doesn’t make a difference because they fit and work fine.
Installed and the keybed looks fine again 🙂 (and freaking clean too)
I installed the keybed in the synth and switched it on. Every key works just fine. Great! I must say that for a funny looking synthesizer the keybed is really really nice. It looks and feels alot like the keybed you’ll find in a Roland JD-800. Also a very nice keybed (well, except the red glue issues the Roland’s have).
Switching to the user patches I only see well known names like ‘#$swedt0i34t-i0’ and ‘####)%3)*#)$*^)*#$’. None of the user patches produce any sound. Hmmm. Lets check the battery. A little googling learned me that to get into ‘test mode’ you have to switch the synth on and press and hold the buttons: Job, Exit and Store. It will ask if you want to enter ‘test mode’ (press ‘+’ on the keypad to confirm). You can now enter a number for which test you would like to run. Enter 02 on the keypad for the battery test:
Hmmm 0,1 volts. That’s No Good 🙂 Let’s replace the battery:
It’s soldered to the mainboard… right. I’ve seen several creative solutions for this but only 2 are acceptable. 1) replace with a new battery that has the lips attached to it like this original one. 2) replace with a batteryholder.
The battery is just a common CR2032. They cost around 1 or 2 euro’s for 10 at your local Dollar store / cheap whatever store. You can also buy a Varta or Duracell one for 5 euro’s a piece but they are only way more expensive instead of having more capacity or a longer life.. the one’s with the legs spot welded to the battery are also expensive. So I opted for a cheap battery holder. This makes replacing the battery in the future much easier. (although the CR2032 typically lasts 10 to 20 years in a synthesizer..)
The new battery holder in place:
The batteryholder I used had a little different pin spacing than the original battery.. So I soldered one pin to the mainboard and extended the other pin with a wire I cut from a resistor. Ssssst. don’t tell anyone okay?
Tested the battery voltage from the menu again:
3.4 volts. That’s better.
So, looks weird, plays nice, how does it sound? Pretty awesome! As this synth is compatible with several other Yamaha’s including the DX11 and TX81Z you can load the sysex patches of those synths in this one. I tried some TX81Z sysex files and they work fine. For example: you can play the famous ‘Lately Bass’ patch on the YS200 🙂 There are a lot of really good stock patches in the presets as well. I like patch 02 ‘Wide strings’ a lot.
Don’t let looks deceive you, although it’s doesn’t really look like a professional synthesizer the keybed has a great feel to it and it sounds great too. The onboard editting functions are a bit limited but there is a huge fanbase and all kinds of editors available. So hook this up to a computer (or old Atari) to unlock the full potential.
5 thoughts on “Yamaha YS200”
Several times I let this pass by on second hand market, so this really surprised me, because I thought this was a cheap synthesizer.
Can you tell me what software works best for sending the patches via a regular pc?
MIDI-OX or something else?
Thank you 🙂
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I is a very cheap synthesizer because it looks like a toy. Still sound pretty good though 🙂 I always use Midi-ox to send sysex to keyboards
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There’s a Yamaha V50 for sale here today for €150.
It’s also a FM workstation. Do you think it is as good as this one?
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Hi! I am in the process of restoring an YS200 I got this december here in Berlin. Sadly one black key is broken, the keyboard is really dirty and I have to solder in a battery holder, which I already got.
Do you know a source for keys in Europe? Yamaha answered that they don’t have any anymore, which is understandable after such a long time. Do you know which keyboards have the same keys? Some people tell me the Korg M1 has the same?
SY77 keys are definitely different. I was able to download the service manuals and compare them. They also have different part numbers.
Some hints would be appreciated.
Try synth-parts.com. it’s from a German store and they sell allot of vintage synthesizer parts:) else I would try eBay..