Yamaha Bell & Barrel

The Official Mouthpiece of Yamaha Wind Instruments

The Birth of the “Z”

Writing about the Yamaha model numbering system brings back more than a few stories.  Sometimes great ideas are formed from the strangest of situations, and the birth of the Z is just such an example.  At the time (early 90’s), there was just one instrument that would have the suffix of Z – the YTR-6310Z trumpet.  Later on we launched trombones, saxophones, another trumpet and flugelhorns with a Z as the suffix.  But they all started with Bobby Shew making an offhand comment at a photo shoot.

Listen and learn from the man himself.

On a side note, over the years we have learned a lot about the history of Yamaha trumpets from Bobby Shew.  His memory of each development project, the people involved and the bumps along the way is truly incredible.

We’re honored to have people like Bobby associated with Yamaha Trumpets.

Filed under: Gear, Jazz, Marketing, Music Business, Trumpet, , ,

Understanding Yamaha Model Numbers

If you’ve ever tried to decipher the alphabet soup that is a Yamaha model number – you’ll quickly realize that there actually is a method to the madness.  Pretty much every Yamaha Wind Instrument starts with a “Y” followed by a couple of additional letters to designate the instrument.  FL = flute, CL = clarinet, AS = alto sax etc.  There are three basic rules to follow when looking at the rest of the Yamaha model number:

1) The First Number is the Most Important – the higher the first number, the higher the grade of the instrument.  Generally professional models start with 6, 7, 8 or 9 (or even a letter like CSV), intermediate models will start with 4 or 5 and student instruments start with 2 or 3.  There are of course exceptions, but the higher the first number, the higher the grade.

2) Every Number Means Something (usually).  The interior numbers will reference things like bore sizes, key styles, scale design, pitch center and construction differences.

3) The Letters Tell You a Lot – like whether the instrument is silver plated, or what type of bell material is used.  Certain options will also be listed with a suffix letter.  One of the most interesting ones is for flutes, whether or not the instrument has a “B-footjoint”.  We use the letter “H” for that one.

So next time you spot that crazy Yamaha saxophone on eBay – you can probably figure out what it is a bit easier.  As for serial numbers, alas, there is no such published list of Yamaha serial numbers.  But we’re happy to look them up for you assuming the instrument was originally sold in the United States.  Just drop us a note to bandandorchestra[at]yamaha[dot]com.

Filed under: Gear, Music Business, Older Instruments, Uncategorized,

Yamaha “East Wind Orchestra”

First I found their facebook page.

Then I remembered how interesting this story really is.

Yamaha produces wind instruments in various locations around the world, including a facility in Surabaya Indonesia.  It wouldn’t seem so amazing that there is a company ‘big band’ at this location, except there is almost no tradition for band instruments in Indonesia.  When we visited there in 2008 the first stop was a welcome concert by this group.  It was explained to us that as a way to help the workers understand the instruments they were producing, the management formed this big band, even going as far as to provide all the instruments.  Even more impressive was the factory manager leading the band and playing a mean conga groove!

I remember standing with the workers after their performance and seeing how interested they were in learning the music and understanding the seemingly ‘foreign’ music notation.  Hopefully on the next visit we’ll get to hear them play again, and maybe even get a chance to sit in with the band!

There are more pictures from our visit to Yamaha Musical Products Indonesia (YMPI) on the YamahaWinds Flickr page.

Filed under: Jazz, Music Business, Travel,

Flute Artist Mimi Stillman Interview

The latest Yamaha podcast features an interview with Yamaha flute artist Mimi Stillman.  Recorded at the Yamaha Los Angeles Atelier in November 2009, Mimi discusses a number of topics ranging from the concert series she founded to attending the Curtis Institute at a very young age to study to legendary flutist Julius Baker.

Watch the entire Mimi Stillman intervew on the hub

Watch Mimi’s performance from the Yamaha Day of Flutes in 2008

Just in case you want to keep these episodes on your computer forever, you can:

Download Mimi’s performance from Day of Flutes via iTunes

Download the Mimi Stillman interview via iTunes

We recently finished a new ad featuring Mimi (see below) – and have a beautiful poster in the works launching shortly.  I think the poster is going to be a bit different look for Mimi than most people expect…stay tuned.

