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Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
#3038836 10/24/20 07:52 AM
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Hi all,

I'm kinda just browsing pianos. I like looking at them like others might look at houses they can't afford! I hope to get a real acoustic one day (I use a digital at the moment). At present though this is more of a speculative question just for my own interest.

In the UK, so everything in pounds.

Yamaha:
Brand new B3: c£4500
Brand new U1: c£8100
Brand new U3: c£9500

Kawai:
Brand new K300: c£5000
Brand new K500: c£7600
Brand new K600: c£8800

Ok so these are reasonably comparable. The K300 is a little bigger and better specification than a B3. The U1/K500, and the U3/K600 are relatively similar. Obviously the Yamaha has a better reputation and is more widely available used. And that's the crunch of my question.

Because a used Yamaha U1 (around mid 1980s age) is around £4000, give or take.
A used Yamaha U3 (late 1970's, early 1980's age) is around £4300, give or take.

Used Kawai are very hard to find, as the Yamaha's are more popular.

But there is a big choice here - if you had a budget of £5000, is it better to buy a nearly 40 year old Yamaha U1/U3 or a brand spanking new Kawai K300?

What do you think?

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038840 10/24/20 08:30 AM
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Hi Danlightbulb - Welcome to PianoWorld.

This is at this point still hypothetical so let’s discuss some pointers on acoustic piano shopping. Acoustic pianos are unique. Each piano, even a “manufactured piano” like Yamaha and Kawai uprights sound and feel distinct. You may love one brand new U3 and dislike another U3 sitting next to it. The same for Kawai K500s. Yamaha and Kawai have been competitors for many years and do feel and sound very different. You need to figure out what you enjoy playing. Both make quality uprights but the pianos sound and feel different so it just depends on what you like.

Used pianos can be a great value but you need a piano technician to inspect it and depending on the age and wear and tear on that particular piano it could very well be a money pit. Used allows you to possibly afford a better taller upright than you can buy new. I know budget is very important but it certainly isn’t the only thing. If you saved £500 but aren’t happy with the piano you buy, what is the point? My advice is to start going out and try as many pianos as you possibly can first that way you can narrow down your choices.

I’ve owned 2 Yamahas so I typically love the Yamaha sound. But odds are, I much rather have a brand new Kawai K500 than a 40 year old U3. I’m a Yamaha fan to be sure but a brand new Kawai K500 can be sweet! Best Wishes on your search! Keep us posted!


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Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038841 10/24/20 08:35 AM
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That seems a bit much for a used Yamaha from the 1970s/early 1980s. But I don’t know the UK market, and decent used items in high demand can be a little hard to find (and therefore expensive) over here, currently.

The k300 is pretty well liked over here, but I don’t remember whether you get ones assembled in Japan or Indonesia in your market (which may explain the price disparity).

I’d just play them all to see if the “cut rate” models resemble their more expensive brethren, and pick based on tone, touch, price, and appearance. I’d also try other brands.


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Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038853 10/24/20 09:16 AM
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The circa £4-5k price for the used models is via a dealer, probably partially reconditioned/inspected/serviced, and with warranty. So there will be a premium for that for sure. On ebay, could probably knock a grand or more off those certified dealer prices.

I would try them for sure. I have a Kawai digital now and its nice, so I do like the brand.

The Kawai's are all Japanese assembled as are the U1/U3, but not the B range. The Kawai K300 is the same height as the U1. From reviews I know the U3 is more preferred because its taller however in a normal domestic scenario this might not matter too much.

But yeah, 40 years old is pretty old (same age as me!). I was just wondering overall which was better value for money, assuming condition is good and obviously I like the way they play. My teacher has a U3.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038860 10/24/20 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by danlightbulb
But there is a big choice here - if you had a budget of £5000, is it better to buy a nearly 40 year old Yamaha U1/U3 or a brand spanking new Kawai K300?

What do you think?

I think you need to play a few Kawais and Yamahas to determine which you like the most. They vary quite a bit in touch and tone and you need to make a personal choice between their characteristics.

Then what to buy? In general I like the larger pianos and so if the preference was Yamaha I would buy a *good* used U3 over a new B3 or P121. Used Kawais are thinner on the ground so you will have to choose between those you find available. If forced to buy new, the K300 is a good solid recommendation - as I like those big pianos though I'd spend the extra and get a K500.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038868 10/24/20 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by danlightbulb
The circa £4-5k price for the used models is via a dealer, probably partially reconditioned/inspected/serviced, and with warranty. So there will be a premium for that for sure. On ebay, could probably knock a grand or more off those certified dealer prices.

