Yamaha VP1: Patch Demos

by Thor Zollinger, writer/musician/engineer at large.  2021

Selected VP1 Patches:

I’ve selected a few of the more useful VP1 factory patches to demo, patches that can actually be used in a song.  There are however, quite a few patches on the VP1 that only work as sound effects, or warp the sound so severely they won’t fit into any kind of a mix.  We’ll skip those for now.

A number of the useful VP1 patches have an interesting characteristic, they emulate several different acoustic instruments as you move up the keyboard.  The low end might model a thick bowed Bass, while the mid range models a woodwind like a Clarinet, then the high end shifts into a third instrument like a Pan Flute.  You get multiple instruments across one patch, all smoothly blended.  Playing a piece of music through a patch like this, it sounds like you have an ensemble playing together, not just one instrument. 

The VP1 also provides you with three Scenes per patch, each highlights a different setup for the patch.



ShrtDcBel2             VP1 ShrtDcBel Patch - Memories of Green MP3 

Scene 1:  Mellow synthetic bell tones.  The piece is by Yasunori Mitsuda, one of my favorites.

Scene 2:  Sharper bell tone, with a high-pitched metallic attack.

Scene 3:  Inharmonic tones are added into the bell which insert a mysterious emotional effect.

WoodFamily             VP1 WoodFamily Patch - Quartet MP3 

Scene 1:  Woodwinds are the target of this patch.  Selecting the first variation gives you thicker chorused Clarinet and Flute sections. 

Scene 2:  In the center variation you get a deep Clarinet sound that shifts into a Flute as you play up the keyboard. 

Scene 3:  Pushing it into the second variation morphs the sound into a double reed.  You get a Bassoon on the bottom end and an English Horn on the top.

BowedAir             VP1 BowedAir Patch - JazzChicken MP3 

Scene 1:  If you want a thick, rich, gorgeous string patch, this is the one.  It has a chorus variation where it shifts into a thicker sounding string section, multiple string players on each instrument.

Scene 2:  In the low range it perfectly matches a bowed bass viol.  In the mid range you get more of a composite of a cello and a viola, then it shifts into a violin as you go higher. 

Scene 3:  As you push it into the Air pipe variation, it starts off as a pitched steam organ, then almost immediately becomes overblown as you push it further.  Forcing too much air through the pipe causes it to screech and hiss, creating a purely percussive sound.

I could have picked a nice string quartet piece for this patch, but I went with a funky Jazz piece instead because of the Air variation…


BowedMorph             VP1 BowedMorph Patch - MapleLeafRag MP3 

Scene 1:  This patch features a rich, but breathy string sound, with a tremolo variation.

Scene 2:  Clear, but breathy strings (more scratchy bow noise) are the main sound of the patch.

Scene 3:  The Morph portion of the patch shifts into a louder Calliope steam organ with high-pitched overtones.


Harpy2                     VP1 Harpy2 Patch - Clockworks MP3 

Scene 1:  A clear resonant harp is at the core of this patch.

Scene 2:  A steel-stringed guitar twang asserts itself in the center variation.

Scene 3:  Additional higher-pitched overtones are added in this variation, giving the patch a plucked Harpsichord feel.


OldBrasSect             VP1 OldBrasSect Patch - Arbbchev MP3 

Scene 1:  Clear mellow horns comprise this patch.

Scene 2:  A metallic attack is added, along with some higher harmonics, giving the horn tone more bite.

Scene 3:  Inharmonic tones can be added into the patch, giving it a very odd metallic tone.


SynthWind2             VP1 SynthWind2 Patch - Andiwere MP3 

Scene 1:  This one contains a mellow wood pipe in the lower range and a Recorder-like sound mid-range which shifts into a wooden flute as you go higher in pitch.

Scene 2:  The second variation adds more high overtones, like adding more ranks of pipes on a pipe organ by pulling out more stops.

Scene 3:  The tone thins out in this variation, becoming more airy and higher pitched.


