Yamaha pianos were first seen imported into Europe around 1966; these early models sound the most like top German pianos, with a deep mellow tone throughout the range. They are well constructed with top quality soundboards, excellent hammers, wooden pedal mechanisms on the uprights with mostly wooden action parts. Yamaha pianos up to about 1985 are all made in Japan.
As competition increased from Korea and later Chinese factories began which began to produce large numbers of pianos in competition with Yamaha, so the Yamaha piano started to be made more economically. Wooden parts were replaced with plastic or aluminium, however, lately there has been a return to wooden action flanges. The tone also started to lack the rich depth that it previously had. The gradual brightening of tone is evident until 1994 which is when Yamaha brought out what they called a hand-built piano, the S series grands which currently start at £35,000 and the SU series uprights from £9,400.
Yamaha now operate a two tier system where their top quality Yamaha pianos made in Japan with most others in different countries and their basic grand and upright pianos being made in Indonesia. Considering that a Yamaha G3/C3 grand piano cost about £2,800 new in 1971 (600,000 JPY), the equivalent new price according to inflation since then would be £36,000 in 2013! A Yamaha U1D upright piano was priced at about £1000 new in 1965 (197,000 JPY). The equivalent new price in 2013 would be £13,000! The early Yamaha pianos are all of guaranteed high quality up to about 1985, and are available in most UK piano dealers and internationally. For further information please see the new and used Yamaha piano pages.