I would try them for sure. I have a Kawai digital now and its nice, so I do like the brand.

The Kawai's are all Japanese assembled as are the U1/U3, but not the B range. The Kawai K300 is the same height as the U1. From reviews I know the U3 is more preferred because its taller however in a normal domestic scenario this might not matter too much.

But yeah, 40 years old is pretty old (same age as me!). I was just wondering overall which was better value for money, assuming condition is good and obviously I like the way they play. My teacher has a U3.
Some K300 are assembled in Japan and some in Indonesia
Sales people sometimes do not know. So if its important to you then try and find out. The K500 is a wonderfull piano and is assembled in Japan. A used Yamaha can last well quite a few years or not .It depends on condition.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 10/24/20 10:23 AM. Reason: spelling
Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038933 10/24/20 01:14 PM
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Terminaldegree:

There's a huge market in used Yamaha uprights in the UK, imported directly from traders in Japan, and those prices although high, are about average. Some are now coming in as certified Yamaha reconditioned pianos with a sticker on the front. I don't know what level of preparation these pianos go through. At the UK piano auction, no Yamaha U-series piano sells for all that much, and equally you're not getting a warranty or any other service with an auction, it's purely sold as seen.

OP:

Many people are buying these used Yamahas and are very pleased with their purchase. Always remember, there are no bargains in the piano market. I don't mean for one instant that dealers are trying to rip you off, far from it. Just remember though that a 35-50 year old piano is pretty old, and the pin block soundboard, and bridges are also to be taken into consideration, as well as the quality of the strings which may well be past their best. When paying half the new price for a used piano, you're also buying the piano at about half way through its life, and you're now not in the better half of its life. That said, it may well be good enough for what you need it for, and that's also an important consideration.

A new piano is, 99 percent of the time, better than its used equivalent model for model, in terms of musical potential.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038946 10/24/20 01:41 PM
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Yamaha and kawai sounds and feels quite different, and it is a personal preference as to which one is a better fit for you assuming we are comparing the equivalent models of similar conditions. Once you know which one, or possibly neither because you’ve discovered that you like another maker much better, then you could narrow down the choice based on the price and your needs.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3038993 10/24/20 03:39 PM
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I am not familiar with the particular models you mention but I think it's almost impossible to generalize in the hypothetical situation you brought up. I think the older pianos get the more varied their condition can be so a 40 year old piano could be in anywhere from good condition to far in the opposite direction.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039001 10/24/20 04:08 PM
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It tends to be a safer bet to go for something new. Those are some ridiculous prices for the U1 and U3 that are over 30 years old.


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Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039036 10/24/20 06:12 PM
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Considering COVID-19 piano dealers work by appt and have the whole clean down of the pianos you try down to a science. Private sales might be a bit more of an adventure. I never thought I’d still be wearing a mask while getting my piano tuned.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039039 10/24/20 06:13 PM
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Hmm interesting views.

Id been browsing used pianos for a while on and off, and £4-£5k price for a circa 1980 U3 model has been consistently about the going rate. I do agree that on the face of it, it does seem high for something that old and I certainly wouldnt pay that from an unknown ebay seller or private sale. Without being backed by a dealer Id be concerned at paying half that amount.

@joseph fleetwood you mentioned piano auctions, Id be interested how much these are going for at auction if you know, cos it will show the markup the dealers are making. I didnt realise used piano auctions were a thing.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039042 10/24/20 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by danlightbulb
Hmm interesting views.

Id been browsing used pianos for a while on and off, and £4-£5k price for a circa 1980 U3 model has been consistently about the going rate. I do agree that on the face of it, it does seem high for something that old and I certainly wouldnt pay that from an unknown ebay seller or private sale. Without being backed by a dealer Id be concerned at paying half that amount.

@joseph fleetwood you mentioned piano auctions, Id be interested how much these are going for at auction if you know, cos it will show the markup the dealers are making. I didnt realise used piano auctions were a thing.

Beware beware! Piano auctions are for experts. Just like collector car auctions or any auction really. You have to be able to assess a piano very quickly to bid correctly. The biggest thing you have to learn is when the bidding gets too high.

