May 2009 Archives

Since first announced Pianoplayer (marketed as Disklavier in the overseas market) automatic playing piano in 1982, Yamaha has intensified the line with a series of successor models. The newest Disklavier E3 series which made debut on March 16 has realized much quieter sound level when played in very light key touch incorporating Digital Servo System only standard to upper class models in the past, as well as refined sound unit and remote controller.

Takashi Onoda, Executive Officer, General Manager, Piano Division, explains, "The Disklavier combines Yamaha's established manufacturing of acoustic piano and cutting edge digital technology. It represents Yamaha's strategic product differentiating from other brands by highest quality and unparalleled specifications. While maintaining distinguished automatic playing technology much contributing to educational market, it has enhanced entertainment capabilities including 'Quiet Play Mode' and 'DisklavierRadio' , a link to the Internet. We are tapping unexploited piano market with the advanced Disklaviers." (photo above: from l. to r. Hitoshi Fukutome, Takashi Onoda, Kimiyasu Ito & Yoshihiro Shiiya, Piano Division)

The customer requirements for the automatic playing piano in Japan greatly differ from overseas. It found the largest market in education in Japan as piano students' practice instrument at home listening to played back performance of teachers or playing melody backed by recorded backing patterns. The demands were great among piano educators, and they much preferred vertical pianos.

On the contrary, in Europe and North America where automatic playing piano has been familiar for over 100 years in society, it's commonly used in private socializing opportunities as a medium delivering entertainment BGM, in North America in particular. They tend to buy grand piano type for home.

Hitoshi Fukutome, General Manager, Sales Dept., Piano Division, says, "We have marketed our automatic playing piano so far under two separate strategies, education in Japan, and listening entertainment in North America. As we live in a closely linked world crossing the geological boarders, that definition has disappeared today. In that context, we believe marketing our automatic playing piano under a single global name, Disklavier, to the world markets will give our customers a more positive image and message."

Measures 1000 times of key stroke per second
The Disklavier comes with a new function, Quiet Listening Mode. Why does automatic play in soft key stroke require high precision digital control of key mechanism? When a key is pressed, the hammer linked with key action comes near the string, and hits it to make sound as the hammer escapes from the key action when it reaches a designated point. However, piano voice is not delivered if key is not pressed in required speed, and the hammer stops before striking string. Individual piano has a particular pattern of Key and hammer action mechanism.

The conditions differ from morning to evening even by change of room temperature. To prevent 'missing tone', the key should operate in desired velocity even in unexpected conditions. Yamaha has designed minimum tone level (slowest velocity level) based on hammer action mechanism when shipping from warehouse or regulate tones for the standard models so that the piano can safely keep designated sound volume level even when tone volume knob is controlled at minimum level. (Photos: Disklavier E3 C3-DKVPRO grand piano & YUS5DKV) 

However, when minimum level is designated to be capable of handling every action mechanism and performing conditions, it could become a little larger than actual level to avoid 'missing tone'. Thus, it greatly influences reducing tone volume level.

Yahama solved the hard task by developing Digital Servo System which keeps velocity of solenoid based on key data continuously monitoring its speed. Real time key velocity data feed back is reflected on flexible data alignment to key conditions. The result is automatic performance in subtle pianissimo without fear of 'missing tone'. One thousand times of key monitoring and data alignment per second is employed for the Disklavier E3s. The Quiet Play Mode requires this procedure on 16-note or 32-note polyphonies depending on models.

Kimiyasu Ito, Dept. Manager, Product Development Dept., Piano Division, says, "We recognize the Disklavier should have rich expression capabilities as a piano  besides automatic playing function. From the earlier stage of product development we were confident that no 'missing tone' occurs on the Disklavier. Piano players will enjoy delicate performance in pianissimo with the latest E3s."

