In 2012, Kawai updated the Shigeru Kawai grands, changing the cabinet styling and some of the pianos’ construction features. The inside of the rim is now finished with bird’s-eye maple veneer, and the round legs have been changed to straight legs with brass trim. The rim itself is now made of alternating layers of rock maple and mahogany, which Kawai says provides more power without losing warmth in the tone. The structure at the front of the piano has been made stronger, and the beams underneath are now made from spruce instead of the laminated mahogany Kawai uses in its other models. The keys have been lengthened for a better touch, especially on the smaller models.
Each buyer of a Shigeru Kawai piano receives a visit within the first year by a Kawai master technician from the factory in Japan. These are the same factory technicians who do the final installation of actions in pianos, as well as the final voicing and regulation. According to those who have watched them work, these Japanese master technicians are amazingly skilled. Because the Shigeru Kawai pianos have been on the market only ten years and in very limited quantities, many piano technicians have yet to service one. Those who have, however, tend to rank them among the world’s finest instruments, and Shigeru Kawai pianos are often chosen by pianists participating in international piano competitions.
Warranty: Kawai and Shigeru Kawai — 10 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.
Kimball Piano USA, Inc.
1819 North Major Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60639
Kimball, a name with a long history in the piano world (see The Piano Book for details), is now being produced by Kimball Piano USA, Inc., which acquired the rights to the Kimball name in 2005. Kimball International, which previously owned the Kimball brand and produced Kimball pianos from 1959 to 1996, was primarily a furniture maker that mass-produced a very average piano.
In contrast, Kimball is now controlled by a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) who has returned Kimball to its historical roots in Chicago and says he is placing the company’s focus on the musical instrument and on technical details of American piano design and construction. The result of this focus is two new collections of Kimball pianos: Classic and Artist.
The Kimball Classic Collection consists of the 5' 1" model K1 and 6' 2" model K3 grands. Parts and components for these models are being sourced primarily from China and Europe. They include a rim made of maple and oak (grands); full-length back posts (vertical); bridges planed and notched by hand in the traditional manner; a wet-sand cast plate; Herrburger Brooks keys, action, and hammers; Röslau strings; Delignit pinblock; and a solid spruce soundboard.
The Kimball Artist Collection includes the 5' 8" model A2 grand and the 49" model A49 vertical. The company says that the Artist Collection embodies its commitment to producing high-quality performance pianos by paying great attention to the design of the scale, soundboard, and action, and to proper execution and attention to details. High-end components, primarily from Germany, include a rim of European beech (grand), Renner action (grand), Strunz premium solid spruce soundboard and ribs, Delignit pinblock, Röslau strings, Klinke agraffes, and Abel hammers. The vertical has full-length spruce back posts and a Herrburger Brooks action; cabinets are from China.
In the U.S., Kimball is doing final assembly and detailing of the instruments, with a major focus on proper action, hammer, and key installation to ensure superb playability. At its facility in Chicago, Kimball now has a showroom where, by appointment, both individual customers and dealers are welcome to see and play the new pianos.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.
Doremi USA Inc.
5036 Dr. Phillips Boulevard, Suite 288
Orlando, Florida 32819
Pianos made by: Yantai Kingsburg Piano Co., Ltd., Yantai, Shandong Province, China
Yantai Kingsburg, formerly known as Yantai Longfeng, was established in 1988, and at various times made pianos under the Steigerman and Perzina brand names. It is located in a temperate area of northern China that, the company says, is ideal for piano making because of its moderate humidity level.