Yamaha U3 and Kawai K500: What Separates Them?




yamaha u3 vs kawai k500

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The Yamaha U3 and Kawai K500 are usually the top-of-the-range student pianos, although some might argue with this. Below is a description of both types of piano to better inform you about them and perhaps help you decide which one is right for you.

Features of Yamaha U3 and Kawai K500

The U3 and K500 are the closest pianos you will ever find to each other in terms of price, quality and design. They both have wooden keys and a 3-pedal system, and they’re pretty close in size too, which means they can be found at similar places.

They also come from prestigious piano makers, so there is little difference between them when it comes to sound quality, construction quality, and technical performance.


The Yamaha U3 is an elegant piano that will fit in well with most decor, including modern-day home theatres. The Kawai K500, on the other hand, does not look like a traditional piano.

Yamaha U3
Yamaha U3

Its design looks like something straight out of the future, and it doesn’t fit into any particular category (it’s not sleek, elegant or retro).

Kawai K500
Kawai K500

However, it is very lightweight, making transportation much easier if you need to move it often.

Pricing and Budget

Both pianos are about the same price (depending on where you live). However, the Kawai K500 also has an accent bar that can be purchased separately for 100 dollars which adds another octave to the keyboard (bringing its octaves up to 6 instead of the standard 4).

The Yamaha U3 does not have this option. Either way, both pianos are relatively cheap compared to other modern digital pianos on the market.


The keyboard feels very close to an acoustic piano, with just enough difference to remind you that it is indeed digital (Some keys feel stiffer than others which gives away that it is a machine).

You’d prefer these over-weighted keyboards because there are no complex controls or settings associated with touch response for me to worry about.

Both brands do a great job at simulating the weight/feel of playing on an actual piano, although the key action will always be slightly different from an acoustic grand piano.

Sound quality and Speakers

The Yamahas tend to have better sound quality than the Kawai’s due to its 88 key sampling.

However, the only models that provide this are slightly more expensive than comparable Kawai models (if you need 88 keys, don’t worry. It’s not too much more). The speakers in both pianos are loud enough for practicing by yourself or for using them in a live performance setting.


The Yamaha U3 has an aux-in port built-in so you can plug your phone iPod straight into the piano and play along with your favourite tunes.

The Kawai K500 does not have this feature, but you can purchase an additional plugin that will allow you to plug in your iPod, phone or any other external sound device.

Space Considerations

Both are relatively easy to take care of. However, if you live in a small apartment, the Yamaha U3 is much more space-efficient since it doesn’t require much space behind it to store sheet music or books.

You can even put it against the wall if you need to make more room for other things. The Kawai K500 also has legs that fold up for a compact storage solution. However, there is a little more room behind it to store sheet music etc.

Pros Of Yamaha U3

  • The Yamaha U3 piano is available in many different colours, allowing the person who wants to purchase it to match their colour scheme in their home or studio.
  • These pianos are extremely affordable for players who want a great instrument but don’t have much money.
  • These pianos come with a free matching bench that will allow anyone playing this piano to sit at the proper height and place their hands on the keys correctly.
  • The Yamaha U3 is lightweight and easy for adults and children alike to move from room to room as needed without straining themselves too much or worrying about how they will carry it from one point to another.
  • This piano is perfect for people trying to learn how to play but don’t exactly know which instrument they want or need.

Cons of Yamaha U3

  • The tone is not as deep as some buyers would like.
  • Keys may feel cheap compared to other instruments in this price range.

Pros Of Kawai K500

  • Weighted Keys – This feature allows you to play different melodies and notes perfectly because you don’t need to slide your hand up and down when playing. It also increases your speed when you are playing.
  • Pitch Bend Wheel – The pitch bend wheel is located on the left side of the keys, and it allows you to make adjustments to certain notes or tones by simply sliding your fingers away from or towards each other.
  • The Three Pedal System consists of three pedals: one sostenuto pedal and two pedals that control volume and bass, respectively.
  • The Polyphony System – This system, which is a major highlight in most keyboards today, gives users a maximum number of notes that can be played at any one time.
  • Great Sound Quality – Each time you press a key when playing with this keyboard from Kawai, you can expect the rich sound to emit from it.

Cons of Kawai K500

  • Not detachable keyboard cover
  • Distorted cordless mike

Yamaha U3 vs Kawai K500: How do they differ?

The Yamaha U3 and Kawai K500 are solid upright pianos, available at a low price. The main difference between the two models is that the Yamaha U3 uses plastic keys, whereas the Kawai K500 uses wood keys.

Also, while both use synthetic materials for their key action (with one moving up and down in response to keypresses), the key action on the Kawai K500 is manufactured by RHEY Manufacturing Ltd., which manufactures Steinway grand piano actions.


Both pianos are great instruments with many similarities and only a few minor differences. If you don’t need 88 keys or aux-in Compatibility, it’s highly recommended to choose Kawai K500. Otherwise, the Yamaha U3 provides good value for money and an overall high-quality digital piano experience. Both of these pianos will serve you well if you decide to purchase one.

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