Yamaha has incorporated the Digital Servo System only into grand models since 1998. As more technologically and economically efficient system is developed, it's now standard to E3 upright models. The sound volume level of the standard type upright piano played in pianissimo has been reduced by 30% from the previous models. It doesn't disturb conversation of people around the piano. The E3s will find more places in individual homes to enjoy piano music in sitting rooms just like BGM delivered by audio system at comfortable tonal level.

Transmit performance data on the Internet      
Today, floppy disks and CDs are not practical as medium to store and withdraw performance data for enjoying BGM. The DisklavierRadio provides users with piano and accompanied music of the E3s receiving music data for 24 hours from the exclusive site with help of the Internet Direct Connection function.

"We provide 1,500 titles of music on 14 channels at start-up. J pop hit tunes will join them soon. They include soft easy-listening style music specially arranged for BGM played back on the E3s," says Yoshihiro Shiiya, Manager, Piano Research & Development Group, Product Development Dept., Piano Division.

Yamaha plans to increase exposure of the E3s by extensive demonstration at retail store front and promote lease programs to public institutions. Fukutome proudly comments that the E3s come with authentic features of traditional piano. His words tell us assured pride as a world's leading piano manufacturer.

Hirotaka Kawai Honored by Krefeld, Germany

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Hirotaka Kawai, president of Kawai Musical Insts. Mfg. Co., Ltd. was awarded a special honor from Krefeld, Germany where Kawai Europe has its office during the last Frankfurt Music Fair.

Located in the suburbs of Dusseldorf, Krefeld, with 250,000 population, has been a home of Kawai Europe since 1990. Kawai has contributed to its local community donating a Kawai concert grand piano to the city music hall, staging Kawai concerts for over 200 times , and sponsoring Hamamatsu Boys & Girls Choir Krefeld tour in 2000.

City of Krefeld thanked Kawai's extensive cultural and financial contributions to the city and promotion of friendship between Hamamatsu and Krefeld. The honor presentation ceremony took place at municipal hall of Krefeld on April 3 inviting Hirotaka Kawai, Makoto Maruo, Consulate-General of Japan in Dusseldorf and guests from local government and industries.

Hirotaka Kawai commented, "We are very pleased to have been honored from Krefeld for our years of business and cultural activities in the city."







HOSCO Exclusively Distributes Larson Bros. Guitars

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Legendary Larson Bros. guitars are back. Many of them were patented, and marketed at the turn of the 19th Century, however, the name of the luthiers scarcely heard of in the industry. Nagoya-based distributor HOSCO has just started marketing the revived guitars in Japan.

Tony Gates, who is instrumental in reviving the Larson Bros. guitars explains, "Sweden born Carl and August Larsons moved into Chicago at the end of 1800 to build freted instruments. Later, they purchased Maurer & Company where they had worked and built OEM instruments under Maurer, Prairie State, Euphonon, Dyer, Stahl, etc brand names, but no Larson brand guitars marketed. Their guitars were characteristic in many points. One of their inventions include 'laminated bracing' which was rosewood laminated between spruce to increase body resonance and at the same time overall durability. (Photo right: Shinji Hosokawa,left and Tony Gates)

They were a pioneer in building steel string guitar. X bracing which can endure tension of steel strings also belongs to their invention. It was patented in 1904. Other characteristic techniques include calibration (guitar)top which has thinner edges and a little thicker top center to achieve maximum resonance with a one-piece spruce, and original arched top efficiently offsets tension caused by the structure and holds its shape. (photo left: Laminated bracing which was patented in 1904.)

Long involved in acoustic guitar manufacturing, Gates was always inspired by unique structure and ideas of the Larson guitars. The project started 5 or 6 years ago to revive the Larson Bros. guitars succeeding their outstanding manufacturing technique and method with some modern essence. It wasn't an easy task to find supporting guitar factory and craftsmen. After 18 months of preparation, he finally got first modern version Larson Bros. guitar in December, 2008.

