Yamaha 'sound'

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano, Melodytune

Post Reply
TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Yamaha 'sound'

Post by TheRedQueen » 25 Oct 2015, 19:31

Hi,

we're looking for a piano for my daughter (I started another thread about Reid-Sohns, but this is a separate topic really so thought I'd start a new one). My question is, Yamaha U1s and U3s seem universally liked but piano technicians and a lot of players, but so far my daughter has really not liked the sound of the (admittedly only 3) she has played. I have seen threads and discussions that talk about Yamahas having a 'bright' sound, which is considered a little different to a more European-style piano with a warmer, mellower sound. Is this right, or is it all down to the individual piano? And if it's right, what is it that makes the difference?

For those people who don't like the Yamaha sound, what kind of alternatives would be worth looking at? We've heard good things about Petrov.

Thanks!

Cecilia

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3991
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Barrie Heaton » 25 Oct 2015, 20:09

Any piano can be voiced to your tastes if your daughter as only manly looked at second hand yams then they cann be a disappointing in the mid range you need to go to one of the bigger Yamaha dealers who have pianos that have been voiced down however, as most want that bright sound you may not get what you want Kawai piano are a little less harsh than a Yamaha out of the box they are worth looking at

Most of the German makes have a richer sound than a Yamaha


Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

Model V
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 156
Joined: 09 Nov 2008, 11:28

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Model V » 25 Oct 2015, 21:02

Agreed. However, setup is everything (as well as general condition obviously).

One of my 2 grands is a Yamaha C3. It's one of the best pianos I've ever played of any make. It was setup by one of the best in the business: and this is the point: a good tech is absolutely essential. Not a good tuner, a good technician.

Some of the worst grand pianos I have ever played were also C3s. Not knackered, just badly voiced and regulated (i.e. not voiced or regulated).

Same goes for uprights and one of the very best uprights I have ever played was a U3. Some of the worst have also been U1s and U3s!

I guess the sheer ubiquity of the U/C ranges makes for the problem. Many live in schools and music colleges and lead a tough life. The hammers (designd for a brilliant sound) get over-compacted and you have the metallic tone Yams are so often maligned for. Sort the hammers and you have a different animal.

Yamaha also make cheap pianos.

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by vernon » 26 Oct 2015, 00:00

For goodness sake look at the Kawais they wil knock spots off the Yamahas
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1839
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Colin Nicholson » 26 Oct 2015, 01:51

I'm not accusing your music shop of this, but many many piano shops that I have visited in the past for my pupils to buy (and even in London), not all their pianos are freshly tuned to perfection. Even Yamahas/ Steinway/ Kawai pianos can sound pretty awful if even a couple of tri-chords/ bass bi-chords are out of tune slightly. Some are tuned sufficiently for 'demo' purposes, then if the customer likes the piano, a proper tuning is booked in after delivery. The tone of a piano can only really shine when it is perfectly in tune. If a few notes are fractionally out of tune, they will sound tinny, rash and may give off unwanted harmonics - this is not the fault of the piano hammers or piano, but the general state of the tuning.

It's like buying a car.... sometimes the battery is flat on the forecourt. The garage owner won't fully charge every battery until someone buys the car.

When I was deciding about the K5 Kawai upright to buy a couple of years ago, I asked the shop owner (who is a reputable tuner/ piano restorer) to actually fully tune and prep the K5 for me, so I could hear it properly & perfectly in tune before buying.... what a difference! .... it sounded like a different piano.

Some 'in-house' technicians will be reluctant to change the tone/ voicing of the hammers to a specific piano, on the off-chance you don't buy it. Once the timbre has been mellowed, there is no going back.... so I suggest you try many other piano shops and find a piano that has been previously set up. You'll find the right piano - trust me.

I agree with Vernon 100%.... try the Kawai range.
The K5 also has acoustic port holes in the front panel, to allow the sound to filter out towards you.... the hammers are toned just right, and the carbon fibre action has just the right touch & tone for my liking. May not be to your own liking, but worth trying out. Petrof are OK.... again, if tuned & serviced well.

Take a tuning fork with you, or get the app "Clear Tune" (android phones) and always check the pitch of Middle C - 261.6Hz - the fork should be C523.3Hz, one octave higher. If the pitch has dropped by as much as 1 hertz (down to 522 Hz).... then the piano is out of tune.
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

Model V
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 156
Joined: 09 Nov 2008, 11:28

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Model V » 26 Oct 2015, 07:49

vernon wrote:For goodness sake look at the Kawais they wil knock spots off the Yamahas
No they won't. But do try them as they are also excellent and you may prefer them. MV.

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by TheRedQueen » 26 Oct 2015, 11:16

Ok, I've heard a few things now about getting a piano 'voiced' to your taste but what is actually involved in this? What do you adjust to get a different 'voice' and how difficult is it to do? Is this the sort of thing a piano tuner might do or is this a piano technician only? And what kind of differences do these adjustment make? Is it in the length of sustain, the richness of tone, the volume, or what? Sorry to be so ignorant, but it is really helpful to have some idea of the different parameters, I feel we are gradually creeping towards a better understanding that will help us help her make the right choice, so thanks for all your input!

