Yamaha’s acquisition of Bösendorfer Pianos in 2008 has allowed them to dip into some of their supply lines, and the SE-series pianos benefit from the same high quality hammers and strings you’d expect to find in high-performance uprights like the Bösendorfer 130. Yamaha’s ‘wood-scouts’ also select the finest cuts of European spruce they can find and reserve them for use in SE-series upright pianos. Common features of Yamaha SE-series instruments include mahogany-cored underfelted hammers made in Germany, soundboards made with +3 grade European spruce, hand-wound German strings, and soft-close fallboards. In addition to his, the final voicing and regulation work is performed by the same technicians that work on Yamaha’s hand-built CFX concert grand pianos. The grand-style sostenuto pedal is only available on the taller SE132. The SE-series instruments are uncompromising, full of European colouration, and offer possibly the widest musical palette available in a Yamaha upright piano. These pianos are incredible studio instruments for recording work, as well as a fine musical companion for those looking for a Yamaha instrument with a special certain something.
Common features of Yamaha SU-series include German-made hand-wound strings, assembly in Yamaha’s hand-built division, and hand-casted iron frames. However, these two instruments differ in a lot of important and perhaps unexpected ways; where the larger SU7 has a larger proportion of European parts and materials, the SU118 is given a larger proportion of Japanese materials.
The SU7 uses exclusively European spruce in its soundboard (much like the SE-series) whereas the SU118 uses a combination of European and locally-sourced Yezo spruce. The smaller SU118 also opts for Japanese-made maple-core hammers, which have a brighter impact than the denser, mahogany-cored hammers of the SU7. The SU118 also lacks a grand-style sostenuto pedal, a soft-close fallboard, and any form of castors.
The SU-series instruments epitomise Yamaha’s musical preference; despite the differences in materials, both pianos exhibit a sound with the utmost clarity and precision, and the hand-working and attention to detail given to these pianos make them pleasurable right from the very first note. There’s nothing quite like it.