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#247398 - 12/01/06 09:55 PM Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
jmel Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 2
Could anyone give me a comparison on these two models? How do they compare as far as quality, action and tone? I am curious because it would seem as though they should be fairly equivalent models for each manufacturer, but I have found a significant difference in price with the K-3 going for around $5000 and the U1 for closer to $7000.


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#247399 - 12/02/06 09:58 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6195
Just compare the U1 with the K-5 instead.

Don't just compare how "tall" the piano is, also compare how "deep" the piano is -- measure horizontally on the side from the back to the key slip our front. You'll see that K-5 is "deeper" than the K-3 in this dimension. This says "longer keys" and is supposed to provide "better control." (Whether you feel the "better control" is a matter of subjective opinion.)
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

#247400 - 12/03/06 08:31 PM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
asd123321 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/05
Posts: 689
Don't assume the U1 is better because of price. I don't see why the K3 wouldn't be compared to the U1. The main difference is the overly bright tone of the U1 which I don't like.

#247401 - 12/05/06 03:12 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
The key lengt is an interesting topic.

The Yamaha SU models, which is ranked (and priced) above the U range is not as deep. Generally modern Asian and European upright pianos pianos (Bl├╝thner is an exception) are less than 60 cm from fron to back. Why - if this really affects the feeling of the action?

As the touch is a result of so many factors, I have found small pianos which have been be very nice to play on. So trust your own feel, and do not look at figures.

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#247402 - 04/01/07 11:20 PM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
homes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/07
Posts: 21
Loc: Chicago
Sorry to hijack this thread but there hasn't been a post here so... I just joined and afraid to admit, I can only play "Mary had a little lamb". My kids are learning and I just started to hit the keys as well on our $200 Yamaha keyboard, it's fun. We are in market to buy a new piano. I wanted a digital but there is something alluring about a true instrument and paying for tunings twice a year so acoustic it is. Problem is that I don't trust "our" ears because of lack of experience. However, here is our dilemma and our observations so far. Hoping you guys can help a newb with questions.

Yesterday, we went to a Yamaha dealership and liked the Yamaha U1 probably because to my ears, it seemed to be a bit brighter, livelier than a few Broadman's we also played with (daughter can play a bit of the symphony #9). Apparently I had to pull the trigger by today to get an awesome price of $6000 (US) plus tax and delivery, including one free tune. We just started and politely declined as I have shopped for cars before and imagine this is no different.

Today, we went to a Kawai dealer based on our research here at the forum. Agree that the build quality seemed to be essentially the same as the Yamaha. The salesman/owner of course tried to impress us with some adv. hammer system (composite versus wood, patented versus not), how the K5 had better keys than K3, 1 inch bigger board (or size, don't remember) which according to him yielded a much superior sound, etc.

Dilemma and questions:
- I think the two dealers are a wash although I prefer the Kawai dealer better even though he tried to discredit the Yamaha any chance he could (his job I guess).

- I think I am more attracted to the Yamaha name but feel that the K5 is a better instrument which I could get for two hundred more although I haven't tried to negotiate much with these guys. I have a feeling I am pretty close to a final price based on what others are paying, a few hundred here and there is not going to matter much.

So, here is the $7000 question (tax, delivery, tuning included). Which would you buy, K5 or U1? Why? Is it really going to come down to a presonal preference?


#247403 - 04/02/07 02:42 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
I'm not an expert, just another adult beginner, but I do think it's a matter of personal preference. Kawai and Yamaha are both excellent.

When I shopped, I considered Kawai among others, but ended up with a Yamaha U1 (actually, the Disklavier version). The action on the Yamaha is just more comfortable for me than the Kawai. Each time I tried other pianos, I kept going back to the U1 and thought "this is the one", but out of curiosity, I wanted to be sure and tried more pianos.

Also, although many people on this forum claim Yamaha to be too bright, it's not true 100%. My U1 is on the mellow side, as my technician agrees, but it has that clarity that I absolutely love!