According to Gates, the Larson guitars are characterized for well-balanced crispy sound, and one of the most advanced guitars among modern high-end models. They are now distributed in U.K., U.S. and Japan. Gates expects that the guitars will be rapidly recognized in the guitar scene in a couple of years as they have really original yet modern sound and distinctive history well comparable with C. F. Martin and Gibson.
(photo left: Maurer Style2 ES)

Yamaha AvantGrand Hybrid Pianos

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N3 ¥1,450,000
N2 ¥1,050,000

Yamaha has introduced two AvantGrand hybrid pianos which represent a new concept of consolidated piano marketing to better serve broader strata of customers from professionals, piano educators, to general music fans and students.

The N3 and N2 have integrated traditional mechanism of acoustic grand piano and digital technologies. They feature high quality sound and key touch of grand piano while solving such problems as limited room space and nuisance for family members and neighborhood.

For perfect playing feeling of a grand piano, Yamaha has re-examined keyboard, pedals, sound sampling technology and speaker system for the new models. While they can be played as a conventional grand piano, such helpful functions as performance in reduced sound volume, muted play through headphone and sound recording are incorporated.

They feature same action mechanism of grand piano to actualize authentic playing feeling. In hybrid mode, non-contact sensors detect key touch intensity, timing and other subtle nuances. The N3 incorporates newly designed AvantGrand-exclusive grand piano pedals which satisfy discerning pianists with actual feeling of pedal works.

Piano sound was sampled at 4 points, left, right, center and rear, for truly authentic grand piano sound, and the speaker system is capable of reproducing deep piano sound with subtle nuances and natural resonance on soundboard.

While the N3 comes in characteristic cabinet design with a distinctive image of acoustic grand piano, the N2 has a compact cabinet in just 531mm deep size.

Russian pianist, Alexander Kobrin who had tested the AvantGrand commented that these pianos would expand playing opportunities and possibilities of pianists.

Both models come with a matched height-adjustable bench.

Further information is available from:


Yamaha Arius YDP-S31/YDP-S31C Digital Pianos

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They are the latest models of Arius line which target educational market with improved tonal quality, authentic key touch and 3 pedals to be favored by adult home music makers as well. Their slim 299mm deep cabinet finely fits cozy living rooms.

They incorporate AWM stereo sampled piano voices taken from CFIIIS Yamaha full concert grand piano, Grade Hammer Standard keyboard with mat sharp keys. YDP-S31 comes in Dark Alder type cabinet (color combination with silver), and S31C in Light Cherry type cabinet (color combination with off-white).

Further information is available from:


Yamaha P-155/155S Digital Pianos

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Two new slab style models joined the Yamaha P series digital piano line characterized for compact and stylish cabinet, and authentic key touch. The 155 and 155S have upgraded piano voices and key touch. The sound engine employs Pure CF Voice sampled with the Yamaha CFIIIS full concert grand piano as well as 4-level AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling technology which sampled 4 sound levels per key, and Grade Hammer keyboard.

The P-155 is finished in combination of black and mahogany type, and 155S in silver and cherry type. An optional leg stand is available.

A USB To Device port is provided for automatic playback of music data saved in flash memory and other devices.

Further information is available from:





Kawai ANYTIME Hybrid Grand Pianos

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ATX-f ¥550,000
ATX ¥450,000

Kawai has refined ANYTIME II hybrid piano and announced as ANYTIME X hybrid piano system to be installed into Kawai SK-5, SK-3, SK-2, RX-3NEO, RX-2NEO, RX-5, RX-3, RX-2, RX-1, and GM-12G (for the ATX) series grand pianos.

The new Integrated Hammer Sensing System, non-contact optical sensors for grand piano, allow players to enjoy performance in the same feeling as playing acoustic piano when performed in muted mode through headphone. The newly developed 88-key stereo sampled sound engine delivers high quality piano voices in help of Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging technology. The ATX-f has a soundboard speaker system in which the soundboard enhances digital sound to provide authentic acoustic piano sound and sound volume control capability with no help of headphone. It's possible of mixing acoustic piano voice and digital sound source.

