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Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice

Posted By: bsl100

Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 07:17 AM


Have been on the lookout for a good DP with the feel and sound of an acoustic for my daughter (13 yrs). Have also been looking out for one with ensamble features as she's into playing for the church choir and has also given exams for keyboards. She's now learning Piano.

Have been on the lookout on the DP forums and have still not come against an all in one DP.

So here i am on the Piano forum asking for advice on an acoustic.

I have access to either a Yamaha or Kawai. In the price range that I'm looking at, the following products are shortlisted:
Yamaha JX113T, U1J
Kawai K2, K3

Wanted to know as to which piano action is superior - Yamaha or Kawai. Both the K2 and K3 feature the millenium action and ABS-carbon. What about Yamaha? Kawai also offers soft fall board in the above two products.

Key action, Expressivity, Resonance, Sound quality (subjective) and long term maintainance-free use would be criterias.



Posted By: Konzert Patrick

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 07:39 AM

Both brands are respectable good brands. The choice should be made on your or your daughters personal preference.

Audition both brands again and look/listen/feel to the touch and tone of the pianos, they both have a different personality, both beautiful in their own way.

The piano will be in your home, you will be listening to it and playing it.... buy the best one for you!

Good luck!
Posted By: gnuboi

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 08:28 AM

Originally Posted by bsl100
Key action, Expressivity, Resonance, Sound quality (subjective) and long term maintainance-free use would be criterias.

They are both reputable in the endurance/build-quality area. The other criteria are all rather subjective wink
Posted By: Dara

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 10:01 AM

It appears you are now looking for an acoustic piano.
And you've narrowed in at this point to Yamaha and Kawai.

I cannot speak specifically for the models you've mentioned.
I'm curious how you feel about the pianos you've observed and listened to so far. And played.

There isn't superiority in one action or another, they both offer quality touch and action.
It sounds a bit like you're trying to get something for free... smile
Like someone can tell you to the right answer.

As a newcomer to the piano forum, welcome!
There are many here who can respond to questions regarding pianos.

good wishes on your quest.
Posted By: Rich Galassini

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 11:37 AM

As others have said Brian, both brands are nicely built and compete well with each other. Choose what appeals to you in touch and tone, and let us know which piano appeals to you best!

Good Luck,
Posted By: FormerFF

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 09:29 PM

Both companies produce a high quality, consistent product. I know that it is very difficult for a non-player to evaluate a piano, but all the pianos you've mentioned should be safe choices. I think the synthetic pieces in Kawai's action should make for a piano that stays in tune a bit better, but Yamaha makes a very stable piano as well.

If you find any reason to prefer one over the others, that's a good enough reason to choose it.
Posted By: gnuboi

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 10:23 PM

FormerFF, the ABS action in Kawai does nothing toward to the tuning stability of the strings or pinblock. As long as a piano doesn't require a re-tune one month later... that's stable enough. I've been tuning 1x year but might go up to 2x a year. Many others do 3x or even 4x... but no more than that.
Posted By: Mr. Peabody

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/20/11 10:33 PM

To echo everyone else, Yamaha and Kawai are reputable brands, so have your daughter try the candidates out and ask which one she prefers.

About 15 months ago, I was in the market for an upright acoustic piano for my sons. I also looked at Yamaha U1 vs Kawai K3 (and a few others, like a used Charles Walter, Pearl River, Baldwin). Ultimately, I let my sons try them all out and they gave their preferences. We eventually ended up with a Kawai K3 (they just preferred it over the Yamahas that they tried out). They preferred the K3 over the K2 (I obscured the price tags so they would not be biased and they still preferred the bigger and...sigh...more expensive K3. Actually, they really wanted the even bigger and even more expensive K5 but I ruled it out. The K5 was simply out of our price range, which we already stretched considerably just look at the K3). We've been very happy with this piano. Recently, their piano teacher made a rare house call for a lesson at our home. She was very impressed with the K3.

Some comparisons according to my sons were that the Yamaha was a bit brighter in sound and the touch was lighter as well (they actually liked the slightly firmer touch of the Kawai pianos but this is just a personal preference). Of course, the action of either brand of piano could always be adjusted if needed.

While we did end up with the Kawai K3, if my sons had chosen the Yamaha, then we would have looked to buy that instead without any reservations.

Mr. Peabody

P.S. You probably know this already but it doesn't hurt to repeat it, new pianos will "settle in" over the first year. You likely will need to tune it 3-4 times in the first year until the tuning stabilizes. Also, the hammers break in a bit (I might be imagining things but I think the piano is louder now than when we first bought it). In fact, whatever your final choice becomes, try to resist the urge to buy the piano just out of the box. It is better to purchase the floor model that your daughter actually played on.
Posted By: chen

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/21/11 02:03 AM

K3 ,my advice ,if you can afford ,K5 better
Posted By: bsl100

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/22/11 06:03 AM


Thanks for your inputs.

