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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.

Hybrid (acoustic and digital) pianos

Most of Kawai's upright and grand pianos also available in a hybrid option. A hybrid is a fully acoustic piano, that can be switched to a fully digital interface without compromising the mechanical touch. There are two options with Kawai’s hybrid pianos, namely the ATX4 and the Aures (AR2). 

The ATX4 digital functionality can be used and listened to with headphones only. The AR2 option can be listened to on headphones, however, it can also be played through the Soundboard Speaker System which uses Onkyo speaker design projected through the piano’s solid spruce soundboard, providing an exceptional analogue quality of sound. Any other music can also be played through the Soundboard Speaker, transforming the piano into a complete and very high-end audio system.

Kawai K15-E

This is a relatively small piano with a height of 110 cm. The smaller size means that strings are shorter, and this puts some limitations on tone and projection, especially in the low bass. However, because this piano is so well designed it is unusually good for its size. Teachers and professionals who choose this model due to budget or available space find it satisfying to work on.


The cabinet is very plain with straight sides and no front leg, it does not have a “soft fall” (when the lid over the keys drops slowly into a closed position so it never bangs shut), and the mechanical components and design are different to the premium K-Hundred series uprights.

Kawai ND-21

If a larger upright is needed, either for use in a bigger space or to give the pianist a fuller, more resonant tone, especially in the bass, the ND-21 was designed to provide these qualities. The piano is 121 high which puts it in the size range of the professional level K-300 (see below). In this size class a good instrument provides a more complex sound and offers more intensity and focus.

K-Hundred Series

The pianos in this range follow on from the K-15E and ND-21 (above) in price and quality. All of these pianos have the Kawai Millennium III upright action, which uses carbon fibre in various parts to increase power, speed and durability. The carbon fibre also greatly reduces the effect of climatic fluctuations. The K-Hundred series also has an extended key length which increases power and control.

The art of designing and building high quality upright mechanisms aims to provide the pianist with outstanding control and expressiveness. These mechanisms have to stand up to comparison with the inherently superior potential of grand piano mechanisms. The Millennium III achieves these objectives.

There are seven models in the K-Hundred series; their features are summarised in the following table:

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Kawai K-200

The K-200 fits between the K-15E and the ND-21 in terms of size. It is the first in the K-Hundred series, which is the premium range of Kawai uprights. These pianos use the Millennium III upright mechanism, which is Kawai’s most advanced design. The tone range of this piano is more nuanced than the two pianos below it in price, and the bass register compares surprisingly well with the larger size instruments of around 121 to 122 cm. With an elegant cabinet style, it is suitable as a long-term investment for mid to upper level pianists, with the additional benefit of being very aesthetically pleasing.

Kawai K-300

This is the second piano in the K-Hundred series. At 122cm tall it is suitable for all levels of use up to and including professional level and advanced teaching. It is one of Kawai’s most highly regarded models.

Kawai K-500

This is the third piano in the K-Hundred series. Suitable for all levels of use up to and including professional level and advanced teaching, the size of the K-500 also makes it appropriate as an alternative to a baby grand if space and/ budget make an upright the right choice.

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