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Hi guys,

What are the Yamaha & Kawai baby grand equivalents of the U3 & K500 uprights, in terms of tone and quality (not necessarily price)?

I understand that uprights and grands are totally different animals, but I just want to get an idea of if, say someone was considering a U3 or K500 level piano, which Yamaha & Kawai models of baby grands would roughly compare in terms of sound and overall quality?

Thanks.

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I have a GL10 and the K500 sounds better in my opinion. Soundwise the K500 probably holds it's own up to a GL30. At that point it gets close and starts to tip in favor of the grand. They all have the same action, so other than the differences due to gravity, they feel pretty similar. I'm not familiar with the Yamaha products.


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Originally Posted by MarkL
I have a GL10 and the K500 sounds better in my opinion. Soundwise the K500 probably holds it's own up to a GL30. At that point it gets close and starts to tip in favor of the grand. They all have the same action, so other than the differences due to gravity, they feel pretty similar. I'm not familiar with the Yamaha products.
If you mean the grands and verticals have the same action, that's not the case.

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I think this thread could be very controversial and drawn out.Get the popcorn out watch.

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I just spoke to a guy at a piano shop who mentioned that a grand piano 5’7”-5’8” would be comparable to a 52” upright in terms of tone. He mentioned something about the bass strings length and other factors.

So for Yamaha he mentioned that a G2 would be the comparable grand to the U3.

He didn’t mention the Kawai grand comparable to the K500. Would still love any input form some of you pros here. Again I realize this thread is not comparing apples to apples but still curious. Thanks.

Last edited by johnbarnesiii; 07/25/21 08:08 PM.
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I feel like you’re probably close at the GL30/GC1 level of piano. Probably the tone advantage goes to the grand once you go up one rung in quality (GX1/C1x) or size (GL40/GC2) from there; by then you’re paying well over twice the price of the tall vertical, though.


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When I bought my 1st acoustic piano, I spent time with K300, K500, K800, GL10, GL20… (not play GL30 yet). I disliked GL10 sound because it is brighter and thin. I liked both K500 and K800 mellow sounds. To me K800 sound is a little bit “3D effect” more than K500. In final round, I compare directly GL20 with K800 only (thanks to budget approval from my wife:). I recognize that some K800s sounded as nice as GL20 IMO but some are lesser. About the touch, my technics are not good but I feel that GL20 has more “substantial” keyboard and all K pianos I tried have “lighter” keyboard vs GL10, GL20. However, based upon the features of K series, I think Kawai positioned K series such as K500, K800 at the higher class vs GL series. GL series is only their basic grand series. Another point, no sostenuto pedal in K series in my country but I am not sure that I will need it.

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Originally Posted by VinV
When I bought my 1st acoustic piano, I spent time with K300, K500, K800, GL10, GL20… (not play GL30 yet). I disliked GL10 sound because it is brighter and thin. I liked both K500 and K800 mellow sounds. To me K800 sound is a little bit “3D effect” more than K500. In final round, I compare directly GL20 with K800 only (thanks to budget approval from my wife:). I recognize that some K800s sounded as nice as GL20 IMO but some are lesser. About the touch, my technics are not good but I feel that GL20 has more “substantial” keyboard and all K pianos I tried have “lighter” keyboard vs GL10, GL20. However, based upon the features of K series, I think Kawai positioned K series such as K500, K800 at the higher class vs GL series. GL series is only their basic grand series. Another point, no sostenuto pedal in K series in my country but I am not sure that I will need it.

Thank you, I also like a mellow sound so this is helpful info. I’m still on the fence in terms of grand vs upright, however I feel like I should find and play a K500 in store to see how I like it. Again I do like a warmer/darker/mellow tone. So. I’m curious which piano did you end up buying from these?

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johnbarnesiii, what is your current piano?


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
johnbarnesiii, what is your current piano?
Hi Shiro, believe it or not my current piano is a Yamaha P-105 digital piano.

I have never owned a real good quality acoustic piano due to financial reasons. In the past I have only owned:

1) A cheap Winter brand spinet, my first piano when I didn’t have much money.
2) A Baldwin Hamilton 243 studio upright. A step up from the spinet and decent practice piano but not ideal for me.

However now that I’m doing a little better financially and will be relocating soon, I am planning what will be my first good quality acoustic piano. I’m researching and as of yet pretty wide open.