Filed under: Flute, podcasts, ,

Our Mailbag

I guess people actually do still send letters through the mail. Although quite a bit of our daily communication is done via a computer we do get letters from time to time. Here’s a sampling of what’s on the desk right now.

B.W. from Wisconsin writes: “When I first played the YAS-875EX at the store, I was amazed by how much faster I could do 16th note runs.  I could also create a very sweet melodic tone.  I immediately said to my parents, this is the one!”

E.K. from Texas has a few other burning questions on his mind: “Does it take long to make tubas? How fast do your motorcycles go?  What made you start your company?”

A.D. from Maryland even wrote a sonnet for her English class about her Yamaha flute commenting: “..the flute’s incredible projection and the warmth of the tone allow any genre of music to sing with elegance.”

We do read and try to respond to as many as we can.  Actually, our favorite correspondence is from students that play in band and are learning how to write letters as a school assignment.  So if you’re writing from Ms. Jones 7th grade English class, we look forward to reading your letter.  Just don’t have Ms. Jones grade our sentence construction.

Filed under: Music Business,

Disneyland Band Feature

The DisneyParks blog did a really nice feature on our good friends in the Disneyland Band.   We had no idea they were this active in the community spending time performing for area schools in addition to their regular performances in the park.  As one of the longest running performing units at Disneyland, the Disneyland band features some of the top musicians in Southern California (many of whom play Yamaha instruments).  It doesn’t take long watching the band to realize how important they are to the wonderful atmosphere at the Disneyland Resort.

Congratulations to the band on the nice feature, and thanks for your support of music education in our schools.

Filed under: Events, Marketing, Music Business,

Yamaha Tokyo Ginza Store

The upscale Ginza district in Tokyo is recognized as one of the most upscale shopping districts in the world.  Lining this main street are a who’s who of recognizable global brands including two particular favorites of the YamahaWinds department: the Ginza Apple Store and the Mikimoto main store.

A favorite stop for musicians in Japan is always the Yamaha Ginza store. Players can find unique and innovative accessories not found in other parts of the world at this location in addition to testing a full range of Yamaha Wind Instruments (many of which aren’t available outside Japan).  And just when you think you’ve spent enough time browsing the store, you come across the CD, DVD and sheet music selection (and stay for a couple more hours!)

For the past couple of years, the Yamaha Ginza building has been undergoing a complete reconstruction, finally reopening in February of 2010.  This building features floors for a Yamaha music school, piano showroom, wind instruments showroom, sheet music, CD/DVD’s, drums & digital musical instruments plus a 333 seat concert hall.  All combined, it’s a truly impressive facility fitting a global brand like Yamaha.

Mirroring the long history of exceptional musical instrument design, the unique exterior design concept illustrates the “fusion between tradition and innovation.”  Each individual floor is a ‘box within a box’ concept completely isolating any vibrations between floors.

The Yamaha Ginza Store is open to the public (no appointment necessary)  – for more information take a look at the Japanese language website.  Once you’ve visited this building, you’ll never look at a retail music store the same way again.

Filed under: Music Business, Travel,

Larry Zalkind Photo Shoot – Disney Hall (Los Angeles)

It’s a lot of fun to come up with a creative concept for a photo shoot, have it executed exactly like the plan but with a few pleasant surprises along the way. This was our experience working on the project for Yamaha Trombone Artist Larry Zalkind.

Larry helped us with the development of two particular instruments we recently launched, the YSL-882OR Xeno Trombone and the YSL-871/872 custom alto trombone. Both instruments have been very popular since the launch and in an effort to continue the momentum and create some additional exposure for the horns (and Larry) we set up a photo shoot for some upcoming ad placements.

The photographer we used was Steve Anderson who we have worked with on a couple of other projects – flutist Mimi Stillman and trombonist Andy Martin. We say it over and over again, but it’s always a treat to work with professionals when it comes to these type of activities.

