Shopping for a digital piano is not an easy task. There are endless options at a variety of price points to consider. Do you want a keyboard with just piano sounds? Do you want something portable, or something stationary?

Whether you are a brand new beginner or someone getting back into an old hobby, the Yamaha P45b digital piano should be a good fit for your needs. This Yamaha p45 review will tell you some of the reasons why. Note that model P71 is the same, but is sold exclusively on Amazon.com.

Our Verdict

Pros
  • USB Connectivity – This allows you to control soft synths and VSTs on your computer as well as download software and firmware updates from Yamaha.
  • Sound –  The P45 is the closest thing you can get to the sound of a real piano at this price point.
  • Graded Hammer Action –   Key weight gets heavier as you go down the octave, giving you the feel of a real piano when you’re playing it.
  • Simplicity – The interface is extremely simple. There are just two buttons. One is simply for power while the other controls the settings. Anyone can use it.
  • Portable – At just over 25 lbs, the P45 is easy to transport from room to room and even house to house.
Cons
  • Speakers – The built-in speakers are not the highest quality. For the best sound, use the audio out to headphones or an external speaker.
  • Recording – There is no built-in audio or MIDI recorder empowering you to document ideas. This keyboard is mostly designed for practice and performance.
  • Polyphony – The sound quality is reduced incrementally as the polyphony is increased. This is common amongst digital pianos in this price range.

What You Should Know Before Buying This Piano

Most people prefer the feel and sound of an acoustic piano. Even used uprights and baby grands cost thousands of dollars, though. This is probably more than you want to spend on an instrument if you are a beginner.

What I Like About P-45
This instrument is a good fit if you want a portable instrument that gets as close to the sound of an acoustic as possible. It has the full range of 88 keys, so you lose nothing in that department.

There are also nine other sounds available including electric piano, organ, and even strings. If you want something that will act as a beautiful piece of antique furniture, you should avoid this model.

Key Action & Playing Feel

I think my favorite thing about the P-45 is the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action. This feature makes it feel like a real piano.

Basically, the weight of the keys gets heavier as you move down the range of the piano. If you are looking for a digital piano with the feel of the real thing, this is the most affordable option. There are actual mini hammers in the piano, which is why it has the actual feel.

Many other models in this price range just use springs. The P45 is Yamaha’s least expensive model that offers hammer action.

Not only is the touch sensitivity great, it is completely adjustable. If you’re just trying to learn to get around the keyboard, turn off the hammer action, so you can focus solely on the next note.

There are four different levels of hammer action. I like this feature for beginners because it makes it fun for them to learn without being too physically arduous. Increasing the weight of the keys as you go can give you a seamless transition into playing a real piano.

Good To Know
The sensitivity of the keys also controls the velocity, which controls two things; volume and timbre. Hitting the keys harder will play the note louder and give it a harsher attack. A softer strike will have the opposite effect.

This is just another way that the P-45 emulates an acoustic piano.

Touch Sensitivity Modes – 

  • Soft – Velocity is affected by touch, but not very much.
  • Medium – Close to the feel of a piano, but with some leeway.
  • Default- This is the closest mode to an actual piano that’s in good condition.
  • Hard – Great practice mode for advanced players who want an extra challenge
  • Off – Neither volume or velocity are changed regardless of how hard you strike the keys. It is preferable when using the organ sound.

One thing that the P-45 doesn’t have that more expensive Yamaha pianos do is moisture-absorbing keytops.

Theses keytops have the same feel as actual pianos made from ebony and ivory. They provide a much better grip. If this is important to you, you may want to shop some more.

Graded Hammer Action Benefit
Unlike other company’s models, the hammer action is not too loud when you are playing quietly. This is a problem with other digital piano makers.
Graded Hammer Action Drawback
While it is quieter, it isn’t as effective or responsive as other weighted keys. One example of this is the tri-sensor hammer action from Casio. It seems that you need to sacrifice some quality if you want it to be silent.

Sound quality

Those familiar with keyboards have probably heard of Yamaha’s AWM Dynamic Sampling technology. Even this less expensive model has it. Yamaha sound designers record a professional pianist playing a concert grand.

They record it at all different values, which helps give you the variety of sound when utilizing the Graded Hammer Action. The p-45 is best used by those looking for simulated piano sounds.

Speakers

If you want a keyboard with built-in speakers, this could be the option for you. There are two 12-centimeter speakers, each powered by a 6 W amp.

These speakers leave much to be desired. In fact, I find their only value to be used as practice speakers. While the sound isn’t very loud coming from these speakers, you will enjoy the quality.

If you want to use your digital piano to perform solo concerts or with other people, you should connect to a speaker or PA system using the audio out. The out is 1/4″, so you can use it with headphones too.  I found the sound quality through headphones to be the best of the three options.

Polyphony

The polyphony is one of the biggest changes Yamaha made in the P-45 from the P-35, its predecessor. The P35 had 32-note polyphony while this model has 64-notes available.

