Yamaha CS-80

Yamaha CS-80 Image

A very old and very huge (over 200 lbs.) classic synthesizer. Considered Japans first great synthesizer. It had some pretty amazing features for its time such as eight voice polyphony, patch memory storage and polyphonic aftertouch. It can generate great analog strings, brass, drones and pads with that instantly recognizable classic polysynth sound. No synth sounds greater. Some examples of its extremely fat sound can be heard in "Blade Runner" and "Mutiny on the Bounty" by Vangelis as well as "Dune" by Toto. The thing that really made this synth sound so powerful was its "natural" detuning....thus its brass and string sounds were unparalleled not only for authenticity, but for pure width! Unfortunately for the CS-80, it was released the same year as the more programmable and cheaper Prophet 5.

With two analog oscillators per voice, the CS-80 has the potential for some really thick sounds! A great VCF (filter) with independent hi pass and low pass resonant filters, a powerful ring modulator and plenty of modulation controls further enhance the CS-80's sonic potential. There are 22 preset sounds (6 user) selected from bright and ugly colored buttons above the keyboard. The keyboard is weighted and has a full 61 keys with performance controllers for vibrato, pitch, brightness and volume. Surprisingly there's also a long ribbon controller for the pitch-bending, located above the keyboard. There is no MIDI or cv/gate control. The only way to MIDI it is via a rather complex retrofit receive-only kit from Kenton.

Yamaha CS-80 Image

It has been used by Vangelis, Chicago, Jethro Tull, Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Bon Jovi, Simple Minds, Paul McCartney, Michael McDonald, Brian Eno, Toto, Eddie Jobson, Doug Johnson (Loverboy), The Crystal Method, Jean Michel Jarre, Geoffrey Downes (Yes, Asia), Rick Wakeman, Stevie Wonder, Phish, Daft Punk, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and Tony Banks of Genesis.

Check out Arturia's CS-80V - an amazing, totally authentic and realistic software synth plug-in modeled after the CS-80, with major enhancements including stereo voices, non-drifting oscillators, advanced modulation abilities, MIDI/Tempo sync, patch memory, total recall, controller automation, and much more - all for less than $250!

Lookup Yamaha CS-80 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Yamaha CS-80? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

50 Visitor comments
July 10, 2010 @ 7:25 pm
Possibly the greatest the synthesizer ever to be made by human hands. I have owned one of these for the last thirteen years and still find ways of getting new and dynamic sounds out of it. Simply beautiful. There's always the Arp 2600 and Korg MS-20 but those two were obviously made by aliens.
May 25, 2010 @ 9:57 am
I wouldn't expect a plug-in to exactly emulate an old, classic synth but what no one has mentioned is that once it is placed in a mix, it would be extremely difficult for even an experienced user to say with certainty which one they were hearing.

And Eddie Jobson recently went out, using the Arturia with TWO Prophet T8s for controllers. There may be other people who know the CS80 as well as EJ but there aren't any who know it better.
Jim Swonger
May 6, 2010 @ 3:25 pm
I was able to get one of these keyboards for free, it was in a closet at a university and no-one wanted it. It is a blast to play with, though it does heat the apartment nicely and pitch tends to change a bit with temp.
Harlem Nights
February 15, 2010 @ 2:10 pm
You can see 3 of these on stage in John Foxx "Underpass" performance in TOTP (youtube)
February 10, 2010 @ 7:10 pm
Top synth, have used them for years, one of my faves. You can check one of mine out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5esV1RiIB8o&feature=channel An absolute dream to own and play, but can take you most of a full day to tune..! Prepare for Synth Heaven... ;c )
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 times two patches
  • Oscillators - saw, square, sine wave, noise, PW and PWM, LFO
  • LFO - 5 waveform function LFO can modulate either or all of VCO, VCF and VCA
  • Filter - HP, res, LP, res, filter ADR envelope
  • VCA - mix in for the VCF out and the sine, ADSR
  • Keyboard - 61 weighted keys w/ velocity and polyphonic aftertouch
  • Memory - 4 Patches
  • Control - external modulation input
  • Date Produced - 1977-79
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Additional information provided by DAC Crowell and Tony Orant.

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