Crisp attack. Sparkling tone. Clean harmonies. This is the birth of a new series of grand pianos that builds on the legacy of Yamaha’s CFX concert grand piano.
The legacy of the CFX continues
Preserving tradition is not the same thing as refusing to change;rather, it is from the ongoing search for perfection that traditions emerge.
And when it comes to the tradition of crafting a grand piano, there is a sound, a tone to which only those who strive constantly to outdo themselves can aspire. For almost half a century, Yamaha's world-renowned C Series grand pianos have continued through a gradual process of refinement The CFX full concert grand piano built on the knowledge, techniques, and experience gained during this long period, with craftsmen pouring everything they knew into the creation of an instrument that took bold new steps in piano design, seeking to attain sonic perfection. The CX Series extends this work further, providing a clear sound with a clean attack, sparkling tone, and transparent harmonies, all encased in an elegant, flowing form.
The end result is a series of instruments that is refined in tone, yet bold in design, the product of a dedication to innovation that allows Yamaha to remain true to its musical heritage. CX Series pianos represent progress that is commensurate with Yamaha's 125th anniversary year - progress that will transform any room in which you play into a concert hall.
Revolutionary new music wire in the middle and treble registers offers beautiful sustain and harmony.
The hammers used in the CX Series utilize the same felt as the CFX, giving these pianos bright tonal colors and a finely nuanced sound.
Resonating with the emotions of the performer As with the CF Series, the CX Series utilizes unique crown manufacturing techniques.
CX Series pianos feature a thickened back frame for improved support, providing a rich, resonant tone.
CX Series pianos feature a thickened back frame for improved support, providing a rich, resonant tone.
One of the most important factors in achieving a rich tone is the support provided within the instrument. When playing powerful fortissimo the force exerted on the instrument causes it to bend slightly, losing energy. The part of the piano that accepts t...
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The top model in the CX Series is very close to a concert grand, and “sings” with a voice of refined grace.
A powerful, forceful presence, CX Series pianos possess a wealth of reverberation, taking in the nuances of a player’s intentions and reflecting them in the depth and projection of the music itself.
The voice of a piano has a limitless facility for expression, shifting with the melody and overlaying notes into a wonderful harmony. CX Series pianos are high-grade grand pianos, possessing both power and subtlety.
In setting out to design a piano that could resonate with the pianist, the designers of the CX Series have created instruments that can truly sing.
CX Series pianos feature a thickened back frame for improved support, providing a rich, resonant tone.
One of the most important factors in achieving a rich tone is the support provided within the instrument. When playing powerful fortissimo the force exerted on the instrument causes it to bend slightly, losing energy. The part of the piano that accepts this force and transforms it into deep reverberation is called the back frame, which could be likened to the skeleton in a human body. On the C3X for example, this back frame is approximately 20% thicker than on other pianos, providing significantly improved support, and reflecting the considerations on which the CX Series has been completely redesigned.
The new soundboard resonates with the emotions of the performer.
A violin is built around a beautiful body with three-dimensional swellings and a delicately curved shape, which is similar to the three dimensional concave design in a piano soundboard called the “crown.” The manufacture of this crown is pivotal to the crafting of any piano, and is thus of paramount importance to piano engineers in addressing the problem of how to transmit the vibrations of the strings from the soundboard into the surrounding air efficiently. Yamaha has taken experience accumulated through many years of crafting pianos and combined it with unsurpassed engineering ability to ensure that the soundboard always provides superb projection.
The resulting design capitalizes on physical phenomena unique to the craft of piano-making, to create a soundboard assembly with a structure that allows it to vibrate easily, something that would not have been possible without the deep understanding of the traditional art of piano crafting that goes hand-in-hand with Yamaha's experience and engineering know-how.
The same techniques developed for gluing the soundboard, ribs, and bridge in the CFX are used for the C3X and above—models which require a great deal of projection—and the process of installing the resulting soundboard assembly into the piano body has been investigated carefully. This has resulted in dramatically improved projection and the unprecedented response that performers demand.
Revolutionary new music wire offers beautiful sustain and harmony.
It is music wire that actually creates sound of a piano. While affected by its matching with the hammers, soundboard and body of the piano, music wire has a profound effect on the timbre and sustain of the instrument. The CX Series utilizes music wire that produces a rich sound with a full complexity of overtones in its middle and upper registers. Coupled with the support from a solid foundation, this gives CX Series pianos a rich, harmonic sound.
Expertise in frame making shines through in robust quality.
