Kawai Musical Instruments
||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (October 2012)|
|Type||Musical Instruments Manufacturing|
|Headquarters||Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan|
|Key people||Shigeru, Kawai - Hirotaka Kawai|
|Products||Grand pianos and upright pianos|
|Revenue||$1,000,000,000 Annual Sales|
|Employees||More than 4,000|
Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (株式会社河合楽器製作所 Kabushiki-gaisha Kawai Gakki Seisakusho , TYO: 7952) is a musical instruments manufacturing company headquartered in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan. It is best known for its grand pianos, upright pianos, electronic keyboards and electronic synthesizers. The company was established in August 1927.
Koichi Kawai, the company founder, was born in Hamamatsu, Japan in 1886. As the son of a wagon maker, Kawai developed an ability to create mechanical devices and inventions at an early age. He began working in the piano industry in his early teens, and, while still a young man, became a key member of the research and development team that first introduced pianos to his country. Koichi proved to be a gifted inventor who became the first to design and build a complete piano action in Japan. He was awarded many patents for his designs and inventions.
In 1927, Koichi Kawai founded the Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory, employing seven like-minded colleagues. In the early days, the only thing that supported them was their passion for music and desire to produce superior pianos. Koichi's fundamental principles were always centered around quality, music appreciation and the quest for excellence.
After Koichi Kawai's death in 1955, Shigeru Kawai became company president at the young age of 33. He was determined to remain true to his father's ideals. He foresaw rapid growth in the music industry and planned accordingly, expanding production facilities and establishing a number of organizations to promote the value of music. A resourceful innovator, Shigeru became the evolving link between the age of skilled handwork and modern technology. In 1980, he opened the Ryuyo Grand Piano Factory, recognized today as one of the most advanced piano-building facilities in the world. Later, he introduced the ultra-high-end Shigeru Kawai Grand Piano line, which he described as "his personal legacy to the piano world." Shigeru Kawai served as president of the Kawai company from 1955 to 1989 and chairman from 1990 until his retirement in 2002. He remained active as a company consultant until his passing in 2006 at the age of 84.
Hirotaka Kawai was appointed president in 1989 and remains committed to carrying on the tradition established by his father and grandfather. Under Hirotaka's guidance, the company embarked upon a program that invested tens of millions of dollars to integrate advanced robotics into the manufacturing process. He established Kawai manufacturing facilities in locations around the globe. More recently, he oversaw the introduction of several new series of grand, upright and digital pianos that are now regarded among the finest in their respective categories.
Today, the Kawai Musical Instrument Manufacturing Company distributes acoustic and digital pianos to over 80 countries around the world.
Kawai's corporate slogan, "The Future of the Piano," is descriptive of the company's role as an innovator in the piano industry. Since the 1970s, Kawai has pioneered the use of alternative materials to improve the consistency and stability of piano performance. In 1971, the company began to use ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene), a composite material, for selected parts of its piano actions to overcome the problems associated with the use of wood. Kawai design engineers reasoned that the tendency of wood to shrink and swell significantly with changes in humidity made it less than ideal for use in a piano action, where exacting tolerances must be maintained to ensure stable piano touch. So, they gradually replaced selected wooden action parts with ABS parts that they believed would remain more stable, especially over time. In scientific tests conducted at California Polytechnic University (Pomona) in 1998, Kawai's ABS action parts were shown to be stronger than comparable wooden parts and far less susceptible to shrinking and swelling due to humidity. For these reasons, Kawai contends that its use of composite parts makes its piano actions more stable and consistent than those made by other manufacturers.
In 2002, Kawai introduced its Millennium III grand piano action featuring ABS-Carbon—a new composite material that combined ABS with carbon fiber. The new material (dubbed ABS-Carbon) increased the strength of Kawai action parts, allowing them to be designed with less weight, which made the overall action operate faster (a trait that is very important for control when playing repeated notes or trills). The addition of carbon fiber also increased the stiffness of ABS-Carbon action parts, allowing the action to produce more power for the player with less effort. Kawai contends that these advances in materials and design help its Millennium III action respond more accurately to the player's intentions with greater consistency over the course of time.
