The Story of the Yamaha Piano

The Yamaha brand is now known all over the globe- but it did not begin this way. Let's take a look at the story of the Yamaha Piano:

Miller Piano Specialists September 18, 2020 4 Min Read

You can hear the iconic sound of Yamaha pianos from the world’s top artists, stages and recordings. From classical concerts and places of worship to the most elite colleges and universities to the newest piano learners’ homes, the sound of the Yamaha piano is ever present. The Yamaha brand is now known all over the globe- but it did not begin this way. In reality, Yamaha’s success has been more than a hundred years in the making. Let’s take a look at the story of the Yamaha Piano:

Watch this video on The Yamaha Story:

The Beginning (1900-1949)

The story of the Yamaha Piano begins in the year 1900. After successfully studying Western reed organs and building a widely accepted version in Japan for Japanese schools, Torakusu Yamaha, a former medical equipment repair technician, decided his company, Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd., needed to further capitalize on the growing popularity of Western classical music in Japan. He traveled to the USA to study manufacturing technics of the most advanced piano brands of the day. Mr. Yamaha purchased machinery and materials and his team built the first piano made in Japan in 1900.  The first piano that Mr. Yamaha built was an upright piano, and two years later, Yamaha felt inspiration from the tones of its first grand piano. Though the company was mainly focusing on making pianos for the Japanese market, Torakusu sent one of his pianos to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where it received an Honorary Grand Prize.

By the 1920s, the Yamaha piano craftsmen learned more from European piano production techniques. In 1926, Yamaha invited Ale Schlegel to visit the craftsmen at the Nippon Gakki facilities in Japan. Ale Schlegel was an expert piano technician from Germany, and he offered Yamaha much insight. They discussed piano making in exhaustive detail, and Schlegel’s advice went into making an incredible product. 

Coming To The U.S.A. (1960 – 1969)

The 1950s consisted of new ideas for the Yamaha Piano. At the beginning of the 1960s, Yamaha created a new company in the U.S.A. to distribute its pianos: The Yamaha International Corporation. They were so successful that by 1965, Yamaha was producing more pianos than any other competitor.

In the next couple of years, Yamaha concentrated on building prototypes evaluated by several highly-regarded pianists. In November 1967, the C.F. concert grand piano unveiled during a banquet at Tokyo’s Hotel Okura. Wilhelm Kempff played that evening, and went on to call it “one of the top pianos in the world.”

Beginning A Relationship (1970 – 1979)

The C.F. and C3 grand piano took the world by storm with a little help of a unique relationship. During a concert in Padua, Italy, a Russian maestro, Sviatoslav Richter, first encountered a C.F. After playing and evaluating many pianos from different manufacturers during the rehearsal, the Russian maestro chose to play it again later that year at the Menton Music Festival in France. From that point forward, Richter was dedicated to playing Yamaha pianos. A relationship flourished with the Yamaha company that would last for the rest of Richter’s life. During this period, another famous classical artist, Glenn Gould, purchased a Yamaha CFII piano. Mr. Gould recorded his Grammy Award winning Goldberg Variations in 1981 for the Sony label on this piano. 

New Ideas (1980 – 1989)

During the ’80s, Yamaha became inspired by the concert halls opening up all over Japan. Yamaha wanted to create a concert grand piano for the new generation. The C.F. was a success, so Yamaha’s craftsmen began developing a series of prototypes. After much crafting and evaluation, Yamaha introduced the CFIII in 1983. Of course, the piano was an instant success.

Yamaha Piano Today

In 1991, Yamaha reached a manufacturing milestone of five million pianos. Inspired from the C.F. and CFIII concert grand pianos, Yamaha also introduced the CFIIIS (which underwent two further upgrades in 1996 and 2000). In 1992, the “silent piano” made Yamaha’s popularity. This new piano allowed players to listen to the music they played and produced through headphones.

Today, Yamaha continues to develop and create a refined sound, exclusive to the Yamaha brand. The model CFX, introduced in 2010, was the selected piano of the International Chopin Competition winner, Yulianna Avdeeva, and is selected consistently in other international competitions. In 2022 Yamaha enhanced the CFX once again to wide acclaim by artists from all genres. The Yamaha Corporation is now the largest musical instrument producer in the world with one in four musical instruments produced globally being a Yamaha brand. The company is roughly 4X it’s closest competitor and spends more in research and development annually than many other brands total revenue. There are many production facilities around the globe, even outside of Japan. Yamaha is known as one of the finest piano makers of world-class. Yamaha continues to deliver excellence and quality in its pianos, while it continues to explore further refinements. 


For the past 100+ years, Yamaha has delivered excellence in its instruments; and there’s no sign of them stopping. Yamaha is the only company to offer a complete line of piano products, from purely acoustic to purely digital pianos and other keyboard products, including instruments that are hybrids of each technology. All Yamaha Pianos come with that unique uncompromised Yamaha tone and quality.

We hope you enjoyed reading the story of the Yamaha Piano. Are you interested in buying your dream piano? If so, consider the Yamaha piano. At Miller Piano Specialists, we’re the only authorized retailer for Yamaha pianos and we’re here to help you find the perfect piano for you. 

Our hours are Monday-Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm or by appointment at your request.

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