Yamaha TG55

Tone Generator


The TG55 is a good old honest sample-playback synthesizer module.  I find its sounds to be pretty nice considering its age, and although its architecture is quite fiddly to get around (there are many, too many buttons to push and screens to access to edit the sounds), it is a good investment and would be a nice addition to anybody's setup.  The sounds are classic early nineties, with an emphasis on swirly, ambient pads, and a new-age feel to this module, but it's capable of much more.  

    Let's listen to the three demo songs in ROM:


1 - MoonRock A very nice ambient soundscape turns into a pop rock tune.
2 - Min.Rice A happy funky song, very upbeat.
3 - Theater Check out the jazz improvisations at the end of this song!

    Now let's listen to the preset voices:

Stream the audio examples below


Voice name with audio examples Yamaha's comments My comments
01 Piano Orthodox acoustic piano. Sampled from a nice, sweet piano, but the loops are obviously too short, although perfectly adequate for 1990's standards.
02 Voyager Choir with "sizzle."  Play long chords. These kinds of sounds were - oh, so in fashion back then (thank you, D-50 and M1)
03 Pro55Brass Fat analog brass pad. Every synthesizer should have a good "Jump" patch on-board.
04 Elektrodes Mellow electric piano. What to say... it's a Yamaha.  Electric Pianos are one of their forte.
05 Zaratustra Big orchestra.  Brass volume on MW. If you don't mind the polyphony - reduced to four notes using 4 osc. - , it's a great medieval sounding orchestral patch.  I'm guessing the programmer was thinking of the orchestral sound in "Also spracht Zarathustra" for this sound.
06 DawnChorus Breathy choir.  MW fades out breath. Pretty usable choir.  Classical use.
07 GX Dream A punchy voice reminiscent of the YAMAHA GX1. This one is a knock-out.  Different.  The GX1 is that white, huge megasynth that Keith Emerson played in concert.  It must be so great to play - and I hope someday to have that privilege (Hans, can I come visit?)
08 GrooveKing Classic funky, resonant synth voice. Analog and warm synth sound, good for comping.  Reminds of the early analog monosynths of the 70s, like Minimoog and Odyssey, used in a lot of funk.
09 DistGuitar Heavy guitar.  Slow fade to feedback. The programmer utilized as a base the violin sample for this one.  But with the excellent distortion effect, it really sounds almost like a Les Paul through a Marshall stack (well...)
10 ZenAirBell Percussive bell/gong combination. Meditative sound.. probably best used for new-age
11 FullString Light touch for small, heavy for large string section. This is just a great sound.  As you can tell from my example, I think it's perfect for rendering Grieg's Anitra's Lament.  Depending on your touch, you'll have to adjust the velocity switch parameters - too fast for me.
12 JazzMan Split wood bass and trumpet.  MW swaps horns. OK patch.  Check out the real-time removal of the mute, courtesy of the modulation wheel.
13 ClassPiano Classical Grand Piano. Again, the loops are short, but Chopin wasn't tall either.  Or was he?
14 RockPiano Fat piano.  Perfect for chord work. Hhmm...the polyphony gets eaten alive with those boogie-woogie 10 finger runs.
15 DX E. Piano Electronic piano. Gives the DX7 a run for its money.
16 Hard EP Electric piano with sharp attack and hard tone. This one is so '70s.  I read about all those strange modifications that people used to do to Rhodes pianos, like nail-polish on the ... I guess that's how they got that percussive, glassy sound.
17 Cry Clav Automatic "wah" clav with resonant attack. Standard Herbie Hancock/Head Hunters sound - a Clavinet run through a Cry Baby wah wah pedal.
18 Funky Clav Fat, funky clav. See above without the Cry Baby.
19 Deep Organ Rock Organ Weak Hammond patch with quite a few harmonics pulled out.
20 Warm Organ Full, rich organ with rotating speaker effect. This one is better and Jimmy Smith-like.  I'm very picky about organ sounds because I compare them to my C3.
21 Trumpet Solo trumpet. Pretty realistic!  It's not quite the same as the real thing, but in the right context I'm sure it could fool plenty of people.
22 Stab Brass Thin pop brass section. '80s style brass trio.
23 Big Band Big unison horn section.  Play in octaves.  MW fades to solo trumpet. Jump, jive and swing.  Pity for the bad reverb.
24 Orch Brass Big classical brass section with pan. All hail the King.
25 SynthBrass Powerful synth brass pad. Another "Jump" patch.
