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2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
#3028596 09/24/20 01:48 PM
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I found local listings of a $5000 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 and a $2000 1984 Yamaha 52" U3. I am having a hard time choosing between them. While I love the young age of the Kawai and its quicker action, the Yamaha looks like a great deal to me.

To make things more complicated, I also found a $4500 1979 Kawai Black Grand KG2C 5’10” and a $3500 1979 Kawai Black Grand KG3C 6’.

Which one would you guys pick? Please advise. Thank you so much! =]

Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028601 09/24/20 01:55 PM
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It's really, really hard to compare a grand and an upright.... Have you played any of theses instruments?

I owned uprights (three different one) for 19ish years until last year when I finally bought a grand piano. I very, very much prefer grands to uprights, and so my first instinct is to say the Kawai GM10, but that is a very small grand (and I personally don't like the Kawai action)....

Having said that, a Yamaha U3 from 1984 is over 35 years old.... at minimum, you'll want to have it inspected by a tech (as you will any used piano).

Also, maybe take a pass on the 1979 grands as well....

These are just my gut-level reactions.

But you haven't said:
1) your budget
2) where the piano will go in your home
3) your musical goals/experience


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Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028611 09/24/20 02:29 PM
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The 5' ft Kawai is quite a few years younger ,so yes tempting .I have tried the new Kawai GL10 which is that size .So yes it probably is quite a soft piano and is a good substitute for a 48" upright with a grand action.The new GL 10 has quite a mellow tone.
The U3 (1984) will have a bigger tone and no doubt a far better bass, but it also has "its years".I do not think I would buy a piano from 1979 unless I can have it restored.
It also depends on the condition of the pianos and also your age. Do you need a piano that will last for many years.
Or perhaps we should not consider our ages when we decide on the age of the piano we buy. We never did as we bought a new piano which no doubt will out last us by many years.

Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028618 09/24/20 02:43 PM
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The larger KG grands are what I would consider.


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Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
ShiroKuro #3028619 09/24/20 02:50 PM
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Thanks for all your advice!

I haven't yet play on these pianos. I'd be test driving them this weekend.

The new Yamaha uprights are too bright to my taste; like they are grilled. Yet, I like the rounder sound of the older Yamaha U3s. I like Kawai's mellow sound. That's why I am looking into the Kawai GM10; its young age is really attractive.

Just want to pick up piano again. I can play Tchaikovsky's June Barcarolle and Chopin Etudes and Waltzes. That probably puts me on ABRSM Grade 7-8. It is unlikely that I'd improve to a point where I can play Scarlatti; if that happens, the upright won't do a good job for Scarlatti.

The piano will be sitting in my living room.

I heard that pianos are at their best tone when they are 20 years old. The Kawai GM10 is now 18 years old so I haven't missed its best yet. Yet, I feel that the U3 is too good of a deal to pass over. Do you think the U3 is a good deal at all? I heard that the Yamaha U series piano probably last 40-60 years; some even say 80 years. That U3 seems to have a lot of shelf life in it?

Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BDB #3028622 09/24/20 02:55 PM
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Hi BDB,

ShiroKuro seems to think otherwise. Is there a specific reason you would consider the KG grands? Their length? Would you be worried about the age of those KG grands? Do you think those KG grands need regulation and reconditioning?

Regulation and reconditioning for grands are much more expensive than verticals. From the viewpoint of maintenance, maybe U3 is worthy?

Doesn't the young age of GM-10 seem attractive to you?

Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028627 09/24/20 03:09 PM
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If you've reached a level where you're playing Chopin Etudes comfortably, you may find the smaller sound on the GM-10 somewhat uninspiring, whilst the others may not have much life left in them if you practice intensively everyday. That said, if the KG3C is in good nick, I'd give that serious consideration.

If you like Kawai's sound, have you considered their hybrid models like the NV5?

Just a little psychology tip: I wouldn't get too hung up on wondering if any of them are good deals before you've actually played them, as the last thing you'd want is to convince yourself it's a great deal, when it actually turns out to be an inert heap of nothingness, but you struggle to see that as you've already convinced yourself that it's a great deal.

Last edited by piano897; 09/24/20 03:15 PM.
Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028629 09/24/20 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
The new Yamaha uprights are too bright to my taste; like they are grilled. Yet, I like the rounder sound of the older Yamaha U3s. I like Kawai's mellow sound. That's why I am looking into the Kawai GM10; its young age is really attractive.

Pianos get brighter with use as the hammers get harder from the felt being compacted. The difference you're hearing in the older U3s could very much be due to voicing rather than any design differences. I'm not sure but I'm not aware of any trend in Yamaha towards making their pianos brighter over the years. They've always been on the brighter side.

Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
Just want to pick up piano again. I can play Tchaikovsky's June Barcarolle and Chopin Etudes and Waltzes. That probably puts me on ABRSM Grade 7-8. It is unlikely that I'd improve to a point where I can play Scarlatti; if that happens, the upright won't do a good job for Scarlatti.
Can play or can play well? Years of experience is probably more relevant, but I guess the details don't matter too much for this discussion.
Why do you feel like the upright won't do a good job for Scarlatti?

Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
The piano will be sitting in my living room.

What are the dimensions of the room?

Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
I heard that pianos are at their best tone when they are 20 years old.

I have never heard of that. There's talk of violins getting better with age as the wood fibers settle with prolonged vibrations from the strings but even then, it depends very much on how the instrument had been treated. I've never heard of anything similar about Pianos getting better with age.

In my mind, a piano is best new or maybe 1-2 years old when the tuning should have stabilized. It wears down with age and use and potential environmental effects.

Last edited by rkzhao; 09/24/20 03:27 PM.
Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028633 09/24/20 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
The new Yamaha uprights are too bright to my taste; like they are grilled. Yet, I like the rounder sound of the older Yamaha U3s.

I have had pretty categorically the opposite experience with new Yamahas vs. the ones from the 1980s.

Quote
I heard that pianos are at their best tone when they are 20 years old.

That has not been my experience.
You don't list your location for some reason, so it's sort of difficult to advise. I've lived in parts of the country where there was no such thing as a 40 year old piano that was in what I'd call "good condition", while there are other places where (with proper maintenance and replacing things as they wear out) they can outlive a person.

Because all these pianos are used and you haven't actually tried them (or had the top 1-2 candidates inspected by an independent technician), a comparison over the internet is pretty difficult to make. I remember trying, back to back, new U3/U5 verticals and then new GC1 grands, about a decade ago. My recollection was that I enjoyed the tone of the large uprights better, while the action of the small grand was preferable.


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Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028673 09/24/20 06:04 PM
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Larger pianos hold up better than smaller pianos, as well as sounding better. Of course, everything depends on condition.


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Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028675 09/24/20 06:15 PM
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That u3 is considered quite a deal in my area and that the dealer would snap right up unless it’s literally ready for the dump. Having said that, at your level you would appreciate the grand action if you have access to one, but may or may not be at the expense of tonal quality. So... if the space is an issue, u3 is a great choice given you like the way it plays and it passes the piano technician’s inspection. If you are going for a grand, around 5’6” or longer would give you a more satisfying sound. Also Yamaha and Kawai have quite a difference in both touch and tone. Moreover, every piano is an individual so you need to try them all to find your preference.

Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028676 09/24/20 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
Thanks for all your advice!

I haven't yet play on these pianos. I'd be test driving them this weekend.

The new Yamaha uprights are too bright to my taste; like they are grilled. Yet, I like the rounder sound of the older Yamaha U3s. I like Kawai's mellow sound. That's why I am looking into the Kawai GM10; its young age is really attractive.

Just want to pick up piano again. I can play Tchaikovsky's June Barcarolle and Chopin Etudes and Waltzes. That probably puts me on ABRSM Grade 7-8. It is unlikely that I'd improve to a point where I can play Scarlatti; if that happens, the upright won't do a good job for Scarlatti.

The piano will be sitting in my living room.

I heard that pianos are at their best tone when they are 20 years old. The Kawai GM10 is now 18 years old so I haven't missed its best yet. Yet, I feel that the U3 is too good of a deal to pass over. Do you think the U3 is a good deal at all? I heard that the Yamaha U series piano probably last 40-60 years; some even say 80 years. That U3 seems to have a lot of shelf life in it?
It depends on the upright and the pianist. By far most people here do not have the technical abilities to play Scarlatti at the speed you are talking of. So a GOOD upright will generally be fine
I do not know if the condition of the 80's U3 to say if this piano is good. Have you not tried any of the instruments you are thinking of? Of course a new U3 or K500 are equally wonderful instruments.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 09/24/20 06:26 PM. Reason: spelling 9
Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
terminaldegree #3028677 09/24/20 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by BlueberryTea
The new Yamaha uprights are too bright to my taste; like they are grilled. Yet, I like the rounder sound of the older Yamaha U3s.

I have had pretty categorically the opposite experience with new Yamahas vs. the ones from the 1980s.

New Yamahas that I have come across had nice rich sound. The ones from the 80s tended to be bright and the really old ones from 60s and 70s had mellower but not quite as rich a sound as the new ones. However, it’s hard to generalize since each piano comes with its distinct original sound as well as additional voicing work (or a lack of it.)

You have to play them in person!

Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
BlueberryTea #3028683 09/24/20 06:41 PM
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I just sold my Kawai KL502 upright ,made in 1984 .The reason I bought it was the incredible mellow tone. The mid treble had become somewhat brighter recently but I had the technician voice those few notes to match the upper treble ,tenor and bass.
The young couple who bought the piano had a musical background and really bought the piano because of its tone.
My technician looked at the hammers of the piano and said that the piano had very little use. This proved the story I was told by the dealer who sold me the piano.
However I appreciate the space ,I have now in my piano room.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 09/24/20 06:43 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: 2002 Kawai 5' GM-10 vs. 1984 Yamaha 52" U3
Lady Bird #3029107 09/25/20 10:12 PM
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Thanks Lady Bird. I also love Kawai's mellow tone. =]


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