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Joined: Sep 2021
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Jules C Offline OP
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I’ve been in the market for a new 52” upright piano and am torn between Boston UP-132 (made by Kawai in Japan) and Yamaha U3 (made in Japan). They are both on order so I’m not able to try them in store and that makes the choice really difficult. Does anyone have experience with these two models and how would you compare these two on tone, structural quality, etc?

In the beginnning I set my mind on Yamaha only, but then I was able to play a Boston for the first time in store, it was a UP-126 (48”) and to my surprise I liked the tone and key weight, and imagined a 52” UP-132 would sound even better. But while there’s very little information/feedback on Boston 132 online, would Yamaha U3 be a safer choice for its popularity and renowned quality?

Also, there once was a Yamaha dealer who had a Kawai production background telling me the lower string tension and tapered soundboard of Boston is just Steinway's marketing pitch to sell a OEM Boston. And to show Yamaha is "superior in quality" he also pointed out that a new Yamaha U3 has improved to have perimeter iron frame that extends to edges of the cabinet, while Kawai or Boston don’t. I wonder... how much would this structural difference affect the quality of a piano?

Last edited by Jules C; 09/15/21 02:52 PM.
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Hello Jules,

Welcome to Piano World.

First - full disclosure - I sell Yamaha. I was their dealer of the year last year. I really like their technology, the way they do business, and their thoughts behind building musical instruments, including pianos. They have sold more pianos to Universities world wide than any other manufacturer and they hold up like tanks. The newest tonal model (the sound) that Yamaha has introduced within the last decade has been warmer and very appealing to classical players.

But, neither piano will fall apart and either piano will serve your family. They are also competitive models, they are both mass produced and they are both an attempt to bring a grand piano experience to the upright owner.

In the end, buy what you love. I ask you a simple question. Did you clearly like the Boston 132 better than than the Yamaha U3? If the answer is yes, then buy the Boston.

If it is not, you will enjoy the U3 for a long time. My biggest problem in institutional sales is that 40 year old U1 and U3 pianos are still hanging tough to the abuse that students give them.

Good luck!


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Company
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Jules C Offline OP
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Hi Rich,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with Yamaha. You mentioned that the newest tonal model that Yamaha has made in recently years has been warmer. Does that apply to the new U3? I suspect one of the reasons I think I like Boston is the richer and warmer tone and am worried since every piano tends to get brighter in tone when ages, I should buy a piano with warmer tone to begin with.

Thanks again,
Jules.

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Hi Jules,

I totally agree with Rich’s advice. I just would like to add 1 more suggestion: you should take the touch into your consideration beside the tone. I won’t share my opinion so you can find out the one you prefer without any bias. To me, the touch of most of Yamaha pianos I tried are substantially different from Boston and Kawai ones.

While waiting for Rich sharing on “brighter when ages”, I can share my experience: I try few 30-40 year old Kawai and found out they are still much mellower (after few adjustments by dealer) than Yamaha ones. I guess that every pianos will get brighter but the nature of original tone doesn’t change much and a good technician can restore its tone in most of the times.

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VinV, You are absolultly spot on. How a piano ages is totally dependent on how it is serviced. A properly serviced piano will get richer and rounder in tone as it ages.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
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I would also try the actual Kawai pianos - K500, K800. They're all wonderful pianos. You can't go wrong. Audition the piano you will be getting and whichever you like the sound and feel of the best is the piano for you. All the selling points don't matter with the instruments you're comparing. They're all fine instruments.

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It is a pity you can't test them side by side. I did when I was looking for a large upright and checked a U3 and a K500. Both were lovely!

I ended buying a used U3 and I am very happy with it. You can't be wrong with any of them


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