Yamaha YC Compact Organs

Yamaha’s first organ was the D-1 home organ introduced in 1959. It began development of a line of organs for the home, stage performance and portables that carries on to this day. The portable compact organs from Yamaha began with the A series in around 1965. These shared the Electone name with their home organ siblings, but they don’t seem to have been pushed as a product for professionals or outside of Japan.

The YC series followed the A series in 1969 with the launch of the YC-10. With the YC-10, Yamaha decided to take the compact organ seriously and built a line of durable, flexible musical instrument that would ultimately find their way into the hearts and hands of professional musicians across the world. Let’s explore each model chronologically and in depth.

The cover of a brochure from 1975. Model in foreground is a YC-45D, then a YC-25D and a YBA-100 amplifier.

YC-10 – 1969

Is it just me or do those legs look really long?

The YC-10 is a modest feature improvement on the A series. It has a typical Yamaha understated styling reminiscent of the basic compact organ package the public expected. Built into a black tolex clamshell travel case was a leatherette textured vinyl finish top available in black, red, white and blue, with a simple row of tone controls, a keyboard. The YC-10 included an expression pedal and 4 single chrome legs.

No frills, just lots of fun and creativity. This economy model has all the necessary features found in the rest of the series: dual channel performance, manual/bass switchover, Vibrato, Bright. Also included: sturdy IC construction, power switch, expression pedal, master volume control and convenient pitch control to “tune” to any other instrument.

Yamaha Brochure C-23R 75420
The full line of single manuals.

YC-30 – 1970

A screen snip of not the best scan.

The YC-30 was Yamaha’s top of the line single keyboard offering. They added many more tone controls and while still built into a travel hardened black tolex case, the panel and controls received a refresh that moved away from the standard compact organ aesthetic. Noteworthy additions were a group of preset controls and velvet ribbon portamento controller similar to the pitch ribbon found on the EX-42.

A Deluxe combo with plenty of solid music power for most stage needs. Features Touch Vibrato, Fuzz, Sustain and Bright, Portamento Manual, manual/bass switchover. Dual-channel performance plus two preset boards. IC circuitry, 110 degree keyboard rotation, pitch control, Percussive, Attack (8′ or 2 2/3′) and Marimba with octave/fifth selector round out the picture.

Yamaha Brochure C-23R 75420

YC-20 – 1970

Introduced alongside the YC-30, the YC-20 is a continuation of the tone architecture introduced with YC-10, with a few more added controls. Cosmetically it was quite similar to the A-3 with a polished slab top panel available in black, red, white and blue. The legs were redesigned to be a cross-braced hoop type system, the same basic design of which survived into the 80’s on the larger CS and SK models.

Perfect for the intermediate determined to make the big time. This model has plenty of versatility to match any music style, including the expressive Yamaha Touch Vibrato, durable IC construction, vibrato speed and channel balance controls. An added feature: Percussive. It lends a sharp accent to all tones, is rarely found in an organ of this class.

Yamaha Brochure C-23R 75420

The YC Dual Manual line – 1971

Every Organist knows what a difference two manuals can make. Yamaha brings this versatility to the rock and popular music stage with two combos designed for the real pro.

The YC-45D boasts practically every feature found in expensive console types, plus many extras for far-out arrangements. It includes a smashing range of 29 different voices including special piano, harpsichord and vibes. Upper, lower and swooping portamento manuals are complimented by full three-manual versatility from two preset selectors and the exclusive Yamaha fingertip keyboard touch controls, making this model the natural choice for the musician on his way to the top -or already there.

The YC-25D is an economy answer. Same two-manual control of tones and effects to create a rich individual style, same manual/pedal bass switchover, same impressive design.

Either way you get a full array of convenience extras, including pitch, master volume and bass volume controls, easy set-up and portability, decades-durable solid state circuitry.

Yamaha Brochure C-23R 75420

YC-45D

That black stripe above the right side of the upper manual is a portamento strip to help add “space-age moods”. I actually haven’t seen a good enough explanation of it to know if it does the same thing as the pitch ribbon on my CS-60. I really want one of these.

When the YC-45D was launched Yamaha seems to have decided that they would pack every useful sound and performance control a compact organ could use into a single box. The layout and functionality were designed with performance in mind. Everything was within easy reach and there was nothing extra. It really is a great example of beautiful form in harmony with function, executed with highest quality materials.

This neat looking graphic was designed to communicate the performance flexibility of the Tone Levers. They are continuous over the full range, but also have 4 click stops at desirable settings.
This is a close up of the preset control – little more than a repeat of the organ controls in miniature that the user could set ahead of time to quickly get to a specific sound. Over the decade that followed the release of the YC-45D, a similar preset control found its way onto many Yamaha Synthesizers and Organs.

YC-25D

The YC-25D is basically a YC-20 with two manuals and controls revised to give appropriate feature split between them. New for the YC-25D was a bass pedal control unit.

After the two dual manual models were released Yamaha seem to have decided their work was done, that they could not improve on their line of combo organs any more and moved their engineering and design resources on to other products.

BP-1

The YC-45D and YC-25D organs got a neat addition: bass pedals that were a sold-separately accessory. I’ve never had the opportunity to try and learn to use bass pedals as a controller, but I can see the allure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s