Synonymous with the piano industry, the precedence of Kawai’s quality and attention to detail is known across the globe for being at the forefront of Japanese piano manufacturing and craftsmanship. Being a brand who exclusively produce piano based products, the Kawai have built a legacy of high quality piano production and performance across its 100 years of experience building some of the most popular pianos on the planet.
With a vast range of instruments spanning across the digital and acoustic realm of pianos, Kawai truly does have a piano for almost any playing standard or requirement. This article aims to give further insight into what Kawai stands for as a brand and the impact their work has had on the piano industry. For those looking for a Kawai piano, or who would like to book a demonstration with our piano experts, read our Kawai brand page here.
A Brief History Of Kawai
Founded by Koichi Kawai in 1927, it is well known that Kawai was an apprentice of Torakusu Yamaha, founder of the Yamaha corporation. This is where Kawai learned his craft for piano production and manufacturing and he was a crucial part of the team who brought piano playing to mass appeal in Japan. In the 1920s however after Torakusu Yamaha’s death, Kawai felt that Japanese piano production had come to a grinding halt and needed innovation. Being an entrepreneur and already having a wealth of experience in the industry, Kawai decided that he would commit to excellence and began building his own pianos. In 1927 he and seven colleagues formed the Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory in Hamamatsu, Japan, where the foundation of the Kawai legacy was born.
From here the success of Kawai’s pianos grew and grew, by 1950, Kawai was producing over 1500 pianos a year and was the first individual in the musical instrument industry to receive the highly prestigious ‘Blue Ribbon Medal’ from the emperor of Japan due to the quality and care that went into their instruments.
In 1955, Koichi Kawai suddenly passed away, and it was his adoptive son Shigeru Kawai who became the new president of the company. Shigeru continued Koichi’s vision for developing the finest quality of piano production possible. A famed quote of Shigeru’s is: “As long as you are building pianos, you should strive to build the finest ones in the world.”
Using the skills learned from his father, Shigeru propelled Kawai pianos to the world through massive growth within the musical instrument industry. To keep up with the growing demand for high quality piano production Shigeru innovated and would combine hand-craftsmanship with the finest industrial production technology, allowing Kawai to produce more and more pianos each year. He began construction of two new factories, one a wood processing plant and the other a piano assembly plant using the company's first modern production line.
With means of creating such exceptional pianos at volume, as the piano industry grew, so too did the Kawai vision of encouraging more and more people to pursue a passion for music, so Kawai created the: Kawai Academy of Music and Kawai Music Schools to allow for a network of piano players and teachers to be built and develop talents in the cultural fields.
With domestic business now firmly established, Shigeru then turned his attention toward making Kawai a global sensation. Ready and able to meet worldwide demand due to his innovations in volume production, Shigeru launched Kawai America in 1963... followed by Kawai Europe, Kawai Canada, Kawai Australia and Kawai Asia. Today, Kawai Musical instruments enjoy recognition in every major market in the world and are some of the most popular instruments on the market.
In 1989, the presidency of the company was passed to Shigeru's son, Hirotaka Kawai. Hirotaka began with a pledge to carry on the "commitment to excellence" established by his father and grandfather. Early in his tenure as president, Hirotaka invested tens of millions of dollars to incorporate advanced robotics in the production process and his influence has been vital in the creation of the Kawai digital piano ranges and innovations here.
What Goes Into A Kawai Piano?
As mentioned, Kawai pianos come in all shapes and sizes and can be almost tailored to suit any requirements for any piano playing standard. Across both their digital and acoustic instruments, the Kawai sound is distinctive, being bright and clear and offering a sense of intrigue and character that is well known across the globe and delivers a rewarding playing experience.
Kicking things off with the Kawai digital ranges, the entry point into Kawai is the ES-Series of portable instruments. Affordable, compact and precise, these instruments offer excellent value for money and are a fantastic starting point into the world of piano. At Millers we personally frequently see Kawai ES pianos on our Kickstart Rental Scheme and also believe that the ES-120 is a sensational choice for those looking for an easy way to get started with music. This range has also been further developed by the likes of the KDP series and KDP-120.
Where the Kawai digital range does get especially exciting however is their innovations shown through the likes of the CN-Series and their flagship CA or Concert Artist Series. Both of these ranges begin the transition into Kawai’s innovation in digital piano actions and blending technology with tradition. The CA series in particular is home to the Grand Feel III wooden key action that combines the best of Kawai’s acoustic piano craft with digital technology. Kawai have created a revolutionary digital action that is composed of high quality wood, has an extended keystick for added touch response and fully grade-weighted hammers, this ensures an incredibly realistic touch feeling, and is one of the reasons for the Concert Artist’s inspiring playability.
We would highly recommend exploring the CA Series in our Cambridge showroom here.
When it comes to the acoustic pianos and especially in their upright piano range, Kawai are consistently innovating here too and have become widely known for having incredibly durable and quality instruments through the likes of their K-Series upright pianos. Producing pianos across a variety of heights to achieve a variety of sound possibilities, the K-Series is a fantastic place to begin your journey when considering either an upright piano or a silent acoustic piano.
The K-Series are some of the most sought after pianos on the market and are known for having the signature Kawai Japanese bright tone whilst also being highly responsive and versatile to suit a variety of playing styles.
When it comes to their grand pianos, likewise the Kawai grand piano range does not let up and Kawai grands offer both the power and prestige of a grand piano that one would expect, whilst also demonstrating the character and craftsmanship of the Kawai name. Their GL-Series is ideally suited for those looking for a quality grand piano for their home, whilst the likes of their concert grands such as the SK EX Concert Grands (named after Shigeru Kawai) truly help one envision the pursuit of kawai’s gold standard of piano creation and the philosophy of piano perfection that the Kawai family has always sought after and continues to seek.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief overview of the Kawai philosophy and history and that it has given further insight into the kinds of decisions that help drive such a fantastic brand forward in the world of piano production and craft. For those looking for more information on the philosophy of Kawai, we would also highly recommend reading Kawai's Environmental and Social report, where the brand tracks the Group’s environmental activities, as well as its view of corporate social responsibility and the measures of corporate governance.
If you would like to try a Kawai piano, or learn more about purchasing a Kawai instrument, our piano experts are here to help. Contact us via our website, or book a personalised piano demonstration to begin your journey!