Kawai technology?

Posted by: Jason Zhao

Kawai technology? - 02/12/13 08:57 PM

According to Kawai's website, they're action is supposed to lighter and quicker due to technology. But Yamaha action seems lighter and quicker while the Kawai is pretty heavy and slow. Why is that? I'm still stuck in between Yamaha and Kawai grands.
Posted by: LFL

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/12/13 10:06 PM

I must disagree with your apparent interpretation of the Kawai action being heavy. Regardless, "heavy" and "light" are different "sensatons" to different people. And neither "heavy" nor "light" is "bad". You should get what you feel more comfortable with. Also, I would propose that the touch you refer to is not just related to the action. It has to do with the how the keys are weighted, the hammers, etc....in short, the regulation has an impact on "touch". I would also mention that the way one plays influences the sensation of a heavy or light touch. I assume you have reviewed the Kawai site and other literature regarding the Millenium III action. If not, you should. More information is also available at George Kolasis' review done in 2009: http://www.georgekolasis.com/shigeru-kawai.html
Note his final comments regarding the advanced technology of the action.
Get what you ARE comfortable with, and don't be concerned about what you think you SHOULD be comfortable with.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/12/13 10:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Jason Zhao
Why is that?


How an action feels is mostly determined by action ratio, hammer mass, and regulation. Voicing can also give the impression of a heavier or lighter touch.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/12/13 10:19 PM

The amount of effort to produce a given sound volume is primarily a function of the relationship between the inertia of the action, elasticity of the hammer felt, and the touch resistance of the action, (down weight). From my many years spent preparing pianos for the concert stage. Most performers want to "feel" the key resistance when playing softly but when playing loudly they want the key to move freely with their hand weight/force. They also want the key to return quickly enough that it helps raise their relaxed finger. This take careful work by the piano maker/technician.

Recently I have noticed Kawai having slightly higher static touch weight with lower sum total inertia in the action combined with mellower toned hammers than in the past. This pleases me as a pianist. Since all pianos get brighter, looser and lighter with use a new one on the slightly heavy touch and darker tone will leave room for the piano tone to break-in without becoming ugly bright.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/12/13 10:27 PM

I feel Kawai's action is heavier than yamaha as well. Both are great imo.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 10:16 AM

I am not a great pianist, but found that I could play passages more quickly and easily on the Kawaii with its carbon fiber action parts than I could on a Yamaha. Just my opinion. I really liked the action, but not as fond of the tone so I kept looking. (Not a fan of Yamaha sound either.)
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 01:09 PM

Well, CL49 - You have found the perfect solution!
Posted by: Jason Zhao

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 07:31 PM

But since the Kawai is more resistant than the Yamaha, wouldn't that hinder speed of trills, and past passages? That would be very bad.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 07:34 PM

Jason,

As I wrote in the other thread:
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
The weight of any action or "touch" is a personal preference. There is no "better" or "best." A pianist's technique is as variable as a piano action.
Posted by: Jason Zhao

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 08:14 PM

But even so, no pianist would like heavy touch when playing very fast! (In my simple thoughts)
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 08:24 PM

Jason,

Ed was trying to introduce you to the idea that the piano's touch has different elements. Heavier does not necessarily match with slower. Plenty of established pianists like a heavier-than-average touch. Most like the middle and the smallest percentage seem to like a light action.
Posted by: PianistInJapan

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 09:08 PM

CL49, I have exactly the same experience when playing on Kawai Grands. Some difficult passages are much less prone to errors when compared to my Kawai digital, the keys of which do not return as fast. Of course other Grands also do better than my digital, but the Kawai Grands really shine with respect to their action.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/13/13 11:39 PM

its heavier than yamaha but not " average heavy".... there are much heavier actions...
Posted by: KawaiDon

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/14/13 12:32 AM

As others have written, touch weight / resistance is a very complicated subject. Your sensation of heavy or light really depends on what you play, how you play, and the condition of the piano.

- Playing on the keys close to the fallboard makes the touch feel heavier than at the end of the keys, more so in some pianos than in others. So if you compare a larger piano of one brand against a smaller piano of the other brand, the smaller piano will tend to feel heavier to play if you usually play in on the keys. This is why Kawai is moving towards lengthening the keyboard length in our newest grand pianos, to make the touch more even front to back on the keyboard.
- Playing very fast passages tends to emphasize the inertia in the action, so if you compare pianos with fast and loud finger motions, the actions will feel differently than if you compare them with slower, softer playing. As Ed mentioned, Kawai actions are a lower mass design than many, and they are weighted for a higher measured tough weight. So when playing slow and soft music the Kawai action will feel heavier, but that is because the design is pushing up on the fingers - which is one reason it also tends to repeat so well.
- A soft voiced piano feels heavier than a bright voiced piano, and some people get an initial reaction to the touch based on the tone that is produced. It is true that bright voiced pianos tend to be easier to sell in the showroom because the initial reaction by the player is that the piano is "easier" to play. Tone that is deeper and more mellow tends to be more satisfying to play over time, although of course this is not true for everyone.