The frame in a modern piano must be able to withstand a total string tension in excess of twenty tons; not only does the frame work together with the wooden body to support the string tension, but it has a profound effect on the instrument’s sound. Yamaha makes its own frames, relying on a method of casting referred to as the “vacuum process,” developed over many years to create some of the best piano frames in the world. During this time we have built up a storehouse of knowledge on factors such as the manner in which controlling the temperature and composition of casting, and even the coating used on the frame itself, affects the acoustic characteristics of the piano. This is a major reason that Yamaha is able to ensure reliable quality when crafting our pianos.
Hammers based on those of the CFX Series.
Great hammers are essential to producing a beautifully expressive, malleable sound. Yamaha, unlike most other piano manufacturers, produces most of its own high-quality components, and is constantly looking for new ways to use the abilities developed through doing so to give our piano hammers tonality, resilience, and power. The CX Series has also benefitted from the results of this research and development, and utilizes the same felt as the CFX, adjusted to match the size of each instrument in the series. This ensures that all CX Series pianos possess a clear range of tonal colors and a nuanced, expressive sound.
Voicing and regulation breathes life into the piano.
Pianos offer pianists only a limited amount of freedom; indeed, apart from the pedals, the pianist’s scope for expression is limited to the 10 mm travel of each of the 88 keys on the keyboard. Even so, the combination of the pedals with the speed and velocity applied to the keys produces a range of tonal changes so broad that they cannot be reproduced with current digital technology. This is the true soul of an acoustic instrument, allowing the pianist to obtain an incredible amount of expression from just 10 mm of key travel.
That is precisely why Yamaha devotes so much time voicing their pianos so that the intentions of the pianist are conveyed to the strings. In regulation, a craftsman adjusts the movement of the action so that it accurately transmits every nuance of the pianist’s touch. In voicing, the hammers, which cause the strings to emit sound, are pricked with a pick to create a balanced tone that will respond beautifully when played. Even today, in an era when technology continues to evolve rapidly, these tasks remain the domain of skilled craftsmen who must ensure the high quality of these instruments, and are the main reason that Yamaha has remained one of the top piano makers in the world.
A design that unifies piano with pianist, inheriting the legacy of the CF series.
CX Series pianos feature a completely revamped design. Following in the footsteps of the CF Series concert grand, the CX Series design features simple, elegant lines, focusing on the characteristic legs of the piano in doing away with any excess ornamentation. This elegance is set off by a solid pedal box that allows performers to depress the pedals with as much power as they want, one aspect of a philosophy epitomizing "functional design" that allows pianists to become one with their instrument as they play. In order to provide the best playability possible, CX Series grand pianos offer white keys made of Ivorite™, which has a feel, color, and absorbency very similar to natural ivory, while natural ebony has been used for the black keys.
The peace of mind that comes with a Yamaha grand piano
- The CX Series is equipped with a lid prop stopper to prevent your fingers from being caught when the piano lid closes unexpectedly.
- The fallboard is fitted with a soft landing mechanism that means you no longer have to worry about the fallboard shutting on your fingers unexpectedly.
Audio & Video
Artist Interview CX-Series
With the CFX we wanted to break down grand piano stereotypes and conventions.
When designing the CFX, Yamaha’s new flagship model, we were attempting to achieve two things. The first was to emphasize the fundamental attraction of the grand piano by honing its performance, and the other was to show the innovation of a modern piano. We hoped to use these steps to break down the traditional stereotypes and conventions associated with grand piano design.
The concept behind the CF Series is "Beauty and Power." This concept was intended to take the rich, expressive, beautiful tone of the these pianos, ranging from the most delicate pianissmo to resonant, powerful fortissimo, and convey it to the farthest corners of any concert hall. We felt that the projection of the design should ideally be unified with the projection of the instrument’s sound, and thus crafted clear, powerful shapes for the sides of the instruments in order to convey an impression of exquisite sound to the audience. This resulted in a design that draws the attention of every member of the audience to the external appearance of the CFX. Although the destinctive shape of the case side arms showcases the innovation of the CFX, from the performer’s point of view the number of elements in the instrument’s form has been reduced, inspiring them through the combination of an increased feeling of space and freer perceptions. Accordingly, the design employs the viewpoints of both the performer and the audience in enhancing the beauty of the fingers and form of the pianist.
The pedal box has been constructed using a new design featuring two legs inserted into a box. This innovative structure is strong enough to withstand a pianist’s full pressure on the pedals, while at the same time reflecting the innovation of the CFX in an entirely new shape. Furthermore, any extraneous elements of the shape have been removed from the instrument as a whole, so that it embodies the idea of a sound that has been refined down to the bare essentials; a new configuration in which in which all parts are connected with a refined balance. With a grandeur and dignity befitting a full concert grand, and a unique silhouette that conveys the presence of the CFX to the furthest corners of any hall, I believe that we have been able to achieve the modern grand piano design that Yamaha was looking for.
At the same time, we were able to imbue the design with Yamaha’s strong desire to always remain of the forefront of the modern age.
