Hi there! This is my review of my new digital piano, the Yamaha P-125. This is Yamaha’s mid range portable digital piano, and is one of the best selling (if not THE best selling) digital pianos in the world. When I was upgrading from my Alesis Recital Pro, I agonized between the Yamaha P-125 and the Roland FP-30, and chose the FP-30. I had that for 6 months and I did really like it, but . . . then I took it back and got a P-125. Check the review out to find out why I think this piano is so awesome and why I have settled on this piano as the perfect one for me.
IMPORTANT UPDATE! THE YAMAHA P-125A:
In 2022, Yamaha announced the P-125A; this is the EXACT same piano, only with one MAJOR difference; there is no built in audio interface on the P-125A – on the P-125A the USB to host port is MIDI only (so you cannot stream audio IN to the P-125A to listen to backing tracks, and you also cannot send audio OUT to easily record). More info throughout the review; BUT I do not recommend buying the P-125A! I would take a good condition USED P-125 instead.
Yamaha P-125 Review – The Summary
88 fully weighted graded hammer action keys with 4 levels of touch sensitivity – matte finish on black keys
24 voices, easily accessible using buttons, 192 notes of polyphony
4 types of reverb, each modifiable to 20 reverb depth settings, plus damper resonance and “SoundBoost”
2 Headphone (1/4″), L/R lines out (1/4″), USB to host (P-125 is MIDI AND Audio, P-125A is MIDI only!) , sustain pedal input (1/4″), triple pedal unit input
- Overall a very good onboard user interface, most common settings and voice selections are very easy; for other settings that do require looking up key combinations, I have to commend Yamaha – they include a very easy to read and use dual sided one page “Quick Operation Guide” on heavy paper; this is a nice touch
- 14 watts of speaker power (2 downward facing speakers + 2 upward facing speakers) with a “Table EQ” setting meant to optimize speaker sound when piano is on a table
- Metronome with voice indication of current BPM
- Transpose capability (and actual tuning)
- Layer/”Dual” mode to layer 2 voices (can also adjust relative volume between voices and shift octaves)
- Split mode with adjustable split point (can also adjust relative volume between voices)
- Lesson/”Duo” mode to split the keyboard into 2 halves with identical pitch
- Half-pedaling (with an upgraded foot pedal – FC3A, or the optional LP-1 triple pedal unit)
- 20 rhythms with optional intros, endings and backing bass (all use a count in)
- Onboard MIDI recording (can include rhythms), one song, 2 tracks
- 50 built in songs, with options to turn on/off the left and right hand parts and play along
- Smart Pianist App (this app is absolutely amazing) adds a ton of features, there are also other useful apps available
Yamaha P-125 – The Details
The Yamaha P-125 has 88 fully weighted, graded hammer action keys, so this approximates the feel of an acoustic piano (the keys feel heavier at the left side of the keyboard and gradually feel lighter as you move up to the right side). This is Yamaha’s dual sensor “GHS” action which has been around for a few years now and is well known and mostly liked. It is the same key action you will find on many of their other entry to mid level pianos like the cheaper Yamaha P-45, or the more expensive Yamaha DGX-660, Yamaha Arius YDP-144 and others. It is also the action used on the newly released Yamaha DGX-670 so it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. There is also a very subtle matte finish on the black keys; this is intended to help keep your fingers from slipping. To be honest, I personally don’t notice this finish when I am playing.
There are 4 levels of touch sensitivity (actually there are 3 levels and an option to disable touch sensitivity); this means that the harder you strike a key the louder it is, and you have 3 levels of that to choose from. So, if you are accustomed to playing a piano with a “heavy” feel, you can adjust the Yamaha P-125 to mimic that a bit closer.
I really enjoy the action on the P-125; it is very fun to play, very “solid” and consistent feeling, not too heavy and not too light and there is no sideways play on the keys whatsoever – you definitely get a sense of a well built product. That being said, since the GHS action is a dual sensor action and does not include escapement, it is not as realistic of an action as some of its competitors. In particular, Roland’s PHA4 action (found on their FP-10, FP-30, FP-30x and FP-60 pianos) is a triple sensor action with escapement; the PHA4 is definitely closer to the feel of an acoustic piano. That doesn’t make the Yamaha GHS action “bad” just not quite as close of a feel to an acoustic piano as the PHA4 is. A very talented reviewer I pay close attention to described the Yamaha GHS action as “2 dimensional but still great to play”, and I think this is a very accurate way to put it.
