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).
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Yamaha CS-50 #1251 Part 2: closer, much closer

Calibrating and tuning a CS-50 (and I assume the other nearest siblings) is an iterative process.  There are pitfalls at every step, and when you finally reach the end you get a nice easter egg -a tuned 4 (or more) voice synth!  In the last post I quickly diagnosed why my CS-50 didn’t make a sound -having the TU (tuning) voltage jumped to ground.  This post is about other problems.  The CS-50 circuitry has a lot of functions that are distributed among a couple of boards, so you may find you have a tuning problem originating in your SUB board, or a portamento problem originating from your PRA board.  Well, I had a TU problem coming from my SUB board – no matter what I tried, I got 6.5 volts at the TU terminal -trim pots had no effect… this terminal is supposed to be 4.000 volts.  Lots of head scratching and component replacement later I decided to just order a CS-50 SUB board from synthparts.com -a handy side effect of CS-50 voice boards being worth $400 – $500 each, making the CS-50 worth about 2x it’s ‘complete working’ value in parts is that CS-50 specific parts are CHEAP.  I got a complete front panel and lower chassis in like new condition for $150 while I was at it.  Too much money probably, but not bad really if you just want to fix your cheaply obtained synth that just happens to be worth more as parts.

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Part way through a power supply recap.  I am told the small value green caps don’t really tend to fail, and to leave them alone.  After the recap it’s a good idea to look at the rail voltages again just in case. Continue reading

Yamaha CS-50 #1251 Part 1: Bringing home strays

I decided to be ‘one of those guys’ and placed an ad on Craigslist looking for an ARP Odyssey (really want one!!), anyway -responses were thin and expensive except for a ‘broken Yamaha CS-50’.  I went for a look and hey-ho next thing I knew I had a $600 CS-50 in the back of my car.  Considering perfect ones sell for $1200 – $2000, the price was probably high for how little worked on it, but I decided to take a chance since I like a challenge.  It came with a lid and legs.

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A good looking specimen.  All slider caps are present.  The keyboard is in great shape.  Not too many scratches.  Even came with the legs.  The LFO control board has a bunch of paint loss in the lower left corner -like the PO played with a metal band watch on.

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