26 Flute Breathy when played hard. Nice velocity-switch.  Good for classical music and for the solo in "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and Papas.
27 Saxophone Solo sax with lots of presence. More R'n'B than Pink Panther.
28 FolkGuitar Steel-string acoustic folk guitar. Guitars are not the TG55 forte.  But usable.
29 12 String Full 12-string guitar. Sounds like a sitar instead of a 12-string!
30 MuteGuitar Muted electric guitar. Cool sound with nice velo-switch.  Good for that Bob Marley's "Could you be loved" intro
31 SingleCoil Single-coil electric guitar pickup. Wannabe Strat, but the samples are too short.
32 Pick Bass Punchy picked bass. See above.
33 Thumb Bass Play hard for slap bass sound. Badly programmed velocity switch - the slap sound is thinner than the picked one.
34 SynBadBass Funky synth bass. In my example I start with Michael Jackson's "Bad" and then program a super-quantized sequence.
35 VCO Bass Fat analog bass. Nice if a little "liquid" analog bass.
36 Violin Solo violin with after-touch vibrato. Well programmed and perfect for classical music.
37 ChamberStr Small violin section. Great small ensemble.
38 VCF String Analog synth strings.  Brightness on MW. Standard analog strings.  Notice how good the TG55 filters are.
39 Nova Quire Choir with a unique attack. Eerie choir sound - with vibrato and hard attack.
40 Vibraphone Traditional vibrophone with tremolo on MW. Great for jazz and pop.
41 Takerimba Bamboo marimba.  Brightness on MW. Cool tuned marimba patch.  Perfect for 50's tiki-lounge music.
42 Glocken Glockenspiel.  Brightness on MW. Can be both a Glockenspiel and a music box.
43 DigiBell Spacious synth bell. Psychedelic digital bell-synth with a subliminal pitch-shift.
44 Oriental Oriental orchestra.  Light touch for string section only. The ultimate for scoring Kung-Fu movies.
45 VCO Lead Analog sawtooth lead voice. Awesome for fusion and jazz-rock styles.
46 Spirit VCF Analog synth with big, slow filter sweep. Useful for those 70's progressive intros and ambiences.
47 OZ Lead Soft synth lead. Sounds like cotton candy!
48 Get Lucky Fat square-wave synth sound with detune on MW. So-so rendition of the ELP classic sound, but without portamento its use is limited.
49 Gamma Band Oriental percussion ensemble.  MW fades in metal drums and bells. The Emperor will see you now.  Why Gamma?
50 Metal Reed Harmonica or accordion with after-touch pitch bend. Nails Stevie Wonder's signature sound, a cowboy camp... or even an European polka.
51 Modomatic Choir with big MW filter sweep. Aah, I'm a sucker for those "Lore/Universe" ambient sounds!
52 DataStream Best with long notes. Sounds like robots washing clothes in a futuristic river.
53 Mystichoir Play long chords for shifting notes. Impressive cinematic/futuristic choral patch.  Note the filter opening and closing.
54 St.Michael Choir with bells on release. Great for scoring a quiet moment in a Schwarzenegger movie.
55 Scatter Voice on staccato notes, filtered synth on long tones. Strange sound, sounds like an early sampler.
56 Triton Best with long chords. No relation to Korg's best-selling synth (this came a lot earlier), but perhaps it does remind of the son of Poseidon in a moment of meditation, trident included.
57 Amazon Wide touch range. The Amazons are taking over.
58 SatinGlass Metallic, spacious synth voice. This is PERFECT as a synth-pad for many genres - smooth-jazz to start.
59 BrassChime Filtered brass with chimes. Reminds of Keith Emerson, but more refined and regal.
60 Piano Mist Piano bell.  MW fades to staccato filtered voice. Good for pop ballads.
61 Xanadu Solo multi-tuned flute. Xanadu was an idyllic place in Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge -This more than idyllic is a weirdo.  Clever programming, maybe useful for ethnic fusion solos.
62 WdBass Duo Split wood bass and piano. Standard 60's Oscar Peterson Trio sound. 
63 Drum Set 1 Drum set including bass and sound effects. Percussion galore, including ga, sleigh-bell, bass, maracas, bottle etc.
64 Drum Set 2 Drum set including bass and sound effects. More samples of the same kind as above.


    The TG55 can be expanded thanks to pretty nifty data and waveform cards.  The ones I have are:

Click here to go to the SY/TG55 sound card sets page


More Yamaha TG55 pictures: (click on thumbnails to enlarge)



Main Features: (from the manual)

Year of release: 1990
Polyphony: 16 voices
Sound generation method: AWM2 (2nd-generation 16-bit Advanced Wave Memory)
MIDI: In, Out, Thru
Sound expansion capabilities: Yes, with Voice and Wave data cards