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#1843857 - 02/13/12 02:13 PM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: Kerryma]
jivemutha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 528
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Kerryma
Does anyone have any views on either of these pianos. . . I would appreciate any comments.
Thank you


I remain intrigued how jazz players generally favor Yamaha while classical players often go with Kawai. I play jazz and indeed in my recent piano search this time I didn't even play any Kawai's. Larry Fine's Piano Book comments on the propensity of jazz players to favor Yamaha. I knew a classical player who did the exact opposite (considering only Kawai's).

Both are widely considered of similar quality and price, so those issues (price and quality) appear to probably not be affecting the opinions of jazz or classical players very much.

Anybody have an opinion regarding what this difference in preference is about?

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#1844274 - 02/14/12 03:35 AM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: piano joy]
Rafterman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/12
Posts: 407
Loc: New York
I still have not gotten a clear response for a confirmation if the Kawai K8 comes standard with the practice lever option. I am just assuming it does.I am also assuming that the K8 has no options.

Also since this is also a YUS5 post......Just curious if anyone here prefered the sound of the Yamaha U3 over the YUS5 for any reason?

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#1844276 - 02/14/12 03:42 AM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: Rafterman]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
Originally Posted By: Rafterman
Just curious if anyone here prefered the sound of the Yamaha U3 over the YUS5 for any reason?

So far, I have not, although some have come close.

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#1844377 - 02/14/12 09:46 AM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: Rafterman]
jivemutha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 528
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Rafterman
Just curious if anyone here prefered the sound of the Yamaha U3 over the YUS5 for any reason?


Not exactly, John, but I did have an experience that relates to your question. . .

When I played a YUS5 and two U3s recently in southern California, the YUS5 sounded head and shoulders above the U3s. However, the dealer said one of the U3s was used (I can't remember how old, but far from new), and the other, which was new, he recommended not playing because it was just out of the box and hadn't yet been prepped.

A week or two later in Portland I played a new YUS5 next to a new fully-prepped U3. It was a completely different experience. The YUS5 still sounded what I'd call more "refined" or "polished" but the U3 sounded so much better than the old one had in L.A. (or the new one that hadn't yet been worked on) that I was VERY surprised and a bit confused.

What happened? U3s have been significantly altered by Yamaha in recent years (details provided in several places in the forum by the Venables in the U.K.). Larry Fine mentions how Yamaha has moved away from its previous arguably overly bright tone. This has not, to my ear, been a problem with YUS5s, but it had (past-tense) been a problem with U3s. No more, however.

Moreover, old U3s have the rep of getting progressively too bright and too few people bother to get them toned back down with voicing (including many dealers selling used ones). So the used one I played in L.A. had this additional disadvantage.

In any case, I still liked the YUS5 better in Portland, even when the comparison was against a new ready-to-roll U3. However, the fairly large difference in cost made me feel that I would have gone with the U3 if I were heading in that general direction. This was a big surprise, especially after my experience in L.A. It is also, I admit, a very subjective call indeed, and I'm sure if others respond to this there will likely be a wide variety of other opinions.

As you know, in the end I've ordered a (silent) C2. Even here, I have to admit that the YUS5 has a more polished sound to my ear even than a C2. That said, however, the very large difference in sound board size and string length can overcome a host of other differences that might otherwise favor a smaller piano.

Indeed, in comparing the sound of the C2 (5'7") to a C3 (6'1"), two pianos that are mostly the same except for the one issue of size, the C3 sounded so much better that I was tempted to spend way too much and cram far too much piano into the livingroom in order to get that terrific sound.

Bottom lines here? The new U3 has come up so much that I think it makes the call between U3 and YUS5 a bit more of a challenge than it would have been in the past. Also, when it comes to pianos, size can play such a major role that it can override other issues. (So as not to confuse, for those less familiar with YUS5s and U3s, those two are identical in size.)

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#1844454 - 02/14/12 12:17 PM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: jivemutha]
Rafterman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/12
Posts: 407
Loc: New York
I had gone back to the dealer and played a fully prepped Yamaha U3 in the next room to the YUS5. It sounded great! In the end though the YUS5 had that "Darker" tone. The U3 did sound a lot different then a lot of the others I had come across. Also the dealer is known to put a lot of prep work into their pianos.