WoodPiper             VP1 WoodPiper Patch - AngloVirg MP3 

Scene 1:  The first variation has an almost bagpipe feel to it, the sound warbles slightly similar to a Hurdy-Gurdy.

Scene 2:  Clear wood pipes dominate on top, with a bowed string sound mixed into the lower range.

Scene 3:  The pipes become slightly overblown, adding in some inharmonic overtones, giving the patch a more metallic flute tone.

WelPiano             VP1 WelPiano Patch - FrogIMoreRag MP3 

Scene 1:  A nice studio Piano, probably the most realistic Piano of all of the ten or so available.  (We must have at least 1 Piano.)

Scene 2:  A slightly more resonant Piano with a L/R echo effect.

Scene 3:  The patch gets tinny and honky-tonk as you push it slightly in this direction, but it goes out of tune to a bell-like Toy Piano really fast.


SteelyTrio             VP1 SteelyTrio Patch - JazzStandard MP3 

Scene 1:  A guitar trio, with electric bass on the bottom and a mellow steel strings on top.

Scene 2:  The sound is sharper, with more steel string harmonics above a twangy electric bass.

Scene 3:  Pushing the harmonics further makes the sound more raspy, electric guitar harmonics.


FingaPikin             VP1 FingaPikin Patch - Vivaldi Concerto RV533 MP3 

Scene 1:  A nylon stringed Guitar, almost like a Lute.

Scene 2:  Slightly more resonant nylon/steel string Guitar

Scene 3:  Steel stringed Guitar.


Satch’sRig  and  OD Guitar             VP1 Satch'sRig & ODGuitar Patch - Soul Sacrifice MP3 

Satch’sRig is an excellent  Distortion Guitar lead, nasty and snarly just like you like it.

OD Guitar is an expressive Overdriven Guitar lead, clear tones with a bit of feedback.

Neither of these patches have much variation to them in the Scene settings, but both feature an echo effect that enhances the performance.  Only the solo Guitar is the VP1, the other instruments are from one of my other Yamaha synthesizers.


ElePiano3                  VP1 ElePiano3 Patch - Chrono Fun MP3 

Scene 1:  Standard Electric Piano, mellow tones.

Scene 2:  This variant adds in more high frequencies and shifts the pitch up one octave.

Scene 3:  Adds metallic inharmonic bell tones into the second variation of the patch.  (Not used in the demo song.)


MoreSoft                   VP1 MoreSoft Patch - A Premonition MP3 

Scene 1:  A soft, slightly metallic electric piano with lots of resonance.

Scene 2:  A much brighter attack and tubular reverb are added to give the piano more punch.

Scene 3:  The attack is softened some, and more of the sustained tone and reverb are added into the patch.

LiveWireCp                   VP1 LiveWireCp Patch - Kaktus MP3 

Scene 1:  Higher-pitched twang Electric Guitar

Scene 2:  Deeper, resonant Electric Guitar with a bit of feedback mixed in

Scene 3:  Higher feedback Guitar, with more of a metallic clank to it.


GasLead                   VP1 GasLead Patch - Karmell MP3 

Scene 1:  High air-flow pipe noise with a tubular resonance.

Scene 2:  A sawtooth tone is added in on top of the air-pipe, with a bit of a slide into the note.

Scene 3:  The sawtooth is stronger and played opposite a detuned version of itself.


ShrtDcBell                   VP1 ShrtDcBell Patch - Shot Of Crisis MP3 

Scene 1:  Synthetic, thick mellow tone that is half electric piano, half bell tone.

Scene 2:  The Bell tone shifts into a more tubular bell type of timbre as the electric piano fades out.

Scene 3:  The bell becomes more of a marimba tone as the bell tone shifts it’s timbre further.


NastyAtk                   VP1 NastyAtk Patch - Seven Schlit MP3 

Scene 1:  A metallic harpsichord attack over a string tone.

