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The History of Yamaha Pianos

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. Yamaha Grand C7.

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.

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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 Serial Numbers

Yamaha Pianos produced for the U.S. market have been manufactured in 4 locations:

  • Hamamatsu, Japan
  • Thomaston, Georgia
  • South Haven, Michigan
  • Jakarta, Indonesia

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.

Pianos Manufactured in Hamamatsu, Japan

Year of
Manufacture
Serial Number
1917 1700
1918 1800
1919 1900
1920 2100
1921 2650
1922 3150
1923 3650
1924 4250
1925 4950
1926 5700
1927 6500
1928 7751
1929 8928
1930 10163
1931 11719
1932 13368
1933 15182
1934 17939
1935 19895
1936 22397
1937 25158
1938 28000
1939 30000
1940 31900
1941 33800
1942 35600
1943 37000
1944 38000
1945 38550
1946
1947 40000
1948 40075
1949 40675
1950 42073
1951 44262
1952 47675
1953 51266
1954 57057
1955 63400
1956 69300
Jan-57 77000
Jun-57 83000
Jan-58 89000
Jun-58 90000
Jan-59 102000
Jun-59 111000
Jan-60 124000
Jun-60 134000
Jan-61 149000
Jun-61 164000
Jan-62 188000
Jun-62 207000
Jan-63 237000
Jun-63 261000
Jan-64 298000
Jun-64 329000
Jan-65 368000
Jun-65 420000
Jan-66 489000
Jun-66 540000
Jan-67 570000
Jun-67 638000
Jan-68 685000
Jun-68 758000
Jan-69 805000
Jun-69 885000
Jan-70 960000
Jun-70 1040000
Jan-71 1130000
Jun-71 1230000
Upright Pianos Grand Pianos
Jan-72 1317500 1358500
Jun-72 1391000 1443500
Jan-73 1510500 1538500
Jun-73 1604000 1623000
Jan-74 1745000 1753500
Jun-74 1834000 1843000
Jan-75 1945000 1935000
Jun-75 2036000 2043000
Jan-76 2154000 2153000
Jun-76 2247000 2253000
Jan-77 2384000 2362000
Jun-77 2474000 2462000
Jan-78 2585000 2580500
Jun-78 2698000 2720000
Jan-79 2810500 2848000
Jun-79 2825000 2900000
Jan-80 3001000 3040000
Jun-80 3121000 3140000
Jan-81 3261000 3270000
Jun-81 3354000 3360000
Jan-82 3465000 3490000
Jun-82 3551000 3590000
Jan-83 3646200 3710500
Jun-83 3724100 3790400
Jan-84 3832200 3891600
Jun-84 3989000 3992300
Jan-85 3987600 4040700
Jun-85 4095500 4130400
Jan-86 4156500 4214600
Jun-86 4241000 4250700
Jan-87 4334800 4351100
Jun-87 4387300 4440000
Jan-88 4491300 4561000
Jun-88 4557800 4633500
Jan-89 4672700 4671400
Jun-89 4735200 4730800
Jan-90 4837200 4810900
Jun-90 4897800 4871000
Jan-91 4967900 4951200
Jun-91 5005600 5010100
Jan-92 5086800 5071800
Jun-92 5127800 5120700
Jan-93 5204100 5181400
Jun-93 5224900 5230000
Jan-94 5296400 5291500
Jun-94 5330000 5319000
Jan-95 5375000 5368000
Jun-95 5415000 5410000
Jan-96 5446000 5448000
Jun-96 5482000 5472000
Jan-97 5530000 5502000
Jun-97 5556000 5516000
Jan-98 5579000 5588000
Jun-98 5598000 5608000
Jan-99 5792000 5810000
Jun-99 5833000 5819000
Jan-00 5868000 5860000
Jun-00 5892000 5874000
Jan-01 5928000 5913000
Jun-01 5949000 5933000
Jan-02 5978000 5963000
Jun-02 5993000 5986000
Jan-03 6021000 6019000
Jun-03 6043500 6041500
Jan-04 6066000 6064000
Jun-04 6088000 6086500

Pianos Manufactured in Thomaston, GA

Year of Manufacture Serial Number
1983 T500101
1984 T500422
1985 T500998
Jan-86 T502874
Jun-86 T504050
Jun-86 T100001
Jan-87 T101856
Jul-87 T106111
Jan-88 T110501
Jul-88 T116056
Jan-89 T122421
Jul-89 T128571
Jan-90 T132706
Jul-90 T137066
Jan-91 T143101
Jul-91 T148961
Jan-92 T155131
Jul-92 T161556
Jan-93 T167386
Jul-93 T172781
Jan-94 T177711
Jul-94 T183484
Jan-95 T189741
Jul-95 T196041
Jan-96 202945
Jul-96 208331
Jan-97 212917
Jul-97 218086
Jan-98 224053
Jul-98 230301
Jan-99 237164
Jul-99 244329
Jan-00 251146
Jul-00 258968
Jan-01 265755
Jul-01 271465
Jan-02 275258
Jul-02 280155
Jan-03 283503
Jul-03 289802
Jan-04 294877
Jul-04 299405

Pianos Manufactured in South Haven, M

Year of Manufacture Serial Number
1974 U101000
1975 U102000
1976 U107000
1977 U110000
1978 U117000
1979 U124000
1980 U132000
1981 U141000
1982 U150000
1983 U160000
1984 U167000
1985 U174000
1986 U186000

Pianos Manufactured in Jakarta, Indonesia

Year of Manufacture Serial Number
Jan-00 1700000
Jan-01 1800000
Jan-02 1900000
Jan-03 2000000
Jan-04 2100000