Yamaha U3: 10 Reasons why it's a great choice
- It is made in Japan,
- It has been a popular choice for over 60 years,
- It holds it's value
- It is enjoyed by professional pianists
- It is relied upon by music schools and piano teachers
- It has longer bass strings than baby grand pianos
- It is 131cm tall (tall is good!)
- If properly reconditioned it will last a generation before needing further work
- It looks good (gallery link coming soon) and sounds great
- A new Yamaha U3 costs £9000 but a professionally reconditioned one can be bought for less than half that amount.
I will now expand on some of those points and some more info at the end.
1. The Yamaha U3 is made in Japan
Manufacturing is an art form in Japan which means build quality and quality control is consistently high. Quality does come at a price of course which is why many manufacturers are now opening factories in China, Indonesia and other places that don't have a great reputation for build quality. I always remember This Article from a few years ago which gives credit to both Japanese and Chinese attitudes to "getting things done" albeit sometimes in very different ways. This interesting article suggests that wages in China are increasing up to 20% per year which means large companies are now moving their operations to the other countries who still rock-bottom wages. This is worrying because it suggests manufacturers are putting their focus on cost rather than focussing on producing high quality products.
As far as I'm aware every single Yamaha U3 piano has been made in Yamaha's famous Hamamatsu factory in Japan. The Yamaha U1 used to be made there and it probably still is for the local Japanese market but the Yamaha U1 is now made in various factories all around the world. I know that whilst Kemble's UK factory was still in operation (closed in 2009) they were making the Yamaha U1 on behalf of Yamaha.
Conclusion: Japanese pianos such as the Yamaha U3 have a consistently high build quality. They are a very safe purchase.
2. A popular choice for over 60 years
The Yamaha U3 must be the best-selling "proper piano" (not including digital or entry level pianos) of the past 2 or 3 decades. They are popular with piano shops because customer never complain about them and they are popular with customers because of the great sound quality, reliability and sensible price. It is perhaps the most tried & trusted piano model currently available on the UK piano market.
3. Holds value very well
There are so many people looking to buy a Yamaha piano that you are guaranteed to achieve a good selling price if you decide to sell yours in future. Used Yamaha piano prices are rising every month which means (a) Now is a good to buy and (b) You can expect a good return on your investment in future.
4. Enjoyed by professional musicians
The Yamaha U3 has long been the choice of professional musicians for use in their own homes where musicians require the best quality pianos but they don't have space for a grand piano. The Yamaha U3 becomes their composition tool, their workhorse, their inspiration.
Brit Awards winning producter Marcus Dravs (Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire) bought a Yamaha U3 from me a few years ago.
Emeli Sande initially bought a Yamaha grand piano from me but later traded it in for 2 Yamaha U3 pianos when she moved house.
Conclusion: Some of the most demanding and high profile musicians choose the Yamaha U3 for their homes.
5. Relied upon by music schools and piano teachers
One of my piano technician friends used to tune pianos for the prestigious Chetham's music school in Manchester. He estimated that they have around 100 Yamaha U3 pianos in their practise rooms (if you know different please let me know). Also, I once sold 8 Yamaha U3 pianos to a high profile girl's boarding school for use in their practise rooms.
A common occurence in our showrooms is for a piano teacher to accompany their student to choose a Yamaha U3. You will often find that piano teachers have a Yamaha U3 at home and they recommend that their student buy the same model.
Many piano examination centres use a Yamaha U3 for students to use during their exam.
Conclusion: Piano teachers, exam centres and music schools must have reliable pianos that perform flawlessly 100% of the time. The Yamaha U3 is therefore a popular choice in those situations.
6. Longer bass strings than baby grand pianos (under construction)
Here are some fun facts about string lengths on various Yamaha piano models
- Yamaha C108: coming soon
- Yamaha U1: coming soon
- Yamaha U3: coming soon
- Yamaha GB1 baby grand: coming soon
- Yamaha C1 baby grand: coming soon
- Yamaha C2 grand: coming soon
- Yamaha C3 grand: coming soon
- Yamaha C5 grand: coming soon
7. 131cm Tall (tall is good)
The taller you make a piano the longer strings you can fit inside. The Yamaha U3 is a very healthy 131cm tall and houses very long bass strings. When you play a Yamaha U3 alongside a Yamaha U1 (121cm) you can hear a very clear difference. A taller piano is also able to house a larger soundboard which again is good for producing good tone quality.
But height isn't everything. I remember stocking a Kawai upright recently which was an impressive height but when you lifted the lid you could see that the top 10cm was made just for show and had no musical impact. This means that it was a smaller piano, with smaller strings, a smaller soundboard but looked like a larger, more impressive piano.
Conclusion: Taller upright pianos have longer strings and sound better than many baby grand pianos. Aim for at least 130cm tall and absolutely avoid anything under 120cm
Still hungry for more info? Read on for more info and frequently asked question
Looks great. Sounds great
Exhaustive list of photos, videos, cinemascape, Vine.
Long working life
Due to the high build quality you can expect to get 20 or 30 years use out of a Yamaha U3 piano. At that point it will need to be reconditioned and, assuming the right standard of work is done it should then give another generation of good service. The same will be true again at that point, just recondition the piano whenever it is getting tired and it will be good to go again. All the parts on a Yamaha U3 are available to be exchanged at any time so you don't have to worry about it becoming obselete or difficult to fix. All issues that might ever arise are very very easy for a technician to address.
Suitable for what standard of playing?
The Yamaha U3 is best suited for anyone who wants an enjoyable musical experience whilst practising and a reliable piano that won't let them down. The temptation is to think that beginners need a cheap piano and they should upgrade at around grade 5. Not everybody has £3000-£4000 to spend on a piano so we have to be realistic. If you can afford to spend £3000-£4000 on a piano and you think the student will stick it with it for 5-10 years then I would advise you to go ahead and buy a high quality piano even when the player is still a beginner.
If you think the student might lose interest after a year or 2 then perhaps a cheaper piano might be a good choice. However, please bear in mind that cheaper pianos are often made in China and they lose their value extremely quickly compared with reconditioned Japanese pianos. So be careful of false economy.
Playing a rubbish piano is no fun at all and you quickly want to stop playing and do something else instead. The keys on a cheap piano often feel stiff or uncomfortable and the sound can be either thin and tinny or muffled and muted. For a student to have the best possible chance of falling in love with playing the piano they need access to a piano that will inspire them to keep practising every day. Conclusion: Buy the best piano that you can afford. Use your full budget.
Serial numbers / How to tell what year a Yamaha U3 piano was made
The quick rules for giving an approximate date of any Yamaha U3 is as follows
- 7 digit serial number beginning with a 1 means 1970-1974
- 7 digit serial number beginning with a 2 means 1975-1979
- 7 digit serial number beginning with a 3 means 1980-1984
- 7 digit serial number beginning with a 4 means 1985-1989
- 7 digit serial number beginning with a 5 means 1990+
- 7 digit serial number beginning with a 6 means 2000+
What do the various model suffixes mean? (U3H, U3F, U3G, U3M, U3A etc)
The U3 suffixes tell you what period in time the piano was made. When Yamaha introduced a slightly different model they would change the suffix. U3
- Yamaha U3F - a bit old Made in the 1960s with an unusual cabinet design. They can sound muffled and unless they have been fully reconditioned there can be many action parts that will need replacing. Don't buy a Yamaha U3F without first asking a piano technician to inspect it for you. If your budget will stretch to a younger piano then I'd say avoid the U3F.
- Yamaha U3G - getting better You can get some very nice U3G pianos and the prices are often 10-20% lower than a younger Yamaha U3. If you have a big enough budget I would recommend that you go for a U3H, U3M or U3A instead of a U3G but if you can only afford the U3G then you must (a) play it for at least 10 minutes before handing over any money or agreeing a purchase, (b) have the piano inspected by a technician before you agree to buy and make your payment. It's a high quality, well made piano but due to the age you need to check that it has a properly reconditioned action.
- Yamaha U3H 1970-1979 - Mostly excellent Made in the 70s this is a very popular period for Yamaha. The quality is good, the price is still very reasonable and as long as it has been properly and fully reconditioned then I think this is a great option as long as you play the piano and have it inspected before handing over any cash.
- Yamaha U3M 1980-1982 Excellent A very consistent model and a strong favourite amongst our customers over the years. Some customers can feel a little bit worried about getting a piano from the 1970s due to the age and they feel happier with a 1980s Yamaha U3. The Yamaha U3M dates from around 1980 to around 1982 or 1983.
- Yamaha U3A mid-1980s - Excellent The Yamaha U3A is very similar to the Yamaha U3M but can sometimes slightly bigger, fuller sound. I have always found myself particularly drawn to the Yamaha U3A and I might go so far as to call it my favourite.
- Yamaha U30A The Yamaha U30A is a very similar piano to the Yamaha U3. It has the same overall dimensions and was built in the same factory to the same high standards. The letter “U” is the most important part of the model number as it means that it is from the same top level family of pianos as the U1, U3, UX, U30BL etc. All of these models are top quality pianos that will last you to your grade 8 and as far beyond that as your ambition will take you.
