Other than the special grands just described, Yamaha grands have historically 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 its larger grands, and more recently with the smaller ones, Yamaha has changed the bridge construction and hammer density, and provided more custom voicing at the factory, to bring out a broader spectrum of tonal color.
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.
Yamaha also makes a piano under the name Cable-Nelson. The verticals are made in Yamaha's factory in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, southwest of Shanghai, where the company also makes guitars. The 45" model CN116 is an institutional-style vertical with a laminated soundboard. The model CN216 is a furniture-style version of the 116. The 5' Cable-Nelson grand model CN151 is made in Indonesia alongside the Yamaha grand model GB1K.
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.
Yamaha also makes electronic player pianos called Disklaviers, as well as a variety of hybrid acoustic/digital instruments — including Silent Piano (formerly called MIDIPiano), the AvantGrand series, and the model NU1, that account for a substantial percentage of the company's sales. These products are separately reviewed 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.
including Weber and Albert Weber
Young Chang North America, Inc.
6000 Phyllis Drive
Cypress, California 90630
Pianos made by: Young Chang Co., Ltd., Incheon, South Korea; and Tianjin, China
In 1956, three brothers — Jai-Young, Jai-Chang, 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 pianos from Japan to the Young Chang factory in Incheon, 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 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, and established a North American distribution office in California in 1984. In addition to making pianos under its own name, Young Chang 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.