7 thoughts on “Kawai vs. Yamaha: Who Makes Better Pianos?

  1. Thank you for your review. I think, Sound & Touch are an individuals choice.

    By not taking too much turns and curves, let me get straight to the point.

    For the record, Yamaha & Kawai share a similar history of Piano making. Obviously, Kawai started much later than Yamaha, but as the history speaks, the both owners were Piano tech’s.

    Now about Technology: Kawai uses ABS carbon Styran [A carbon composite material that is suppose to be stronger, lighter and faster than wood] where as other brands use wood.

    Well, that does affect the touch and sound at all. Try it for yourself.

    To the above contrary, I do not mean that ABS is better than Wood or vise versa. But yes, ABS makes the instrument entirely is Tropical.

    Highlighting more towards KAWAI pianos, this brand manufactures only Pianos [No other musical instruments]. All focus is on the pianos. The ABS Styran was one of the first revolution that KAWAI brought in to the industry and to be noticed, it is patented.

    Now, about the longer keys in KAWAI Pianos, it makes the piano very expressive. Second revolution by KAWAI. Even if you play those piano from the bottom tip to the closer edge of the piano, you can put better expression when compared to present tech piano.

    About the sound: KAWAI pianos has warm, cheerful and bright sound. Some models are famous for mellow sound as well, like K200.

    Well, I am neither a KAWAI fan nor Yamaha’s but I understand pianos [as per my level of experience]

    Again, I am not saying that you are wrong but it choice of pianos totally depends on an individual. Let the piano speak to the pianist rather the sales people 🙂

    Cherio – take care.

  2. While it is your opinion that you love Yamaha, have you tried the S. Kawai? Ask David Osborne a Steinway piano artist and it will make you trade your Steinway for the S. Kawai. And “dead, metallic and dark” is an insult to a solely piano maker which makes me think, you played an poorly serviced kawai. In fact, just last November, i helped my friend get a piano. And they picked a 1 owner kg-2d among 2 other choices – a Steinway and a C1 yamaha. I was inclined to the kawai too and my choice was also validated by the piano tech knowing cost was not an issue. It is making me think that you have not encountered a lot of kawais and that you have a deal with your local yamaha dealer. I know In the end, it all boils down to the choice of the pianist, but undermining a piano is an insult to a piano maker.

  3. I have owned and played many pianos over the last half century.
    I respect both Kawai and Yamaha. I very surprised to read your comments on the Kauai piano. I owned a Kawai C6
    7 foot Grand and it had a phenomenal sound. Yes my 5’8″Mason & Hamlin was an
    overall better – more even- piano, but the Kawai did have warmth
    and depth of tone and amazing
    bass. Clearly you have not played
    many Kawai’s.My first piano in 1966 was a Baldwin console which was far better than any thing else at that time best the price. Not sure if modern Baldwins are still as magical, and are no doubt a small fortune.

  4. I have to concur with other responder’s comments. First, I don’t agree that Kawai and Yamaha’s are always bright. Both makers are always evolving and adapting and refining their instruments, and both make a huge range of instruments from fairly budget to very expensive hand-builts. There are plenty warm-sounding Kawai grands, the RX, the GX series and each piano is different and depends on factors like acoustics and the technician that tuned and voiced it. Yamaha has really changed its sound going from their C to CX pianos and they certainly have a sustained tone and some warmth to them as well. I agree, stating Kawai’s are “dead, metallic and dark” is doing them a disservice. And we need to maybe get away from this idea of what “Asian” pianos sound like. Yamaha and Kawai are Japanese pianos, quite different than Korean or Chinese, and use materials from different parts of the world. Yamaha’s now have some Bosendorfer influence in them (they bought Bosendorfer about a decade ago) so are they really now just “Asian” pianos?

    If you want to buy a piano, there are other alternatives like Boston and Essex, the former built by Kawai but both designed by Steinway. There are plenty good pianos that are now made in China that they bought from German companies. Yamaha and Kawai should be just played and listened to without any pre-conceived notions of them being “Asian” sounding, “bright,” or any such characteristic. If they have a sound the students connect with, then they’ll be the piano for that student or parent. And different students will choose different pianos.

  5. I have been in the market for a piano lately, and I have visited 5 or 6 dealerships in Texas and Louisiana, playing Kawai, Yamaha, Essex, and several other baby grand manufacturers. I have probably played 50 different baby grands in the past 2 or 3 weeks. I absolutely agree with the author that the Kawai is more mellow. Calling is “dead” is an overstatement, but I agree that the Yamaha was much more lively. I am sure that the tone of the Kawai would be perfect for lots of homes, so don’t get me wrong. But as someone who likes to play a lot of big, full romantic-era pieces, it was very hard for me to get any power out of the bass register of the Kawai. The Yamaha I played today was incredible and I will likely choose Yamaha.

  6. I play drums in 4 jazz bands and rehearse 4 days a week and am exposed to some really excellent jazz/classical pianists. I recently went shopping for a larger used grand piano for home. These are the comments I received from an array of piano technicians and players regarding affordable brands to consider.

    “Kawai and Yamaha’s are tanks that old up to continued playing and use and are usually still excellent players, provided they have been maintained in a climate controlled environment and regularly tuned and serviced.”

    “Yamaha and Kawai are very stable interments made of excellent materials. They don’t cut corners and have few issues with holding tune or failed components. Both can be voiced to your liking.”

    “Older Kawai’s typically are a bit mellower in tone while older Yamaha’s tend to age a bit brighter, both can be voiced to your liking.”

    “The Kawai and Yamaha pianos of the 80s and 90’s were made of slower growing forested spruce, maple, etc., still available at that time, vs. the more rapid grown farmed woods of today (growth stimulated/heavily fertilized) which have larger grain structure.”

    “Yamaha’s and Kawai’s actions often felt better and stayed in tune longer than many of the older Baldwin and Steinways found in commercial settings”. They pointed out the Baldwin and Steinways were great when maintained but needed more love.

    Sound is a personal thing. I bought a 6′ 1″ used Kawai KG3E from a quality used piano store. The piano had been “gone over”, not rebuilt, but cleaned, polished and voiced. It has a lovely warm sound and it gets many compliment from the pros that come over and play it. I don’t think they are being nice.

    I find some new piano dealers fill the public with information which seems biased with fear of older instruments or brands they don’t carry. I was told that pianos age really because of high use, poor climate control, lack of technical maintenance or contamination (ex. kept near a kitchen in a bar, church or home with the top always up where kitchen grease adheres to the strings and mechanics.

    I tend to trust the advice I heard from the technical community I spoke with during my detailed shopping effort. Hope this is useful to some.

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