The CX Series places priority on the viewpoint of the pianist, achieving innovation as a modern piano
The CFX concert grand piano, and the CX Series - Yamaha’s core grand piano models - have been designed with entirely different pianists and situations in mind. However, in each and every piano that Yamaha makes, the goal of creating a truly modern piano design remains the same. This is evident in our efforts with the CX Series to remove any extraneous design elements, and to refine and reconstruct the connection and balance in areas such as the shape of the side boards, the feet and legs, and the legs and pedal box. While one of the important characteristics of the CX Series lies in the elimination of surplus ornamentation from the case arms, this design philosophy has been applied throughout the series in areas such as the pedal box and the ends of the legs. Although conventional pianos employ older architectural styles, the CX Series feautures no such elements, and has instead been refashioned in a modern style. This follows the new design trend that the CFX set for Yamaha pianos.
a new tuning fork mark and model number logo
However, unlike the CFX, which was designed to be used in concerts, the CX Series is intended for use by families, as practice instruments for conservatories, or for small concerts in university auditoriums, and thus features an external design that stresses the point of view of the pianist rather that that of the audience. The CX Series has no need of the sideboard construction of the CFX - an instrument which is built to project sound - and thus achieves an elegant simplicity through a combinination of the traditional shape of a grand piano with both curved and straight lines. This approach emphases the series’ flat mirror black surfaces around the case arms, which I believe showcases the appeal of the high level of quality of pianos made in our Kakegawa factory. Moreover, the frame features a new tuning fork mark and model number logo that illustrate the high quality of the instruments. I think that details such as these present an image of the refined feel of the entire piano.
A major factor in the design of the CX Series was the success of our flagship model, the CFX, which is why I was confident that the modern piano design we created would be well received. While in the past there had been worries that changing the image of the product too much would not be well received by our customers, we were able to alter this thinking, and received the go-ahead to alter as much as we want. With the CX Series as well, I think that we have achieved a design that represents our true intentions.
Yamaha Product Design Laboratory
Kazuhito Nakajima joined Yamaha in 1990. He was assigned to product design for sporting goods prior to being assigned to instrument design the following year, and has participated in product design for many acoustic and digital instruments.
Nakajima also works to bring technical art values to the ornamentation of acoustic instruments, and has been responsible for product graphics used in the logos and packages of many products.
Currently, in addition to musical instruments, Nakajima is the Product Design Group manager responsible for a broad range of products, including everything from golf goods to acoustic products such as PA and AV equipment.
The aim of the CX Series: A bright sound that sings
We had three objectives in the design of the new CX Series; solid support for the bracing, a soundboard that vibrates as freely as as possible, and a tone that matches the directionality of the sound produced from the instrument’s body. This directionality is fundamentally the same as that of Yamaha's flagship CFX concert grand; in fact you could say that they were developed based on the same concept.
For the C3X and upwards - larger models that demand a certain level of volume - we improved the rigidity of the bracing to provide stable support, and created a design that allowed the soundboard that sits on top of the bracing to vibrate freely. For the sound, we utilized a new type of string, and carefully tested the quality of the hammer felt.
Our aim was to achieve a sound that would "sing" brightly. A unique aspect to the CX Series is the focus that we applied to those areas that are vital to a piano, such as the construction of the soundboard, the tone that emerges from it, and the exterior of the instrument. Of all the lineup changes that Yamaha pianos have undergone over the last couple of decades, this series represents the most broad-reaching improvement, and as a result the musciality of these pianos has been greatly enhanced.
We wanted to craft a soundboard that would want to sing and produce sound
Just as with the CF series, our research emphasized the control of internal stresses within the soundboard, and we were able to make some significant advances. The resulting sound offers a quick response, bright tone, and clean harmonies. We believe that improving the response of the soundboard, that is, improving the efficiency of its acoustic radiation, makes the most of these qualities, and offers a broader range of expression.
Basically, we want to provide instruments that want to sing, instruments that want to deliver sound. Rather than instruments that you really have to work to get a sound out of, we wanted to craft pianos with a soundboard and body that would actually want to sing, to make sound. In that sense, this soundboard, with its new structure, responds well to any input and we believe that it offers a much broader range of expression in its response.
Strings that give pure harmonies; hammer felt with a rich tone.
Next, we had to decide upon what tone we should give this "singing" body, and this soundboard with its superb response. Two of the major factors in this sound were the strings and hammers. For this series, we selected music wire (strings) with beautiful overtones and clean harmonies, good sustain, and a tone that carries. We obtained sheets of felt, which we refer to as "raw cloth," and crafted the piano hammers in Yamaha. The felt used in the CX Series is checked carefully and is extremely resilient, giving it a full, deep tone. The combination of this music wire and hammer felt have further enhanced the uniqueness of CX Series pianos.