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by TheRedQueen » 26 Oct 2015, 11:59

Ok, I have actually managed to find out what voicing is. It sounds highly technical and quite time consuming, I can't imagine a shop doing that for you unless you are going to buy a very expensive piano! If we were to pay someone to do that once we had bought a piano, how much would it cost? And do you need to look for a specific piano technician (do they even do freelance work?) or would a piano tuner be able to do it?

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1839
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Colin Nicholson » 26 Oct 2015, 13:44

Hi
To do the job properly, the piano needs to be taken away into a workshop. Can't be done in a shop environment - been there, got the T shirt.

To give you a better understanding of the processes involved, hammers must be re-faced first (better to do them off the piano in a vice workshop). Then, the heads are voiced. No one will ever know the exact "tone" your daughter wants from a piano.... impossible, and the first stages of voicing are 'blind' .... then when assembled back into the piano, each hammer is toned individually. A piano aged about 20 years old may also need other components replacing like butt leathers, and the underside front baize washers inverted/ renewed and 'plumped' to give the touch a better feel.

Please see this page from my website which covers quite a lot about piano hammers, to give you an idea of the process, logistics, and costs involved.... may be helpful. For a hammer voicing scenario/ costs, scroll to the footer.

http://www.aatuners.com/piano-hammers.html

Colin
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3991
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Barrie Heaton » 26 Oct 2015, 19:57

TheRedQueen wrote:Ok, I have actually managed to find out what voicing is. It sounds highly technical and quite time consuming, I can't imagine a shop doing that for you unless you are going to buy a very expensive piano! If we were to pay someone to do that once we had bought a piano, how much would it cost? And do you need to look for a specific piano technician (do they even do freelance work?) or would a piano tuner be able to do it?

Voicing: is where we alter the shape of the hammer can be done in the home if the hammers are not to bad but is better done in a workshop especially if you're going to lacquer the hammers

Toneing: we uses needles, steem or softener depending on your preference I prefer needles this is best done on site in the room that the piano is gong to be played and the person who is going to play it be around

It can take 20 minutes To 10 hours to voice and tone All depends on the state of the hammers and how new they are


Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by TheRedQueen » 27 Oct 2015, 10:37

Thanks Barrie - and Colin, your webpage was brilliant for explaining it clearly. Sounds a tad out of the range of what we might be looking at paying for so I think we'll need to just choose based on the piano as it's set up in the shop. Thanks!

Withindale
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 176
Joined: 06 Oct 2011, 14:30

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Withindale » 28 Oct 2015, 11:18

Yamahas and Kawais (or Reid Sohns and other Chinese instruments) are not the only pianos in the world. Our local dealer had a selection of those when I last visited but the piano I liked best was a lightly used Knight. The Yamahas and the Kawais were over £3,000 and the Knight about £1,800. I suppose you get what you pay for but I think it's worth looking around for what you want when it comes to pianos.

Our tuner had sent me along because he thought the action on my old German upright was too light. I decided to stick with it and put more time and effort into regulation and cleaning the strings.

I agree with you; find one you like, as is. Then find a good tuner/technician to keep it up to scratch and improve it a bit on each visit.

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by vernon » 29 Oct 2015, 21:37

ref Colin's recommendation to test the pitch with a tuning fork; most of the new pianos seem to come in at A444 nowadays for some reason and it is anathema to a tuner to lower the pitch as that will happen on it's own with time if not religiously maintained.
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1839
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Colin Nicholson » 30 Oct 2015, 02:49

That's right Vernon.... I believe Kawai also tune and leave new pianos a fraction sharp purposefully.... could be down to allowing the piano to settle/ carriage, but also "customer delay" .... some new owners don't always follow the recommended guide for re-tuning by the book, so when eventually tuned, less pain for us as it is more or less on the fork. Good prediction by Kawai I think.
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3991
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by Barrie Heaton » 31 Oct 2015, 20:15

Pianos made in the uk where always put on factory pitch that's why thay recommend tuning new piano after 4 weeks especially if they are coming up to the north of England with the damp wether as the pitch can go to A448 which is not good for the bass strings

Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

crispin
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 129
Joined: 08 Jul 2008, 14:17
Location: france

Re: Yamaha 'sound'

Post by crispin » 19 Nov 2015, 10:28

I cannot comment on the Yamaha sound.... but I can weigh in a bit on tuning and voicing.

We bought a Bechstein upright some years ago... and various tri-string notes went out of tune quickly and this really destroyed the 'Bechstein' sound. I had a long discussion with Bechstein over this and they sent an 'expert' to resolve the problem: this was a disaster since he decided the problem was voicing and he made various hammers very soft so one could not hear the untuned tri-cord notes properly ... the end result was a piano with a very uneven touch and various notes still out of tune.
Bechstein, to their credit, eventually offered a replacement piano - and we fitted a humidifier system in the piano - and the piano now remains in tune for extended periods: but still needs retuning: and a freshly tuned piano is a pleasure to play.
My opinion of this is: (a) be very careful about voicing - this can destroy a good piano (b) the touch is all important - each note should produce an equal volume for equal pressure (c) Bechstein stand behind their products and make excellent pianos: the touch of this piano is still excellent (a newish grand piano Kawaii at the local conservatoire has a very uneven touch according to my son) (d) whatever piano - a humidifier is an all important accessory (e) buy at a good piano shop that has well set up and well tuned pianos to try out - find the one you want and get that one delivered: take a good pianist with you who can advise you.

Post Reply