I've just tried out the K3, K5, K6.

The sound was amazing in all three. The K6 was outstanding. The keys were quite light to the touch. This was surprising as I'd expected it to be heavier than the Digitals.

I've yet to try out the Yamahas. Will try and do so.
Plan to take my daughter to try them out after that.

These products are available in another city. The reason for getting info on the forum is to get as much knowledge about these products as possible.

Also the fact that these products will have to be transported over 500 miles (by the dealer), makes me a little nervous.

Posted By: MrHazelton

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/22/11 04:36 PM

Originally Posted by chen
K3 ,my advice ,if you can afford ,K5 better

thumb I agree. Ofcourse I play a K5 so I'm biased. I do find the sound of Yamaha's to be on the bright side.
Posted By: Andy Platt

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/22/11 04:54 PM

Originally Posted by bsl100
Also the fact that these products will have to be transported over 500 miles (by the dealer), makes me a little nervous.

Well, they all had to come across an ocean to get here in the first place!
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/22/11 06:47 PM

Anybody choosing between these 2 brands deserves a medal of honor.

"For Loyalty"

It's like choosing between Nabob and Nescafe.

These were 2 of only very few other coffee brands available when I came to Canada some 40 years ago.

Always nice....

Norbert thumb
Posted By: sasha_piano

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/25/11 05:50 AM

Dear All,

I am piano newbie. I have been reading posts to look new piano.
Since the topic is already here then I just continue the discussion. I have option as follow:

1. U1
2. K3
3. K6

From pricing point of view, U1 is in the middle between K6 and K3. However with the discount price between K6 and U1, now the price is closer. With the higher spec (K6) ==> Aggraffe, mahogony hammer, etc., I am thinking the whether U1 is really worth it.

I have asked my daughter and her piano teacher for their opinion. Thus we have never got a chance to test the piano 'head to head'.

Her piano teacher said that K* is softer compare to U1 which has more louder or brighter tone and I don't really understand that.

Can any professional pianist explain to us what did the piano teacher mean? What makes the difference between brighter tone and softer tone?

Thanking you in advance for your help.

Best regards,

Posted By: gnuboi

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/25/11 07:23 AM

Extremely bright would be like a metal xylophone (glockenspiel) and extremely warm would be like a wooden marimba. Bright sounds are like what you hear in pop music (think 80s keyboards), and very dark sounds are like what you hear in certain piano CDs that tend to put you off to sleep after awhile, even if it's Etudes or ragtime :p

The U1 has plastic key tops whereas K-5 and up have the NeoTex composite. Nothing to do with action responsiveness or tone but they sure feel good wink Interesting that you can buy a Yamaha digital piano for less than a U1 but comes with GH3 action with Ivorite key tops...

As for loudness, they are all loud.
Posted By: sasha_piano

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/26/11 02:36 PM

Thanks for the response.

Let me put more information to this thread. The piano teacher says Yamaha's sound tends more natural than Kawai. The sound don't have enough power for advance player especially with difficult classic song. This opinion came after she played both pianos in different places. She says also Petrof is good (small size but powerful). Btw for your info she has European piano not Japanese piano. Anybody has other opinion about this?

Posted By: Mr. Peabody

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/26/11 03:12 PM

Interesting input from the piano teacher. Our sons' teacher recently had a rare at home lesson for our sons and finally was able to play the now 15 month old Kawai K3 for the lessons. She was very impressed with the piano and thought that the warmth and tone were ideal for classical music and loved the action. I suppose you can classify our sons as being intermediate students (they are now learning a Haydn sonata, although one son figured out how to play Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" on his own just for fun).

So, please keep in mind that all of these are personal preferences and not really anything set in stone. Yamaha and Kawai make quality studio pianos. From there, it is all about personal preference. As everyone is saying, you just have to try them out yourself (or better yet have your daughter play them all) and make your own judgement as to which piano is right for you. I relied on my sons to pick out the piano that we ultimately chose (Well...actually, their first preference is for a grand piano but that was impossible because it would not fit in the house without tearing down walls and was way out of our budget; their second choice was a Kawai K5 but that was still out of our budget; so they were left with the K3, which we ended up stretching our original budget considerably to purchase. Still, they were thrilled when the piano was finally delivered as it was their "baby").

One final comment is that if these are brand new pianos (just out of the box), the sound may change a bit over time. Mostly, pianos apparently get more brighter in tone over time as the hammers get compressed from all the playing. I know that my sons have commented that even over the past year, the tone of their new piano has changed subtly (and for the better in their minds).

