Yamaha Pianos Have Different Levels Of Quality

Yamaha pianos occupy an interesting niche in the piano world. Yamaha is among the world’s yamaha pianosmost prolific piano manufacturers, and their products generally tend to be inexpensive, since most are assembled rather than hand-crafted. Yet, thanks to Yamaha’s long history in the music industry, they still produce very good instruments that perform well, especially for their price.

Nevertheless, there is still a pretty marked difference in quality between the various lines of Yamaha pianos. Generally, with Yamaha, you get what you pay for. If you’re deciding between two models, it’s usually worth it to get the more expensive option.

Here’s a quick overview of the various Yamaha pianos and their quality.

Upright Yamaha Pianos

Yamaha makes a LOT of upright pianos, which are the most affordable pianos they produce. This begins with their M-series, which start around $4,000 and scale up to their YUS-Series, which go up to around $15,000.

These pianos are made on an assembly line. At the bottom of the range, the sound tends to be quite sharp and tinny. These can be fine pianos for a student or younger player, but will never be more than a household piano. On the other hand, their top-of-the-line uprights are quite well put-together and have excellent sound. Combined with Yamaha’s action, which maintain a fine balance between key weight and ease of striking, these are extremely good instruments.

Hybrid Yamaha Pianosgrand pianos

As a leader in synthesizers and digital pianos as well, Yamaha offers a number of different products that merge traditional piano techniques with digital enhancements. These include:

  • Silent Pianos: A Yamaha silent piano is a standard acoustic piano with a lever which, when pulled, puts a barrier between the hammers and the strings to silence it. This barrier then feeds into a digital piano system that simulates the piano sound and sends it to speakers or headphones. The sound quality is generally good, nothing spectacular, but these are great for students and for those whose neighbors don’t appreciate lengthy piano practice.

  • Disklavier: For pianists who also want to record to MIDI and utilize digital playback techniques, Disklavier pianos are among the best on the market. These fully acoustic pianos often feature fine sound, and come outfitted with an array of electronics for interfacing with computer systems. This is the piano for budding composers with an interest in digital music.

  • AvanteGrand: This is actually a digital piano, but one which utilizes traditional piano-building techniques such as real keys and hammers, along with a soundboard for resonance. With these, Yamaha is attempting to bridge the acousticdigital divide.

Grand Yamaha Pianosyamaha grand pianos

Once you get into Yamaha’s line of Grand Pianos, you start getting significant improvements in craftsmanship. Their lower-tier line of grands, the G-series, are still mass-produced, but utilize Yamaha’s dedication to quality components to make them among the best mass-produced grands on the market. These have quite good sound, and are still affordable, coming in at $20K or less.

For those with more to spend, the C-Series is a line of extremely competitive grand pianos. Despite a relatively low price point, they are mostly hand-crafted and show off Yamaha’s ability to produce great instruments while still keeping manufacturing costs in check. While not as prestigious as Steinway, few pianists would be embarrassed to perform on a Yamaha C-series grand.

Yamaha Premium Pianos

Yamaha’s top grade of premium pianos represent their attempt to compete with the most prestigious pianos in the world. These are all hand-crafted, requiring many hours to complete, with sound that rivals all but the best instruments in the world. They’re expensive, up to $100,000 or more, but these are at home in any concert hall in the world.

If you can afford one, you probably won’t go wrong, although some believe Yamaha hasn’t quite refined their sound to the point of being truly AAA-class.

What Yamaha pianos have you tried, and what did you think?   




6 responses to “Yamaha Pianos Have Different Levels Of Quality

  1. How does the Yamaha C grand compare to a Steinway sound and action?
    Is the C made in a baby grand?
    With Steinway and Yamaha, is it better to buy a refurbished piano or an original piano?
    Hold old should the piano be? Are the newer ones better?
    Is it possible to get a fine used Steinway in the 15,000 range?
    Thank you so much.

  2. Yamaha C-series grands come in all sizes up to 7’6″. Depending on what you call a “baby grand” the C3 is about 6′ and is a classic small grand design suitable for anyone wanting a solid piano that size on limited budget. Below that size, consider instead a high quality upright, e.g. Yamaha SU132. My personal view is that in smaller grands Yamaha is better than Steinway in almost all respects. Others may disagree with that, but I don’t think anyone disputes that Yamaha offers better value for money because its prices are significantly lower through mass-ish production, and even those who prefer Steinway will acknowledge the typical high build quality of all Yamaha pianos excepting the very cheapest. The Yamaha action is typically fast and accurate but can be “lumpy” in the very low-price small models. The Yamaha sound is typically very bright which most accomplished pianists prefer over uniformly dull pianos. Steinway actions (particularly in the USA) can be slower and less accurate. Where the Steinway excels is that on their large pianos the sound warms up significantly at low volume, while still being bright at high volume. Yamahas don’t, and only expensive pianos will manage that. Re new or used, a piano will never be as good as the day it’s made. Prefer new over used if you can afford it. Reconditioned pianos depend entirely on who did the work; you are then buying a “Bloggs” piano rather than a Steinway or Yamaha. Some “Bloggs” are good and some are not. Finally – don’t buy a Steinway because it is a Steinway. And do not judge a piano only by the way it sounds or plays. You also need to inspect it carefully to see how well it’s made. Ask the dealer to pull out the action so you can see how neatly it is made. I have seen not just one but TWO brand new very high-end expensive big grand pianos ready to be sold in reputable shops with a clearly unmatching hammer that called into serious question those pianos’ finishing and manufacturing. In one case, one note sounded completely different from the rest; in the other, the unmatched hammer had been voiced to match the sound, but was clear evidence of a strange history that was also mirrored in poor workmanship elsewhere on that piano, evident on closer inspection.

  3. I grew up in a house playing a Yamaha Grand Piano Class S4. I never knew how spoiled I was. I had a close friend who had a G series in their house but it lacked the clarity in the low notes and started to sound brighter in the high notes, only distinguishable to me having played my S4 for 17 years as a concert student. Please dont buy a steinway unless you wnat to hear dulled notes for the rest of your life, muted and lacking resonance. It saddens me that most concert halls i’ve played at are equiped with a Steinway which to me just lacks a sense of energy. Yamaha is truly superior in its sound quality and quicker moving action. If you dont believe me compare glissandos from a Yamaha grand to a Steinway grand.

  4. I bought a Yamaha baby grand (G series) in 1975 for $3000, brand new. I wanted a Yamaha more than anything, and after a year of playing on the road, I finally had the money to buy one. It’s been with me through all my ups and downs, never disappointing, always responding to my touch. Back then, I was told Yamaha was making exceptional pianos for a good price because they wanted to crack the US market in a big way. Well, they did. I hear today Yamahas from the 1970s are among their best ever. And I’m glad I’ve got my little piece of that era to last me the rest of my life.

  5. Kat,

    Your Jan 28, 2020 comments are right on.

    (Engineer and composer, Yamaha C2 owner since 1996)

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