The “Death Star” Yamaha CP-80

The “Death Star” Yamaha CP-80
June 5, 2024 Kellen Boersma
In Custom Shop, Yamaha

Here’s the latest from our Custom Shop, the “Death Star” Yamaha CP-80B. Fit for Darth Vader’s penthouse, this Yamaha oozes Sith energy, but is a pure joy to play! 

 

Yamaha released the CP series in 1976, and the CP-80 (and subsequently the CP-80D, CP-80M) was the flagship model, boasting a full 88 key register, and additional bright switch on the electronics panel.

 

All CP pianos featured stereo tremolo output, with both speed and depth control. Additionally they had volume control, a three band EQ, and an on-board effects loop. The stereo outputs are available in both unbalanced and balanced outputs — they were built stage ready!

 

For our restoration, this piano was completely disassembled and given a complete mechanical and electronic overhaul. Yamaha CP pianos typically hold their regulation extremely well, but this one’s action was way out of spec. It now plays evenly, dynamically, and with a pleasant weight to the action. These action assemblies of these pianos are the same that Yamaha put into their top acoustic grand pianos.

 

To keep the action snug while transporting from gig to gig, Yamaha provided a hammer shank guard to keep the action from operating while in travel.

 

Yamaha also built these without any soundboard. The lack of a soundboard allows the pianos to hold a tune while traveling across different climates and temperatures.

 

The action itself is also separated, with the damper mechanisms living in the harp section of the piano, and the rest of the action staying with the key bed. All of the electronics of the instrument are in the harp section of the piano.

 

Rebuilding the pre-amplifiers on these allows for wonderfully balanced stereo tremolo, and the 3 band EQ with brightness switch allows for a huge variety in tone options. When properly restored, these amplifiers are dead quiet and sound fantastic. You can go from extremely bassy and powerful then thin and bright with a quick turn of a couple knobs. This can be really useful in “cutting through a mix” without taking up too much sonic room. 

The tolex looks marvelous, but is it new? No, we’ve been “using the force” developing a process to deep clean and shine original tolex to a mint state, and that’s what we did with this Yamaha.

 

We removed, stripped, and cleaned the original hardware for a cool contrasting patina’d look. Additionally, we fitted the piano with new shiny reproduction legs and crossbars, and fitted robust new sustain pedal chains for the piano.

 

 

Of course, this isn’t our first foray into the plexiglass CP panels. So far we outfitted the harps with “coke bottle” green, lush amber, and a stunning bronze with forest green tolex. Every one of these have been exciting projects, and never fail to deliver eye-catching results. —We’re looking forward to trying more tints so if you’re interested please reach out to us at info@chicagoelectricpiano.com!

The charcoal panels pair quite well with the original tolex, we love this an option for customization without the massive amount of labor required to re-tolex one of these behemoths. Additionally, the matching music rack provides a unique touch to the piano’s aesthetic. You may recognize the shape of the matching plexiglass music rack. It uses the template of a Hohner Clavinet music rack. We built triangular support side blocks, a smooth felt footing, and violá, the classical pianist can enjoy a CP-80B now too! We hope Darth Vader reads music!

Comments (4)

  1. Horacio 2 weeks ago

    Mad respect for this amazing restoration. This is probably the coolest CP I have ever seen. One comment: I don’t think there ever was a “CP-80B” it was just “CP-80”. The was a CP70 and a few years later the CP70B, but never a CP80B. You may want to update the wording. Keep the great work!

    • Max Brink 2 weeks ago

      Welp. It looks like you’re right, and that’s really interesting… It’s the same era and using the parts of the CP-70B so I guess we internalized that there was a CP-80B. And I’d add another “wtf” because they carried over the CP-80M and CP-80D. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. Craig Michael Woolard 2 weeks ago

    How much is this please?

    • Max Brink 2 weeks ago

      This piano was built for a client, and is already spoken for. If you’re interested in a Yamaha piano from us, please reach out via email at info@chicagoelectricpiano.com

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