Yamaha U1/U3: 2 Features for Age Evaluation
2 Features for Age Evaluation
When pre-owned Yamaha U1 or U3 piano’s sale posts don’t come with sufficient information and interior photos, it seems very difficult to tell the piano’s actual age.
To be honest, there are not much to see from the pianos’ appearance either. Therefore two outer features have been selected, from my extensive guide, to aid with guessing the age range of these mysterious pianos. Since U5 has a more distinctive cabinet, it is not included in this guide.
The two featured on this page are part of fallboard design (circled in yellow) and pedal design (circled in orange).
The information presented on this page resulted from studying over thousands of piano photos. Nonetheless, there might be errors. Please reference with caution.
Be cautious when a seller refused to provide coherent photos showing the actual condition of the piano. That is, photos that are clear with proper focus and exposure. Please understand the risk when a deal seems too good to be true.
Fallboard: Slow Fall Mechanism / Cheek Curvature
Since August 1997, fallboards are equipped with internal slow-fall mechanism.
New Slow Fall Mechanism
The shape of U1 and U3’s case remain similar since the beginning. The biggest change is the addition of slow-fall mechanism in August 1997, which can be identified by the small metal plates on both sides of the fallboard.
An Alteration on the Cheeks’ Curvature
An Obvious Change
The Shape of Pedals
Throughout the history of U1 and U3, there have been about 8 different pedal designs.
(E) = U1E & U3E
2 different pedal designs have been found in pianos made in the same period in the 80’s. Perhaps it was a feature to distinguish between domestic model and export model.
After estimating the build year range with the fallboard and pedal design, cross check the build-year by referencing the serial number (if available) at the bottom of this webpage.
Evaluation Example (1)
1. First check the fallboard, is it one that is before or after 1997? If it’s before 1997, proceed to check the design of the pedals.
2. These square-ish pedals are very recognizable. Unfortunately, the build year could range from 1971 to 1979, and 1984 to 1989. It’s a popular and long lasting design.
3. When the piano’s age estimation range from 24 to 52 years, it is difficult to narrow the range without further examination. Nonetheless, the associated U1H/M/A are well made instruments that might still be in good condition in the present. It’s best to ask for more photos.
Evaluation Example (2)
1. When only two pedals are present, it’s a sign for caution. Normally, pianos built after 1965 all have three pedals. Therefore, this piano is likely very old. Occasionally, one meets a special 2-pedal version built in 1972, which can be confirmed by examining the interior. Not all 3-pedal pianos are built after 1965, as conversion from 2-pedal to 3-pedal is easily accomplished. The clue is usually odd shape of after-market pedals that do not look like any of the original pedal design.
2. This piano is easily older than 60 years old. Unless it’s properly restored, I would not recommend buying. (Actual build year: 1960)