Yamaha Design “Synapses” CK61



Take your sound where it’s never been before. Anywhere.


The slim, lightweight CK61 combines versatile functionality with portability in a form factor that makes it easy to play anywhere.


The four rounded corners of the back of the unit form an “enclosure” that accentuates the instrument’s gentle shape. Slightly curved edges on both sides make the instrument easier to carry around, and improve fingering when operating the control wheels.


The information that the user sees on the CK61’s front panel is organized for intuitive operations, including the placement of the buttons and the way they light up. For example, the buttons showing the effects for the sound you’ve selected light up in the same color.


The “face” of the instrument seen by the audience is adorned with a crest line offset 8 mm from the edges of the rear panel. This gives the CK61 a sense of presence, even on dimly-lit stages.

Yoshiyuki Tsuge
Yoshiyuki Tsuge
Yamaha Design Laboratory

Supporting creativity and eliciting the appeal of being on stage.

The CK61 is a stage keyboard that was developed with the slogan of “immediate enjoyment in any situation.” Although this model has built-in speakers and can be powered by batteries for instant enjoyment in a variety of places such as at home and in the studio, care was taken to give the product a slim and compact design, so that the player is not aware of the speakers and batteries. For instance, when we look at the way that the keyboard is slanted, we see that the surface of the user interface is positioned at an optimal angle that makes it easy to stand and play the keyboard, but the lower rim that extends towards the player is cut horizontally, which also makes the entire product seem thinner. These kinds of ideas are used throughout the design, resulting in a compact unit that balances easy portability with a full range of functions.

While Yamaha’s insistence on detail is evident throughout this keyboard, the most unique aspect to the CK61 is the design of the rear side that faces the audience. A thin interior line is used to accentuate the shape of the rear panel, a design technique never been seen on a Yamaha keyboard that makes the unit appear more compact and creates a striking figure with a personality all its own. Inspired by the bindings used on guitars, these lines are used on the rear side of the unit as well as on the user interface that houses the various controls, serving as a key element that gives the product a uniform look.

We also conducted numerous interviews with users regarding the controls, studying the button shapes and placement over and over to finally arrive at the current design. The buttons have been grouped by LED color so that players can intuitively locate the button they want even while playing; and we zeroed in on playability by including different types of buttons, such as those that fully illuminate versus those that only illuminate on the sides. The graphics used for visual support in the LCD were also designed specifically for the CK61 to make the instrument easier to play. These features enhance the product’s usability, allowing the player to play while both seeing and hearing what’s going on. The pitch bend wheel located to the left of the controls also deserves close attention. By focusing on the size, placement and how the player’s finger fits on the wheel, we’ve created a design that combines excellent usability with a stylish feel that is uniquely Yamaha.

I’m a guitar player, and for me, the guitar is like my best friend. My hope is that our efforts in designing a lightweight keyboard that offers greater portability than ever will make this keyboard a “best friend” for many players, serving as a catalyst for stirring up excitement on stage.

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