They have easy to control and highly visible sliding switch panel which can be accommodated into the control box when not played in digital mode. Hiding LCD display screen and buttons from the piano front, the hybrid system doesn't disturb original look of acoustic grand piano.

They incorporate 22 piano and other voices, 5 reverb effect modes, recording capability for 9 songs, or 75,000 notes, metronome function, 29 music titles for practice and a USB port.

Further information is available from:


Yamaha Reed Cases

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For E♭/B♭clarinet & soprano/alto saxophone ¥2,400 each

Newly developed reed holders securely cradle reeds at both faces of the case simply by turning either side with knobs provided on both ends of the case. A safety stop keeps individual reeds stay in right position. The reed table opens full flat, and comes with numbered beds for each reed.

The clarinet case can accommodate 12 reeds, while the sax case can hold 10. Five color cases of dark blue, red, pink, light green and white are available.

Further information is available from:


Yamaha New Absolute Series Drums

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Yamaha has refined the Absolute Series advanced drum sets incorporating new shell and body structures which the company had acquired through development of the PHX flagship model introduced in Dec., 2008. Maple and birch shell sets are available. In addition to the conventional Absolute Lugs, individual drum sets offer more reliable and easy to handle New Hook Lugs, advanced type Nouveau Lugs, which feature easy head replacement.

The bass drums deeper than 18" come with R-Version in place of tom mount base. Tom toms incorporate YESSII-m mount system, an improved version of the YESSII featured in the PHX tom toms. It comes with a metal plate (wooden one for the RHX) for the mount area. Individual shells have matched number of air bent holes for enhanced resonance.

As many as 23 shell color finishes including Luminous White Sparkle, Burgundy Sparkle, White Grape Sparkle, Solid Silver and 5 other new colors are available.

All models are built to order, and delivered in 3 weeks to 2 months at the longest.

The Maple Custom Absolute set offers 26 bass drums in 8 sizes, 6 floor toms in 3 sizes, 22 tom toms in 11 sizes and 4 snare drums in 3 sizes. The Birch Custom Absolute set is consisted of the same numbers and sizes of every drum as the Maple set, except 3 snare drums in 2 sizes.

Further information is available from:


Pearl Snare Drums, Percussions & Hardware

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MMP1455SJ/C Snare Drum ¥44,000





MRP1455SJ/C snare drum ¥44,000




 They are best-selling Masters Premium J series only distributed in the Japanese market. The MMP features a 4-ply maple shell with reinforcement rings, while the MRP comes with a 6-ply shell. They are measured 14" by 5-1/2", and equipped with 8-tension super hoops for natural and open sound.

Finished with natural botanical lacquer, they look and sound soothing. Two color finishes of Nature Walnut and Nature Maple are provided.


PTCJ-1265 ¥19,000

It's a travel Cajon in compact size of 12" by 6-1/2", good to play on laps or mounted on a snare stand. Snappy wires produce comfortable buzz sound. It's finished in black.



PCJ-1123 ¥22,000

The Jesus Diaz signature model tri-tone Cajon in characteristic design is capable of producing 3 different types of sound including high pitched type or by controlling tension level of snappy wire on the striking face.

It can be played like conga, or laid horizontally like batter drum. Measuring 280mm by 280mm on top, 140mm by 140mm at bottom, and 600mm tall, it's finished in soft brown.




PCJ-629J ¥25,000

The Jingle Cajon test-marketed in 2008 winter has joined the Pearl percussion lines. The combination of fiber grass body and a pine striking face creates contoured buzz sound. Snare snappy wires are provided inside for crisp and tight slap sound. The striking face has individual tambourine and pandeiro jingles producing bright or clear-cut sounds. Sound level can be controlled with nuts. The bases come in anti-slip design.

It can be easily played by women and players in small physique, as it's made a bit more compact (450mm high, 300mm wide and deep sizes.) than equivalent Cajons. The solid red body is contrasted with black striking face.