So does this matter to you? If you are an advanced pianist with a lot of experience playing complex classical pieces on acoustic pianos, or if having the most realistic action possible is more important to you than other features then you might find the GHS action a bit limiting and should probably consider a product from the Roland FP line, or a more expensive Yamaha like the P-515. I have been playing piano less than 2 years, and am still very much a beginner. I owned a Roland FP-30 for 6 months, and while I can tell the difference between the feel of the two pianos, I don’t sound or play better or worse on either, and I love playing both of these actions. I also play almost nothing but modern pop, rock and blues music, and the GHS action is fantastic for that. One of the more noticeable differences to a beginner like me is actually the “ebony and ivory” finish that is on all of the Roland keys; that’s one thing I do wish the P-125 had as well (the matte finish on the P-125 black keys is barely noticeable).
There are 24 voices on the Yamaha P-125. Access to the voices is pretty easy; there is a button for each of the 6 categories of voices (Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Clavichord / Vibraphone, Strings and Bass). Then there are 4 variations within each category that you can easily cycle through by pressing Variation 1/2/3; and the display will always show you at a glance what voice(s) you currently have selected. Here is a sample of each of the voices.
Voices on digital pianos are a very personal thing; some people prefer one manufacturer over another and vice versa. My personal experience with the voices in general on the Yamaha P-125 when compared to the other pianos I have reviewed (and owned) is that the voices on the P-125 provide the best overall “package” of voices in this price range. For example, the piano voices on the Roland FP-30 and the Yamaha P-125 are quite different from each other but both sets sound fantastic to me; but almost all the other voices on the Yamaha (in my opinion) are better then their counterparts on the Roland; in particular the electric pianos. And a side note on the voices on the Yamaha – unlike many other pianos I have tested, the volume as you switch from voice to voice on the P-125 is very consistent. Many other piano voice volumes vary drastically as you switch from voice to voice which can be annoying.
For effects, the P-125 has 4 types of reverb (Recital Hall, Concert Hall, Chamber, Club and then off), and also allows you to further adjust the depth of your chosen reverb by 20 levels. In the first few months of owning my P-125, to be honest I don’t change the reverb settings often. The following video gives some quick examples of the reverb settings on the default Grand Piano voice. I will play a sample with the reverb off, then I will play one with the first reverb type (Recital Hall) on its default level. Then in order to hear the differences between the reverb types as clearly as possible, I will increase the reverb depth to level 10 and briefly play each type; I will complete the demo by maxing the reverb to 20 and playing Recital Hall again.
The Yamaha P-125 also has a “Sound Boost” feature. This piano is a very popular gigging piano (since it has line out ports, good action and good sounds), and this setting is meant to make all notes as audible as possible (even those played softly) – useful to help “cut through the mix” in a live setting.
There is also a damper resonance setting (on/off – default is on) that only applies to piano voices. When on, this is intended to more closely mimic the extra resonance you may notice on an acoustic piano as the damper pedal is engaged and released (strings reacting to felts etc).
The Yamaha P-125 has 2 x 1/4″ line out ports for connecting to external audio (amplifiers, audio interfaces, mixers etc) – this is one of the reasons this instrument is popular as a gigging piano (many pianos including the Roland FP-30 do not have these ports so you have to use the headphone port which is not ideal). There is also a 1/4″ generic sustain pedal port, and a specialized port for the triple pedal unit meant for this piano.
The P-125 does come with a cheap plastic foot switch style pedal (the FC5) – you will want to replace this as soon as possible for either a generic sustain pedal, the Yamaha FC3A pedal, or the triple pedal unit (LP-1). Both the FC3A and the LP-1 allow half pedaling on the sustain/damper pedal, and the 2 left pedals on the LP-1 can also be used for page turning functions with compatible sheet/chord music apps. There are 2 x 1/4″ headphone ports on the front of the piano.
The REALLY cool connectivity feature about the Yamaha P-125 that doesn’t get near the attention it deserves is that the USB to device port (used to transmit MIDI data to and from a device on most pianos) also transmits AUDIO data in both directions!
NOTE: On the P-125A, this port is MIDI only, so the benefits below only apply to the P-125!
