Yamaha Corporation of America (YCA) is focusing on four key product lines at this year’s vast NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show, which began Thursday and runs through tomorrow at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Four new electric violin models expand the current Yamaha Electric Violin (YEV) lineup. The all-wood four- and five-string models are geared toward traditional acoustic players as well as electric violin practitioners and are nearly identical in weight to acoustic violins, easing the transition for the acoustic player.
“When it comes to the electric violin, there will always be players who are early technology adopters,” said Ken Dattmore, YCA’s marketing manager, strings.
“Until now, there hasn’t been an instrument that could provide a seamless transition for the multitudes of country, folk, and bluegrass fiddle players–or the legions of rock, jazz and classical violinists–ready to make the move to an electric instrument. The Yamaha Electric Violin provides an easy pathway.”
Demonstrating one of the new violins at Yamaha Artist Services in New York earlier this month, Caroline Campbell said that as a classical player, they’re “the best of both worlds: “I’m not a tech person, and they’re just plug and go. And if you play a big arena, a regular violin won’t carry. And there are different things you can do with an electric violin that are really fun.”
Also introduced at NAMM is the Disklavier ENSPIRE–the eighth generation of Disklavier reproducing pianos. The new line, available in three system variations spanning 14 models ranging from 48-inch uprights to a nine-foot concert grand, replaces the popular E3 series Disklavier as the only fully-integrated and high-resolution reproducing piano system on the market.
Singer-songwriter and jazz pianist Tony DeSare performed on the ENSPIRE at the Yamaha Artist Services event attended by Campbell.
“It has the ability to recreate exactly what I play,” he marveled, noting that “it’s very hard to create uptempo swing jazz.”
DeSare said that the first thing he noticed about the ENSPIRE was its lack of the control box of previous Disklaviers—then added that it’s an “easy interface” between the unit and an iPad, for example. “No one wants to look at a manual!” he said, declaring, “Everything’s all right here: It’s a real game-changer, and light years ahead in terms of the way you interact.”
He also expressed his feeling that the new Disklavier “is worthy of being the entertainment center—or at least a part of a home theater system—where the whole family can gather around”—much like in the days of yesteryear before radio and TV when the piano was the center of family entertainment. In fact, an intuitive app enables an ENSPIRE to be controlled by Apple and Android handheld devices, PCs and Mac computers, with access to over 500 built-in songs and over 6,000 performances that can be downloaded directly to the instrument from the Yamaha MusicSoft online store–with high-quality streaming radio and video services also available.
And as DeSare demonstrated in a live boogie performance, you can record from the keyboard to an iPad and play it back with ultimate high-resolution recording and playback accuracy.
The third product category introduced at NAMM is the Revstar guitar series, by which Yamaha re-enters the solid-body guitar market. The seven models in the line evoke vintage street-racing 1960s motorcycle styling, prompting YCA electric guitars marketing manager Armando Vega, at the Yamaha Artist Services gathering, to speak of its “cool factor.”
“The guitar is a fashion statement, and we reached out to designers in London and did research and the conclusion was that the coolest thing Yamaha could be associated with was motorcycles,” said Vega, hastily noting that while it would be “hokey” to make a guitar actually look like a motorcycle or add racing stripes, the actual brushed steel wool finishes, aluminum plates and satin hardware of the Revstar guitars “have a vibe.”
That vibe is manifested in the product’s “Meet your other half” tagline, noted Vega.
“There’s a rebellious side in everybody—Jeckyll and Hyde,” he said. “We want to tie into that rebellious nature we all have when we’re not at work, and a lot of musicians see their instrument as their better half.”
Finally, Yamaha introduced its new flagship synthesizer in the Montage. Available in 61-, 76- and 88-key configurations, the Montage features the Motion Control Synthesizer Engine, which offers new ways to interact with and control sound.
“Montage is the culmination of over 40 years of synthesizer legacy and innovation,” said YCA marketing manager, music production Nate Tschetter. “Playing and experiencing Montage is, quite simply, inspiring.”