Another thought- you might consider finding a good piano technician and expert that will be tuning and maintaining your acoustic once you buy one.

Last edited by j&j; 10/24/20 06:26 PM.

J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039045 10/24/20 06:34 PM
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I found a website: https://pianoauctions.co.uk/

It gives you all the previous auction results. The common pianos seem to sell for about half of their retail price, so about 25% of their as new price, give or take.

I'd be very wary of buying at an auction for obvious reasons but does show what markup is being made. Could get a U3 for about £2k, instead of £5k used dealer prices. That is quite considerable, but risks of reconditioning work needing doing etc.


Does make the £5k new Kawai K300 look more appealing though, even though its a slightly smaller model.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039047 10/24/20 06:38 PM
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Dealer markup on pianos covers the rented or rarely owned floorspace, warehouse space and time plus labor on uncrating them, voicing them, making sure it’s correctly regulated, and then tuned by their hired piano technician. Plus shipping from the factory to the warehouse. Generally speaking Yamaha and Kawai get good preparation at the factory and are fairly consistent. Yamaha and Kawai dealers both do good dealer prep so they should be ready to enjoy after delivery. New pianos take a couple years of more frequent tunings the first couple years then probably twice a year thereafter.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039248 10/25/20 02:27 PM
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You have expensive dealers. Local dealer to me has a few U3H pianos at £3,500->4,000. Couple of older U3s cheaper and a U3X for a bit more.

But the K300 is also a nice piano.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039287 10/25/20 05:49 PM
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Pricewise, well... Yamahas are more expensive. Part of it is really just the brand name recognition and general market demand. I don't think anyone here would really argue that Yamaha or Kawai is strictly better.

Your Yamaha prices seems even higher than what I would've expected. Generally here in the US at least, I'd expect Kawai to just be slightly cheaper than the comparable Yamaha. So that's K300 vs U1, K500 vs U3. A K500 vs a U1 isn't really even a competition in my book.

Piano specs matter a little bit but really, those specs are just to give the piano a specific touch and tone. If you prefer the tone and touch of one piano to another, it doesn't really matter if that's achieved with a tapered soundboard or mahogany hammers or whatever. Which is why people here generally say to buy the piano and plays and sounds best for you.

My personal preference when it comes to Yamaha and Kawai's upright lineups for new pianos is probably something like: (I've never tried a K400 and I'm not sure if a K600 exists in the US market)

YUS5 > K800 > K500 > U3 > U1 > K300 > B3 > K200

So among the new pianos and prices you've listed, I'd easily pick a K500.
If comparing a 40yr old Yamaha U1/U3 vs a new K300 and going up in price to a K500 isn't an option, I'd probably still pick the new K300.
Now if you were to find a 2-3yr old U1 vs a brand new K300 for the same price, I might lean towards the U1.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
gwing #3039292 10/25/20 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gwing
You have expensive dealers. Local dealer to me has a few U3H pianos at £3,500->4,000. Couple of older U3s cheaper and a U3X for a bit more.

But the K300 is also a nice piano.

I cant see any anywhere near that cheap. I looked at the websites of all the dealers I could find in your area (Chilterns). Its £4500-£5000 for a U3. Could be some dealers you know without websites?

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
danlightbulb #3039316 10/25/20 08:30 PM
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What about Richard Lawson pianos near London? He usually stocks a large selection at reasonable prices.

Re: Used Yamaha vs brand new Kawai?
Joseph Fleetwood #3039407 10/26/20 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
What about Richard Lawson pianos near London? He usually stocks a large selection at reasonable prices.

Yes, Richard has a lot of pianos there but is currently only advertising silent versions of U3s though. That said he usually than more on the floor than advertised. I should say here that I bought my pianos(s) from Richard and was very happy.

The rather good prices I quoted were however from Chiltern Pianos. They are a smaller more traditional dealer with a smaller stock but I believe do their own rebuilding work and at the moment do have a few of the pianos our OP was interested in at good prices. There is another largish dealer 'Countrywide Pianos' in the area as well so its quite feasible to come down and try them all out in a day.

P.S. Richard's showroom isn't in Rickmansworth any more but has moved to new larger premises in Amersham. That puts Richard Lawson, Countrywide and Chiltern all about ten to fifteen minutes drive from each other.

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