Yamaha CS-60 part 1: An Introduction

Introduction: The end of my CS-50 story in December of 2013 became the beginning of my CS-60 story in April of 2015.

I’d like to say I saw the hockey stick coming for Yamaha CS-50/60/80 values, but that is not how my brain works. I simply resolved to sell the CS-50 to have funds ready for the purchase of a CS-60 or CS-80 because I wanted more voices and more controls. I put the CS-50 on Craigslist and accepted $1200 I think it was? It was in basically functioning condition but with some minor caveats most people could live with, and it looked great. With cash under mattress I started my search.

I had the money to pay full price for a CS-80 at this time, but that is also not how my brain works (unfortunately) so I started my search for a deal. It took 18 months for a deal to show up: a fully functional, complete, all original CS-60 that I could buy for $2800 delivered. Research at the time said this was a $4000-5000 synth, so I figured I couldn’t get hurt financially, and I was stoked at the idea of finally getting to play the bigger brother of the CS-50. Deal was struck, and around April 2015 the CS-60 entered my life. This synth was everything I wanted and more.

And here she is! Looking pretty good for a 45-ish year old, probably because she’s spent most of her life tucked away in closets with the lid on. Amp is a 1979 Fender Vibrolux Reverb A surprisingly good pairing with the CS-60. Someday I’ll find a proper Yamaha tone cabinet – hopefully as a spare when I buy my EX-42 (or EX-1 or EX-2).

So what’s the big deal? Why am I talking about this now? I bought a house in February 2020 (good timing right??) and suddenly found myself with all my stuff under one roof and space to actually set it up and use it. Priority among this new freedom of access to my stuff was setting up the CS-60.

Pleasing enough condition that my wife is not opposed to it in the living room. Preset is under that cover that has the block diagram on it.

Having the CS-60 in my living room and plugged into an amplifier means I have been playing it. And playing it means I have become aware of some things about it: it has a weird electrical/chemical/plastic off-gas smell that develops when it has been on a while; and some of the controls drift a bit after they have been on for a while.

I posted to Modwiggler about the smell and my theory that it was the result of perhaps leaky electrolytic capacitors. While I didn’t get any support for this theory, I did get a lot of pushes to get on with it and replace the electrolytic and tantalum capacitors since they are nearing 50 years old.

This post is to set the groundwork for the soon to be undertaken capacitor replacement on this CS-60. I found a complete manual on www.therogoffs.com which I will be using to put together a capacitor list.

These things seem to age well. You would think this was made recently, except that almost no one I am aware of makes a keyboard from materials this nice. I say almost because the Moog One and Rev 4 Prophet 5/10 appear in pictures to be this nice.

Look for a post in the next few days that has a capacitor list.

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