- A lightweight keyboard with weighted action
- Sound library from the MOTIF series
- No audible cutoff when changing sounds
- Rich palette of sounds
- DAW/iOS interaction
Street Price $999.99
Yamaha’s MX-49 and MX-61 instruments have been popular as entry-level keyboards. Now, Yamaha has introduced an 88-key model of the MX, and I think worship musicians will do well to consider this instrument. Its range of sounds, performance/editing capabilities, and weighted action make it a very attractive option.
As a classically-trained pianist, there are two things that matter a great deal to me when evaluating a keyboard’s potential for use in my worship leading: the piano sounds themselves, and the action of the instrument. Upon unboxing the instrument for review in my studio, the first thing I noticed even before plugging it in is that the action is weighted. I was surprised at this, because the keyboard itself is quite light. Having played the great weighted action of Yamaha’s MOTIF series keyboards for years, going back to the ES8, instruments with weighted actions tend to be very heavy and challenging to cart around if you’re working in a portable church setting or moving the instrument regularly from home to church. Though relatively light at just under 32 pounds, the MX88 is very rewarding to play because of its GHS action. Here’s a statement from Yamaha describing the GHS action:
The MX88 features a Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) weighted action. GHS weighted action has a heavier response in the low keys and a lighter response in the high keys. This provides realistic acoustic piano touch and response.
Special matte black key tops absorb moisture and remain tactile after extended use, perfect for long practice or performance sessions.
Of course, the most important issue when playing a weighted action is the quality of the grand piano sounds. As soon as I played the grand piano sound on the MX88 I was truly delighted at the realism of the sound, its expressive capability, and its dynamic range. This comes as no surprise, since the piano sound comes directly from the MOTIF Sound Engine. This combination of great piano sounds and a great keyboard action will be a delight for worship keyboard players who have a piano background.
Obviously, today’s keyboard player in worship isn’t looking only for a piano sound. The string sounds are beautifully realistic and inspiring to play. The synth side of the MX88 is rich in available sounds and features as well. There’s a huge library of pad sounds to choose from, including my favorites from the MOTIF library I’ve used for years. Because pad sounds make up so much of what keyboard players contribute to worship songs today, a musician in search of a keyboard with a broad palette of sounds should find a music store where they can play through the MX88’s library. Whether you’re searching for pads, lead lines, or bell sounds, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for here.
Many keyboard musicians are looking for functionality beyond what resides on the instrument itself. The MX88 works with iOS applications, many DAW packages, as well as software synthesizers on Mac and PC. Again, a statement from Yamaha:
The MX88 does more than connect to your DAW, it’s also a dedicated control surface. Use the onboard transport controls with your DAW and interact with plug-in parameters via the control knobs. There are dozens of built-in Remote Control Templates for interacting with popular softsynths and plug-ins, giving your software a hardware feel.
One more feature I want to mention before closing is the fact that when changing from sound to sound within a Performance there’s no abrupt cutoff of audio. This eliminates what can be a distracting frustration for worship musicians, so this is a great plus for the keyboard as well.
Clearly, there’s lots to rave about with the MX88. Spend some time playing it and I think you’ll agree that the great library of sounds and the great feeling GHS action result in a keyboard that can help you fulfill your musical and creative ideas on your worship team.