This is because Yamaha has built an audio interface into this port. This offers a couple of huge benefits:
- You can use this connection as an audio in to stream audio from your device to your piano so you hear that audio through your speakers / headphones (so you can play along with YouTube videos, your iTunes collection, online courses etc)
- You can record audio (as opposed to just MIDI) without the need for an external audio interface device – with most digital pianos (including my Alesis Recital Pro and my Roland FP-30) to record audio, I had to use the line out/headphone ports to connect to an external audio interface which in turn connects to my recording device (an iPad running GarageBand); with the P-125 you can record audio directly to your device (which also gives you a much better quality audio signal, because it skips a round of processing done by your external interface) – see the short video below comparing an audio recording made with the USB to device port (direct) vs. a recording made using the line outs to an audio interface first (and please note I am not an audio technician; this might just be an issue with the quality of my audio interface):
- And as a further added benefit you can turn audio loop back on or off; so for example if you are playing along with audio coming IN to your piano from your device, you have the ability to include (or not include) that audio along with your piano playing in the audio stream you are sending back to your recording app/software
Rhythms & Backing Bass
The Yamaha P-125 has 20 rhythms built in that you can play along with, and you can choose to include or not include the bass lines. Although there are only 20 rhythms (compared to the hundreds you will find on pianos & keyboards with fancy arranger functionality), I’ve been really impressed with the selection of rhythms available – I have always been able to find a suitable rhythm for any of the songs I play, including straight, syncopated & shuffle beats as well as useful 3/4 and even 6/8 beats. I also really like a couple of simple things about how Yamaha implemented their rhythms: there is a count in for each one, and there is a quick intro and outro for each one (which you can turn off if you like).
Here is a list of the beats available, and a video going through each of the beats (including the bass – but you can turn that off if you like).
The Other Features
Metronome: You can configure the metronome not only for tempo, but you can also edit what beat the main “chime” is on (the default is 4, you can change that to 3 for 3/4, 2 for 2/4 etc). While setting the metronome is done with key combinations like on many other pianos, the numbers you use are clearly labelled, and you get a helpful voice indication of not only what you choose, but if you need to confirm your current tempo you can easily get a voice confirmation of that as well
Dual Track Recording: You can record 2 tracks onboard (in MIDI format) and you can include rhythms in them if you like, and have different voices on each track. This feature is handy for making a quick recording of something without having to hook up any devices. If you wanted to, you could connect the piano to a device and then export the onboard MIDI track; but keep in mind that the USB MIDI port can send MIDI data directly to an external device, so you could just record it directly. NOTE: The recording options and features using the Smart Pianist app offer much more functionality (including recording in audio as well as MIDI) so make sure you check out that section of the review.
Transposing: You can easily transpose keys up or down – super handy feature, especially for beginners (like me 🙂 ), and you can also fine tune the instrument if you need to tune to an acoustic instrument you are playing with.
Layer Mode: This allows you to specify one voice as the “main” voice over another “secondary” voice. A very common version of this is piano over strings, often used for ballads; on other pianos I have owned, that’s usually the only layering combination I used. But there are so many great voices on the Yamaha P-125 that I am layering all sorts of voice combinations quite often. The synth pad is great as a strings alternative, and the electric pianos are great voices to include in layering as well. You can also adjust the relative volumes of each of the split voices to make one or the other louder or softer, and you can also shift the octave of each voice up or down (piano over a +1 octave shifted synth pad sounds very cool :).
Split Mode: This allows you to split the keyboard into two voices, one on the left and one on the right. I use this often while practicing jazz or bass pieces with walking bass lines – I put one of the bass voices on the left (usually the one that includes the cymbal) and either a piano, electric piano or organ voice on the right (and turn off the auto bass included with the rhythm). You can also adjust where the split point is between the 2 voices.
Lesson Mode: This splits the keyboard into 2 halves with the same octave (so that you and a teacher can both play the same notes at the same time).
Built In Songs: There are 50 songs built in to the piano that you can play back, adjust the tempo of, and turn off the right or left hand parts to play along one hand at a time.
Here is a quick video on layering and splitting the piano with bass voices:
Smart Pianist App
Yamaha’s Smart Pianist App adds so much fantastic functionality it deserves a review of it’s own, which I will be linking to as soon as it is ready. In order to keep from making this review WAY too long, I am just going to quickly go over the main features of this app.