Doubling the memory on this keyboard gives players twice the amount of notes playable at one time. I’m not sure that they will increase this in future models because I can’t think of one piece of music that would need more than 64 notes at one time.

Presets 

This keyboard makes 10 sounds available to you. There are two pianos, two organs, two harpsichords, and two electric pianos. There is also a patch for strings and patch for vibraphone.

I wouldn’t recommend this keyboard to someone who is into synthesizers or more modern sounds. It was designed with the classics in mind.

Design & Dimensions

What I Like About P-45
This model was also designed with versatility in mind. Despite having 88 keys, it is remarkably compact and can fit in just about any space.

You can even use a desk or a table top as a stand. As far as weight, it is extremely light, which makes it possible to use on an “X” stand or even a tiered stand.

Fans of the P-35 will notice that this model is almost identical. The only difference is the USB input, which allows you to connect to your computer to use MIDI-based software. This is a great option if you wish to use the keyboard as a MIDI controller.

Special Features

There are four great features on this keyboard that you must know about before making a decision.

  • Built-in Metronome – I think one of the most important aspects of being a good musician is having a good time. This keyboard has a built-in metronome, which you can use with the internal speaker to keep your counting in check while you practice scales and arpeggios. The metronome is fully adjustable, meaning you can adjust both the volume and the rate.
  • Recording – I know I said the keyboard doesn’t have internal recording features. This is where the USB connector comes in handy. It gives you the ability to record into an audio program on your computer using MIDI, which also gives you more options for timbre. It is compatible with any digital audio workstation that allows MIDI, which is most of them. Which makes it a great addition to any studio as a weighted piano MIDI controller.
  • Transpose – Did the singer call a tune in a different key but your not the best at on the fly transposing? This is s common issue. The transpose button allows you to change the key you are playing in with the press of a button. You can also tune the piano in tiny increments to match an out of tune recording or backing track.
  • Layer Sounds – Add to the lush sounds of the piano when performing or recording using Dual Mode, which allows you to stack two presets. My personal favorite is to stack the grand piano sound with the strings, giving you a lush and rich sound perfect for playing ballads. Do you just want to accent the sound you are using? You can also adjust the volume of each sound being layered individually.

Alternatives

Yamaha P-45 Vs Casio PX-160

While I love the basic simplicity of the Yamaha P-45, some players may appreciate the slightly more intricate (and slightly more expensive) option of the PX-160 from Casio.

For one thing, PX-160 has 18 unique instrument sounds, compared to just 10 for the P-45. You’re also able to record and play performances on the PX-160 keyobard thanks to its 2-track MIDI recorder feature. Casio’s keyboard also has a 3-sensor scaled hammer action keyboard with a nice realistic key feel, though to me they seem a bit noisier (at least coming up) compared to the P-45.

The Yamaha P-45 has lower polyphony power, with 64 notes compared to Casio’s 128. This renders the P-45 a bit less ideal for sustained or layered notes. But the Yamaha is the less expensive option between the two, and it may be sufficient for your needs as a beginner pianist just learning to play.

When we’re looking at this price range, the PX-160 also offers much more compared to P-45 and other models in terms of dynamic tonal range, thanks to features like hammer response, damper noise, and damper resonance.

Overall, I would say that the benefits the Casio PX-160 offers over the P-45 from Yamaha are reasonable, given that it’s the more expensive of the two. The PX-160 affords players a richer, more robust sound (2 x 8 W speakers, compared to Yamaha’s 2 x 6 W) with a good key feel and a variety of adjustable features.

Yamaha P-45 vs. Yamaha P-115

Both of these keyboards feature the GHS key action with a white plastic feel. This is the standard for Yamaha’s key function in their lower-priced digital keyboards, of which the P-45 sits toward the less expensive side.

One thing that may make the P-115 more desirable for you, especially if you play complex music, is that it offers 192 note polyphony, compared to the 64 note polyphony of the simpler P-45.

Plus, the technology used to sample authentic acoustic piano sound is a little more outdated on the P-45, making it a bit less realistic compared to the P-115 which uses a process called Pure CF. P-115 also has 14 instrument sounds, giving you way more variety than the older P-45 version. You can read the full review of the Yamaha P-115 here.

Both the P-45 and P-115 offer 3-touch sensitivity keys, 4 reverb effects, and a 2-sound layering option. They also offer the Duo feature and a digital metronome (but the P-115 is more variable in speed compared to the P-45. The P-115 also excels in the sound system, with 14 Watts of power and 2 top-facing plus 2 back-facing speakers.

The P-45 only has 2 speakers, however, it still boasts 12 Watts of power so it may not make a huge difference to your ears.

Overall, I think it’s great that the same company can make such different types of keyboards, since users can get a variety of options while staying brand loyal—if that matters to them, anyway!

Conclusion

There are a lot of options when it comes to digital pianos. They all seem to offer different features while lacking in another area. The P-45 does it all at a great price. If you are looking for a quality digital piano sound, it has that. It is lightweight and sized to be portable, making it a great option for an on the go working musician. Is the feel your main concern? Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Action makes this about as close as you can come to the real thing.