Grand Pianos 
Kawai grand pianos have evolved steadily over the decades—from the Model 500/600 built in the 1960s and 1970s, to the renowned KG Series in the 1980s and early 1990s that became extremely popular among teachers and institutions. During these years, Kawai grand pianos earned a reputation for long-term, stable performance even in heavy-use situations. In 1996, Kawai introduced the RX Series grand pianos featuring the Ultra-Responsive ABS Action. The RX Series continued to evolve with the introduction of the Millennium III Action with ABS-Carbon in 2004. In 2009, the RX BLAK Series debuted with a new Acoustic Resonant Solid Spruce soundboard and the addition of Phenolic Stabilizers on the hammers that further enhanced the precision of the hammer strike for improved tone and consistency. The RX BLAK Series pianos also feature many cosmetic enhancements which one might find pleasing based on personal opinion and taste.
The current Kawai grand piano line consists of the following models:
- EX Concert Grand Piano - 9'0"
- RX-7 BLAK Semi-Concert Grand Piano - 7'6"
- RX-6 BLAK Artist Grand Piano - 7'0"
- RX-5 BLAK Artist Grand Piano - 6'6"
- RX-3 BLAK Professional Grand Piano - 6'1"
- RX-2 BLAK Classic Grand Piano - 5'10"
- RX-1 BLAK Baby Grand Piano - 5'5"
- GE-30 Grand Piano - 5'5"
- GM-12 Grand Piano - 5'0"
- GM-10K Grand Piano - 5'0"
- CR-40A Crystal Grand Piano - 6'1"
- CR-30 Crystal Grand Piano - 6'1"
Upright Pianos 
Kawai upright pianos are divided into four classifications—K Series Professional Uprights, Furniture Consoles, Institutional Uprights and Continental Uprights. Kawai K Series Professional Uprights range in height from 44" to 52". Built for studio or home use, they are typically recognized by their stately, understated cabinet designs. All feature Kawai's Millennium III Upright Action with ABS-Carbon.
Kawai Furniture Consoles range from 44-1/2" to 46-1/2" in height. They are purchased primarily for in-home use as an attractive musical addition to the living room or den. The line starts with the simple 508 with French legs and becomes increasingly ornate as one moves through the 607 and 907 variations.
Kawai Institutional Uprights are built for heavy-use school situations. The UST-9, in particular, has specifications that are well-suited for institutional use including a reinforced bench, thicker backposts and side panels, a sturdy toeblock and double rubber casters.
The Kawai K-15 is the lone Continental Upright designed without toeblock for a streamlined European look.
Professional Uprights 
Furniture Consoles 
Institutional Uprights 
Continental Upright 
Digital Pianos 
Concert Artist Series
Stage Pianos 
Kawai started manufacturing synthesizers in the beginning of the 1980s under the brand name Teisco. These instruments were all analog and included the following models: 60F, 110F, 100F, 100P, SX-210, SX-240, and SX-400. At some point, Kawai stopped using the "Teisco" brand and so some of these products can be found labelled either Teisco or Kawai.
During the second half of the '80s, Kawai developed and released a number of digital synthesizers. The most known of these are the K series: K1, Kawai K1mkII, K3 (SSM2044-based filters), K4 and K5. These machines follow different synthesis approaches. The K4 is based on subtractive synthesis based on sampled waveforms, the K1 and K5 are additive synthesizers. The K1 is notable for being one of the first popular synthesizers that has no filter whatsoever; all sounds are made by stacking wave samples and applying frequency modulation. The K3 is hybrid in the sense that it does employ additive synthesis for waveform generation, but these waveforms are static and cannot be modulated as in a true additive synthesizer; instead, waveshaping is done using a low-pass filter, therefore characterizing this machine as a subtractive synthesizer. Uniquely for their price range, all instruments feature aftertouch. Kawai also manufactured rack versions of most of these instruments, and an external programming device, Kawai MM-16. Kawai XD-5, a drum synthesizer based on the K4 engine, was produced in 1989-1990.
Later developments resulted in Kawai KC-10 and KC-20 (produced in the beginning of the 1990s), both are simplistic PCM synthesizers. In 1996 Kawai released the K5000, an additive synthesizer that greatly improved on the K5 and is now regarded as one of Kawai's very best instruments. It was manufactured in three versions: K5000S, which had 16 knobs for real-time control and an arpeggiator, K5000W which added a sequencer but lacked both the knobs and the arpeggiator, and the K5000R, a rack version with an arpeggiator, but no sequencer and no knobs. A Knobs Macro Box was sold separately for use with the W and R models. Kawai originally planned to release K5000X, which would combine the features of the S and W models with a 76-key keyboard and enhanced memory, but this was cancelled in the late '90s due to bad sales. Shortly thereafter the company stopped producing synthesizers.
See also