I was recently contracted to carry out the initial after-sales servicing of a new Yamaha grand piano.
The new generation of Yamaha X series grand pianos features a number of improvements over their previous pianos. Personally I am not overwhelmed by the case styling, but it is what comes out of the box that was eye opening for me.
I was not totally surprised by the even and responsive action, but it was the tone of the instrument which made a big impression on me. This new X series features German Wurzen hammer felt. The “Wurzen-A” felt is identified by the two thin dark felt layers visible in the low bass hammers.
But it was not a new tone for me - I had heard this exact lovely sound coming out of Yamaha grands before. The first time was back in 2008, when I attended a two day voicing seminar given by André Oorebeek. In subsequent voicing seminars that André gave, the result was always repeated. André describes his voicing process in his voicing manual “The Voice of the Piano”.
I remember the impression I had back then: I had never heard a Yamaha sound like that before. I was such a cultivated European tone, a soulful voice capable of interpreting the most romantic music, while still allowing the piano to be pushed to a brilliant imposing sound when called for. André calls it “power and silk”.
André has used the Wurzen-A felt on action restorations for years to achieve his acclaimed results; it is good to see that Yamaha has now decided to use the same felt on its instruments straight from the factory. It makes a big difference and is a great improvement.