Kawai model number decoder ring

Posted by: lurksalittle

Kawai model number decoder ring - 12/29/04 04:26 PM

Can someone help me decode the Kawai model numbers? Ive been to the Kawai web site but it doesnt seem to tell the whole story.


Im trying to understand the relationship between the KG,CA,GS and RX models.

From some web searches and looking through the archives it appears that the quality of the KG is above the GM/GE and below the GS/CA, the GS/CA are above the KG but below the RXs. CA is used for Japanese market pianos , and is used GS for American Market. The SK, RX-A and EX are above the rest of the RXs. Am I close so far?

However is it true that the KG-1 and RX-1 and the KG-2 and RX-2 are essentially the same pianos? But the RX-3 and greater represent a step up in quality? Are the KG-3 greater quality as well or are they more on par with the KG-1 and KG-2?

I understand that Kawai also sold different pianos under the same model numbers are well. I have seen KG-6s in two different sizes (69 and 74)

Are there any differences between the model numbers of the same size in the CA/GS ? e.g., is a GS-30 and GS-40 the same piano.

Finally I understand the final letter in some of the Kawai models represents a rough age range of some of the models, except when it is E or S. Then E means bright voicing and S means mellow.

Do the first 3 editions of the Larry Fine book have any more details? It seems like the relationships are complicated enough, that someone had to write them down somewhere.

Hopelessly confused in the land of Kawai.

Posted by: KawaiDon

Re: Kawai model number decoder ring - 12/29/04 09:09 PM


You are not as confused as you might think. You have things pretty much right.

The only problem is that you are comparing different pianos from Kawai that were made at different times. Comparing them as if they were all being made at the same time is not really valid. When considering them fpr purchased as a used piano they are simply different, not necessarily better or worse.

From 1970 through 1995 Kawai went through changes in philosophy in what style of piano they wanted to make. The basic structure of the pianos, the types of soundboards, the action designs and materials, the hammer types - all were changed. With each progressive change, the model designations were changed - for instance, the KG-C series became the KG-D series when the actions were changed (amongst other things). The D series became the E series when the actions were changed again, the hammers were made harder, and the scales and plates were changed. The KG-2S was a limited model that was actually a throwback to the KG-2D, for those dealers who wanted to have the older style tone of the D model. It was only made in the KG-2 size. The KG-A series reflected more subtle changes to the design, but the tone was made a little softer and sweeter than the E series.

The RX pianos were introduced in 1995, and reflect the incorporation of many of the developments made in the EX piano from 1980 through the early 90s. The Kawai web site has a section called the "RX Guide to Excellence" which gives an overview of the differences in the design, mainly as compared to Kawai's older style of construction. Even though the KG-1 and KG-2 were the same size and the string scales are very close, the piano designs were changed dramatically.

Before the RX pianos were introduced, there were some limited production models sold which were predecessors to the RX models. The R-0 was the predecessor to the RX-3, and the R-1 was the predecessor to the RX-5. The R-2 was never sold in quantities, but I have seen one or two.

The 6'6" RX-A was built in Kawai's R&D laboratory along side the EX pianos, and was completely hand made like the EX. The design was incorporated into the RX-5, so the RX-A was discontinued in 1994.

The GS models (which were sold in all parts of the world) were intended to be bigger, brighter and more powerful sounding pianos. In that sense, they were considered a notch above the KG models. The CA models were of the same design as the GS, were sold mainly in Japan and Europe, but also were sold new in the US through certain dealers. I have never heard what was different between the CA and GS models, but I believe the CA models were slightly less expensive.

The Shigeru Kawai pianos follow the same designs as the RX pianos, but they are hand made in very limited quantities with very special materials and methods. When played side by side with the RX pianos, they illustrate very well the difference between very high quality production pianos, and the highest quality hand made pianos of the same designs.

Please, please don't even ask about Kawai upright models - I won't be able to answer. I once attempted to make a chart of all of the upright models over time, and gave it up - the company simply changes the upright models too often to keep track of all the models made in the past 30 years.

When comparing used pianos, it really is best to forget the position in the line and just consider the size and listen to the individual piano. The condition of the piano and the amount of use and care it has received really are much more important than what "series" it was or where it was in the model line at that time. Personally I feel strongly that specifications should never be used to choose a new piano, but this is even more true of older pianos.

Don Mannino RPT
Kawai America
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Kawai model number decoder ring - 12/30/04 08:02 AM

Don, I know I've said this before, but you are a real credit to our industry. Thank you...and Happy New Year.
Posted by: lurksalittle

Re: Kawai model number decoder ring - 12/30/04 08:50 AM


Thanks for your detailed response. I promise not to ask about uprights.

I have played a couple of KG-2 pianos and like them, but Im open to something a little bigger, but definitely less than 7. My choices would seem to be a KG (3,5,newer 6), CA/GS (30,40,50,60) or RX (3,5). I was hoping to narrow the search down a little, the whole used buying thing can be time consuming, but it sounds like all of these models would be fine. Now it seems like more of a matter of finding the individual instrument I like.

Thank you very much for your help.

Posted by: TomFL

Re: Kawai model number decoder ring - 12/30/04 08:59 AM

I "ditto" what Steve Cohen just said - I think Don has just exemplified what this forum is all about. Thank you Don, for your informative post and Thank You FRANK, for the PF!!!

Happy (and safe) New Year to all!
Posted by: RKVS1

Re: Kawai model number decoder ring - 12/30/04 10:10 AM

What TomFl said about what Steve said about what Don said.

Petrov I,II,III,IV,V .... they're numbered backwards maybe, but there's (literally) only a handful. My "piano model" worksheet is a real MESS in the many-modeled Kawai column (Yamaha not much clearer) and although I haven't read this thread thoroughly yet, after I have a good nights sleep, find my glasses and medication, I think I'll be able to straighten that mess out a little bit. \:\)

Thanks for the clarification, Don!