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Hi Johnbarnesiii, I finally bought GL20. At that time I really like grand one with its touch and sostenuto pedal is one of key considerations because my son possibly need it in case he reaches advanced level but after 2 years I have the dilemma: The sound of my piano often become “harsh” in 4-5 months and require careful regulation and voicing (1 “light” voicing and 1 intensive voicing per year) to recover its mellow sounds. I also intend to invite the tuner 3 times per years instead of twice. Maybe my son and me play it so much: 2-3 hours/days in working day and 6-8 hours/ days in weekend. My question: if I just forget the lacking of sostenuto pedal, touch of grand one …. and buy K800, is it a better choice than GL20 in term of durability because K800 is a top upright of Kawai. If we have the budget and space for GX line or Shigeru Kawai, it is not a question anymore :)). I hope some members with more experiences can share more on this.

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Originally Posted by johnbarnesiii
Hi Shiro, believe it or not my current piano is a Yamaha P-105 digital piano.

Great, it's good to have a reliable digital if we can't have an acoustic. I started with a Yamaha digital, moved up to the U1, then sold it due to moving, and then I had digitals for a while and then medium-quality but pretty beat-up uprights (a Baldwin 243 and a Petrof) before getting my grand.

Quote
However now that I’m doing a little better financially and will be relocating soon, I am planning what will be my first good quality acoustic piano. I’m researching and as of yet pretty wide open.

In that case, I would say to broaden your search... think of it as being on a fact-finding mission rather than actual piano shopping. Play as many makes and models of pianos as you can, without limiting it to two makers. Try to figure out what your preferences are for sound/tone, touch and action etc. Don't limit yourself with budgetary concerns, and in fact, playing a few pianos that you know you could never afford can be enlightening and help you refine your knowledge of your own preferences.

Even though I once told a piano dealer, after playing a piano that was over $100,000, that he had now ruined my life forever because I knew exactly what it was that I could never afford! whome

Still, in the end, having played so many instruments really helped me when I was ready to buy and needed to start making decisions.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
In that case, I would say to broaden your search... think of it as being on a fact-finding mission rather than actual piano shopping. Play as many makes and models of pianos as you can, without limiting it to two makers. Try to figure out what your preferences are for sound/tone, touch and action etc. Don't limit yourself with budgetary concerns, and in fact, playing a few pianos that you know you could never afford can be enlightening and help you refine your knowledge of your own preferences.



having played so many instruments really helped me when I was ready to buy and needed to start making decisions.

+1.

Where are you located (or where will you be located in the future)?

I fully agree with this advice — take your time, play lots of pianos, and really get some idea of what you like more and less. However, I think this can be much more of a challenge if you live in an area with few or no dealerships.

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Quote
I think this can be much more of a challenge if you live in an area with few or no dealerships.

This was a challenge for us for sure. But I convinced my husband to drive me all over the place by finding interesting restaurants for us to visit after piano trips. It mostly worked, but I think he was relieved when the piano shopping was done!! whome


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Originally Posted by Sgisela
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
In that case, I would say to broaden your search... think of it as being on a fact-finding mission rather than actual piano shopping. Play as many makes and models of pianos as you can, without limiting it to two makers. Try to figure out what your preferences are for sound/tone, touch and action etc. Don't limit yourself with budgetary concerns, and in fact, playing a few pianos that you know you could never afford can be enlightening and help you refine your knowledge of your own preferences.



having played so many instruments really helped me when I was ready to buy and needed to start making decisions.

+1.

Where are you located (or where will you be located in the future)?

I fully agree with this advice — take your time, play lots of pianos, and really get some idea of what you like more and less. However, I think this can be much more of a challenge if you live in an area with few or no dealerships.

I’m in Oregon at the moment but I’ll most likely be moving back to Los Angeles next year. I’ve been to a few of the piano dealers close to me and played some pianos but that was around 2-3 years ago. Now that I’m being re-inspired towards a good acoustic, I plan to re-visit some of those dealers for sure. Thanks!

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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Originally Posted by johnbarnesiii
Hi Shiro, believe it or not my current piano is a Yamaha P-105 digital piano.

Great, it's good to have a reliable digital if we can't have an acoustic. I started with a Yamaha digital, moved up to the U1, then sold it due to moving, and then I had digitals for a while and then medium-quality but pretty beat-up uprights (a Baldwin 243 and a Petrof) before getting my grand.

Quote
However now that I’m doing a little better financially and will be relocating soon, I am planning what will be my first good quality acoustic piano. I’m researching and as of yet pretty wide open.

