Today I have decided to write a review of the Yamaha Clavinova CLP-124 model.
I have owned a Yamaha Clavinova CLP-124 since September, and I must say I have always loved this particular model of Clavinova. I have known of and had experience of this model since it emerged in the mid 90's. Admittedly, I am too young to have actually played it back then, but I knew people who have played it. I now have regular contact with both my own CLP-124 and another one. This will hopefully help with regards to comparison for noting perhaps common problems / faults and those particular to the model/s I play.
I would like to say, that it is this Clavinova that initiated my love of Clavinovas. It seems almost ahead of its time through the great variation of voices, the extremely powerful speaker arrangement and the realistic piano sound it produces. All this, however, unfortunately comes at two costs: firstly, it is an extremely heavy piece of kit. I understand Yamaha Clavinovas are not intended to be 'gigged' as such and moved round as if they are Panasonic keyboards from Argos, but I actually have retained my old CLP-360 (which I intended to entirely replace with the 124) for any time I need to transport a Clavinova, as transporting a CLP124 just wouldn't be feasible. The keyboard doesn't come apart from the stand as easily as on previous models.
As previously mentioned, the piano sound is highly realistic, with a brightness to it which would be expected of high quality grand pianos. I regularly use (and reccomend) the following voices on the CLP-124: piano 1, electric piano 1, Clavinova Tone and Strings. The strings tone is extremely slow at coming in, so definitely can only be used for very slow instrumentals. I would not recommend accompanying / being accompanied and switching to strings, as it throws the timing reasonably out. I have previously stated that this clavinova does seem a bit ahead of its time. Some of the voices demonstrate the negative effects of this. For some reason, the piano voice is supplemented by two further piano voices (piano 2 and piano 3 funnily enough!) Unfortunately, in my opinion, these voices can't really have a lot said for them. They both sound relatively bad and don't do justice to the Clavinova. Most of the other voices are also relatively useless. The 'vibes' one sounds like a child's xylophone, which isn't great. Many of the other voices are variations of weird electrical sounds that don't really complement many pieces that I have played.
Both CLP-124 models that I regularly play have very unstable stands, one moreso than the other. If you stood to the side of the clavinova and pushed it, there is quite a bit of movement that the CLP-260 and CLP-360 models I have previously had experience of do not show. This would suggest the model is less than sturdy, although both models having survived from the mid 90's (one in a high usage and occasionally unintentionally abusive environment) are obviously not as unsturdy as they appear.
Although I have already raised a startling number of negatives, especially when comparing the model with the CLP-260 I have previously reviewd (and CLP-360 I have good experience of), there are some undeniable positives about the CLP-124. The CLP-124 is a beautiful model. The shape and finishing of the model is far superior to anything that proceeded it, and in my opinion also superior to more recent models. My main objection to recent models is that the keyboard is very 'sunk' in to the frame. The earlier models have the opposite to this, and often have the appearance of a 'keyboard' on a stand per se. The CLP-124 seems to be right in the middle of the two. There is a permanent feel about it, i.e. it's not a keyboard on a stand, yet at the same time, it's not a keyboard sunk in to a load of plastic (perhaps to give it a similar appearance to the keyboard of a grand piano?? I don't understand the modern design at all. The whole piano is, as aforementioned, generally, beautifully shaped, with a very rounded and whole appearance. As I also have said, this comes at the cost of inability to transport / take apart.
The piano also has a number of simple to use settings, such as the brightness, the reverb etc. The voices all have their own invidual buttons, which makes switching between them in pieces easy, unlike some of the modern 'simple' models, which require the pressing of a function key and then a note simultaneously. The piano is very user friendly, yet at the same time very professional. This is highly attractive to me. Modern models (particularly clavinovas) seem to either be too basic looking, meaning complex manouevres to change voices (as described above), or look like computers with a music keyboard instead of a QWERTY one! Neither of these 'contemporary' looks appeal to me. The CLP-124 had it perfect with a hint of both professionalism and usability!
The sliding cover that comes down over the keys is extremely helpful, unlike the previous versions of clavinova, which have folding music stands and then a cloth cover. Also, on the topic of music stands... having slated the clp-260 music stand, the CLP-124 has a very attractive 'see through' heavy duty plastic music stand, which adds to the very professional appearance of the piano. This feature makes the necessary plastic protrusion out the top of a clavinova stylish, and therefore seem less awkward than the rough and poorly designed attempt on the clp-260.
One other fault I must add, is that 3 of the natuaral keys (all next to eachother) on one of the ones I use have developed recently a 'clicking' noise when pressed. I doubt this is a design fault, I suspect either something has become lodged / loose in the keyboard through general use / wear and tear, so I just find I have to cope with this noise, despite it being rather annoying!
I realize this has been a reasonably critical review, and doesn't particularly read very well. I would, however, say that I recommend this piano to anyone who requires an extremely smart and professional looking and sounding Clavinova. The model has always been my favourite Clavinova, and I would recommend it highly (unless you like to regularly transport your clavinova!), despite any negative attributes highlighted / suggested above.
This piano is discontinued. It is not made anymore, but every now and again, one will pop up online in the right place e.g. ebay!
I cannot 'star rate' this piano, as everything highly depends upon intended usage and expectations.
Lastly, for those who expect a state of the art modern piano which can compete at a serious level with contemporary models, please beware, this piano would severely disappoint!