We see many pianos come and go in our showroom, and we have had lots of opportunities to play both the new Kawai K300 and a wide range of secondhand Yamaha U1 pianos, so we thought we’d share some our thoughts about the similarities and differences between them. Just to be clear; because we are a Kawai dealer, the Kawai Model we stock is a brand new piano whereas the Yamaha U1’s we stock are pre-owned and have been of a wide variety of ages so our comparison reflects this.
The first obvious point is that these instruments are very much comparable in terms of quality and price which often leads to a little bit of confusion from customers, over which piano is ‘best’.
Fundamentally, the quick answer is that neither is better necessarily better than the other and it depends on personal preference – there are clear differences between the instruments but there will also be differences within each model just due to natural variation. Particularly with secondhand pianos, it’s wise not to judge a given model on single piano of that model as there can be a lot of variation.
First, the similarities: dimensions and build materials
Both pianos come in a black polyester finish and both are made in Japan. Both pianos also have a solid spruce soundboard. The soundboard conveys the vibrations of the strings into the classic piano tone and is the heart of the piano. Spruce is used because it’s lightweight and elastic so both and in this respect both pianos have a similar very good build quality.
The height of the Yamaha U1 and the Kawai K300 is almost identical; the K300 is 122 cm high and the Yamaha U1 is 121 cm high, so very little difference, although some as covered below.
New Kawai K300
The New Kawai K300 incorporates some of the very latest design technology into an upright piano. Expressions like soft fall system and millennium iii action are more than just sales jargon. The reality is the new Kawais really are able to take advantage of the most up-to-date technology and design features. In effect, Kawai has replaced some of the more traditional components in the piano with carbon fibre equivalents and this hasn’t just made maintenance less of an issue. These innovations have also quite positively improved the action to the effect of speeding it up, although it may be only more accomplished pianist who detect this.
The tone the K300 is bright but less bright than most Yamaha U1s we have tried; some consider the Yamaha’s tone to be too bright and others not, so the pianos really need to played to find out what you prefer or at least listen to some examples on the web while you decide (and our videos on this page).
The soundboard area of the Kawai K300 (1.39msq) is slightly bigger than that of the Yamaha U1 (1.379msq), to the very discerning ear this may allow for a slightly larger dynamic range.
Because of the positioning of its frame the Kawai k300 does have slightly longer bass strings. This is one of the ways in which Kawai is able to create its characteristically rich bass sound.
The Pre-owned Yamaha U1
Pre-owned Yamaha U1s remain a constantly popular choice because they were made to very high standards in Yamaha’s Japanese factories.
As we said above, the action is more traditional with more traditional components and the Yamaha U1 will usually be of a brighter tone. It’s often cited that this may make it more suitable for more modern music but the pianists here have had different preferences regardless of genre so we’d suggest keeping an open-mind.
The Kawai K300 and Yamaha U1 at The Piano Shop Bath
Whilst our pre owned Yamahas do not come with a manufacturer’s warranty, we include a full warranty for 5 years. With all our pianos we provide a very reliable follow up service and we have expertise in all areas of piano restoration and repair. Our Kawai guarantee is a manufacturer’s warrantee and is little longer at 10 years.
All the Yamaha U1s in our Bath showroom are hand picked by our technician and restored to very high standards. This enables customers to purchase a very good quality upright piano for a very reasonable price. We also always have a new Kawai K300 in stock so come and play!
We’re pianists and specialists and we assist hundreds of customers every year in their piano buying journey. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about the Kawai K300, the Yamaha U1s or indeed any of our pianos.