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#316713 - 10/10/03 11:26 PM Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
janej Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 2
Hi all,

I am very new to the forum. I am looking to buy a piano for my kids (age 7 and 5). I went through the local paper and found two pianos that seem to be good. One 1999 Yamaha U1 for $4000 and one 2001 Kawai UST-8C for $3000. Those two are both within my budget. Are these good price? Which one is a better choice?

Many thanks for all the advice you might offer,


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#316714 - 10/11/03 01:45 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
mb007 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 25
Loc: California
I almost bought a new U1 - just under $6K, but ended up getting a Petrof instead - you might want to check those out at your local dealer. If you are going to buy used though, and 4K is your limit, I'd say a U1 is a great problem free choice - kind of like buying a Honda - maybe not the best - but easy to resell when the time comes, reliable and solid performance.

#316715 - 10/11/03 02:36 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Jim Volk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 916
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
Jane, although I normally lean more towards the Kawai sound than the Yamaha, I'd have to agree with mb here: the U1 is the better choice. Why?

Yamaha and Kawai build their best verticals in Hamamatsu, Japan. That's where the U1 came from, and most of the U1's I see are very good instruments, with an even scale and a big sound.

The Kawai UST-8C however was not built in Japan, but here in the US. It's a more diminutive model than a U1 (or than the professional Kawai uprights), and not quite as good in many respects as the U1. $4000 seems like a fair price for a '99 U1, as long as you have a technician confirm that it hasn't been played excessively.

Remember, pianos are like cars: the higher the mileage, the lower the value. Internal wear is indicated by several action (internal) parts that act as "odometers", so an experienced technician can always give you a good idea of how much wear a piano has.

Jim Volk

#316716 - 10/11/03 12:32 PM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10835
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Jim hit the nail on the head. The pianos made by Yamaha and Kawa IN THE USA are not nearly as good as those made in Japan.

In your quiry, you compare a Japanese Yamaha to a USA-made Kawai. Even allowing the diffreence in price, offset somewhat by the larger U1, I would go with the U1.

Before I bought however, I would shop a new Young Chang Pramberger Series model PE121. It may be the best alternative of all.
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Since 1937.

My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#316717 - 10/11/03 08:27 PM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
topdog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 245
Loc: San Jose
I think for the $1000. difference and newer, the UST-8 is far and away the better buy. If it were the same price than I would go for the U-1.

Is the 1999 yamaha made for the american market?

I have been experiencing a load of problems with the used pianos "grey market" coming from japan.
Keytops are popping off, and strings are breaking too.
Anyone else experiencing this? 1970's and 80's models.

#316718 - 10/12/03 01:21 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Jim Volk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 916
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
Not me.

And I've sold dozens and dozens of dreaded "Grey Market" Yamaha's and Kawai's here in Jacksonville for almost 5 years with nothing but a few minor service calls, like squeeky pedals, simple regulating, etc.

I guess it is possible to find dealers selling nothing but worn-out, abused and neglected Yamaha and Kawai grey market pianos, but that's got to be the exception, not the rule.

Except maybe in southern California.

Jim Volk

#316719 - 10/12/03 09:33 PM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
virtuoso_735 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/08/03
Posts: 996
Loc: California
I recently got a new U1, and I find it too be a very good instrument. It is practically trouble-free. The Kawai that you mentioned is not as tall as the U1, therefore the sound is will not be as powerful, but the prices are pretty far apart...
"If music be the food of love, play on." -William Shakespeare

#316720 - 10/18/03 09:36 PM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
janej Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 2
Thanks for everyone who responded. I got the U1. The piano is made for the US. I got the original paperwork and warranty. I am pretty happy with the purchase.



#316721 - 10/18/03 10:50 PM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 15233
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Sorry, I still can't believe that anybody can make a piano for a specific country but IMPORTING a 20 years old one from an area which has exposed this pianos to a MUCH higher humidity over this period of time...... :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

On several occasions, for example, I have come across even German Steinways which were brought over by Hong Kong immigrants,all of which had an astounding amount of rust built up on the steel strings and pins,all this, after only 10 short years over there!!

I recently also, hired a Japanese trained tech here who also is working for another piano store in town which,for several years now, has sold tons of 'grey market' pianos in this area.

His specific,unbiased experience with these pianos was most revealing to me and there is no doubt that "something's going on"...or most likely WILL BE in those pianos as time goes by.

Exactly WHAT and WHEN seems to vary very much according to the specific piano in question.

One of the most interesting pieces of info was that there ARE many areas in Japan which actually register above 70 %-80% humidity levels.

And not all 'grey market' pianos brought over here ORIGINATE from Japan - where they are simply warehoused before being bought up from some even more tropical countries of the Orient.

P.S.I never knew myself that the Japanese were THAT hot..... \:D

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#316722 - 10/19/03 01:43 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Jim Volk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 916
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
Norbert's points are well taken, but I think it's important to make the distinction that Japan, like other countries, exhibits a variety of weather conditions...

Most importantly, Japan's four main islands do not[/b] share identical levels of average humidity or precipitation, and their overall climates are quite different.

For example Hokkaido, the northernmost major island, has a subarctic weather pattern, and a yearly average temperature of 8 degrees (C) and an average annual precipitation of 1,150 mm; while the southwestern islands of Okinawa have a yearly average temperate of over 22 degrees, and get over 2,000 mm of precipitation.

Hokkaido doesn't even have a rainy season, unlike Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

Tokyo, Japan's capital city, is located on Honshu at almost the same latitude as Athens, Los Angeles, and Tehran, and boasts an average total precipitation of less than 1500 mm. Compare that with the average yearly precipitation for parts of Connecticut: about 1270 mm.

And as for those amazingly high levels of humidity Norbert's tech warns us about (70-80%), it may surprise him to learn that the average ambient relative humidity here in Jacksonville is about 76%[/b] ( http://www.atlaswsg.com/usa.html ).

Now, I'd like to see the Yamaha Corporation start warning folks not to by a used Yamaha piano from anywhere in Florida. Hmmm?

Jim Volk

#316723 - 10/19/03 10:22 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14143
Loc: Louisiana
Here's an observation: IMO, we see less reports of problems with grey market pianos from the Gulf South. Why?


Over 1.3M (and counting) posts where pianists discuss everything. And nothing.

#316724 - 10/19/03 07:58 PM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Jim Volk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 916
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
If that's the case, Jolly, the plausible explanation does seem to be humidity.

Since we know that it's a drastic change in the environment of a piano that most often wreaks havoc (rather than the environmental extremes themselves), it makes sense that moving a used piano from one humid environment to another will be unlikely to disturb its equilibrium.

But as we are often reminded in arguments here about used Japanese imports, people in Japan have been using central air conditioning for decades.

And then again, many people here in the Deep South have not used central AC for decades. Just imagine how well their Baldwin spinets would do in air conditioned Tokyo apartments.

They'd fall apart. :p

Jim Volk

#316725 - 10/22/06 12:58 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Van Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 1215
Loc: S. California
Where can I go to check if a kawai is grey market? Yamaha has a website for this but I couldn't find one for Kawai. Thx.

#316726 - 10/22/06 06:11 AM Re: Yamaha U1 or Kawai UST-8C
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6195
Before you reply, realize that everything else before sid's post was written in 2003. ;\) [/b]


Kawai has so far not made as big a fuzz on "grey market" as Yamaha has. That said, if you have a serial number on a used Kawai that you're seriously considering, go the the www.kawaius.com website to find their e-mail address, shoot them an e-mail, and you'll get your answer.
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