Designers are constantly driven by the desire to craft even better instruments.
A piano is an extremely complex system made up of a large number of parts. Moreover, the sound of a piano is significantly affected by variations in the timber and natural materials from which it is made, and by the conditions in which it is played - even rainy weather will change the way a piano sounds. The sound of a piano will also change depending on who tunes it. When designing a delicate instrument like the piano, which is affected by so many variables, the key is to minimize the effect of factors fuch as the enviornment. It is therefore essential to understand how to address these factors, as well as to possess the craftsmanship and production skills to create instruments that do not vary.
It is also important to evaluate pianos correctly during the development process. This is not something that we do ourselves; instead we have top-flight pianists play them and offer their opinions. This sometimes reveals aspects that we, as developers were not aware of, so we emphasize the accumulation of this information. Making even a single mistake in this process can sometimes result in a piano with many good points receiving a bad evaluation. In order to keep the scope for mistakes at a minimum, I think that it is important to have the technical ability to obtain the same result from a production process - no matter how many times it is carried out - in order to obtain a positive and accurate evaluation of those good points.
However, I don't think that that any designer is likely to say, that an instrument is perfect and that they are completely satisfied." Instruments exist within the context of musical expression, and music itself has no limits. If you think about all the different varieties of music, it’s almost impossible for a single instrument to be "the best." Even now, I often find myself thinking, "hmmm... if I had only things this way this instrument would have been something great," or, "if I could find a way for the instrument to help the performance with this kind of nuance, it would be more musically expressive." As we develop these pianos, we designers always have an image of a much, much better instrument; there is probably no end to our drive to achieve more.
Piano Design Section Manager.
Joined Yamaha in 1992. After beginning work at Yamaha, Matsuki was principally tasked with developing upright pianos, and was involved in the creation of the SU7 and other instruments. After gaining additional experience developing grand pianos, he was asked to work on the development of the CF Series, which was released in 2010.
Currently, Matsuki is involved in the development of the core areas that give acoustic pianos their fundamental performance characteristics.
1902Production of grand pianos begins
Production of grand pianos began just two years after Yamaha started the manufacture of upright pianos. The combined efforts of many craftsmen went into creating the first grand pianos ever made in Japan. The following year, a Yamaha grand piano was awarded the grand prize at the 6th Domestic Industrial Trade Fair held in Osaka.
1950Release of the FC, Yamaha’s first concert grand piano
A year after its released in 1950, Adolf Baller played the FC on a tour of Japan with world-famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and in 1953 German maestro Walter Gieseking played the FC in front of the Emperor of Japan at the Imperial Palace. Wilhelm Backhaus also played the FC when he came to Japan in 1954, in a performance that earned the FC recognition as a truly world-class piano.
1967Release of the C Series grand pianos and the CF concert grand piano
Yamaha exhibited the CF concert grand piano at "Frankfurt Messe," a musical instruments trade fair held in Germany. The beautiful tone of the CF earned it acclaim from piano experts, and it was subsequently adopted for use by renowned piano maestros and at international piano competitions. In 1969, Sviatoslav Richter, one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century, played the CF at the Menton Music Festival and at performances in Italy, and continued to use it thereafter.
1983Release of the CFIII concert grand piano
In spite of the praise the company was receiving around the world, Yamaha continued to strive to achieve better sound, an effort that resulted in the release of the CFIII concert grand in 1983. The CFIII went on to be selected for use at some of the world’s best-known piano competitions, winning praise from many top-flight pianists.
1991Release of the CFIIIS concert grand piano
Yamaha had reached a total of 5 million pianos produced.
In 1998, Denis Matsuev played a Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano when winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition.
This victory on one of the most famous stages in the world cemented the reputation of Yamaha pianos as superb instruments.
2010Release of the CF Series concert grand pianos and the flagship model CFX
A full 19 years after the release of the CFIIIS, Yamaha presented the CFX, which combines the results of Yamaha's many efforts to develop the finest pianos in the world. This is a piano with the ability to project to the furthest reaches of any concert hall the beautiful, ringing tones of its delicate pianissimo, as well as its powerful, resonant fortissimo.
In October of 2010, Yulianna Avdeeva played a CFX to victory at the 16th International Chopin Competition, one of the oldest and most prestigious piano competitions in the world, gaining instant acknowledgement for the exquisite quality of this new piano.
2012Release of the CX Series
The CX Series of grand pianos embodies a more defined philosophy with regard to sound creation, as well as the new technology and know-how that Yamaha has acquired in its long history of crafting pianos. With the ability to transform any space into a concert hall, these instruments represent an evolution for the piano that is wholly appropriate to Yamaha’s 125th anniversary.
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