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#2137179 - 08/22/13 01:17 PM Yamaha U3's Vintage mid 1980, how do they age?
musicNow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/13
Posts: 147
Loc: San Francisco, Bay Area
I just had an opportunity to play 12 Yamaha U3s, recently refurbished in Japan and shipped to the San Francisco Bay area.

They all sounded nice and were responsive, some a little better than others. In the past couple weeks I've also had the opportunity to play three new U3's at two different Yamaha dealers. What amazed me, these 25+ year old pianos sounded as good or better than the new ones. How can that be? The new pianos were in larger rooms (2x), but I don't think the room acoustics can explain the differences.

Is it my imagination? Maybe the wood has aged, the choice of wood is not as good anymore, or some other variable?

One quick guess is to say the felt on the hammers is compressed on the older pianos and they have a brighter sound while the new ones need some playing (the new ones sounded muffled, subdued to my crude ear). I'll give that some credence, but feel I'm not expert enough to make that kind of call. There were one of two in the used bunch that were not so bright, maybe reworked hammers, or even new hammers yet they still sounded great.

Yes these are "grey" market pianos and I've been told they are grade "A." Adding to the mix, I also played another gray market U3, late 1970s, different dealer. It sounded horrible and the keys were not evenly responsive.

Would love to hear if others have thoughts on this.

Someday I shall replace my 1950s Acrosonic.

- Rick
Learning to play the piano, tweaking my 1907 Ivers Pond upright, and mostly playing a Yamha C7 because of its predictability.

Hailun / Pearl River Pianos

Pearl River World's Best Selling Piano
#2137183 - 08/22/13 01:22 PM Re: Yamaha U3's Vintage mid 1980, how do they age? [Re: musicNow]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 377
Loc: Michigan
I bought a 1980 Yamaha UX 52" which I regretted and sold a few months later. The bass strings were tubby sounding which I didn't really realize at first. The action was also very light even after a tech regulated it. Of course this could have just been the individual piano, but from the hammers, it looked like it hadn't been played much, just sitting in someone's home for a long time. I think any piano that is 30 years old would tend to have tubbier sounding bass strings which would cost at least $700 to restring to sound like new again.

Try playing some of the low bass notes loudly and see if you can get an attack that "bites". Compare this to some new pianos. I noticed this when playing the arpeggios at the beginning of Rach 2 with its loud bass notes. Of course, the bass note hammers could have been lacquered to give it more treble attack, but the wound-string transition region already had some annoying metallic sounds that needed to be voiced down, so voicing up to add more attack wasn't an option. The piano was too bright overall but the bass strings were dead.

Well, the grand I have now is way more satisfying but it's 3x the price of a 30 year old U3 (although not too much more expensive than a brand new U3). I played some new U3's and they were decent though.

edit: Well anyway, this sort of thing might not be critical to some people. I was very straightforward about the tubby bass to the people who bought the UX from me, but they still liked the rest of the sound. And I had to put the price at a bit of a loss so it was a good price for them.

#2137329 - 08/22/13 05:37 PM Re: Yamaha U3's Vintage mid 1980, how do they age? [Re: Allan W.]
musicNow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/13
Posts: 147
Loc: San Francisco, Bay Area
Thanks Allan. I will pay more attention to the bass next time. If I do get a U3 it will be with the intent to upgrade at a later date to a six foot+ grand.

- Rick
Learning to play the piano, tweaking my 1907 Ivers Pond upright, and mostly playing a Yamha C7 because of its predictability.


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