Are Yamaha Pianos too bright?

There is misconception being circulated that Yamaha pianos are excessively bright, or cold sounding. This may often be true of the smaller, cheaper Yamahas such as the B1 or B2 but certainly not true of the larger, superior models such as the Yamaha U1 or U3 which often have a smooth, rich tone. I would encourage you not to make your mind up based on playing one of those smaller models and wait until you’ve sat down at the Yamaha U3 and see why it is so popular amongst piano teachers, concert pianists and ambitious students.

But first, let’s throw the “too bright” theory out of the window with this wonderful live performance by Nina Simone playing a Yamaha grand piano:

My Yamaha piano showroom in Manchester usually has over 15 Yamaha U1 and/or U3 pianos in stock and so I get to compare all of the different tones that are possible from these models. It is certainly true that some are brighter than others. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that some very very mellow, most are somewhere in the mid-toned range and the odd one is very bright. My standard advice is that you should choose a mellow one if you are worried about making too much noise, choose a bright one if you need the piano to fill a particularly large room or for a choir rehearsal room or a dance hall, but otherwise, for most people the mid-toned Yamaha U3 is the most appropriate choice as it is mellow enough to play very softly but bright enough for you to really make it sing or shout out those Fortissimo passages.

In the end, it is certainly best to make a visit and spot these differences for yourself. Tonal preferences are a very personal thing and so you should take everything you read (including this article) with a pinch of salt just in case your perceptions are different from whoever you have spoken too.

Room acoustics also play a part. A very softly furnished room can take a bright piano whereas a cold, hard room would probably best suit a very mellow room. In reality, most rooms are somewhere in between soft and hard and so the medium-toned piano suits best.

I would say in general that a Yamaha U1 tends to be brighter than a Yamaha U3. The U3 has that extra depth and smoothness of tone whereas the U1 can sound like it has a bit more attitude to the tone which can often make it more suited to jazz or pop where instant, bright sounds are desirable.

Another final factor is the age of the piano. Another general rule to work by is that the newer Yamaha pianos tend to be getting brighter and brighter which can be a bit piercing at times. I prefer to stock Yamaha pianos from between about 1975 up to the mid-1980s as I find them to have a more rounded and balance tone. So be aware of that question too. As long as a piano has been properly reconditioned then it is no problem at all getting one from that sort of period.

So please do consider visiting a showroom before making your mind up about the tonal qualities of Yamaha pianos. They can vary quite massively from model to model and you will need to physically sit down and play a few bits on them to be able to spot those differences.

Customers often ask me to choose a piano for them and so on that occasion I will normally ask what type of room the piano is to go in and providing that the room isn’t too hard or too soft then I will recommend and choose a nice, mid-toned Yamaha U3 for them.

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to view my stocklist above or drop me an email with any further questions to