Making comparisons between Yamaha pianos and Essex pianos is difficult because Yamaha has many different makes and models while Essex is essentially only one line produced in several styles based on a Steinway design. Yamaha pianos are more widely known and are well-accepted, although Essex models have credibility due to their affiliation with Steinway that other cost-effective pianos lack.
What would eventually become the Yamaha Corporation was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha. Yamaha's first Japanese-made piano was built in 1900 and its first concert grand was produced in 1950.
The Essex pianos were designed by Steinway (America’s leading piano manufacturer) to be produced overseas for less expense. Steinway’s goal was to make pianos more affordable to reach a larger audience, using a design that is similar to the more expensive Steinway models. Essex models utilize Steinway’s diaphragmatic soundboard design, which starts out thicker in the middle and tapers toward the edges.
Yamaha pianos were originally made in Japan and are now manufactured primarily in Japan and the United States. Essex pianos are made in South Korea by the Young Chang Corporation.
Since Essex pianos are a subset of Steinway, the models available are fairly limited when compared with what Yamaha has to offer. Essex models come in both grand and upright designs. The grands are available in several different lengths, including 5’1”, 5‘3.5”, 5’8”, and 6 feet. The smaller models come in a greater variety of styles, such as the Neo-Classic, French Provincial, and Traditional, while the two largest sizes are only available in Classic. You can also choose the luster and color of many of the models. The Essex uprights are also available in a variety of styles, colors, and finishes, and come with heights of 43”,44”, 45.5”, 46.25”, 48.5.” The taller the piano is, the greater the sound production you will get.
Yamaha pianos come in a much larger variety of styles with availability that varies depending on the region in which you live. Yamaha offers grand pianos in models that are suited for small rooms and salons, all the way to some of the very best concert instruments. Some models that you can find in the United States from Yamaha are the Classic Collection (that includes the GB1, GC1, and GC2 models), the Conservatory Collection (includes the C1, C2, C3, and C5 pianos that are suitable for use in performance, recording, and music schools), the Conservatory Concert Collection (models C6 and C7), and the Handcrafted Concert Collection. Yamaha also offers uprights in a variety of makes and styles: Disklaviers (modern player pianos), digital pianos, silent pianos and other types of pianos.
Yamaha pianos can range anywhere from a few thousand for the uprights to more than 100 thousand for the concert grands. Essex pianos can cost on average about $4,000 to $20,000 for the grands and less for uprights.
Alana Grelyak is a writer and musician living in Chicago, Illinois. Grelyak earned a Master's Degree in music from the University of Wisconsin, and has written on the topics of entertainment, restaurants, music, telecommunications, and more. Her work has appeared in numerous places, including Punchline, Lumino Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Midwest Beat, Pipeline, and others.