Look for more of Larry’s photos in an upcoming issue of International Musician.

View more behind the scenes photos from the day here.  And if you really want to see how the magic happens, watch the video below!

Filed under: Marketing, Music Business, Trombone, , , , , ,

Field Trip to the Rico Factory

I’ll be honest, the YamahaWinds team didn’t know much at all about how reeds are made.   Good thing that our friends at Rico are just an hour up the freeway with a full production facility to show us exactly how it’s done.

We are very proud of the longstanding relationship between Rico and Yamaha.  Currently, Yamaha is one of the distributors for Rico reeds within the United States.  The wide product offerings of reeds provide excellent support for our woodwind instruments and dealer network.

Our trip started bright and early from the Yamaha offices as we headed north via the Golden State Freeway (that’s “the 5″ for those of you in So. Cal).

After the usual LA traffic and plenty of discussion about the lack of a carpool lane on the 710, we arrived to the Rico factory.

Right inside the front door is a beautiful showroom with all the latest products distributed by D’Addario.

Our tour was lead by Carlos – who was extremely detailed in giving us a complete overview of the reed making process.  From the humble beginnings of the cane tubes to the finished product in the boxes, we saw nearly every single process.

One particularly interesting part of the tour was what Carlos referred to as the “museum” room.  This give us a bit of insight into the traditional processes for sorting and categorizing cane, and provided a nice perspective for the automation we would later see on the tour.

Next we made our way into the hi-tech world of reed making in the 21st century.  The combination of this relatively simple end product (the reed) and the creative processes for achieving consistency and control over nearly every variable was absolutely amazing.  The video below give a nice 3-minute overview of the entire process.

Each of us left the visit thoroughly impressed with the reed manufacturing processes at Rico. Special thanks to the staff that hosted our visit: Mike, Rory, Carlos and Gary. We are very appreciative of the ongoing cooperation between Rico and Yamaha and look forward to many more years of the same.

If you’re interested in reading more details about the Rico factory from a different perspective, read what Victoria Soames-Samek had to say about her visit to Rico.

Filed under: Clarinet, Gear, Music Business, Saxophone, ,

Yamaha Double Bell Trumpet

Every so often a project comes along that the instrument design staff at Yamaha just can’t say no to.  Such is the case when Brandon Ridenour (Canadian Brass) first approached Wayne Tanabe in September 2009 about making a double bell trumpet for his appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Ensemble.  Brandon was scheduled to perform the Peter Eötvös composition Snatches of a Conversation which calls for a double-bell trumpet enabling the soloist to switch quickly between different mutes.

Working in close cooperation with the R&D staff in Japan, Wayne put together a plan for how to configure this unique instrument drawing from pieces and parts of the Yamaha artist model C trumpets.  The starting point was a Yamaha piccolo trumpet (YTR-9835) valve casing but with bigger ports, a YTR-9636 Eb trumpet leadpipe, bells from an Artist Model C trumpet and a rotor from a student french horn.  The 4th valve actually produces a quarter tone rather than the typical step-and-a-half.

In mid-February Brandon visited Yamaha Artist Services in NYC to play the new instrument.  He found the instrument to be exceptionally comfortable to hold and easy to transport since the 2nd bell detaches to fit in a standard Yamaha double trumpet case.   Although there are a few little tweaks to be made and possibly some silver plating (we’d love to see Tomoji engrave a double-headed dragon on the bell), this double bell trumpet is an unbelievable work of art created by the artisans at Yamaha.

Hear a little bit of what Yamaha staff member Bob Malone and trumpet artist Brandon Ridenour had to say about the unique piece and the Yamaha instrument.

View the entire collection of images for this instrument on the YamahaWinds Flickr page.

Watch the entire 16-minute interview with Brandon on the YamahaWinds facebook page.

Oh…and we’re thinking of calling this instrument Sotoh-Ryu (双頭竜 ) which means “Two Headed Dragon” in Japanese.  Seems fitting!

Filed under: Gear, Trumpet, , , , ,

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The wall

Brian Petterson / Bobby Shew

Bob Malone / Bobby Shew

More Photos
March 2010
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