- Easily control ALL of the piano settings
The onboard controls of the P-125 are better than most pianos in this price range, but there are still some settings that you will need the manual or the “Quick Operation Guide” page to look up key combinations. With the app you have a very easy to use graphical interface for all settings, so you won’t need to manually look up anything.
- Save Registrations
The app allows you to easily save, name and quickly recall ALL settings you have modified – this includes the voice(s), rhythms, tempo, any modifications such as tuning, reverb settings, layer volumes; pretty much anything! I save these into song names that I have in my repertoire for instant recall and it is an awesome feature.
- Sheet Music For Built In Songs
The app includes sheet music for all the built in songs, so you can watch the app scroll through the sheet music as you play along. You can disable the left or right hands, and you can adjust the tempo and even transpose the song and the sheet music will adjust!
- Generate Chord Charts!
This is an amazing feature and tool; you can load a song from your iTunes library on your device into the app, and it will analyze the song and generate a chord chart for you. And then you can play along with the song while watching the app scroll through the chords; you can even transpose the song and the app will update the chord chart!
- Record In MIDI
You can record and save your play in MIDI format, and the app will generate sheet music for what you played. Then you can reload the song and play along with it. Note that when you use the app for this, it will overwrite the current onboard MIDI recording.
- Record In AUDIO
You can record your play in audio format as well, in this case the app will generate a chord chart for you that you can play along with later. This is super useful, especially if you are recording an idea you had – that way the chords are even there for you if you come back a week later having forgotten your new hit single!
- Upload Your Audio Recordings
Your can quickly and easily upload your audio recordings in .wav format to a DropBox account (a free DropBox account is fine), and then from there easily and quickly share it with friends, family or post to your social media
- Upload Your Audio Recordings
The Other Choices
The Yamaha P-125 currently sells in the US for approximately $650 USD. The most common competitors for the P-125 are as follows (I am most familiar with the Roland products having owned an FP-30 for 6 months so I will be focusing on those).
- Casio PSX-1000 (Approx $650 USD)
Very interesting piano; super slim, very portable (light and can run on batteries), does have L/R line outs & a 1/8″ audio in, good sounds (18), 16 watt speakers, unique dual sensor action with simulated ebony & ivory keys (although in my opinion Casio went overboard with the finish on the keys – it’s REALLY exaggerated – the simulated finish on the Roland products is much more subtle and nicer to play – in my opinion), virtually no physical buttons (all smooth light up tactile buttons – same technology as your phone or tablet) – not a great onboard interface though, lots of key combinations need to be looked up from the manual. Good option for playing live given the outputs and battery capability; but make sure you play one first because the action is very unique (this is due to the slim form factor); many people criticize the action on this piano, many others (including pro pianists using them live) love it. I didn’t mind it, but I personally much prefer the action on the Roland FP products and the Yamaha P series. There are no rhythms on this piano.
- Casio PSX-3000 (Approx $850 USD)
Big brother to the PSX-1000; same slim form factor, speakers and unique dual sensor key action, but adds an LCD screen, a much improved onboard interface, as well as 700 sounds (including some fantastic pianos and electric pianos), 200 rhythms & backing tracks (quite a few capabilities usually only found on arranger keyboards), and the ability to record audio to USB flash drives. I strongly considered this piano against the P-125, but I preferred the action on the P-125 as well as the app functionality and the very simple and easy to use (and tactile) onboard user interface. I love playing with rhythms and backing bass (that’s one of the reasons I switched to the Yamaha from the Roland), but I’m also a bit “old school”; so I decided that the basic but well implemented and very usable 20 rhythm options on the Yamaha were plenty for me. That way I could spend more time practicing instead of spending a bunch of time sifting through hundreds of sounds and rhythms (and I need practice!). If having hundreds of sounds and rhythms available IS your kind of thing, this is definitely a piano you should consider.
- Kawai ES110 (Approx $700 USD)
Unfortunately I have no access to Kawai pianos where I live so I can’t really offer much of an opinion, other than just looking up specs online; given that I have never played or even seen one in person, I didn’t bother looking up specs, but included it here because it is often compared to the P-125, and does get favorable reviews so it may be an option for you.
