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Hello, our 9 year old has been playing piano for 3 years. She is in a somewhat intensive course. She is using a digital piano but her instructors feel she has outgrown it and are urging us to buy an acoustic piano.

For various reasons we are leaning toward Kawai and are debating between ST-1 and K-300.

Our daughter’s teacher and our local Kawai store feel that the ST-1 is a good choice for the following reasons:
- the action seems close enough. Not a significant improvement in the K-300
- The biggest difference seems to be in the sound, which given that we are in a small house, we may be better off not having too much volume.

Our daughter’s teacher was very impressed with the ST-1.

The price difference is $2000. The ST-1 is priced at $7000 and the K-300 ranges from $9K to &11K depending on color. Is there a downside to having an institutional piano? I suppose that aesthetically it doesn’t look as nice but not sure if that justifies the substantial price difference for us. Would it be harder to sell if our daughter ended up not continuing?

I would be very grateful for your thoughts regarding the choice between the two.

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Originally Posted by SantaCecilia
Hello, our 9 year old has been playing piano for 3 years. She is in a somewhat intensive course. She is using a digital piano but her instructors feel she has outgrown it and are urging us to buy an acoustic piano.
It's definitely time for her to have one.

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For various reasons we are leaning toward Kawai and are debating between ST-1 and K-300. Our daughter’s teacher and our local Kawai store feel that the ST-1 is a good choice for the following reasons:
- the action seems close enough. Not a significant improvement in the K-300
They both have the Millenium III action. Same one I have on my Kawai K-500, which I love.
Quote
- The biggest difference seems to be in the sound, which given that we are in a small house, we may be better off not having too much volume.
That's primarily due to the difference in height. Both pianos have a muffler rail for silent practice. In a smallish house, the smaller instrument will probably be fine.
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Our daughter’s teacher was very impressed with the ST-1.
That says a lot right there.
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The price difference is $2000. The ST-1 is priced at $7000 and the K-300 ranges from $9K to &11K depending on color.
The K-300 is built in Japan, and the ST-1 in Indonesia. That, as well as the design and size of the two pianos primarily accounts for the price difference. From what I understand, quality control in the Indonesian facility is pretty good.
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Is there a downside to having an institutional piano?
None whatsoever. They're built like tanks and meant to take lots of abuse.
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I suppose that aesthetically it doesn’t look as nice but not sure if that justifies the substantial price difference for us.
The K-300 may have a niftier, more contemporary design, but the more traditional ST-1 piano cabinet looks pretty doggone nice.
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Would it be harder to sell if our daughter ended up not continuing?
I think the difference in ability to sell one or the other would be negligible at best.
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I would be very grateful for your thoughts regarding the choice between the two.
Quite frankly, the ST-1 would be perfectly fine for a nine year old - and could take her through high school.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Thank you so much - this is so helpful.

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I had a UST-9, the final model before it turned into the ST-1. It was a very nice piano, I loved the action, and the sound was lovely and not overwhelming. The improvements they made when coming out with the ST-1 were very nice, I always loved the music desk of my UST-9, and the ST-1’s is even longer. The UST-9 didn’t have a practice muffler, so adding one to the ST-1 was a good idea, I would have used it a lot more than I ever used bass sustain.

I actually thought it was a beautiful piano and I think it would be a wonderful instrument for your daughter! 😊👍


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Thank you! I am so torn about this because the K-300 is so much better known (I’ve barely seen anything on forums about the ST-1) and I worry that down the road we’ll regret not spending more to get it.

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The ST-1 is a newer model, and since it’s targeted more for institutions, it’s not typically discussed here.
I tuned a bunch of UST9 (the model before the ST1) models and a few K30/K300 models and they were nice pianos to service. I liked the sound of the K300 better, but the institutional model is quite nice overall if the feature set and price are more to your liking. The price difference is not insignificant.


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Originally Posted by SantaCecilia
Thank you! I am so torn about this because the K-300 is so much better known (I’ve barely seen anything on forums about the ST-1) and I worry that down the road we’ll regret not spending more to get it.

If it helps you could look at the ST-1 as ideal for the moment and later on might enable you to get a K-500 if playing has become sufficiently serious and budget allows. Getting a K-300 now might block a subsequent desire to get the (I think very much better) K-500.

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Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by SantaCecilia
Thank you! I am so torn about this because the K-300 is so much better known (I’ve barely seen anything on forums about the ST-1) and I worry that down the road we’ll regret not spending more to get it.

If it helps you could look at the ST-1 as ideal for the moment and later on might enable you to get a K-500 if playing has become sufficiently serious and budget allows. Getting a K-300 now might block a subsequent desire to get the (I think very much better) K-500.
Very good point. The K-500 is definitely a step up and suitable for more advanced players.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Originally Posted by SantaCecilia
Thank you! I am so torn about this because the K-300 is so much better known (I’ve barely seen anything on forums about the ST-1) and I worry that down the road we’ll regret not spending more to get it.
Due to Kawai's marketing efforts, the K-300 may have better name recognition among folks who closely follow trends in piano manufacturing, but to the general public it's really a non issue.

