Just like in the car world, there are dozens of piano manufacturers, each with their own style and idiosyncrasies. Some piano makers are known for their tight key action, or mellow sound, or stylish exteriors. Nearly every brand has something to recommend it.
A Kawai piano is a little different. They're the solid, dependable choice when you're looking at buying a piano. While there's very little about most Kawai models that will truly knock your socks off, they're good at just about everything. Kawai makes good all-around pianos that can be used in a variety of ways, and at extremely affordable prices as well!
Further, since Kawai manufactures a range of both acoustic and digital pianos, they've developed a following among artists who perform in multiple roles, or need more than a simple concert grand. The popular orchestral rock band Muse, for example, uses Kawai pianos and keyboards almost exclusively.
So, let's take a look at the range of quality you can get from a Kawai piano, as well as a few standouts from their line!
Quality Levels in a Kawai Piano
Upright pianos are the least-expensive of the Kawai piano line. These instruments are manufactured via assembly line, rather than being hand-crafted, but Kawai maintains a strict level of quality on every instrument that leaves their care. Their inexpensive uprights, many of which are only a few thousand dollars, are still impressive pieces of work that will provide great music for years to come.
If you want a nice-looking upright for your home that fits your furnishings while still being a reliable instrument, look at their Designer line, such as the 607 Series. With a large soundboard for its size, and extremely reliable direct-blow action, these pianos look and sound great, especially for the price.
Teachers and performers would probably want to look instead at their K-series of professional-grade uprights, especially the K-8, their top-of-the-line upright. At 52” it has nearly the same presence as a grand piano, offering great sound for what is still a quite affordable package for the serious musician.
A grand Kawai piano starts at just under $10,000 for their most inexpensive model, and most can still be had for $40,000 or less. This is an amazing price for concert-grade instruments that would feel no shame in any hall in the world.
Kawai grand pianos have a sound which, depending on your inclinations, could be described as a bit harsh, or perhaps as merely “bright.” They sound great in jazz performances, as well as in other compositions where the piano needs to have a bit more personality. It's not the “Steinway sound,” but it's lively, engaging, and sure to grab the attention of the audience.
The top Kawai grand piano is the Kawai EX, a masterful piano which can rank among the best in the world. These are hand-crafted, and only twenty or fewer EX pianos are produced each year. For those who need something a little more affordable, their BLAK line, such as the RX-5, has excellent concert-grade pianos with a distinctive look, fine tone, and powerful action.
This recent spinoff of the Kawai brand is their attempt to reach for the top-tier market. Each Shigeru Kawai piano is hand-crafted from the finest materials available, and comes in a limited edition complete with certificate of authenticity. These blend Kawai's traditional approach to hand-crafting their top pianos with Kawai's innovations in piano construction, such as their carbon composite actions.
Ranging in size from a 5'10” salon grand, the Shigeru II, up to the 9' full concert grand Shigeru EX, these pianos are truly impressive pieces of work that rival the best from any piano manufacturer worldwide. While the Shigeru brand may be new, I suspect that we'll be hearing the name more as Kawai continues to innovate and improve their selections.
Have you played a great Kawai piano? What were your thoughts?
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