Yamaha CS-50 Analog Polyphonic Synthesizer

The instrument

The Yamaha CS-50, introduced in 1977, is a polyphonic analog synthesizer known for its expressive sound and performance features. As the entry-level model in Yamaha's CS series, it shares many characteristics with its more advanced siblings, the CS-60 and CS-80, but in a more compact and affordable package. The CS-50 was designed to provide high-quality analog sounds to a wider range of musicians, offering a versatile and expressive instrument suitable for both studio and live use.

Among others, the Yamaha CS-50 is known to have been used by musicians like Men Without Hats and Herbie Hancock.


The Yamaha CS-50 features four voice polyphony, each voice equipped with a single oscillator capable of producing sawtooth, square, and pulse waveforms. The synthesizer includes a resonant low-pass filter (12dB/oct) with adjustable cutoff and resonances, a high-pass filter and a dedicated LFO (Low-Frequency Oscillator) for modulation effects, including vibrato and tremolo.

A key feature of the CS-50 is its expressive performance controls. The 49-note keyboard is equipped with monophonic aftertouch, which allows for dynamic control over parameters such as filter cutoff, pitch, and vibrato. This feature enhances the instrument's expressiveness, making it highly responsive to the player's touch.

The synthesizer's control panel is user-friendly, with sliders and switches for easy access to all major functions. This straightforward interface allows for quick adjustments and sound creation, making the CS-50 suitable for both beginners and experienced synthesists.