The GL Series Grand Pianos first arrived at piano showrooms in 2015, and they really set a new standard for what was possible out of a mass-produced, lower-cost grand piano. At 6’2″ in length, the Kawai GL-50 occupies that critical size range of just over 6 feet – a size range many consider to be the entry point to “professionally sized” pianos.
Typically, when folks are already considering a piano over 6 feet in length, they’ll often opt for an instrument presented and marketed as a true professional or institutional quality instrument. While Kawa
markets the GL series as the lower cost, home-based version of their professional GX series, the GL-50 is more than capable of performing well beyond its price in a professional/institutional setting.
The GL-50 shares a very similar scale with the upgraded GX-3, and actually features many of the same premium features, including Millennium III Action with abs-carbon technology, extra-long key-sticks as well as concert-length key buttons for optimized energy transfer.
The attention to detail is obvious too, with other lesser noticed upgrades features including solid brass agraffes for more accurate string spacing, dual duplex scaling for more complex harmonics, and even an 11-ply multi-grip pin block for the best possible tuning stability.
Kawai’s GL50 Grand features arguably Kawai’s most innovative contribution to the piano world – the Millennium III Action made with Carbon Fiber Action Parts. This action is currently featured throughout the entire grand piano Kawai lineup and gives pianists are far better touch than other instruments in the GL50’s class.
This action solves a lot of issues traditionally associated with piano actions as they relate to durability, as well as performance. For example, all of the smaller parts are made abs-carbon which is both stronger and lighter than wood equally a faster response, and carbon fiber is not susceptible to the vicissitudes of changing weather. This action also incorporates longer key stick length for better control, along with concert-length key buttons to essentially replicates the feel of a 9 foot concert grand.
The GL50 also boasts a multi-laminated keybed to ensure optimum energy transfer between the musician and the instrument, as well steel-reinforced keyslips to prevent warping, and even sticky keys if the piano ever gets bumped.
What’s perhaps most impressive though is the fact that this action is the exact same one you’ll find in the GX-3 and even the hand-crafted Shigeru Kawai SK3. No other manufacturer has this type of trickle-down effect throughout the various quality lines of their range.
The Kawai GL-50 Grand Piano really sings! It’s got a very expressive sound at any dynamic level, and a great harmonic range, common among all Kawai pianos. The GL-50 has a sound that’s both very clear but also full at the same time, and fills spaces of all sizes beautifully!
Combined with Kawai’s high-level craftsmanship, there are quite a few features contributing to the tone of this instrument, including extra-long bass strings, AA solid spruce soundboard that’s also tapered for improved resonance, and a full perimeter hardwood Matoa rim for additional projection.
The GL50 also has duplex scaling which increases the complexity of the harmonics throughout the instrument.
Kawai is very fortunate in that they still make their own hammers, one of only three remaining piano manufacturers who can make this claim. The GL50 uses Maple hammers made entirely by Kawai.
The soundboard is another feature that really makes the GL-50 stand out. Kawai uses straight-grained/quarter-sawn, AA Solid Spruce wood, which is then precision tapered. Tapering is a costly process which means that it’s not common among pianos in this price point, but it’s without a question an industry best practice that improves the acoustic properties of the soundboard.
The Kawai GL-50 Grand Piano, like the rest of Kawai’s new GL series, has bar none the best build quality in their instrument class, and includes some very innovative construction techniques, which are also found in the GX Series.
The rim of the GL50 is a full hard wood rim (Matoa), used in order to provide the piano with better protection, tuning stability, and overall longevity. Many pianos in the GL Series’ price range are built on softwood rims, which do not provide these same advantages.
The GL50 pianos also incorporates another premium feature from the GX series – ‘SOLID’ construction, or Stretcher Over-Lap Integrated Design. This is a fancy way of saying that the pinblock and stretcher are combined fitted to the rim as a single unit. The stretcher bar is double with width over past models and what is typical in this price point, which helps promote long-term strength.
The GL-50 also utilizes Kawai’s V-Pro Plate, another fixture of the GX series, along with an ultra-slow soft fall fallboard.