The Kawai GX-1 grand piano provides a level of performance and power rarely seen in a piano of its size. Despite its 5’5” frame, this is an instrument built with professional pianists in mind. More compact than a typical 6’ professional grand, but still larger than a typical baby grand, the GX-1 is perfect for those needing a professional quality instrument of high-level craftsmanship while working with smaller spaces.
The 5’5” Kawai GX-1 baby grand piano is the smallest entry in the GX BLAK Performance Series pianos which hit the market in 2013 as an upgrade to Kawai’s vaunted RX line. The GX-1 plays a critical role with its place in the GX line; a fully professional, performance-level piano adaptable to a variety of situations due to its small frame. All GX pianos are fully made in Japan, and offer a variety of features and level of elegance typically reserved for more expensive European instruments. The GX-1 competes directly with Yamaha’s C1X, W. Hoffmann’s v158, and the Boston GP-163 (designed by Steinway, produced by Kawai in the same factory & production line).
The GX-1 is equipped with Kawai’s industry-leading Millennium III action, with energy-absorbing rest rails, carbon-fiber-reinforced action components, lengthened key-sticks for greater touch control, and mahogany hammers. This action also features Kawai’s exclusive NEOTEX key surfaces, a composite material with moisture-absorbing qualities for greater control. All of this combines to create an incredibly smooth and responsive key action that belies its price point.
The Millennium III action is the most significant difference between the GX-1 and the pianos it competes with, and this action can be found in many models throughout Kawai’s entire product line, including the handmade Shigeru Kawai pianos. Today, there is a virtual consensus among piano technicians that actions of abs-carbon composites will require less maintenance over time than traditional wooden actions.
With an incredibly wide tonal range, the GX-1’s overall tonal profile can be best described with one word – versatile. While its overall character is that classic warm, darker tone Kawai is revered for, there’s a huge range of possibilities here. Capable of just the right amount of brightness to contrast with its naturally darker character, the GX-1’s complex sound is appropriate for a wide range of musical styles.
The GX-1 features solid brass agraffes for even string spacing resulting in long-term consistency of tone, as well as dual-duplex scaling.
Kawai only uses high-quality double felted Mahogany-core Hammers in the GX1. The hammers are T stapled and underfelted to preserve their shape over time. Mahogany is both lighter and denser than maple making it a superior material to work with for hammers.
Kawai uses Sitka solid spruce for the GX Series soundboards. Every solid spruce soundboard is then tapered to enhance its ability to produce sound – a process typically reserved for handcrafted instruments. Kawai applies very strict quality standards when selecting the woods for these soundboards. These soundboards are another important feature that helps the GX-1 achieve a superb range of tonal expressiveness.
The biggest reason for the GX-1’s highly versatile tone is Kawai’s Konsei Katagi rim design, which uses a mix of different hardwoods to allow for a huge range of expression. The inner rim uses small-pore hardwoods to promote clarity, as well as large-pore hardwoods which results in a darker, warmer tone.
The bass is clear, and surprisingly powerful for its 5’5” frame. Kawai’s CORE system, or “Convergence for Optimum Reflected Energy”, is a big reason for this. The CORE system refers to the specific way the rim, v-pro plate, and underside beams are designed in conjunction with one another. The result is a robust structure that enhances the inner rim’s ability to conduct energy.
The GX1 also makes use of Kawai’s Stretcher Over-Lap Integrated Design, or SOLID for short. The GX-1’s pinblock and stretcher bar are integrated as a single unit into the piano’s rim. The stretcher bar is thicker than normal, which promotes tuning stability as well as long-term durability of the instrument as a whole. Steel reinforced keyslip and keybed further contribute to this focus on maximized structural integrity, as does the soft fall fallboard.
The exterior design is highly aesthetic, and lid prop with two positions offers good versatility.