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How much is a Yamaha Portasound PSS 290 worth?
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Daisuk
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#1
11th May 2013
Old 11th May 2013
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How much is a Yamaha Portasound PSS 290 worth?

I have one of these back home at my parent's house somewhere, and I'm pretty sure it's in a good condition. Really shitty sounding keyboard, but it's somewhat old-school, so could be worth something right?



Anyone got any clue if these are worth anything these days?
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11th May 2013
Old 11th May 2013
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$25 at most. The 390 is the slightly more desirable model, because it's got sliders.

Whoever buys it probably intends to circuit-bend it.
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11th May 2013
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I got one for £7. The 390 has sliders and 75 more rhythm styles.

The 290 can be circuit bent to create amazing nasty bass sounds.

I love them.
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Daisuk
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11th May 2013
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Cool! That was what I was thinking. Have absolutely no clue on how to circuit bend, but would be awesome to try. Thanks, guys!

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11th May 2013
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The alien and golf effects are amazing aren't they LMAO
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11th May 2013
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Haha, yeah! The sounds on that thing are just ridiculous, I remember thinking that even back when I got it when I was six. That alien sound has become somewhat of an inside joke between my brother, father and me whenever we're refering to really shit music. And that ultra cheesy show off track that would play when you press the yellow button. Still remember the tune of that.

How did you circuit bend it? Do you have any pointers as to how to start?

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11th May 2013
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Circuitbend for more than you ever wanted to know.

Basics:

- get a set of probes
- test one thing at a time
- take notes, or record everything you do on video
- get batteries, do not use the wall-wart
- note down the "interesting" connections you make/break, that way you can install switches so you can recall them at will.

Alternatively, give it to a young child in your family to start their interest in music.

The "alien" sound on a PSS380 (same as 390, different color scheme and probably different demo song), tweaking the sliders:

https://soundcloud.com/yoozer/buchla-budget-bongos

edit: one of the built-in rhythms is Colonel Abrams's "Trapped" - hit a minor chord and listen closely to the bassline. I think it's in one of the first dozen presets.
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11th May 2013
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The 380 and 280 have a darker paint job, and a different demo, it's really dark sounding.

There's a guide on circuit bending 2op Yamaha FM somewhere online, it seems you need to cut traces on the board then wire switches to them so you can switch the glitches on and off.
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11th May 2013
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the PSS 290 is PCM sample based not FM (like the the PSS synths that end with an "80") as such it is not worth very much.

how ever it does have a very cool demo



also a great link for any one interested in information on the PSS line from Yamaha is this

Yamaha PSS list

be aware that this link sits on a slow server and takes a few seconds to load

the coolest ones IMHO are the PSS 680 and 790. The 680 is a 2 op FM beast with great drum sounds that are low fi samples from the RX7 yet sound really cool. The 2 OP FM engine can also be fully edited via free software.

The 790 came out a bit later when Yamaha was pushing AWM technology and so its AWM with "vector synthesis" where you move a joystick around to blend 4 sampled waves. Not sure where the sampled drums came from but they sound really good.

Bothe the 680 and the 790 also have really good MIDI implementation
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11th May 2013
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I like the 680/780, my faves are the 390 and 460 though (FM drums!)

I'm 100% sure that the PSS 290 is FM based, yes, I know the 90's were sometimes PCM, and yes, it isn't editable so looks kinda like a static PCM affair, but it is FM, thus:

290: FM keyboard with 100 presets, 100 Rhythms, sliders to create custom sounds.
280: Same 100 presets, only 20 rhythms, no sliders.
390/290: New paintjob versions with different demos but otherwise identical.

Slider ones £30-£50
Non Slider £7 - £20

I like the 380's demo it's dark and atmospheric
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Oh PS, these 4 all have PCM sampled drums but FM for the melody sounds, to confuse everyone lol.
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11th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post

The "alien" sound on a PSS380 (same as 390, different color scheme and probably different demo song), tweaking the sliders:

https://soundcloud.com/yoozer/buchla-budget-bongos
That is so cool sounding! Thanks for posting. ('buchla-budget-bongos' is a great name for it too.)
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11th May 2013
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Circuit bending is like a choose your own adventure. What's this wire do when I stick it here? If it does something cool add a variable resistor and see if that makes a cool sound. And that's really all you need to know.
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11th May 2013
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Cool! This is great. Thanks a lot, people! I'm getting a friend over in a few hours, I think he has circuit bended some shit before, so we'll have a go at some point! Thanks a lot for a lot of useful information, and the youtube link to that crazy cheesy demo song! :D
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11th May 2013
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Not much on resell market, but as a first step into circuit bending, it could be priceless??
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11th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post

I'm 100% sure that the PSS 290 is FM based, yes, I know the 90's were sometimes PCM, and yes, it isn't editable so looks kinda like a static PCM affair, but it is FM, thus:
you are correct my friend, it gets confusing because Yamaha would sample it's other synths or have presets with the same names but different tones.

I have a TON of these old PSS keys lying around.

If you really want some cool FM fun look for a PSR-36. It has full sized keys, great midi controls, a built in programmable drum machine with very high quality samples from the RX-7 and uses a very different 4op FM tone generator than that of other Yamaha 4op synths. I am pretty sure Yamaha made this 4op tone generator for high end sound cards of the late 80's early 90's. You edit the 36 built in tones with sliders and you can get some amazing sounds

The FM chip inside is very different looking than the one in my DX21 and just has the word "Yamaha" printed on it with no numbers of any kind, in addition to the FM it also produces PCM sounds for the drums
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11th May 2013
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The 36, I believe, is the full size version of the PSS 570/470, which is the 460 with PCM drums instead, i know how nice it sounds, and would like to have the 36 as i like full size keys and i believe it has midi!
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13th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grasspike View Post

the coolest ones IMHO are the PSS 680 and 790. The 680 is a 2 op FM beast with great drum sounds that are low fi samples from the RX7 yet sound really cool. The 2 OP FM engine can also be fully edited via free software.

The 790 came out a bit later when Yamaha was pushing AWM technology and so its AWM with "vector synthesis" where you move a joystick around to blend 4 sampled waves. Not sure where the sampled drums came from but they sound really good.

Bothe the 680 and the 790 also have really good MIDI implementation
I have PSS-680. It is a very good one. The synthesizer part is the best and you can make very interesting cool FM sounds just by 2 op. But it is button pushing and menu method looking at LED. It is not too difficult. But I was always interested in PSS-390 because of slider for more faster live use. I am not interested in circuit bending.
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