Another positive attribute of the ST-1 (in my opinion) is the music desk which is much more substantial (less fragile) than the smaller folding one on the K-300.

Also - beyond the basic purchase price you will end up paying sales tax and most likely the cost of moving the piano to your home - which could add another $700-$1000 to the cost of whatever piano you purchase. Will the dealer provide a free in home tuning?


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by gwing
Getting a K-300 now might block a subsequent desire to get the (I think very much better) K-500.
Very good point. The K-500 is definitely a step up and suitable for more advanced players.

Can you give an example of what a more advanced player can do on a K500 that is more difficult or impossible to do on a K300? Genuinely interested here. I have a K300 and regularly play on a K500. The only thing I notice is that the K500 sounds a bit better, that the key coating is nicer, and that the action is substantially heavier. I am not an advanced player though.

The K300 is not necessarily from Japan, it is also built in Indonesia. If it is important for the OP to get a Japanese one, you need to check the serial number. If it starts with a J it is from Indonesia. But I do not know if there are quality differences between them. I suspect not, and the Japanse one may be substantially more expensive.

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Too many people discount purchasing a piano such as the ST-1 because of its "institutional" label. IMHO, these pianos are as nice or in some cases nicer than some of the more popular lines. In my area the ST-1 is very popular with music schools and teachers.

While on my own very recent quest for a piano, like you I was torn and wondering if I would be making a "bad" choice with the less known ST-1. Also on my list was the K-400 and K-300. The ST-1 and K-300 I played several times along with a K-500 (lovely but over my budget and not my preferred style) and the dealer didn't have a K-400. Though both have the MIII action, I found the ST-1 action better, playing ppp was easier and the overall sound, to me was nicer, possibly due to the shape of the slightly sloped front of the piano. It sounded richer. The ST-1 is built like a "tank" while the K-300 though solid is more for home use. The huge music desk can easily hold several books and sheets of music. With the "grand style" music desk there is less temptation to look at your hands when playing. Price wise the ebony polished ST-1 was quoted ~8500 CDN including delivery, before taxes.

While the satin finishes are nice, the striking polished ebony finish of the ST-1 really down plays/masks the "instutional" look.

As others have said it is a very nice piano that will last your daughter for many years. Actually it was Ebonyk's postings about her UST-9 that made me interested in Kawai's institutional pianos.... Did I buy the ST-1?...... sadly no, I left it, ebony polish and all at the shop because the day I went to purchase it a stunning Kawai US-63h had just arrived and stole my head, heart and fingers at first play and continues to do so. Had the US-63h not been there, the ST-1 would be in my home today.

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Originally Posted by pianogabe
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by gwing
Getting a K-300 now might block a subsequent desire to get the (I think very much better) K-500.
Very good point. The K-500 is definitely a step up and suitable for more advanced players.
Can you give an example of what a more advanced player can do on a K500 that is more difficult or impossible to do on a K300? Genuinely interested here. I have a K300 and regularly play on a K500. The only thing I notice is that the K500 sounds a bit better, that the key coating is nicer, and that the action is substantially heavier. I am not an advanced player though.
Well, of course, the K-500 has longer strings, a larger soundboard and duplex scaling in the treble.

From the website of the Forsyth music store in Manchester: "At 130cm, this instrument has an excellent dynamic range and bigger-bodied bass than the very popular K300 and benefits from Neotex keytops and duplex scaling to give a more complex sound particularly in the treble."

How this translates to the ability of an advanced player to "make music" really depends on the individual pianist. You aren't the first person on PW to note that the K-500 action is "heavier" than that of the K-300. I find the K-500 action rather light myself.

And from the Touchstone Piano website: "Kawai K-500
This piano is a direct competitor to the Yamaha YUS-1, but is a full 9cm taller, providing a depth of tone beyond what any 121cm piano can produce. It even gives the YUS-3 a run for its money, and is much better value. The bigger soundboard, longer strings, and improved stringing scale bring a very rich tone palette for the pianist to explore. A superb teaching instrument, also well suited to high-level students."


Here's a detailed review by Merrimac Music regarding the K-500.

https://www.merriammusic.com/blog/pianos-blog/piano-reviews/kawai-k-500-review/


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Action performance wise they are the same - no drawback there. Tonally it depends on the individual piano - the bass tone in the K-300 is really great for the size. The ST-1 is smooth but not as deep sounding.
As others have said the structure is super beefy on the ST-1.
You can get the ST-1 in Ebony Polish now, if that is what you prefer. But I actually like the color of the Cherry finish. Oak and Walnut are available also, so more choices than the K-300.
Plus, it has wheels that really roll if you ever want to move it to a new location in the room! The K-300 is much more difficult to move.
As other said, no question - the music rack design is much, much better on the ST-1 cabinet design.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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