Yamaha U5 Upright Piano - A good buy?

Here are 5 reasons why I think the Yamaha U3 is a better choice than the Yamaha U5 for most people.

1. The Yamaha U5 is very similar to the cheaper & excellent Yamaha U3
The Yamaha U5 is the same height, width and depth as the Yamaha U3. The U5 has a fold out music stand which is of little benefit over traditional music stands and you may feel makes the piano look odd. The photo above (copyright Mark Goodwin Pianos) shows a Yamaha U5. Note the unusual metal cuffs on the front of the “feet”.

2. The Yamaha U5 has the middle Sostenuto pedal
In the late 1800s Steinway invented the Sostenuto pedal. It allows you to hold down a chord and then simultaneously play other notes in staccato style. It is a clever invention but is only needed in a tiny percentage of piano pieces. I worked through grades 1 to 7 and never played a piece which needed a sostenuto pedal. That was 10 years of daily playing with no use for a sostenuto pedal.

A Yamaha U3 on the other hand makes much better use of the middle pedal by using it to put the piano into “practise mode”. When the middle pedal of a Yamaha U3 is pressed (and optionally clicked into place), the volume of the piano is massively decreased (by around 50-70% I’d say) which means you can play the piano in the same room as other people without triggering World War III. It is also a God-send to people with adjoining neighbours.

The amount of piano buyers who benefit from a practise pedal is far higher than those who would make use of a sostenuto pedal.

I know that piano salespeople tell customers “…and look, it even has a Sostenuto pedal” but I believe it would be more helpful to most buyers to say “Don’t buy this one, it has a sostenuto pedal”.

Edit: Apparently, some of the older, 1960s U5s have the practise pedal instead of the sostenuto pedal. I’ve only seen Yamaha U5 pianos from the 70s onwards.

3. Piano Industry Experts & enthusiasts rarely rate it above the Yamaha U3
Here are some opinions found online regarding the Yamaha U5.

There is a marginal difference between the Yamaha U5 and U3, but one that can be reduced by careful voicing of the U3. In short, the difference is not worth paying actual £££ for unless you really like the appearance [of the U5]. However, the U5 is considered by most to be uglier than the U3

and another…

A used U3 if it’s a good one is a lovely piano. I’d take one over a new U5 any day of the week


The U5 was dropped from the Yamaha range in favour of the YUS5, which has no agraffe sections in the scale, but reverts to a U3 style pressure bar.

4. The Yamaha U5 has been discontinued
The Yamaha U5 was taken out of production in 2006. The Yamaha U3 has been made for over 50 years and it remains the most popular upright piano for ambitious musicians.

5. Yamaha U5 Depreciation
There are very few used Yamaha U5 pianos available on the used market and very few people looking for them. This makes them very difficult to sell privately which means the price must be lowered in order to make a sale. The same cannot be said of the evergreen Yamaha U3 which holds its value because so many people are looking for them.

It might sound like I don’t like the Yamaha U5 after reading this article but that isn’t true. I’m certain that a good Yamaha U5 is every bit as good as a Yamaha U3. My main point here is that there is no advantage to buying a Yamaha U5 over a Yamaha U3 unless you need the sostenuto pedal.

I have written an in-depth set of articles that are designed to help a piano buyer decide which Yamaha models to ignore and which ones to consider. There are some excellent Yamahas and some that you might want to avoid. Unfortunately, they all simply say “Yamaha” on the front and they all look amazing. So it can be quite hard to tell them apart unless you have done your research first. You can also read a copy of my Yamaha piano buyer’s guide.

For general information about the U5, please see below:

Yamaha U5 dimensions*

Height 52in / 127cm
Width 60in / 152.4cm
Depth 26in / 66.1cm

*accurate to the best of our knowledge. For exact dimensions please contact us.

Yamaha U5 Available Colours/Finishes

The most commonly available colours available on the 2nd hand market are Black Polyester or a wood finish as shown in the photo above

Updated: 8 May 2015