PJF-312R ¥24,000
PC-800S ¥12,000

The traditional rope-tuned djembe features a grass fiber body, and a goat-skin head. Measurement is 12" by 25". A strap is standard. The PC-800S, matched stand is available.


PAR-100 ¥5,500

The crasher with jingles produces impressive sound. Setting up on a cymbal, it works as a substitute for splash or China cymbals.




CSP-60 ¥900

A rubber shell saver to prevent damages from lugs when more than 2 congas are linked. It can be set up instantly. Six savers are contained.



BC-890 cymbal boom stgnd-straight type ¥12,500
B-890 cymbal move stand ¥11,500
C-890 cymbal stand ¥10,500
H-890 hi-hat stand ¥13,000
S-890 snare stand ¥9,500
P-890 drum pedal ¥7,500

Pearl has refined the 800W Series inexpensive hardware and introduced as new 890 Series. All models are made lighter, and wing nuts for cymbals have been replaced by plastic ones for improved set-up. The drum pedal has a new more comfortable foot board.


RG-2M /RG-2L ¥3,800 each

The latest Rock Grip II gloves for drummers are characterized for excellent elasticity, and moist-free design even in long hours of playing. They come in stylish two-color combination of black and red. M and L sizes are available.


Further information is available from:


Yamaha Electric-acoustic Guitars

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LLX6A ¥100,000
LLX16 ¥140,000










The most popular traditional style LL acoustic guitars have now electronics with built-in A.R.T. (Acoustic Resonance Transducer) system.

The LLX6A incorporates a System 57 3-way pickup which is standard to CPX and APX900. The main pickup located under bridge and two sub pickups for treble and bass tone ranges allow guitarists to control overtones and body resonance. A 3-band equalizer, and automatic tuner function are also provided.

The advanced LLX16 model comes with System 60 pickups providing 4 small control knobs laid out on a side. To obtain maximum body resonance, the knobs are push-push type, and tucked away when not used. Discrete control of the main and two sub pickups contributes to producing delicate sounds.

Both models are made of solid Engleman spruce top, rosewood sides and back (solid rosewood for the LLX16), 3-piece mahogany and rosewood neck, and ebony fingerboard.

Color finishes include Natural, Brown Sunburst, Black (exclusive to LLX6A) and Tobacco Brown Sunburst, and a semi-hard case is standard.

Further information is available from:


Roland Live Personal Mixer

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M-48 ¥105,000

It has solved feedback and complicated sound balance control for individual players of conventional monitor speaker system. In live performance, it provides all musicians with unrestricted control of tonal volume balance and sound mixing with minimum line connections.

Roland has developed REAC (Roland Ethernet Audio Communication) embedded Power for the M-48 which provides 40-channel inputs and power supply by a single CAT5e cable. (An S-4000D splitter & power distributor is required.) Up to 8 M-48s can be connected.

The new RH-PM5 in-ear monitor system (¥28,000) doesn't require floor speakers, that is, no line feedback occurs during performance. However, when necessary, it can be linked with floor monitors as it has two line outputs.

The M-48 can set up a full digital live system linked with Roland M-400 V-Mixer, or a more compact system connecting with any conventional analog/digital mixer.

Other features of the M-48 include LED sound level encoder, an ambient mic on the rear for communication with members on stage and checking audience response.

Further information is available from:


Korg 1-bit Studio Recorder

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MR-2000S V.1.5 ¥236,190

One single MR-2000S can control multiple MR-2000Ses with the newly added MR Control Link function. Having stereo and dual monaural recording capabilities, it's compatible with dual monaural playback of monaural files.

New Setting File function is designed to save, manage and withdraw 400 control settings of input level, clock source, rec mode, etc. Simply by withdrawing desired setting files, it provides no-nonsense sound control in different sessions or sharing a single MR-2000S as a master recorder with more than one engineer.

Another new feature is audible point locating function for marking points. It's compatible with playback of AIFF files.

Korg started free download service of the MR-2000S System Ver. 1.5 at its website on April 1.

Further information is available from: