From left: Tom Sumner, Lisa MacDonald, Roger Eaton, Steven Fisher, Dennis Webster, Brian Petterson and Simon Oss.


Yamaha Celebrates Milestones

Yamaha has released more than 70 new products at the NAMM Show, but during a gear preview in New York City in early January, the company put an emphasis on four products that demonstrate technological breakthroughs as well as marking important milestones.

On the technology front, Yamaha introduced the SX Series acoustic piano which is the first acoustic piano to incorporate Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) treatment in its piano rims to generate tonal characteristics produced from naturally aged instruments.

"Basically, you take wood and you use heat and atmospheric pressure and you use moisture to get the wood to act like it's old," said Tom Sumner, senior vice president of Yamaha Corporation of America. "So, it reverberates more, it's much more responsive."

A.R.E. is a Yamaha-developed treatment that is finding its way across musical platforms for the company. First employed in violin-making, A.R.E. has also been used in Yamaha acoustic guitar models, and now in SX Series pianos.

"This particular instrument, the first thing I noticed when I played it is the sustain is so long and so consistent," said pianist Frederick Chiu, a Yamaha performing artist. "For me as a pianist, I am always struggling with projection and mixing colors. What a pianist is trying to do is work with a percussion instrument to make it a lyrical instrument. So, this is a great extension of the sound."

In terms of milestones, Yamaha guitars, drums and woodwinds all will be celebrating 50th anniversaries during 2017 with special models.

In acoustic guitars, Yamaha debuted the flagship A5 model, which is based on the 2015 limited run A6 model and, like the A6, will be crafted in Japan. The A5's solid Sitka spruce top employs A.R.E.

"So, you've got solid rosewood back and sides, solid spruce top," said Dennis Webster, marketing manager for guitars. "We made a few in the A Series in the past in Japan, but they were limited editions. This is the first constant-run production, Japanese-made model of the A series."

In drums, Yamaha will introduce the Limited-Edition 50th Anniversary drum set, based on the company's Absolute Hybrid Maple series released in 2014.

"It almost makes you weep, it's so beautiful!" said Steven Fisher, marketing manager for drums. "We have two different finishes. This one you're seeing here is birdseye maple in an amber sunburst finish. We also have a curly maple that's done in an antique natural finish.

"Besides the two finishes and the limited edition, they've got the gold lugs on there, and the gold lug is actually a throwback to 1991 when we launched the first Maple Custom set."

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yamaha woodwinds, the company will introduce the 50th anniversary Custom Z alto saxophone.

"Over the last 50 years of Yamaha wind instruments, there has been one constant theme, research and development," said Brian Petterson, marketing manager for band & orchestral instruments. "It's innovating on everything from our student level products to our high-end instruments."

Petterson noted that a great deal of R&D happening today comes from professional artists taking their instruments into Yamaha artist ateliers in New York and five other cities around the globe.

Two other anniversaries for Yamaha include the 30th anniversary of the Disklavier reproducing piano as well as the 30th anniversary of Yamaha digital mixers, two products that have helped change the face of music.