Video Overview & Demo
Kawai K500 Upright Piano – Top-End Performance for a Mid-Range Price
Kawai has been building pianos since 1927 and is currently one of the top-rated pianos manufactures in the world. With over 200 piano products available, Kawai is highly focused on building a product to meet every customer need. The Kawai K500 is a perfect example of a product that offers exceptional performance, while still giving great value. Over the past 10 years, Kawai has won more industry awards than any other piano manufacturer in the world.
Kawai uses only straight-grained, quartersawn solid spruce for K Series soundboards. Each soundboard is strategically tapered to maximize its tone producing capability. Only those that meet or exceed our demanding quality standards are selected for use in our professional upright pianos.
The Kawai K500 upright piano is a 51” model from Kawai and a member of the K-Series of pianos which debuted in the early 2010s. The piano offers massive value for its price point (~$10,000 USD ‘street’, give or take $1000 depending on market), offering several features typically found on pricier European models from C. Bechstein, Sauter, Schimmel. These include:
- Mahogany-core Hammers
- Pure Copper Hand-wound Bass Strings
- Tuned Duplex Scale (Treble) **
- Extended Key-stick lengths equalize key weight between front and back, and better simulate the grand feel
- A more extended bass bridge for longer string lengths for its box height
- 5 Laminated Hardwood Backports
- Direct Steel Hardpoints between backports and plate
- 100% Built and Assembled in Japan
- Longer Key Length
- NEOTEX Keytop Surface
- Ultra-Slow Fall Fallboard System
- Millenium III Carbon Fiber High-Performance Action
- Extra Long #1 Bass String
And of course, the biggest and most obvious difference of all, which is their proprietary carbon-fiber-reinforced action called “MILLENNIUM III”, an action now found in virtually all of their models including the ultra-exclusive Shigeru Kawai series.
Although Kawai doesn’t give their uprights ‘version codes’ in the same way that Yamaha does (i.e. U1-A, U1-M), the K500 has gone through several technical updates since its introduction, so that a K500 purchased in 2019 has notable differences between it and one purchased in 2013. The biggest updates are around the Millennium III Action; they’ve added energy-absorbing foam that now adorns the hammer rest rail, which has even further increased the repetition speed of what was already the fastest recorded repetition speed in the industry. Millennium III Upright Action features components made of ABS-Carbon, a composite material created by the infusion of carbon fiber into our renowned ABS Styran. The foam virtually eliminates any bounce as the shank returns to its rest position, reducing the chance of a missed strike while playing softly or quickly.
The K500 competes directly with Yamaha’s U3, W. Hoffmann’s v126, and is a close cousin to the Boston 126 (designed by Steinway, produced by Kawai in the same factory & production line).
The Kawai K-series was released in the mid-1990s and along with the Yamaha, U-series is considered the standard for colleges, universities, and institutional buyers. Models like the Kawai K3, Kawai K15, and Kawai K25 have all been game-changers in the new modern world upright pianos. Some of the milestones that Kawai has achieved include offering the first upright piano in the world with a fully composite action, the first upright piano in the world under 49″ with a bass string over 46.5″, and the first upright piano in the world to offer a full carbon fiber composite action.
The Kawai K500 is a brand new model that will replace that Kawai K6. At 51″ tall is a perfect option for a professional musician or music studio who needs the sound and performance of a grand, but in a small space. The Kawai K500 has a very big rich sound, excellent action responsiveness, and very elegant cabinet design.
** Kawai K500’s tone is very warm with a surprisingly strong treble attack which projects well, without feeling metallic or shrill. We can thank their innovative duplex scaling for this. I say innovative, because on first look, literally, no-one can find where the duplex is on a K500. I assure you – it is there – but Kawai’s crafty engineers have hidden it somewhere you almost never see it – on the capo itself. This innovation promotes controlled and strengthened upper harmonics, a tonal category that upright pianos are notoriously weak in.
The bass is clear, full, and without any boominess or ‘woofiness’ that you sometimes get with extended string designs. There is also a substantial increase in power between it and it’s little brother the K300.
As mentioned above, the K500 is equipped with an advanced version of the Millennium III action, with energy-absorbing rest rails, carbon-fiber-reinforced action components, lengthened key-sticks, and mahogany core hammers. That’s a mouth-full for sure, but the result is an ultra-smooth action which gives most grand pianos under $20,000 a run for their money in terms of power, control, and repetition speed.
Kawai gave some exterior trim updates to the K series which, while subtle, were nonetheless stylish and modern. Beveled edging, a redesigned gable, an art-deco inspired toe block, and an ultra-wide music desk (the widest if I’m not mistaken) all make for a functional design that still looks elegant when it needs to serve as a showpiece in a living room.
51” (130 cm)
|Width||59” (149 cm)|
|Depth||24.5” (62 cm)|
|Weight||525 lbs (238 kg)|
|Touch||White Key Surfaces||NEOTEX™|
|Black Key Surfaces||NEOTEX™|
|Action||Millennium III Upright Action with ABS-Carbon Composites|
|Hammer Felts||All Underfelted|
|Sound||Soundboard||Solid Spruce, Tapered|
|Speaking Length of No.1 String||48.4" (1230 mm)|
|Exterior Design||Pedals||Soft, Muffler, Damper|
|Fallboard||"Soft Fall" Closing System|
|Other Features||Steel Reinforced Keyslip & Keybed|