Yamaha CS5

I learnt the basics of analog synthesis with this keyboard and it will always have a soft spot in my heart.

It was not the most powerful synthesiser, having only a single oscillator (VCO). I used to virtually always use the PWM to make it sound thicker and give the tone more body. Another limitation was the single envelope generator which you could apply to the filter (VCF) and/or the amplifier (VCA).

One of the things I used to enjoy doing was to use its external input to play my guitar through the CS5. By adjusting the trigger level, the CS5 could shape each note, again both the filter and amplifier, to create effects such as violining or autowah.

The CS5 was incredibly reliable and never caused any problems with the exception of one incident, which could hardly be considered a blight on the CS5's reliability. While in Howz Trix we travelled to the gigs in an old Ford Transit van. We made a bench seat out of the PA speakers so that we could all fit in the van and so avoid taking an extra car. The inside of the Transit had a small shelf running around it wwhere the top joined the sides; the shelf being the seam that joined the two pieces together. This shelf was just about big enough and suitably shaped to hold a bottle of Necastle Brown Ale and inevitably, the 'shelf' around this PA speaker bench seat used to fill with empties. At this point I had not yet made a case for the CS5 and used to carry it on my knees. One day, on the way to a gig, we hit a bump on the road, a Newcastle Brown bottle fell off the shelf and onto the CS5. I gave the synth a look over but it appeared to be undamaged. Once we got to the gig and set up, we started the sound check and as I hit a note, the key jumped out of the synth and across the stage. The bottle had snapped the key at its pivot point but the key had been held in place until I started playing. Fortunately I always had a little toolkit with me and I quickly pulled the synth apart, glued the pieces of the key together and got it all back together again before the show. Fortunately, the glue held for the night and I was able to get it home and make a more permanent repair. By the time we started our round of gigs the following week, the CS5 had a nice new case that I'd made to protect it.

  • Purchased: 1981
  • Sold: 2001
  • Gigged with:
    • Egor's Funky Jumper
    • Mirror Image
    • Activator
    • Radio Stars
    • Howz Trix

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Overview Specification Resources

Information from Vintage Synth Explorer

The Yamaha CS5 has all you need for vintage analog bass and synth effects at a very affordable price! The CS-5 is a single-oscillator monophonic analog synthesizer with classic filter, envelope and modulation controls. It features 37 full-sized keys, a multi-mode 12 dB/Oct resonant filter, an LFO with sample and hold, and an external audio input you can route through the VCF or VCA sections. The CS-5 is a very flexible and modulate-able analog synth that is quite capable of warm analog bass and bubbly synth effects! The absence of patch storage, MIDI and velocity are just reminders that the CS-5 is old - it's Vintage! It's been used by:

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Depeche Mode
  • Richard Barbieri
  • Sneaker Pimps


  • Polyphony: Monophonic
  • Oscillators: 1 VCO with waveforms:
    • Pulse
    • Sawtooth
    • Noise-generator
  • LFO: 1 LFO with waveforms:
    • Sine
    • Sawtooth
    • Sample and Hold
  • Filter: 1 filter selectable between:
    • 12dB/oct High pass
    • 12dB/oct Low pass
    • 6dB/oct band-pass
  • Keyboard
    • 37 keys