Both Yamaha's quality control and its warranty and technical service are legendary in the piano business. They are the standard against which every other company is measured. For general home and school use, piano technicians probably recommend Yamaha pianos more often than any other brand. Their precision, reliability, and performance make them a very good value for a consumer product.

The Yamaha Servicebond program encourages Yamaha dealers to provide customers with follow-up service during the first six months of ownership by reimbursing the dealers for part of the cost of providing the service. Services for which a dealer can be reimbursed include a tuning and a general maintenance check (tightening screws, among other things). The program is voluntary, however, on the part of the dealer. When negotiating the sale, the customer might wish to inquire as to whether the dealer participates in the program, and if so, to make sure the service is actually provided.

Yamaha now makes a piano under the name Cable-Nelson. It is made in Yamaha's factory in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, southwest of Shanghai, where the company also makes guitars. The Cable-Nelson 45" model CN116 is identical in musical specifications to Yamaha's former model T116 (no longer available), except that the Cable-Nelson has a laminated soundboard, whereas all Yamaha pianos sold in the U.S. have a solid spruce soundboard. The Cable-Nelson model CN216 is a furniture-style version of the 116.

Cable-Nelson is the name of an old American piano maker whose roots can be traced back to 1903. Yamaha acquired the name when it bought the Everett Piano Company in 1973, and used the name in conjunction with Everett pianos until 1981.

There is a thriving market for used Yamahas. If you're considering buying a used Yamaha, please read "Should I Buy a Used, 'Gray Market' Yamaha or Kawai Piano?" on pages 176-177 of The Piano Book, and "Buying a Used or Restored Piano" in this publication.

To help its dealers overcome competition from "gray market" pianos, Yamaha has begun an Heirloom Assurance program that provides a five-year warranty on a used Yamaha piano less than 25 years old purchased from an authorized Yamaha dealer. See a Yamaha dealer for details.

Yamaha also makes electronic player pianos called Disklaviers, as well as a hybrid acoustic/digital instrument called Silent Piano (formerly called MIDIPiano), that account for a substantial percentage of the company's sales. These products are reviewed separately in the articles "Buying an Electronic Player-Piano System" and "Hybrid Pianos."

Warranty: Yamaha and Cable-Nelson--10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser. Cable-Nelson pianos do not come with the Yamaha Servicebond.

YOUNG CHANG

including Bergmann, Weber, Albert Weber

Young Chang North America, Inc.
19060 South Dominguez Hills Drive
Rancho Dominguez, California 90220
310-637-2000
800-874-2880
www.youngchang.com

Pianos made by: Young Chang Akki Co., Ltd., Inchon, South Korea; and Tianjin, China

In 1956 three brothers--Young-Sup, Chang-Sup, and Jai-Sup Kim--founded Young Chang and began selling Yamaha pianos in Korea under an agreement with that Japanese firm. Korea was recovering from a devastating war, and only the wealthy could afford pianos. But the prospects were bright for economic development, and as a symbol of cultural refinement the piano was much coveted. In 1962 the brothers incorporated as Young Chang Akki Co., Ltd.

In 1964 Yamaha and Young Chang entered into an agreement in which Yamaha helped Young Chang set up a full-fledged manufacturing operation. Yamaha shipped partially completed Yamaha pianos from Japan to the Young Chang factory in Inchon, South Korea, where Young Chang would perform final assembly work such as cabinet assembly, stringing, and action installation. This arrangement reduced high import duties. As time went by, Young Chang built more of the components, to the point where they were making virtually the entire piano. In 1975 the arrangement with Yamaha ended when Young Chang decided to expand domestically and internationally under its own brand name, thus becoming a competitor. Young Chang began exporting to the U.S. in the late 1970s. In addition to making pianos under its own name, it also made pianos for a time for Baldwin under the Wurlitzer name, for Samsung under the Weber name, and private-label names for large dealer chains and distributors worldwide.

In 1995, in response to rising Korean wages and to supply a growing Chinese domestic market, Young Chang built a 750,000-square-foot factory in Tianjin, China, and gradually began to move manufacturing operations there for some of its models.

In 2004, Young Chang's Korean rival Samick acquired a controlling interest in the company and began to consolidate the two companies' administrative and distribution functions in North America. A few months later, however, the Korean Fair Trade Commission ruled that the purchase violated Korean anti-monopoly laws and ordered Samick to sell its interest. Naturally, Samick stopped making payments to creditors on Young Chang's behalf, forcing Young Chang into bankruptcy. For a couple of years, while these issues wound their way through the courts, there was a question of which of the two companies was entitled to distribute Young Chang pianos in North America, but the courts finally ruled that Young Chang was a separate entity entitled to distribute its own pianos.

 

FALL 2009 -- page 186

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