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The product of piano passion

Yamaha’s piano marketing manager, Leanne Hassan, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Yamaha’s new top-of-the-line performance CF Piano series

increasingly been chosen by leading artists, conservatoires and piano competition finalists. But in 1991 Yamaha began its most ambitious piano project ever: to create a new generation of grand pianos for concert, conservatoire and studio performance. More than 40 skilled and talented piano designers, technicians, craftsmen, pianists and other experienced staff took on this exciting mission – deconstructing the concert grand piano and rebuilding it from the ground up. Where traditional design was found to be the best way, they adhered to that tradition. Where improvements could be made, they were.


The pursuit of perfection

During this period every single aspect of piano design was evaluated, including manufacturing techniques, component combinations and soundboard performance. The best results were combined and multiple prototypes were tested during thousands of hours of performance evaluations. Through its Global Artist Services Network, Yamaha was able to conduct tests in Paris, New York, Tokyo, London, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai, involving exhaustive comparisons between the CF Series prototypes and the finest instruments of other manufacturers. As the CF development

programme neared its conclusion in August 2008 a collection of the world’s leading concert pianists, piano professors, conservatoire piano technicians and 20 Yamaha

amaha’s piano-making tradition goes back 108 years and in the last decade or so Yamaha pianos have

15-year-old Korean, Cho Seong-Jin, becomes the youngest ever Hammamatsu International Piano Competition winner in 2009, playing a Yamaha CFX prototype

staff assembled for three days of extensive testing and comparison at La Salle Gaveau, Paris. These experts were invited for their objectivity and candid opinions. They were not Yamaha ‘converts’. At least not yet...

This new range of performance pianos would fulfil the hopes and dreams of today’s and tomorrow’s concert pianists. So the design team immersed itself in further secret prototype assessments in New York and Tokyo. Careful study, brutal self-honesty and invaluable feedback from artists and professors led to further discoveries and additional adjustments. Multiple prototypes of the CFX, CF6 and CF4 were each compared to the existing Yamaha grand pianos, as well as those from the other leading manufacturers. In order to conduct the truest evaluation each piano was placed in an environment it would naturally be used for: the CFX on the concert stage; the CF6 and CF4 in smaller locations, similar to a professor’s teaching room or recital hall. The results were both astonishing and conclusive, with a clear majority favouring one particular prototype of each of the

three models, the one that became known as ‘the C prototype’. The chosen CF4, CF6 and CFX shared one thing in common: they had been constructed from the same combination of components and same high-grade build quality, and it is that design that has become the new Yamaha flagship instrument. But still our development team was not satisfied!

The toughest test

As a final test of the CFX development, Yamaha offered its latest prototype out to the most demanding of stages: the piano competition. Such competitions lay bare both pianists and instruments alike and now Yamaha was competing head-on with other leading manufacturers. At the 2009 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition, 15-year-old acclaimed Korean pianist Cho Seong-Jin selected a CFX prototype for his performances. He was awarded first prize.

Shortly afterwards, Yamaha sent the very first production model CFX to take centre stage in the USA at the prestigious National Chopin Piano Competition in early 2010. It was selected by many of the competitors throughout the final stages and proved as successful as Yamaha’s traditional piano rivals. As the competition neared a tense conclusion, the CFX triumphed in the gifted hands of first prize winner Claire Huangci. President of Yamaha Japan, Mitsuru Umemura, describes this 20-year journey in search of beauty and power: ‘Beauty signifies the rich palette of tonal colours and musical voices the pianos can produce, while power refers to their unprecedented tonal projection. The CF Series pianos offer outstanding expressiveness for truly musical performance, coupled with enough tonal presence to be heard over the sound of a full symphony orchestra and in the largest of concert halls. ‘In large concert halls, prototype pianos were compared with the best our competition had to offer. Not to imitate them, but rather to learn how to build a piano which goes beyond existing instruments, and offers musicians almost unimaginable artistic possibilities.’

Meet the Yamaha CF piano series at

The 191cm CF4 – big and beautiful sound and tone for smaller venues and conservatoire teaching studios, or where a larger instrument may be overpowering

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