The ST-1 from Kawai is a 47” tall upright piano and is the 2019-released, evolution of their world-famous UST-9 Institutional Upright piano model. Kawai’s goal with this instrument was to provide the studio/school piano market with an upright that didn’t sacrifice on musicality, but was able to exceed the durability requirements of such settings..and boy did they deliver!
The ST-1 is equally as enjoyable a piano to play as any of the incredible Kawai KSeries Professional Instruments, and even includes many of the line’s most coveted features, such as: Millenium III Carbon Fibre Action, Extended Length Key Sticks, Mahogany Core/Double-Felted Hammers, Solid Spruce Tapered Soundboards, Soft-Fall Close and even the new Microcell Repetition Foam on the Action!
Kawai’s ST-1 comes in a rugged yet beautiful satin-finished cabinet, has significantly larger music rest than any other instrument in its class and even features rubber wheels making it easy to move the piano from place to place (ex. from choir rehearsal to sectional).
Whenever a high quality, beautiful sounding and feeling upright piano is needed for a musical setting where durability needs to be at the top of the priority list, the Kawai ST-1 Institutional Upright Piano needs to be considered
Probably the feature that will stand out the most to schools and institutions is the presence of Kawai’s Millennium III Action. This ABS-Carbon based action is more reliable and will require less long-term maintenance as compared to a wood-based action.
Are you sacrificing musicality for more reliability? Not at all, in fact, the Millennium III action outplays virtually all of piano actions at this price point. It’s fluid and easy to control, and has extended length key-sticks for a more even response across the length of the keys.
This is the exact same action you’ll find throughout the more expensive K series uprights, and the grand piano version is found all throughout the GX and even the handmade Shigeru series.
Warmth and richness is what the ST-1 exudes in spades. The bass strings are extra-long resulting in a powerful, clear bass register, and the mid and treble ranges are clear without being bright.
The ST-1 doesn’t have the shrillness sometimes associated with uprights less than 48” in height and is more than adequate for advanced classical and jazz study.
Just like the larger K series uprights, the ST-1 also uses premium double felted mahogany core hammers produced in house to help achieve that warm tone. You’ll typically find maple hammers in this price, so this is another small but important area where Kawai and the ST-1 stands out.
Kawai also goes above and beyond with the soundboards in their ST-1 by not only selecting good quality Solid Spruce (Sitka), but the soundboards are precisely tapered to improve the acoustic properties of the spruce, which is one of the critical reasons why the ST-1 sounds like a larger piano.
Kawai has also positioned ribs along the soundboard to preserve the soundboards shape over time, which is especially important for an instrument that will be subjected to rigorous institutional use.
The most notable aesthetic difference between the ST-1 model and Kawai’s uprights would certainly be its cabinet. All of the available ST-1 finishes are Satin instead of Polished, which prevent the piano from attracting those grimy/constant fingerprints. The instrument’s case also has a more ‘rugged’ cabinet design, which among other things allows the instrument’s music rack to be a full 47” long, allowing for optimal convenience when teaching, composing etc. Also helpful if the piano will be moving from spot to spot on a regular basis will be its rubber wheels, which are infinitely easier to navigate than brass casters.
It’s also very important to point out that the back post construction on the Kawai ST-1 is nothing short of remarkable for its instrument class, and boasts 5 powerful 80mm x 60mm backposts, which improve both the pianos overall durability and of course tuning stability.