Being in NY I was also fortunate to find a few Yamaha YUS5 models in differnt dealers to play. Every one of them was consistent. That particular U3 was fantastic. Oh I will be getting a Yamaha C2, C3, or Kawai RX-2 in the not-too-far future.

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#1845203 - 02/15/12 11:06 AM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: Rafterman]
jivemutha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 528
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Rafterman
I . . . played a fully prepped Yamaha U3 in the next room to the YUS5. It sounded great! In the end though the YUS5 had that "Darker" tone. . . .


'Sounds like you've had the same somewhat surprising experience that I had (see my post above).

Products, whether pianos or cars or something else, tend to get a reputation that can stick even when it no longer fits. Yet I think that we, the potential customer, benefit from trying to separate the old reputation from what's currently being sold.

In this case, U3s have gotten better, and while it may take time for the reputation to catch up to those changes, a better U3 than its already fairly solid reputation is now available.

This doesn't detract from advantages the YUS5 has over U3s, but it does, in my view, make the decision of choosing between the two (assuming one can afford the YUS5) less of a slam dunk.

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#1845760 - 02/16/12 12:15 AM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: Kerryma]
Rafterman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/12
Posts: 407
Loc: New York
I am in Piano anxiety mode now waiting for the YUS5 delivery day.(Hopefully next month with weather permitting!) I just booked myself for some piano lessons with a classical piano player but I will evaluate that teacher's ability after the first lesson. I want a teacher that I can just stay with for years to come. I look forward to being a YUS5 upright snob!

I wonder as I improve....Will I find myself drooling over new grand pianos in showrooms like guitar players do over new quality guitar builds? You have been great luck to me Jivemutha. I am not a gambling man but I will be playing your Yamaha C2 and my Yamaha YUS5 serial numbers in one of those PowerBall lotteries!

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#1846022 - 02/16/12 12:08 PM Re: Kawai K8 v Yamaha YUS5 [Re: Rafterman]
jivemutha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 528
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Rafterman
I am in Piano anxiety mode now waiting for the YUS5 delivery day.(Hopefully next month with weather permitting!)


As some PW people are now aware, your move-in will involve an anxiety-producing slide through the window, as the staircase is too small. We'll all need to hear of the conclusion to this drama when the YUS5 arrives. I sure hope all goes well!

Originally Posted By: Rafterman
. . .Will I find myself drooling over new grand pianos in showrooms like guitar players do over new quality guitar builds? You have been great luck to me Jivemutha. I am not a gambling man but I will be playing your Yamaha C2 and my Yamaha YUS5 serial numbers in one of those PowerBall lotteries!


John--as I understand it, the primary rate-limiting step here has been more about the dimensions of the rooms in your townhome than anything else. Indeed, the combined cost of a YUS5 plus your upcoming K8 has got you in a grand piano budget for sure.

In any case, you've dreamed of perhaps moving someday to a place with bigger rooms. Keeping in mind Larry Fine's 10% rule (that the length of a grand should never exceed 10% of the perimeter of the room it's placed in), if you ever do such a move down the road, please consider the following . . .

IF money were to eventually not be an obstacle, and IF the room has a perimeter that adds up to 61 feet or more (e.g., dimensions of 15"X16"), then you might want to give a real listen to the C3 (at 6'1"). I chose the C2 because the room was too small for a C3 and because it was beyond my budget. That's it. A bigger room and more money and I would have gone with the C3 in a heartbeat. All that talk about how when grands cross the 6 foot mark something magical often happens is exactly what my ear told me as I was playing different Yamahas. That said, I fully expect I'll be thrilled with the C2 when it comes--right about when your YUS5 arrives.

And as for your YUS5, I believe it to be better than the vast majority of vertical pianos for sale in the U.S. and arguably as good as it gets under $25,000 (meaning it beats all but the high end German and American verticals)--at least in my view.

Keep us posted, and good luck with that hairy move-in! (In contrast, the movers have assured me that the C2 will fit through my staircase "with at least a full inch to spare[!]"

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