- Roland FP-10 (Approx $650 USD)
Pro’s: Roland’s PHA4 triple sensor action with escapement & simulated ebony & ivory keys
Con’s: Only 12 watt downward facing speakers, 15 sounds (only the piano sounds are comparable to the Yamaha P-125), no rhythms, no L/R line outputs, no onboard recording (audio or MIDI), USB port is MIDI only, no audio in/out, virtually non-existent onboard user interface, much less functional app available
- Roland FP-30 (approx $720 USD)
Pro’s: Roland’s PHA4 triple sensor action with escapement & simulated ebony & ivory keys, 22 watt speakers (but downward facing), 35 sounds (spectacular piano sounds)
Con’s: Most sounds other than the piano ones aren’t really comparable to the Yamaha P-125 versions, only 8 rhythms (only 2-3 usable and not well implemented), no L/R line outputs, only single track onboard recording, USB port is MIDI only (no audio in/out built in), very limited onboard user interface, much less functional app available
- Roland FP-30x (approx $750 USD)
The Plot Thickens 🙂
Roland has recently (at the time of this review) released an upgraded version of the FP-30 with some much desired improvements. Here are the notable changes included in the FP-30x:
Proper 1/4″ L/R line out ports, Bluetooth audio in (to stream audio from your device to play along with), double the polyphony from 128 to 256, and more voices (46 compared to 35) but more importantly some much improved voices (particularly the electric pianos). They have however removed onboard rhythms entirely (they weren’t well implemented anyways), and there is a new app “Piano Every Day” that replaces the “Piano Partner 2” app (in addition to making piano settings control easier, the app also tracks your practice time, has some training features and games, has the ability to purchase and download sheet music to play along with, and also has rhythms and accompaniment). According to 3 sources I have reached out to thus far, it does appear that the USB to device port DOES allow audio data as well as MIDI, so assuming this is the case; this is a big addition.
Yamaha P-125 Review – The Verdict
Whether the Yamaha P-125 is the right piano for YOU really depends on your specific needs and interests. There is no doubt whatsoever that it provides massive value & tons of versatility for the price (almost all of the pianos that it typically gets compared to are more expensive).
When Would I Recommend The Roland FP Series: This really comes down to how important the action is to you – if having the most realistic piano action possible is very important to you – if your goals are to play complex classical pieces, or you are taking traditional lessons on an acoustic piano, and plan to take formal piano tests (which will be on acoustic pianos) then the great quality piano sounds and triple sensor action on the FP series might be a better choice for you and may be worth sacrificing other missing features.
When Would I Recommend The Roland FP-30x: If having the most realistic piano action possible is very important to you (see above) but you also want to have 1/4″ L/R lineouts so you can play live, and would like to have a Bluetooth audio in, and are still ok with sacrificing other features like rhythms and a nicer onboard user interface, then the FP-30x would be a good (albeit a fair bit more expensive) option.
When Would I Recommend The Casio PSX Series: If battery operation is critical to you & you are ok with the unique action and sacrificing rhythms and a good onboard user interface, then the PSX-1000 might be a good option for you. If you also want to have arranger functions and would be excited about hundreds of sounds and rhythms, then the PSX-3000 would be a good option for you to consider.
Why I Chose & Recommend The Yamaha P-125: The Yamaha P-125 just seems to check off ALL of the boxes for me; the sounds are all good, the fully weighted action is good, the onboard user interface is good and easy to use, there is a well implemented and easy to use set of rhythms, it has 1/4″ L/R line outs for playing live, it has an audio interface built into the USB-Device port to function as an audio in, or to record high quality audio directly to your device, and it has a fantastic app with more functionality than the competitors; and oh yeah, the P-125 is tied for the cheapest price on this list.
So with all that in mind, I would HIGHLY recommend this piano if it fits in with your needs and budget.
I do not recommend the P-125A anywhere near as much as the P-125 because Yamaha removed the audio interface from the USB to host port – this removes significant functionality (streaming audio both in and out of the piano)
If you would like to check current prices for the Yamaha P-125 or for any of the other pianos I’ve mentioned here, please click my appropriate affiliate link below to check that out.
Thanks so much, and happy piano playing! (and piano shopping 😉 )
Check Prices On Amazon
I have included links below to Amazon so that you can check current pricing – please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases
If you have any questions about my experience with the 3 pianos I have owned (the Yamaha P-125, the Roland FP-30 or the Alesis Recital Pro) or any of the other pianos I have reviewed, please feel free to contact me!