In 2015, Yamaha created the Reface range of pint-sized keyboards. There were four, and each one tried to capture the essence of classic instruments in a diminutive form. The CP covered electromechanical pianos, the DX covered FM and the DX7, the CS covered virtual analogue synthesis, and this, the YC, is an attempt to shrink those classic tonewheel and reed organs down to size.
It's very simple - you get a Hammond, a Vox Continental, a Farfisa, an Ace Tone (i.e. Roland before they were Roland) organ, and a shot at Yamaha's own YC-10, which had a striking red tolex livery (it's still used today by psych bands such as Bitchin' Bajas). Perhaps in a nod to that, the tough plastic casing of the YC is also finished in a striking 'Racy Red', making it arguably the most striking and attractive in the range. The control panels are basic, accessible and immediate. You get master volume, octave switch (5 switches over 37 keys, so, pretty wide), model select, vibrato/chorus with depth control, two types of percussion - not drum sounds, more like short pitched notes on a synth with the sustain turned all the way down and a fast decay and release - there is a 'length' control to determine release), and two effects - distortion and reverb. There's also a rotary speaker emulation that can be applied to all models, and this offers four states - off, stop, slow and fast, with a toggle switch. Tonal shaping is, thrillingly, driven by no less than nine mini-drawbars for some primitive added synthesis fun!
So - it doesn't sound like a lot, but when you combine all these possibilities together - the models, the drawbars, the effects and the rotary cabinet - hundreds of permutations are actually possible.
The models themselves are pretty sonically accurate. You can get some great 'Dark Side of The Moon' organ tones using the Hammond. The Farfisa is great for early Pink Floyd (think Piper or Echoes). The Vox is a bit weaker - it's harder to dial in that truly trashy garage rock sound, even with the distortion added. The Ace Tone almost sounds like a synth, and the YC has the same vibe. Of course, in a small digital modelling synth, you're never going to get the mojo of the original instruments, but these sounds are authentic enough to sit in a mix, and certainly good enough for gigging.
Here are the downsides (IMHO): the keys are too small, the vibrato/chorus section is poor (there's basically no difference between the two), the distortion effect is good at low settings but begins to sound pretty grim when it's fully cranked, and the MIDI output socket is weird, needing a breakout cable which you might easily lose. I would have also liked a sort of 'hold' function, but I suppose that would have detracted from the spirit of recreating the original instruments. The rotary effect sounds excellent! Really nice, but it would have been even better if you had more control over the ramping times, or maybe a way of controlling this with an expression pedal. It's also a bit fiddly to change it when you're playing big chords with two hands, which is where a hold section would have come in handy. The reverb is lovely, and really brings the tones to life. The percussion section is also a great feature once you work out that it can be used make the sounds of say, the ethereal plinky organ parts on the Doors 'Waiting For The Sun'. There's no delay effect - if they could have built a Binson Echorec emulation in, that would have been fantastic for 'Piper' -era tones, but I suppose that's what pedals are for, right?
So overall, if you're wanting a Stereolab / Doors / Velvet Underground / Early Floyd vibe, and you don't want to hulk a 300lb behemoth to gigs, you could do a lot worse than this.
I like purpose built instruments. This was made to emulate Vox, Ace Tone, and Yamaha YC organs and it does a good job of that. Oh, and Hammond/Leslie emulations which have been around for a while and are a little overused. So please make more use of the Vox, Ace Tone, and Yamaha YC tones which have a different character to them.