Scene 2:  The attack becomes more of a fuzzy string tone played over a piano-like timbre.

Scene 3:  A hollow resonance is added, along with a less pleasant metallic tone.



The Universe has smiled in my direction and I have access to a Yamaha VP1 for a time.  The owner, who wishes to stay anonymous, has tasked me with repairing it and bringing it up to full operability.  So far, I’ve replaced the LCD display which had a dozen black lines across it, and with considerable effort I’ve managed to figure out the hardware programming interface and constructed a new one.  Everything is working now!  The programming software is up and running and the link to the synth is rock solid.  I had to bypass the Mac’s RS-422 serial interface (the Yamaha factory method) entirely and go with a USB RS-232 interface and a different parallel to serial converter.  But that’s boring.  If you want the details they’re all laid out in the VP1_Editor_Settings.pdf file in Appendix B linked below.

Now that it’s all running, I’ve spent the last few days previewing all of the factory patches… which is where the main problem within the VP1 lies.  The patches are mostly SciFi sounds and sound effects.  They don’t blend into a mix at all, making them mostly unusable except as solo voices.  And even though the VP1 is 16-note polyphonic, you can’t really use more than about three or four notes at a time with most of the patches (which are sliding the pitch up and down as a part of the patch) which makes the sound muddy and indistinct.  It seems the patch programmers went for uniqueness (and weirdness) rather than creating patches that play to the VP1’s strengths. 

So what are the VP1’s strengths anyway?  Well, internally it’s built on the Commuted Physical Acoustic model developed at Stanford University.  It uses a Driver waveform on the front end that contains the acoustic resonance of the instrument it’s modeling, which feeds into a dual Wave Guide like the VL1 is built around, then the output feeds into an Effects unit.  It’s designed (reading the CCRMA research papers) to model acoustic instruments, both wind instruments and strings.  Depending upon the way the Driver’s are set up, it can model either plucked or struck instruments like a Guitar or Marimba, or simple bowed and blown instruments like the Violin, Clarinet or Pipe Organ.  (No, it’s not limited to just plucked or struck models.)  The patches could have been more like the VL1, very realistic and expressive, but only a small handful of the patches ended up that way. 

Another strength of the VP1 is in it’s controllers, there are 21 physical controllers in the matrix!  (The Controller assignment window is shown above.)  That’s a LOT of controllers!  The most useful controller is probably the Scene Controller (separate from the ones above) which allows you to move ALL of the other controllers all at once between three distinct combinations.  The factory patches however, only use about half of the plethora of controllers available.  Their use seems random and hap-hazard as well, there is no consistency to how the sound is modified by the controllers between different patches.  There should have been a plan to use the controllers in a consistent manner.  I’m putting together a plan.

So my conclusion after testing it extensively is:  The Yamaha VP1 has a superb hardware setup, but it lacks proper patches to make it shine.  We can fix that.

It’s going to take some time, but I think we can move the synth in a better direction.  I’m going to start with modeling some normal acoustic instruments first, focusing on controllers that mod the sound in the ways real instruments do.  There are 75 Drivers in there to work from, so I see at least 75 patches of that type.  That list also includes Analog patches since the VP1 includes an entire Analog Synthesizer inside if you bypass the Delay Loops.  Along with that, layered combinations of instruments makes a lot of sense, instruments that blend and warp into each other, along with enhancements to the instrument attack and sustain portions of the sound.  I see a lot of fertile ground in there.  And no, I won’t ignore the weird stuff the VP1 can do as well, I just want to temper it with sounds you can actually use.  After that, we’ll see what happens.  That’s my plan anyway. 

Output?  I see possibly a set of very interesting Montage patch banks coming out of this, ones that bend and warp in ways only the VP1 can achieve.  Interested?  Let me know if that appeals to you.

For more intimate details on the Yamaha VP1 you can refer to my Editor Guide linked below.

Download  Javelin's Illustrated Yamaha VP1 Editor Guide 1.84 MB