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Take It Away

Take It Away offers interest free loans to purchase musical instruments, gear and software. They are managed by Creative United, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company and funded by the Arts Council England. At Hickies Music Store with the “Take It Away” scheme, you can get a interest free loan of between £100 and £5,000.

To be eligible you must:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Be a permanent UK resident
  • Have a regular income that exceeds £5,000 per year
  • Hold a bank or building society account capable of handling direct debit payments

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Yamaha YDP vs CLP | What is the difference and which should you choose?


Naturally we get many questions from our customers who are trying to make a comparison between Yamaha’s Arius “YDP” and Clavinova “CLP” range of digital pianos. In this article we aim to outline the main differences between comparable models within this series of digital pianos.

We always think it is best to try any instrument before you buy, as this is the only way to know if the instrument will suite your needs. We have every major Yamaha digital piano at our gallery in our music store, located on 153 Friar Street, Reading.

Yamaha Arius Range

Best suited for new students and those seeking a more cost effective digital piano. The Arius range has everything you need to comfortably enjoy the benefits of a digital piano without a larger price tag.

It is worth remembering that Yamaha continually upgrades their Arius piano range (about every three years) normally introducing features that where formally exclusive the their Clavinova range of digital pianos. This means that many of the features present in today’s Yamaha YDP are both surprisingly premium but also affordable.

Yamaha Clavinova Range

Intended to create the best acoustic experience that a digital piano can offer. The Clavinova range from Yamaha has a very authentic and premium build for those seeking an acoustic piano experience and also introduces many great features that only a digital piano can offer.

Here we have the first three models in the CLP line up of Clavinova pianos. These models have been chosen because they are the most comparable to the Arius range offered by Yamaha. However it is worth noting that Yamaha also offer the CSP and CVP line of digital pianos within their Clavinova range.

Feature Differences


Below is a list outlining the system types and key finish types for the Arius and Clavinova range.

YDP-144 AriusGHS Keyboard SystemMatte black key tops
YDP-164 AriusGH3 Keyboard SystemSynthetic ebony and ivory key tops
YDP-S54 AriusGH3 Keyboard SystemSynthetic ebony and ivory key tops
CLP-625 ClavinovaGH3X Keyboard SystemSynthetic ebony and ivory keytops
CLP-635 ClavinovaGH3X Keyboard SystemSynthetic ebony and ivory keytops
CLP-645 ClavinovaNWX Keyboard SystemWooden White Keys with synthetic ebony and ivory keytops

Lets go over the different systems listed here, including the GHS, GH3, GH3X and NWX. Yamaha uses GHS to denote their “Graded Hammer Standard” digital piano keyboard system. The GHS. With the GH3 a third sensor is placed into the system allowing faster repetition of notes, this is because the third sensor allows a half pressed key to be registered by the system as a key press upon releasing the key in the same way a grand piano can sound a half pressed key when released. Then we move to the GH3X, the system again builds on the previous GHS and GH3 systems by adding an escapement “X” to the system simulating the subtle “click” that is felt when a key is pressed on the keyboard traditionally caused when the hammer on an acoustic piano lifts to allow a piano string to sound continuously without being dampened. Finally we have the NWX “Natural Wood X” system, featured only on the CLP-645 in this lineup where all white keys on this piano are made from wood.

Keyboards in summary, only the Clavinova range features an escapement and only the CLP-645 and upwards include wooden keys (white keys only) whilst all other models have a synthetic ebony, with the exception of the YDP-144 that just has smooth plastic keys.

Tone Generation

Below is a list outlining the tone generation systems of the Arius and Clavinova range.

YDP-144Tone: CFXPolyphony: 192
YDP-164Tone: CFXPolyphony: 192
YDP-S54Tone: CFXPolyphony: 192
CLP-625Tone: new CFX & BösendorferPolyphony: 256
CLP-635Tone: new CFX & BösendorferPolyphony: 256
CLP-645Tone: new CFX & BösendorferPolyphony: 256

The Arius uses yamahas CFX as a model for its samples. The Clavinova series features the CFX & Bösendorfer including Binaural Sampling, Key-off Samples, Smooth Release with the CLP-635 upwards including Enhanced Virtual Resonance.

Amplifiers &Speakers

Below is a list outlining the amplification and speaker systems of the Arius and Clavinova range.

YDP-144Amplifiers: 8W x 2Speakers: 12cm x 2
YDP-164Amplifiers: 20W x 2Speakers: 12cm x 2
YDP-S54Amplifiers: 20W x 2Speakers: 12cm x 2
CLP-625Amplifiers: 20 W x 2Speakers: 10 cm x 2
CLP-635Amplifiers: 30 W x 2Speakers: 16 cm x 2
CLP-645Amplifiers: (25 W + 25 W) x 2Speakers: (16 cm + 8 cm) x 2


The Arius features a “combo button” system where the Clavinova CLP-635 and upwards include a easy to use LCD display and interface.


