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Yamaha U1 (Read 2082 times)

Offline schubert960

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Yamaha U1
« on: November 15, 2017, 03:00:38 AM »
Hi everyone.

I've got a Yamaha U1 that I've had for a few years now. It's a grey market reconditioned 1974 model and I've been mostly quite happy with it. It's held its tune very well, nothing has broken (even when I was bashing out Prokofiev 7 three hours a day) but I'm finding myself more and more dissatisfied with the action and the tone.

- I'm finding the piano very bright - I know this is part and parcel of owning a Yamaha but it's driving me nuts at the moment - the treble is like glass breaking.
- The action is far too light, to the point where practicing things like repeated notes on it becomes useless because subsequently transitioning to a grand piano with a much heavier action is extremely difficult.
- The una corda is set up as such that it makes the action unbearably light - I know the action would become lighter anyway with the una corda as the hammers are moved closer to the keys but with the una corda it honestly feels as though I'm playing a Casio keyboard the action is so light.

My question is, are these problems that can be solved by a tuner or should I really be looking for a new piano with a weightier action and a better una corda? I understand the tuner can regulate the action to make it more even but can they make it heavier? I'm not too sure what the problem is with the una corda - it may be something I have to live with but can the tuner adjust the mechanism so the hammers don't move quite so close to the keys when the una corda is depressed?

Many thanks for your help.



Offline huaidongxi

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Re: Yamaha U1
«Reply #1 on: November 19, 2017, 07:12:12 AM »
unless the piano came with a comprehensive list of what was replaced or refurbished as part of it getting 'reconditioned', there's a real possibility its shortcomings are related to working parts reaching their life expectancy.  alternatively, you might have outgrown the capacity of a yamaha upright of that vintage -- experts on that manufacturer's product could probably tell you all the improvements done since.  did a technician assess the piano when you purchased it, regarding whether original parts had either been replaced, or were still in the piano, and their likely future durability ?  if you've only had it for a few years it's unfortunate you're facing these faults already.  forty plus years of wear on the hammers, if they're original, might mean no amount of needling/voicing will help the tone much.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Yamaha U1
«Reply #2 on: November 19, 2017, 01:44:34 PM »
I detested the sound of the Yamaha studio my winter church bought from day one.  I wouldn't spend a dime on your piano.  They have great resale value due to the "salesman in a nice suit" syndrome, sell it for $$$$ while you can.  
I talked my summer church elder out of buying the Yamaha with the distressed case at Salvation Army last summer, it was only $150.  Our existing 1950 Baldwin Hamilton sounds much better to my lightly damaged ears. Most men have no high frequency hearing left.  
Consoles/studios I like the sound of - Sohmer, Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, Steinway, high market Wurlitzer  , Grinell Bros of Detroit, Kawai.   Chickering has  a good reputation but I've never played one personally. Baldwin Acrosonics are especially bright, Baldwin Hamilton are more subdued.   Those I like are only the pre-globalization models; I've tried some globally supplied Wurlitzers and Baldwins that were ****.    Obviously I've no experience with European models here in the middle USA.
Many old 500 lb uprights from before WWII are very pleasant, but some are tinny. Knabe and Kurtzman are two survivors I've liked, although they are too heavy for me to move now that I'm also antique.    I'll fix sticky keys, loose dampers or change broken strings in an old piano with a good tone, but I won't touch a Yamaha console or studio.  Yamaha baby grands sound just blah, but their 9' grands sound pretty good, although I've never played one.  
All vertical pianos except Steinway have lighter action than grands, generally. That feature sells them to people like me with light duty forearms.  I could play a grand by stressing when I was 16, but now that much force would cause tendonitis.  I passed up buying a Steinway 44 in 1982 because it was so heavy, compared to the Sohmer 39 I did buy.  That would be just your ticket.  Beware of used Steinways from music schools; they are beat to death and likely have wiggly pivots and scooped hammer & damper felts.   
I don't know why you call the soft pedal the una chorda, the action doesn't move to one string on a vertical piano. Vertical soft pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings.   The pianos I use have consistent action enough very soft I don't ever use the soft pedal, I can get the same volume just by playing with less force and speed.    One of the tests of a used piano, play very softly and see if the notes take consistent force and still sound.  A global nineties Wurlitzer at a student's house was a particular failure at this. 
Have fun shopping.  Get out of the stores and cruise the internet: I find the best pianos are $100, hurry up and haul it away today before the floor installer gets here!!!!!   Bad tuning excepted, of course.  See this inspection routine to sort out the junk - https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=58857.0