Other than the special grands just described, historically Yamaha grands have been a little on the percussive side and have been said not to "sing" as well as some more expensive pianos. The tone has been very clear and often bright, especially in the smaller grands, although the excessive brightness that once characterized Yamahas seems to be a thing of the past. The clarity and percussiveness are very attractive, but are sometimes said to be less well suited for classical music, which tends to require a singing tone and lush harmonic color. On the other hand, Yamaha is the piano of choice for jazz and popular music, which may value clarity and brightness more than the other qualities mentioned. More recently, however, Yamaha has been trying to move away from this image of a "bright" piano whose sound is limited to jazz. First with the larger grands, and more recently with the smaller ones, Yamaha has changed bridge construction and hammer density, and provided more custom voicing at the factory, to bring out a broader spectrum of tonal color in its pianos.
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.
including Bergmann, Weber, Albert Weber
Young Chang North America, Inc.
19060 South Dominguez Hills Drive
Rancho Dominguez, California 90220
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.