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The Yamaha U Series is a staple amidst many pianists. Known for being study instruments that represent a reasonable entry point into the acoustic world, the U-Series offers a bright and light touch, whilst still maintaining a quality level of sound.

Many people find the Yamaha U-Series to be an interesting instrument as it is actually the reconditioned versions that many people look for as both the Yamaha U1 and Yamaha U3 upright pianos can be found at a solid price point on the second hand market and still sound almost as new.

Created in Japan and been in production since the 1980s, some U Series models offer a number of welcomed features on acoustic instruments, such as a soft fall lid and variety of colour finishes and exceptionally bright tone.


Yamaha U1, From £4,250 (rental options available)

The U1 has long been a leading choice for educational pianists. Thanks to a comprehensive redesign, these instruments are better than ever, with numerous advances in materials and construction. Refined scale designs and components improve tonal performance, while other modifications enhance strength and durability. Extra-wide music desks provide plenty of room for sheet music.

Yamaha U3, From £4,599 (rental options available)

The U3 builds upon the U1 by introducing a more expansive soundboard and acoustic chamber, giving the U3 extended power and projection, with the peerless tonal and expressive control of the legendary Yamaha action.

Comparision of the U1 and U3

The main difference between a Yamaha U1 and a Yamaha U3 is that the U3 is 10cm taller and a little bit deeper (measuring from front to back). Giving it a slightly louder, richer sound than the U1 as the U3 can house a larger soundboard and longer strings. Because of the added room within the cabinet, the U3 also has a longer key length, improving touch sensitivity and expression due to a taller action.

Other than that, these pianos are near identical in both quality and design.

In terms of tone, the U-series offers an incredibly bright sound that is typically associated with Asian manfactured instruments. This contrasts with that of European instruments, which typically offer a rich, deep warming sound. For those looking for more of a classical or warming tone at this price point, we would also recommend trying the Ritmüller range.

Whilst these instruments are incredibly sturdy and durable, they do however come with their own qualms. In recent years for example, the U series (and particularly that of the reconditioned U series) continue to rise in price. This is for a number of reasons, however the main ones are that:  

Shipping container prices have continued to rise for sending Yamaha U series from Japan to the UK.

Many piano players in China are also interested in reconditioned Yamaha U series pianos as entry level acoustic instruments. As such, the stock on Yamaha U-Series is generally quite limited, so can be found at some incredibly inflated prices in the UK.

Due to their heritage and Yamaha name, it's not uncommon for the instrument to be quoted at a higher price than better quality instruments of similar price points.

This is why it’s sometimes best to approach the Yamaha U series with a little tentative caution as you may be paying more for the brand heritage associated with Yamaha instead of getting the right instrument for you. This is why we highly recommend that those who are interested in a Yamaha U series visit our showroom, as much like any second hand or reconditioned instrument, trying them is always the best first step to see if this is the right instrument for you!

What U Series Serial Numbers Mean

A lot of people often get confused by the serial numbers on their Yamaha U Series as each marks a unique time of the Yamaha legacy. For example, you may see something such as ‘U3F, U3G, U3H, U3M, U3A, U3N’ on the serial number of your Yamaha piano and wonder what it means.

Yamaha U3F
Serial numbers between 100,000-1,000,000. Pianos with this serial number should generally be avoided or inspected beforehand as they are likely highly historic and without being cared for properly, may feature a number of defects or issues.

Yamaha U3G
Serial numbers between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 and generally have a softer sound in the bottom end of the piano. Again, because these instruments are rather historic, without proper are and technician attention, there are likely to be some issues. You must make sure a piano of this period has been properly reconditioned.

Yamaha U3H (1970-1980)
Serial numbers ranging from 2,000,000 up to 3,000,000. The U3H are the first level of U series that is highly sought after due to them being produced at a time where Yamaha had just managed to hone in their production skills to produce, strong, reliable, consistent instruments. Again, these instruments will likely have been reconditioned and can offer a fantastic tone, however it’s important to make sure they have been reconditioned by a professional before buying.

Yamaha U3M or U3A (1980-1984)
Similar to the U3H, these pianos will need to have been reconditioned in order to hold their own, but are built to a great level of build quality. Both the Yamaha U3M and U3A typically have a bright and light tone associated with Yamaha instruments.

Yamaha U3N
These instruments are believed to have actually been made in the UK, but were discontinued in 2010 as the kemble factory closed down. Approach with some caution as these instruments were not made in Yamaha’s Japanese factory, their quality can vary.