Mr. Peabody
Posted By: Plowboy

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/26/11 04:29 PM

Hello, Sasha.

At my lessons I have played Kawai K-5, K-3 and K-15 as well as a Yamaha U1. The K-5 and the U1 are the best of those. I like the K-5 a lot. On the other hand, the U1 is a very fine piano, also. The touch and tone are subtly different between the two.

The U1 is 10 years old and the woman who owns the studio says it has never given her any trouble.

Let your daughter play the pianos several times, see if she develops a preference and go with that one. You can't go wrong either way, IMHO.

Good luck and let us know what your decision is.
Posted By: sasha_piano

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/26/11 05:44 PM

Thanks a lot for the inputs.

It is true that the opinion is subjective and everybody has their own preference. I have gathered 1 expert opinion from the piano teacher and I want to have more opinions from technical/expert/pianist out there. For dealers, I asked their opinion also but bias since they promotes their products. That for sure!! Even I have been asking Japanese friends (commoner like me).

My daughter (8 years) has been learning piano for 2 years now. She is now playing Sonatina in G and Larghetto. Don't know which piano level she is now. I also asked my daughter to hit both pianos but she never play it in the same place at the same time so her opinion makes me confused also. Perhaps that she still very young for this. So this is not an easy task for me to decide since we are trying to get the best as per budget.

Let me scope down the options:
1. U1
2. K6 ==> highest discount rate from price list

As I mentioned before the price for U1 is in between K3 and K6. Just want to know whether it is worth to buy K6 instead of U1. From the specification, K6 has higher specification than U1. What makes the different of having agraffes, duplex scale, hammer head mahogany? I am looking the U1 spec but cannot find details from Yamaha brochure.

Highly appreciate your valuable inputs.

Posted By: Mr. Peabody

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/26/11 06:03 PM

If these are the choices, this is one lucky child. Have you tried a Kawai K5 an option? It might be less than the U1?

I know that this is an expensive investment. However, given the options that you are deciding between, either way, you are not making a mistake.
Posted By: gnuboi

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/26/11 06:44 PM

The K6 is 52" so it's somewhat more comparable to a U3 than a U1. I think the purpose of the duplex scale design is to produce additional harmonics (something like that).
Posted By: sasha_piano

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/27/11 04:04 PM

K5 is more expensive around 400 USD than U1. The height for K5 is 125 cm while U1 121 cm. Yes, it is expensive instrument. Keep thinking and thinking
Posted By: Mr. Peabody

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/27/11 05:51 PM

But I'm guessing that the K5 would be less than the K6. Still, the U1 has a fine reputation and is a quality piano. So, within $400 is actually pretty close. For us, the jump from K3 to K5 would have been around another $1200-1500, so it was just too much of a jump on our already stretched budget. I know these are tough decisions.

In evaluating the pianos, I had my three sons play them (it was chaotic as they were jumping over from piano to piano and simultaneously playing them in the showroom). Unfortunately, they also played pianos that were clearly out of consideration (which they loved...the grand pianos). I did, however, specify to them what to do with respect to evaluating the pianos. I wanted them to pay attention to both touch and tone, so I asked them to be sure that they evaluated the pianos by playing at all ends of the keyboard, playing both softly and loudly, with and without the sustain pedal. So, while the dealer thought it was chaos, there was some purpose to it. We did this at 3 stores.

Regardless of which piano that you choose, you can also haggle on other things of value, including number of free tunings post delivery (a new piano may need up to 3-4 tunings in the first year, so at $85-100 a tuning depending on where you are, if you can negotiate more free tunings, it would be very helpful). Delivery charges can sometimes be negotiable as well (delivery charges can range $300-$400, so any break on this is also helpful).

The dealers may not be willing to cut you a break on these things but it doesn't hurt to ask. I managed to get 3 free tunings after the delivery of the piano. I also got the delivery charge waived but that was because I exchanged the beat up starter piano for that (it actually was helpful because I likely would have had a hard time to sell the starter on Craigslist for anything more that free to $300 anyways) The dealers knew that I was close to pulling the trigger and so that was the final kicker to the deal.

Mr. Peabody
P.S. Yeah, my boys would have wanted the K5 over our K3. In the end, it didn't matter as once the piano is delivered, it became their prized baby. Whatever you end up choosing, I'm sure your daughter will feel the same (especially if she had a hand in picking the piano).
Posted By: Art A.

Re: Yamaha vs Kawai Upright - Advice - 01/27/11 09:31 PM

Yeah when you are in a showroom its easy to go between a K5 and a K3 making comparisons and talking yourself into the higher model, same can be said about most things. But in your house you will have one and will probably be very happy with it.

The K3 and K5 are both beautiful sounding pianos smile
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