Jeffrey Shackell and Jeffrey Shackell Ltd. have a long standing history and tradition in working with Yamaha pianos. Of all the makes available and other than Steinway & Sons, the Yamaha piano has been the most successful that we have dealt with and hundreds of Yamaha pianos have found new homes through us.
We are well known for our care and attention to detail with Yamaha pianos and the extra dimension and levels that we can take them to. Jeffrey Shackell has worked extensively with Yamaha Music UK in promoting the hand crafted CF111S concert grand and much custom work has taken place to some of these instruments.
Jeffrey was responsible for the preparation and success of the Yamaha concert grand at the 2007 Scottish International Piano Competition, something that he found very interesting and quite a challenge against Steinway and Bluthner pianos. We hope you will find interest in the history of Yamaha pianos below together with serial numbers and on following pages the history of other well known makers.
The company was originally named Nippon Gakki, which translated means ‘Japan musical instruments’. It was changed to Yamaha Corporation in 1987.
In 1887 Torakusu Yamaha created his own version of the reed organ before starting his own business in Hamasatsu. A year later he founded Japan’s first manufacturer of Western musical instruments; the Yamaha Organ Manufacturing Company.
In America, the reed organ’s popularity was overtaken by that of the economical upright piano during the 1890s. This was when the company was named Nippon Gakki. Yamaha now began producing pianos, seizing the potential of this market. By the next year their first piano had been constructed, and 1902 saw the introduction of their first grand piano. Between 1902 and 1903 Yamaha pianos won many awards, after having been displayed at select international exhibitions.
The First World War brought great advantages for Nippon Gakki, as it resulted in a considerable growth in the Japanese industry. The piano company was able to provide for markets that were unable to access traditional sources of supply, such as Asian markets. 1,000 workers were employed and they were making 1,200 pianos a year by 1920. Such impressive sales records were kept up even after the war had finished.
Both the new plant in Nakazawa and the main factory in Hamasatsu were demolished by fire in 1922, and in 1923 other Nippon Gakki factories along with the Tokyo office were destroyed due to the Great Kanto earthquake.
Kaichi Kawakami became president of the firm in 1927. He was successful in reshaping the company and cutting production costs. This resulted in many debts being paid off.
More trouble was to ensue from the Second World War, as only one of the company’s plants was left standing after the US bombing raids. However, it did also bring advantages. Due to wartime activity, possibilities of innovative technologies were opened up to Nippon Gakki. The piano firm learnt how to cast its own metal piano frames, resulting in piano production for the first time in 3 years.
In 1948 musical education for Japanese children was ratified by the Education Ministry. This gave Nippon Gakki a tremendous lift as it caused its business to flourish.
Gen'ichi Kawakami, the former leader’s son, took over presidency in 1950 and retained this position for 27 years. He, like his father, accomplished many things for the company in this time. In 1954 he instigated the Yamaha music schools where young musicians could be trained, in order to propagate Western music in Japan. However the president’s most significant achievements were in production and the introduction of foreign markets. It was from these important things that the structure of Yamaha Corporation was built. Due to a conveyor belt system, the company was able to rapidly decrease the amount of time spent on the production of a piano. A revolutionary kiln drying technique enabled the drying of the wood in pianos to be much more efficient, and production was reduced from 2 years to 3 months.
From 1960 to 1966 there was a notable surge in Nippon Gakki’s yearly piano production. It rose from being 24,000 in the former to 100,000 in the latter. The company was now the world’s largest piano manufacturer.
In 1961 Nippon Gakki won a prominent contract to provide a total of 53 grand pianos to the Los Angeles Board of Education. In 1967 the company’s first concert grand piano was built.
It was in celebration of its 100th anniversary in 1987 that the firm’s corporate name was changed to Yamaha Corporation.
In 1992, Kawakami was replaced by Seisuke Ueshima as president. Under its new leader, Yamaha Corporation’s business continued to thrive. With the encouragement to initiate fresh and innovative ideas, the company came up with an intriguing new invention; the Silent Piano. The sound of the piano could be muted if the pianist wished to listen to it through headphones, as well as being able to play it as a regular acoustic piano.
Yamaha Corporation is the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world.
Yamaha Pianos produced for the U.S. market have been manufactured in 4 locations:
As a result, there are four different serial number ranges for Yamaha pianos.
If the serial number begins with a "T" , the piano was manufactured in Thomaston, Georgia. If your grand piano is a GH1G, GH1FP, GC1G, or GC1FP, your piano was manufactured in Thomaston, Georgia.
If the serial number begins with a "U" , the piano was manufactured in South Haven, Michigan.
If your grand piano is a GA1E, DGA1E, GB1, or DGB1, your piano was manufactured in Jakarta, Indonesia.
If your piano is any other grand piano it was manufactured in Hamamatsu, Japan.
If your upright piano is taller than 45" it was manufactured in Hamamatsu, Japan.
If your upright piano is 45" or shorter and has seven numbers, it was manufactured in Hamamatsu, Japan after January, 1970.