Thoughts on the Yamaha AvantGrand

I’ve been involved in a series of performances using the Yamaha N3 AvantGrand.  The AvantGrand series are hybrid pianos in that the keyboard, action and pedal work is all identical to that found on an acoustic piano. But the tone generation uses large digital samples of a high quality grand piano projected by built-in amplification and speakers, rather than a soundboard and strings.

The goal is to get as close as one can to the touch and tone of a regular piano without the need for tuning or voicing.  In addition to a real grand piano action, the N3  also provides digital communication connections and comes in a smaller (460 lbs) though not always more easily moved package. While smaller than a grand piano, it is still a large, heavy instrument and should not be mistaken for a Clavinova or similar home style digital piano.  Yamaha put a great deal of effort developing the amplifier and speaker system to accurately project the sound of a grand piano. This includes speakers facing up as well as down and the use of the case as part of the tone generating system. […]

Saying Goodbye

I said goodbye to a friend recently.

While with Yamaha in the 90’s I purchased a Yamaha concert grand…a CFIII 51GX to be precise. GX designates an experimental model and 51 designates the series. The 51 was a design experiment that incorporated a number of design features of a popular concert grand made by a […]

Maybe the Times are a-changing…

Frederic Chiu played the new Yamaha CFX concert grand in a well received recital at the Metropolitian Museum of Art in New York. The extremely positive review in the New York Times also featured something that has been very rare in the past, a photo that included the name of a non-New York based […]

2010 NAMM part 1 – Overview

NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) is the big musical instrument industry trade show. Technically it’s held twice a year, but the big show is every January in Anaheim, California.

Anybody and everybody connected with the musical products industry shows and attends NAMM. This includes pianos of all price points, drums, brass and wind instruments, guitar picks, amps, guitars, disco fog machines, makers of fine hand crafted conducting batons and everything, I mean everything in between. It’s a huge show and the Anaheim Convention Center is one of the only convention centers in the country that can hold it.

NAMM is not a consumer show.  Manufacturers display their products and sell them to retailers, who will later sell them to consumers. Therefore it is a wholesale show, not open to the public. Thank god, because it is busy and crazy enough as it is. That being said, there are always professional musicians of all caliber visiting, including an annual visit by Stevie Wonder. Fans line up for autographs by people I don’t recognize and the hallways are decorated with colored mohawks, chains and fishnet, as well as business suits. Guess which group I’m in?

It’s a busy week, usually arriving on Monday and spending Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday setting up the display and getting ready. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are show days with Sunday usually when we get a chance to visit the other booths and catch up with friends, enemies and competitors.

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2010 NAMM part 3 Yamaha CFX

Yamaha has had a high end “craft built” line for a number of years and has been a very serious builder of concert pianos for decades. The concert grand, the CFIII (CF3) has undergone a number of iterations and experiments, resulting in the model CFIIIS that has been the flagship for the last 8 […]

2010 NAMM part 4 – Bösendorfer and Yamaha

So now you have a major Japanese piano maker with a proven high end approach owning and taking marketing and sales responsibility for a 180 year old Austrian maker of what is generally referred to as one of the worlds finest craft built pianos; what happens next?

My prediction is that good things will come […]

What is the Yamaha S Series?

In a nutshell, the S series are Yamaha’s concert level, hand made pianos. Made in a separate factory, these 3 models, the S4 (191 cn, 6’3″)  , S6 (212m, 6’11”) and CFIIIS  (275cm, 9′) (pronounced C F three S)  are made using techniques that would be familiar in any high end piano factory. Lots […]

Nice piano!

I’m in Charleston SC right now (really great city!) and just heard Valentina Lisitsa play the Tchaikovsky 1 with the Warsaw Philharmonic. Valentina is a big Bosendorfer fan, and the feeling is mutual. But our bank of concert pianos can’t completely keep up with the vast range of her performances, and we don’t have […]

Wait, Andreas…let me explain!

Why am I such a Bosendorfer geek?

In a nutshell, everything I know about high end pianos I learned from Bosendorfer. Seeing my first Imperial at the University of Wisconsin/Madison at the ripe age of 20 set me on my path. From then on, there was nothing so dramatic, spectacular and, well, downright sexy as […]

Maybe I’ll say one more thing…

I worked for for Bosendorfer during the Kimball years.  That, in my opinion, was a much less logical combination than Bosendorfer and Yamaha and there were plenty of jokes (Kimball-dorfers, Bosen-balls). But, in fact, Kimball was a wonderful steward for Bosendorfer, probably a better steward of Bosendorfer than of their own brand. I believe […]