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Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos has been handling the new generation of Kawai pianos in South Africa for 19 years.


In that time, Kawai have become the instruments with the highest sales in the country, ahead of all other brands, including Yamaha.

We have placed over 800 Kawai acoustic and digital pianos across the country, including 150 grands and Shigeru Kawai handcrafted grands.

In making the decision of which manufacturer to choose as our primary brand, Kawai and Yamaha were the primary contenders. 

Kawai grand piano

Our selection of Kawai was based on a number of factors:

Value for money


Quality Japanese manufacturing changed the industry by giving customers the opportunity to own an excellent instrument at a considerably lower price that the equivalent European brands. The difference between Kawai and Yamaha in this regard is that Kawai produce on a far smaller scale than Yamaha, making around 25 000 instruments annually compared to Yamaha at about 250 000. The difference shows itself in attention to detail and a high level of hand finishing.

Organisational culture


As a family owned company Kawai have a very direct line of contact from senior management and production staff to their carefully selected dealers and from there to the customer. We get outstanding support directly from Japan. Yamaha, as a huge corporation, building everything from pianos to motorbikes is unable to provide this level of personal service.

Tone and touch design


Kawai are known for a round, rich tone and high controllability of touch. This is derived from the classic European piano tradition. Yamaha fit on the brighter end of the tone spectrum, and this can translate into a somewhat brash, relentless sound.

Kawai Brand Profile

It is for good reason Kawai pianos are considered among the best affordable quality instruments available. Kawai used to build a range of instruments, but they now solely focus on building pianos. This single mindedness of purpose translates into truly wonderful instruments. Although embracing modern production processes, there remains a large amount of handwork involved in the production of each Kawai piano. They have pioneered the use of composite materials in the production of their pianos, most notably the carbon fibre used in certain parts of the piano mechanisms.​

New Kawai Grand Pianos

There are three ranges of Kawai grand pianos:

Shigeru Kawai is the hand-crafted range which rank with other fine pianos such as Fazioli and Steinway. They are also the core of Kawai’s Research and Development, and elements from these exclusive instruments are integrated in all of Kawai’s other models.

Kawai GX-series is the premium factory range, using high grade materials and tone design developed over Kawai’s 93-year history from when Koichi Kawai, the founder, was part of the first team to introduce the piano into Japan.


Kawai GL grands have a simplified cabinet design and interior finish to offer instruments that are especially cost effective. This aims at professionals, teachers, and Music Conservatories with the focus on the tone and touch.

All of these ranges use the Millennium III action, the most advanced mechanism in Kawai’s current production, with an extended key length and utilising carbon fibre in certain parts to increase power and control and reduce wear and tear as well as the effect of climatic fluctuations.

​These are some of the customers who have chosen Kawai:

  • Jill Richards, Steinway Artist and Concert Pianist

  • Christopher Duigan, Steinway Artist and Concert Pianist

  • Professor Francois Du Toit, Concert Pianist

  • Dr Franklin Larey, Concert Pianist

  • Jason Reolon, Jazz Pianist, Composer

  • Catherine Foxcroft. Concert Pianist

  • South African College of Music at UCT, Cape Town

  • UCT School of Dance

  • Rhodes University, Grahamstown

Kawai upright piano
  • University of Pretoria

  • St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown

  • Bishops College and Preparatory School, Cape Town

  • Herschel Girls Senior School, Cape Town

  • St Cyprian’s School, Cape Town

  • Westerford High School, Cape Town

  • Grey College, Bloemfontein

  • St. John’s College, Johannesburg

The fact that such discerning customers have made Kawai their brand of choice testifies to the quality of these instruments, and our confidence in recommending Kawai instruments as the best in all their price classes.

New Kawai Upright Pianos

Kawai have an unusual approach compared to many manufacturers of upright pianos. It’s common to have an “entry level” group of pianos that differ substantially from those  in the next levels. Such “entry level” pianos are produced as very basic instruments with the focus on competing by price, often with a substantial compromise on quality.

By contrast, every model Kawai produce we can recommend with confidence even if the buyer’s expectations are high. This includes music teachers, professional musicians, parents with children seriously studying music or school music departments.

Kawai achieve cost efficiency and competitive pricing through simplifying cabinet design and interior finish, and by some differentiation of materials. However, even their lower cost pianos can meet the most important needs of a discerning pianist, such as reliable control and a good range of tone colour.

As one progresses through the range, each model has a greater capacity of expressiveness. This comes from increased size and/or higher-grade materials and superior mechanical and tone design.

New Kawai digital pianos & hybrids

Kawai digital pianos offer a truly authentic piano playing experience while providing versatility, and privacy of playing with headphones. Relying on their rich experience in building fine acoustic pianos, Kawai builds digital pianos that offer the finest tone and touch available.


Wooden-key actions, Harmonic Imaging sound technology, USB digital audio and the unique Soundboard Speaker System are just a few of the innovations found in our digital pianos and keyboards.


Kawai digital pianos are some of the most advanced musical instruments in the world.  From children learning to play to Concert Performers, there are options for everyone in our range.

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