As far as the Kawai pianos, is there another Kawai dealer you could visit? Good salesmen really should avoid discrediting other brands especially since they don't know who their potential customers are. Or perhaps, ask for another, more tactful salesman at the store you visited.

Good luck! Go with the one you love!
"Cats make purrfect friends"

#247404 - 04/02/07 06:30 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
Corwin120 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 99
Homes, I decided against a dealer because of his continually bashing other piano brands. The dealer I did buy from was extremely open and honest and had nothing but nice things to say about a lot of pianos he did not carry. He was also the only dealer to suggest I read Larry Fine's book.

#247405 - 04/02/07 09:20 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
tjbsb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 256
Loc: Houston, TX
When I was shopping I felt that the K3 and K2 were more or less comparable to the U1. I thought the K5, K6 and K8 were more comparable to the U3. In the end I selected a K5. The deciding factors were tone and the quality of the local dealer. The Kawais I played sounded warmer and in all cases I would be buying what I saw and touched on the sales floor. I did not like the Yamha tone as much. Furthermore, the Yamaha dealer had very agressive salespeople and wanted to sell me a U3 new out of the crate.

#247406 - 04/03/07 12:02 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
Apostle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/06
Posts: 33
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA

You shouldn't have to pay $7k for a U1....closer to $5,800 I would think depending where you live, maybe less if you are a crafty negotiator.

I tried both the U1 and K3 before purchasing a Walter studio...made in the USA.

#247407 - 04/03/07 12:24 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6195

Between Yamaha U1 and Kawai K5, assuming you like them both just as much, then:

1. If "resale value" or "ease of resale" is a factor, get the Yamaha.

2. Otherwise, just buy the cheaper of the two.
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

#247408 - 04/03/07 10:40 PM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
homes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/07
Posts: 21
Loc: Chicago
Thanks everyone. Axtremus, well put. tjsb, the problem is that the K5 is not in stock and I am told it will be a couple of weeks. So, I need to do a refundable deposit deal, take my instructor there (whose input I trust) and decide whether I want to buy or not or find another dealer that has it ready to go. Even then, how do you compare a U1 (which could be out of tune) versus a K5 that is superbly tuned or vice versa...At the end of the day, should I just hope that these things are made consistently enough that tuning will give me similar performance results, either Yamaha or Kawai?

Also, I keep reading on various forums that don't buy the grey market piano (does that mean Chinese, used or ebay?). I thought all these models I am considering are made in one place in Japan.

One more point of clarification as well. Have we established that a U1 is more like a K3 and a U3 is more like a K5 or is that a marketing gimmick? tjsb?

#247409 - 04/04/07 12:20 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6195
U1 is 48" tall.
K5 is 50" tall.
K6, U3 are 52" tall, without true sostenuto (which I don't see as a big deal).
K8, U5 (YUS5) are 52" tall, with true sostenuto pedal (which I don't see as a big deal)

If I have to group them, I'd put K5 closer to U1, and K6 with U3.
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

#247410 - 04/04/07 09:23 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
MusicBud Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/23/06
Posts: 276
Loc: Toronto, Canada
In addition to what Ax said, K6 has duplex scaling and agraffes, 6 back posts (if you want stronger structure) when compared to U3. Plus the Millenium III action which I like most.
Kawai RX-3, UST-9.

#247411 - 04/05/07 11:28 AM Re: Comparing the Kawai K-3 to the Yamaha U1
clam Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 73
Loc: Singapore
I have tried both the U1 and the K3. While the U1 sounded bright, which I didn't expect to sound any different for a Yamaha, I was really blown away by the K3. But what took the cake was the touch - I thought the Millenium III action was just a marketing gimmick but it turned out the difference was quite significant. I tend to compare the Yamaha keys to a power steering in a Japanese car - overly light but effortless, while the Kawai is like that of the Continental car - slightly more feedback and feel.


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