You are able to record and play back music internally on both the Arius and Clavinova range. This is a very useful feature for students learning the piano as it provides a great opportunity to listen to and improve preformed pieces whilst practicing. With the Arius range you are able to store and play back one piece of music with roughly 11,000 note! This is easily enough to store one piece of music, however if you would like to record another song you will need to over wright your previous piece. The Clavinova range from the CLP-635 upwards vastly improves this feature allowing storage of up-to 250 songs. These songs can also be exported from the device onto a USB flash drive as a .wav file format, this is very useful because you keep all of the high quality audio of the recording.


The YDP-143, YDP-163 and CLP-625 have two headphone jacks and USB to host, however the CLP-635 upwards includes two headphone jacks, MIDI, AUX in & out, USB to device & host.


These are some other points that are worth mentioning when considering the Arius and Clavinova range of digital pianos. Each model of piano gets successively heavier, the YDP-144 weights 38 kg whilst the CLP-645 weight 60 kg, almost 60% heavier.

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Russ’s Second-Hand Guitar Buying Guide

It’s no secret that the prices of new guitars are steadily on the rise, for example – 10 years ago an American made Stratocaster was half as much as a near identical model at today’s value and that rise doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As a result of this trend a lot of manufactures are creating more mid price-budget level guitars like never before, but there is another option.. Buy second hand!

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A diamond in the rough instrument can be strum away..

It’s a potentially daunting experience buying a 2nd hand instrument but it can be absolutely worth it as you could genuinely pickup an incredible instrument at a price that’s a steal, granted it may take a little time but part of thrill of the quest is not knowing what will fall in front of you and the satisfaction of finding something at a price you are willing to pay is quite the buzz. Here are my best tips for finding your own Excalibur in the rough.

Where Do I Start?

There are plenty of great places to begin your journey and a lot of them for the most part are online, Gumtree, Reverb and dedicated Facebook/social media groups are great as they give you an idea of what an item is worth on the secondary market as well as what is trending in terms of popularity. In addition to these you can also have a look in dedicated 2nd hand music stores or shops with a significant second hand section, something that is rising in popularity across the country in response to the price increases.

Know Your Stuff (Or At The Least Google It)  

Knowing what an item that you’re looking for is worth in terms of its new and second hand value is SO important, the nearest analogy I can make is that a guitar is like a car in as much as after its bought and played it will lose a fair amount of value (sometimes as much as 50%!), the higher the quality of the instrument however the more a guitar holds its value as will always have a fan-base. Some sellers may also overestimate the value of a model due to brand or sentimental value so be careful out there and if you’re not familiar with the market value of certain models then simply Google it, it takes seconds and can save you hundreds (and in rare cases thousands) of pounds.


Getting your hands on the instrument that you’ve laboured to track down is absolutely crucial as photos tend to hide a cardinal of sins and until you get to see the instrument with your naked eye you have no idea what condition it will truly be in. Always without fail check the neck and headstock for any breakages or subtle warping as these can affect value dramatically and you don’t really want to have to fork out for a guitar tech or luthier to repair the instrument right out of the gate (or it may give you clout to at least haggle the price down to supplement that substantial expense). In addition to this it’s advised to check for any damages that weren’t listed in its item description and that the models serial number matches any certification that they should have (especially on the more expensive ranges). Finally if the instrument is an electric guitar or an acoustic with a pre-amp always test it plugged in to an amp, not necessarily to check its sound although that’s also advised but more importantly to check to see if the electronics are in one piece i.e. If there is a crackling noise when turning the volume or tone controls, a volume jump between pickup selection or a silent pickup then you may need to take the instrument to get repaired (another cost). Once again being savvy at this stage can save you a lot of money and even more heartache.

Does It “Feel” Right?

Finally always ask yourself at every stage of the process if it all “feels” right, does the seller seem reputable? Do you really want the instrument? Are you buying it for the right reasons? Do you like how it sounds or feels? And always and I mean ALWAYS trust your gut, as buying anything second hand requires a fair amount of faith but the rewards are potentially huge as you could literally find the guitar of your dreams and even models that are no longer part of the catalogues of current manufactures.

Good luck with your searches! The Journey to Axe heaven is certainly worth your patience and time but the road isn’t always a clear one, just be patient and always follow your gut.

To see the stock of second hand instruments that we have at Hickies Reading click here