- Yamaha U30BL The U30BL can be thought of as a very very close relative of the Yamaha U3. It is the same size, was built in the same factory and is of the same build quality as the Yamaha U3. The important thing to note is that the Yamaha U3 and the Yamaha U30BL both begin with the letter “U”. The U means that the piano is in Yamaha’s top line of pianos. You have the B series at the bottom (made in Indonesia), the P series in the middle (made in various factories all over the world) and you have the U series, most of which are made in Yamaha’s premier factory in Japan. The Yamaha U30BL pianos that I've had in stock have not had locks. Most (maybe all) Yamaha U3 pianos are made with locks.
- Yamaha UX The Yamaha UX is very similar to the Yamaha U3 but the UX has an X-shaped soundboard frame around the back of the piano. The U3 has vertical supports. Yamaha claim the X design is an improvement but I have never been able to spot a clear difference in sound between the X design and the standard design. The Yamaha UX was also sold as a "hand finished" piano and had a higher price tag.
- 1969 Yamaha U3 Medium/Bright tone
- 1976 Yamaha U3 Medium/Bright tone
- 1978 Yamaha U3 Medium/Bright tone
- 1980 Yamaha U3 Medium/Bright tone
- 1982 Yamaha U3 Medium/Bright tone
- 1986 Yamaha U3 Medium/Bright tone
- 1979 Yamaha UX Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1980 Yamaha UX Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1986 Yamaha UX-3 Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1987 Yamaha U30BL Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1988 Yamaha U30BL Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1989 Yamaha U30BL Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1993 Yamaha U30 Medium/Bright tone (similar to U3)
- 1974 Yamaha U3 Medium tone
- 1976 Yamaha U3 Medium tone
- 1976 Yamaha U3 Medium tone
- 1981 Yamaha U3 Medium tone
- 1985 Yamaha U3 Medium tone
- 1992 Yamaha U30A Medium tone (similar to U3)
- 1993 Yamaha U30A Medium tone (similar to U3)
- 1998 Yamaha U3SXG self-playing disklavier (similar to U3)
- 1999 Yamaha YU3 (similar to U3)
- 1972 Yamaha U3 Medium/Mellow tone
- 1976 Yamaha U3 Medium/Mellow tone
- 1989 Yamaha U3 Medium/Mellow tone
- 1975 Yamaha X Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- 1976 Yamaha X Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- 1976 Yamaha UX Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- 1977 Yamaha UX Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- 1978 Yamaha UX Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- 1985 Yamaha UX3 Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- 2003 Yamaha YU30 Medium/Mellow tone (similar to U3)
- Height: 52in / 130.5cm
- Width: 60.5in / 153.5cm
- Depth: 25.5in / 65cm
- From floor to keyboard: 24.5in / 62.2cm
- Weight: coming soon (please tell me if you have the accurate figure)
Other similar models
Bright, Medium or Mellow sound
Here are some videos to help you decide if you prefer a bright, medium or mellow sound
Bright - good for filling large rooms or rehearsal spaces
Medium/Bright - not quite medium and not quite bright. Somewhere inbetween
Medium - these are the most popular and are suitable for most people's tastes
Medium/Mellow - not quite medium and not quite mellow. Somewhere inbetween
Dimensions & Weight
Would you allow me to make a sales pitch?
If so, please read on. We do really REALLY love our work at Mark Goodwin Pianos. Sometimes we pinch ourselves to check that we get to enjoy working with pianos every day for a living. We have always found that piano people are good people whether that is tuners, movers or our lovely customers who often bring 3 generations of the family to view our showrooms.
I have always had a strong obsession with creating the smoothest, friendliest and most laid back customer experience possible. That is why we offer a 14 day moneyback guarantee (including free delivery and collection) and payment on delivery with no deposit up front. I'm always trying to tweak our systems and website to make every part of the transaction as customer-focused as possible. Profit always takes a back seat and we put our customers' needs up front every time.
We've always enjoyed a steady stream of very positive feedback. Can we name-drop? Yes, let's name drop. Our customers have included Emeli Sande, Jeremy Vine, Pete Tong DJ, Yael Naim (she made this track), Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol frontman), Markus Dravs (Coldplay producer), Jas Mann (Babylon Zoo frontman), Uri Geller. It's nice to have familiar names as customers but our most important customers are the families from all walks of life who come looking for a piano to help make their musical ambitions come true.
This site is not connected to Yamaha Corporation in any way
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