Models of YAMAHA Pianos
While YAMAHA may not have fewer models compared to KAWAI, its series nomenclature is generally more straightforward than KAWAI's complex and intricate naming conventions. YAMAHA pianos, regardless of the series, are known for their bright and clean tonal characteristics, which are distinctive features of YAMAHA instruments.
Understanding YAMAHA Piano Series and Sound Quality Considerations
This article primarily provides an overview of the positioning and approximate release years of the various series, with a focus on upright pianos.
It does not delve into subjective assessments of the pianos' sound qualities since sound perception is highly subjective and influenced by various factors.
Moreover, differences in models within the same series can be substantial, and the quality of sound depends on many factors. Each individual's subjective preferences and sensitivity to nuances can vary greatly and are challenging to describe in words.
Additionally, when dealing with used pianos, there are various unpredictable factors to consider.
U Series (Approximate Period: 1948 to Present)
YAMAHA's primary series, and one of the most popular piano series/models worldwide, is the U Series.
Positioned as a standard or mid-range series, the U Series offers a well-balanced and comprehensive set of features with distinct characteristics. These pianos are known for their clean and bright tonal quality, relatively impressive bass tones, responsive and agile touch, and exceptionally stable quality. In terms of appearance, they have a simple design.
Due to their long production history and the fact that U Series pianos from different eras have their own specific names, it's helpful to divide the U Series into chronological segments for an introduction.
Early U Series: NO. Series (1948-1954)
This can be considered the ancestor of the U Series. In fact, this series can be traced back to the 1920s or even earlier, but it only saw significant production starting in 1948. Although the NO. Series may not be highly regarded in today's market, it's worth noting that there is a famous 1932 no.100 piano in Japan, which survived the atomic bombing during World War II.
This particular piano is now used for charitable performances by Japanese musicians who advocate for peace, and it offers a unique and special tonal experience.
Please note that "NO. Series" refers to the early U Series pianos and is not typically discussed in contemporary piano discussions.
U Series - Second Period (1954-1969)
Main Models: (Old) U1A, U1B, U1C, (Old) U2A, (Old) U3A
Main Models: U1D, U1E, U2B, U2C, U3C, U3E
U Series Third Period
U Series - Third Period (1954-1969)
Starting from this period, the U Series becomes more straightforward, with each size and model having corresponding designations. As the years progressed, the series evolved and upgraded.
While there may be slight variations in components like strings, hammers, and iron frames with each update, the general style, positioning, and philosophy remained consistent, and I won't repeat these details.
U1F, U2F, U3F Models from 1970-1971 in the U Series
U1G, U2G, U3G Models from 1971-1972 in the U Series
U1H, U2H, U3H Models from 1972-1980 in the U Series This batch of U Series models represents the largest production volume in YAMAHA's history. There were so many U3H pianos that for every star in the sky, there seemed to be a U3H on the ground.
U1M, U2M, U3M Models from 1980-1982 in the U Series
U1A, U2A, U3A Models from 1982-1987 in the U Series Among the various specifications, the U1A showed noticeable improvement from this point onwards, generally performing better than previous U1 models.
Discontinuation of U2 by 1987
By 1987, YAMAHA ceased production of U2 Series specifications, and pianos with a height of 127 cm became a part of history. In fact, the 127 cm height category only included the entire U2 Series and the UX2.
From this point onwards, apart from smaller pianos, YAMAHA upright pianos were available in only two specifications: 121 and 131 cm.
U Series and variants
U10BL, U30BL Models from 1987-1989 in the U Series
U10A, U30A Models from 1989-1994 in the U Series
U100, U300 Models from 1994-1997 in the U Series
Change from U to YU Series (1997-2001)
YU1, YU3 Models from 1997-2001 in the U (YU) Series
Starting from this period, the name was changed to the YU Series. However, the essence remained the same as the original U Series.
The difference was that the YU Series was only available in Japan, while in regions outside Japan, it continued to be sold as the U Series, which includes the modern U1 and U3 models you can find on the market today.
Please note: This YU is not the same as domestically produced YU, and I will omit the rest.
YU10, YU30 Models from 2001-2006 in the U (YU) Series Only available in Japan, and in other regions, the models were referred to as U1/U3.
YU11, YU33 Models from 2006 to the present in the U (YU) Series Only available in Japan, and in other regions, the models were referred to as U1/U3.
U Series (U5, U7 and YU5)
Due to the distinct characteristics, positioning, and different time periods of U5, U7, and U1-U3 (YU5, YU13), it is necessary to introduce them separately.
While the U Series is a standard series, the following models are essentially YAMAHA's flagship models of their respective eras.
The U5 was initially a high-end upright piano introduced by YAMAHA in the 1960s.
Although its specifications are similar to the U3, it featured superior components such as hammers, strings, and Hokkaido spruce soundboards. The U5 also had a refined and elegant appearance. The early U5 models had straight legs, while later versions had tapered legs.
The U7, in comparison to the U5, was even more sophisticated and had higher-quality components.
It was considered YAMAHA's flagship model of the time.
The early U7 models featured ivory keys.
YU5 (1997-2001)/ YU50(2001-2006)
During this time, these models represented YAMAHA's flagship offerings.
In 1997, the entire UX Series was discontinued, including the use of the X-back frame. Consequently, the flagship models returned to a standard vertical back design.
The YU5 effectively served as the successor to the UX500, but due to the removal of the X-back frame, production costs were reduced, and as a result, the YU5 was priced lower than the UX500.
New U5 (1997-2006)
Finally, let's discuss a newer "U5" model.
Although it bears the name U5, it's distinct from the previous U5 mentioned.
This model is essentially the flagship version of the U Series sold internationally, akin to the Japanese domestic YU5 or YU50.