A Guide on the Best Piano Brands: Kawai

Shigeru Kawai pianos have consistently made their way on an array of Top Ten lists for the finest musical instruments. It began with an ambitious goal of creating the best piano in Japan that could beat all European pianos. Now, its use of ABS Styran plastic in the action parts still amazes musical aficionados. Over a 40-year period, Kawai Corporations performed extensive research and testing to develop a piano that offers more responsive action and consistent play regardless of the humidity or temperature. As one of the largest piano manufacturers in the world, Kawai's innovation cannot be beaten, especially if you love a warm tone to your piano.

History of Kawai

Kawai Corporations' founder, Mr. Koichi Kawai, showed an aptitude for mechanical design and inventions from a young age. After apprenticing as a piano builder, he built the first complete piano action in Japan. This revolutionized the Japanese piano manufacturing industry because, prior to this, actions had to be imported to Japan.

Over the years, Kawai earned a number of patents for his designs. And in 1927, he finally decided to leave his employer and founded the Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory. Just a year later, they produced the first Kawai grand piano, which became the springboard for their manufacturing success. Throughout the years, Kawai Corporation stayed true to its roots, only building acoustic and digital pianos, refusing to dabble in the production of other products like their biggest competitor, Yamaha. The company is holding firm to the belief that they can serve the musician best by doing one thing well.

Kawai craftsmen and designers introduced and optimized the use of ABS-Carbon Fiber components in modern piano actions. This design allowed for more precise action and play and is far less susceptible to shrinkage or swelling due to temperature changes.

The Japanese company’s hard work has paid off. Within the last 20 years, Kawai pianos have earned over 50 prestigious international awards, including the Music Inc. Product Excellence Award for the GX-2 Grand Piano in 2017 and the MMR Acoustic Piano of the Year for the K-3 Professional Upright Piano in 2011. Kawai pianos and their bell-like tone and warmth are truly a force to be reckoned with.

Kawai Pianos

For almost a century now, Kawai has been at the forefront of innovation in the piano industry, introducing new designs and concepts that have set the standard for other manufacturers. Blending artistry and engineering, this manufacturer has produced a high-performing piece of Japanese craftsmanship. You can enjoy the elegant design and tonal clarity of a Kawai piano with one of these fine instruments:


Kawai grand pianos are world-renowned for cutting-edge technology, rich tonal experience, and long-lasting performance. Time-tested methods have been combined with innovative components (such as parts made of carbon fiber) to produce a beautiful musical instrument that stands the test of time. Whether you need a concert grand to grace your stage or a baby grand to take up residence in your home, Kawai has the right instrument that will match your level of ability. Every time you sit down on the bench, you'll be transported to a musical world unlike any other.

New Kawai models currently available include the GX Blak, GL, EX Concert Grand, and CR40 series. However, you can still purchase previously-owned models at a much lower cost and get the same quality of sound (we would even argue to say you can get a much better tonal experience with aged pianos). Popular used Kawai grand pianos include the RX, GM, GL, and KG series.

The RX series is now the GX series. And like the newer version, the RX line of pianos is Kawai's most expensive because they have the best features, such as a tapered soundboard and thicker rim. The GL and GM series have fewer complex features so that they could be manufactured more efficiently. What this means for you is that you can get the sound of a Kawai at a more affordable price.


Experienced teachers and serious musicians will often list a Kawai upright as one of their favorite pianos because they have exceptional tone and touch. In fact, several of the major international awards Kawai received were dedicated to their famed upright pianos. These musical instruments are not just for established pianists either. They are excellent companions for students young and old.

One of Kawai's most popular line of upright pianos is the K series, which has stellar stability – the ability to maintain an outstanding tone and touch over time. For a piano that will last for generations, consider the K series, which can be purchased both new and pre-owned.

A few years ago, Kawai produced pianos under the UST series. Models under this series are still available in the second-hand market and are great options for beginners and casual users. They are designed to hold their tune well even when moved. The UST-7 is more stable than the UST-8, and the UST-9 combines the best features of the two previous models for an instrument that produces Kawai’s signature responsive and warm tone.

Hybrids & Digitals  

Never one to be left behind, Kawai now makes both digital and hybrid pianos. After years of testing, they have perfected the acoustic-like qualities of a grand in digital form. As they play, pianists will notice that the tactile feel of the keys is similar to that of a grand, baby grand, or upright.

Pre-Owned Kawai Pianos

While it often makes more sense to buy new than used, this is simply not the case with pianos. Pre-owned pianos have fantastic quality for the simple fact that they are previously used. Older instruments have a more stable action and a better tone. New pianos require frequent service appointments because the action isn’t steady, and the strings are stretching. By buying used, you can get right down to business: creating music that is out of this world.

Benefits of a Kawai Piano

Are you debating whether a Kawai piano is right for you or your child? We believe a Kawai could serve your needs well, whether you choose a grand or upright, but if you’re unsure, consider the benefits a Kawai offers:

  • Kawai pianos have excellent quality control: It’s rare for problems to crop up with a Kawai. It simply needs occasional maintenance and possible after-sale care to fix minor buzzing or squeaking.
  • Kawai pianos are preferred among classic pianists: Kawai grands have an excellent touch at a reasonable price, making them a favorite among classically trained pianists.
  • Kawai grands have a versatile tone: While Kawai pianos are known for their warm, bell-like tone, they can be voiced by a technician to brighten or mellow the sound.
  • Kawai grands and uprights are overall a great instrument: The Japanese piano manufacturer's innovativeness has made their acoustic grands and uprights stand out for several decades. Their amazing responsive action and consistent play have allowed them to hold up well in comparison to the Yamaha.

Choosing a Piano

While a dealer can suggest which pianos you should try, figuring out which one is best for you depends on your own preferences. The best way to choose a piano is to play different models, paying attention to how the sound hits your ears and how the keys feel under your fingers. If everything feels right, you’ve likely found the piano for you, but if even the smallest thing feels off, another model may be better.

Why do pianos vary so much, even those made by the same manufacturer? A piano's sound and tone greatly depend on the instrument's age, condition, and maintenance. The sound can also differ based on the room's size and flooring. Since so many factors play a role in how a piano sounds, it’s important to play different models to understand which one will be best for you.

If you’re interested in testing out different pianos, our technicians can help you know where to start. For more information about Kawai pianos and the process of buying a previously owned model, contact Hulme & Sweeney.

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