I once did a little test with my daughter when she was practicing piano at home. While she was playing a fairly difficult piece I raised the lid of our grand. Afterwards I asked her what she noticed, and of course she said the sound was louder. I said anything else? She said yes, it felt like the "keys got lighter" when the lid went up. Try this for yourself!

One more factor is which Kawai piano you have used for comparison. The GM-10K piano uses the older ABS action, which definitely has a heavier feel than the newer Millennium-III action. Just something to be aware of.

One more thought (which others have mentioned) is that the action regulation has quite an impact on the feel, and although the action doesn't necessarily measure any lighter when the regulation is correct, it definitely will feel lighter when playing. Hammer blow distance and jack to knuckle alignment are a couple of areas that have a strong relationship to the action feel, and these can change a lot from the factory to the dealer's showroom. This is why Kawai tries very hard to encourage our dealers to prepare the pianos before showing them. It still doesn't happen as much as we would like.
Posted by: Jason Zhao

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/15/13 01:16 AM

Thank you Kawai Don. I see kind of see what you mean now, I guess touch wasn't as simple as I thought.
Yes, I have tried that lid lifting trick. It indeed does make me feel as if the keys got lighter. Does anyone know why? I'm very curious.
Posted by: JPB RX2

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/15/13 08:21 AM

I have a pre-millenium RX2 (so with the older action). One of the reasons I went for this was precisely because it has a somewhat heavier feeling action. Practicing on a heavier action makes the switch to a lighter action much easier. It is difficult to do it the other way around - to be used to a light action can make it difficult to transfer to a heavier one.

I was possibly influenced by a terrible moment when in the semi-finals of a national comptetion we were faced with a brand new Steinway d, which clearly had not been properly regulated. It was massively heavy and stiff. Heaven only knows what was wrong with it (I've performed on may a Steinway D and this one was absolutely an odd one out!). Almost all the competitors came to grief at some point in their programme, because the muscle strain became just too much! Shortly after that, when looking for a new paino, I definately wanted one that was heavier!

In general terms, I do like a slightly heavier feel, as it gives me more of a sense of being in control. That, as the responses above show, is very hard to meaningfully quantify!
Posted by: Jason Zhao

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/15/13 04:34 PM

Ah, ok that makes sense. I found that when I tried to play a Kawai, the heavier touch allowed me to have more control. I liked that but it definatly made fast passages harder for me. What kind of touch and feel would be good for me?
Posted by: asd123321

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/16/13 11:33 PM

I read Horowitz had his Steinway set up with a very light touch. Kawai seems too heavy to me.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/17/13 07:02 AM

Originally Posted By: JPB RX2


I was possibly influenced by a terrible moment when in the semi-finals of a national comptetion we were faced with a brand new Steinway d, which clearly had not been properly regulated. It was massively heavy and stiff. Heaven only knows what was wrong with it (I've performed on may a Steinway D and this one was absolutely an odd one out!). Almost all the competitors came to grief at some point in their programme, because the muscle strain became just too much!

In general terms, I do like a slightly heavier feel, as it gives me more of a sense of being in control. That, as the responses above show, is very hard to meaningfully quantify!


In one year at the Leeds Competition, the participants had to play on a heavy and stiff Steinway D. And a few of the semi-finalists had Ravel's Gaspard de la unit on their program (in case anyone doesn't know this piece, it's full of dazzling repeated notes and chords, frequently played pp), and all came to grief...

Horowitz's Steinway had a very light key weight (42 g, compared to the 'normal 50g) but Rubinstein apparently preferred a key weight of over 60g. Of course, he played a different repertoire from Horowitz.
Posted by: panche23

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/17/13 10:02 PM

I have a new Kawai grand and my action feels heavier than my previous pianos. It has taken a couple of months to get used to this difference in touch. It has helped to build more strength and better control of my pianism.

lm///
Posted by: hootowl

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/17/13 10:41 PM

Check out this guys comparison of the Kawai -vs- Yamaha.

Inside the Kawai


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrC1EFyIf0w

Posted by: Jason Zhao

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/18/13 12:12 AM

Oh, i've seen that video a long time ago.
The only thing I see I can do is go and try out all the models later on.
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: Kawai technology? - 02/18/13 09:07 AM

A pure marketing video, nothing more. Not that there is anything wrong with that. smile