In that case, I would say to broaden your search... think of it as being on a fact-finding mission rather than actual piano shopping. Play as many makes and models of pianos as you can, without limiting it to two makers. Try to figure out what your preferences are for sound/tone, touch and action etc. Don't limit yourself with budgetary concerns, and in fact, playing a few pianos that you know you could never afford can be enlightening and help you refine your knowledge of your own preferences.

Even though I once told a piano dealer, after playing a piano that was over $100,000, that he had now ruined my life forever because I knew exactly what it was that I could never afford! whome

Still, in the end, having played so many instruments really helped me when I was ready to buy and needed to start making decisions.

Thanks for the helpful tips! I do plan to re-visit some piano dealers near to me. The last time I did this was around 2-3 years ago. I did play some pianos that I really liked. I really liked some of the pianos with a mellower/warmer tone for sure, though can’t remember the exact models. I know the Yamahas are not known for that per se (although I do remember playing and liking the U3, which is why I used that as a frame of reference) but I know they can be voiced up or down. K500 was cool too.

And as for other little preferences, I tend to prefer satin ebony. Polished ebony is cool too but just very common, although I wouldn’t say no to a polished ebony piano whose sound I loved. And of course for uprights I liked the middle practice/muffler pedal the U3 has, the one where you can kick it left to lock it in. I see myself using that quite a bit.

I plan on finding some mellow/warm pianos to try out (as well as anything else that stands out to my ears) and open to any suggestions there. Thanks again.

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My understanding is that there are a number of piano dealers around LA.

I don’t know the upright market very well. However, I’d take a look at the PianoBuyer staff picks: https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/staff-picks-recommendations/ . They have a number of pianos on their list which have not been mentioned in this thread, including a Schulz Pollman which they describe as having ‘a warm, round tone quality and beautiful case finishes.’ It looks like they are available at Hollywood Pianos in LA .

My recommendation would be to make a list of all the piano dealers in the area, contact them, have a budget in your head, and just go play as many pianos as you can… After you’re settled into your home in LA. Take plenty of notes. Revisit the top contenders. I think your preferences will evolve/refine themselves as you go through the process.

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You can't get anything of quality from Yamaha or Kawai in that size. The only thing Yamaha offers that's 4'11 is the GB1K which doesn't even have a sostenuto pedal...you can't really call it a grand piano. For Kawai its the GL-10 with similar quality issues. Both are made in Indonesia, not Japan. Don't get confused that you're getting the same quality piano in a GL-10 or a GB1K because they all say the same thing on the fallboard "Kawai" or "Yamaha". There is no quality tier designation so watch out.

If you want a grand comparable to the U3, you have to go to the CX series which is priced outrageously. For Kawai, its the same. Their K-500 upright has the quality of their GX BLK grands. But again they cost about as much as a CX series Yamaha. The GL and GB/GC series are complete trash. But it says Kawai on it so we'll be okay!

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I have played a few GL series pianos and thought the GL40 was the only one that stood out for me.I do prefer the GX and the Yamaha C and especially the CX pianos The K500 is an excellent upright with a far more mellow tone.Model wise these pianos are on a very high level.Of course the YUS5 and the K800 are the best of these Japanese uprights.(the SE being extremely expensive) Petrof uprights are also known for their mellow tone.(I have not personally tried any newer Petrofs) Of course there are other European and American pianos but the prices are sometimes way up; but worth exploring perhaps.
Some of the problems with your GL20 could be because the piano is so new.They do sometimes need more more tunings and touch up voicing than pianos that have had time to adjust.


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Originally Posted by tre corda
I have played a few GL series pianos and thought the GL40 was the only one that stood out for me.I do prefer the GX and the Yamaha C and especially the CX pianos The K500 is an excellent upright with a far more mellow tone.Model wise these pianos are on a very high level.Of course the YUS5 and the K800 are the best of these Japanese uprights.(the SE being extremely expensive) Petrof uprights are also known for their mellow tone.(I have not personally tried any newer Petrofs) Of course there are other European and American pianos but the prices are sometimes way up; but worth exploring perhaps.
Some of the problems with your GL20 could be because the piano is so new.They do sometimes need more more tunings and touch up voicing than pianos that have had time to adjust.

Thank you. The K500 is still definitely on my list of pianos to try out, specifically bc I heard they’re mellower/less bright than Yamaha ie U3.

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