One minute was all it took for the 30 slots of Yamaha cultural experience to be completely taken and luckily, I was one of them.
The Yamaha factory is situated an hour and a half’s ride away from ZJU, fifteen minutes from the airport. It is extremely large with 4 buildings catered to make pianos and guitars.
Since they did not allow photo-taking, I’ll explain in words what I saw there instead.
We were brought to see the production line of guitars first. There were many sections in the factory, each dealing with a specific part of the guitar. The sections were split into cutting, sanding, lacquering, buffering, stringing, assembling, tuning and packaging.
There was a large sign board at the packaging section showing the current number of guitars manufactured vs the ideal number. The ideal number is updated hourly to pace the speed of the production.
Next we visited the piano assembly line. All the parts of the piano have been manufactured and we see how they are put together. The sections there are similar to the guitar production line, the layout of is slightly different.
As pianos are large, there are tracks on the ground and each piano is placed on a trolley. As we walked around the factory, we had to be careful to step away from the tracks so that we do not hinder the workers from moving pianos from one station to the next.
One thing that made an impression on me was the number of times the piano is tuned before it can be packaged and delivered. There were a total of four tuning sections for just a single assembly. First when all the stringing has been done, second when some parts have been added to the piano, third when all parts have been added to the piano and a final one when the piano has been ‘seasoned’ in a humidity-controlled room. With such strict quality control, it’s no wonder why Yamaha’s pianos are the most popular in the world.
At the end of the tours, we were given a little token by Yamaha to thank us for the visit. It was a goat-hair hammer just like the one used for striking the strings of a piano.