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Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action #2750262
07/08/18 05:37 PM
07/08/18 05:37 PM
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Mechanicsburg, PA
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NickTsi Offline OP
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I've had my Kawai K3 vertical for 7 years now, purchased NEW in 2011 from Taylor Music in West Chester, PA. I have not been happy at all with this instrument's sound and performance. This action is featured by Kawai as high quality/high performance with its Millenium III ABS Carbon. This thread addresses the action.

For the first two years of ownership, there have been many adjustments made to the action to resolve various issues, including loss of motion, bobbing hammers, and even too much horizontal play/movement in the keys themselves. (I've also had to have the entire fall board assembly and the vertically-oriented string cover replaced due to widespread cracking in the satin ebony finish.)

I continue to have issues related to inconsistent feel and weight across the entire action and poor ability in key repetition (medium/"eighth note" speed, even). I've had three RPTs in my area tell me that there is nothing they can do to resolve my issues after explaining and demonstrating them, even after requesting a regulation service. I've even called Kawai twice and never received any call backs from one of their lead technicians.

I understand that this is a vertical and not a grand, so I know not to expect concert grand performance, but I should at least expect consistent feel and at best GOOD performance and confidence when playing across the range of the action. I have downloaded this instrument's regulation manual with specifications and measurements. I showed this to my last technician and he still felt the piano was too new to warrant regulation.

Is there any advice you can share with me, before I just give up and sell this thing?

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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750308
07/09/18 12:08 AM
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All I can suggest is that you keep trying to find someone who can fix it for you. It should not be that much of a deal, and I do not know why people would not want to do this. Most pianos would benefit from regulation within a year or two of purchase.


Semipro Tech
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750341
07/09/18 07:24 AM
07/09/18 07:24 AM
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You said "I showed this to my last technician and he still felt the piano was too new to warrant regulation"

His statement is completely false. A piano needs regulation when it needs regulating! This can be as soon as a couple of months from new after the action felts compress.

I'm sure that some of the professional piano technicians here will make further comment.

Ian

Last edited by Beemer; 07/09/18 07:26 AM.

I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750361
07/09/18 09:05 AM
07/09/18 09:05 AM
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Rockville, MD
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May I suggest you try contacting Don Manino, Kawai USA's head technician. He's a frequent contributor here on PW. You can read more about him here: http://my.ptg.org/network/members/profile?UserKey=69ec70be-d5d5-49d8-b290-7e3b725decef.

From what you wrote, your piano **had** a lot of post-sales regulation in the numerous post-sales adjustments that were done to it. Done correctly, they should have ameliorated your problems.

As to the ability to play repeated notes quickly, upright actions, with the possible exception of a few recently improved designs on some very high end instruments which I have not had the opportunity to play, do not repeat as well as grands. You might be better served by selling your piano and acquiring something like a used N1 AvantGrand or similar model from Kawai. These instruments FEEL and repeat like "real" grands, and come increasingly close to replicating the experience of playing on a rather good acoustic grand piano. At the university where I am adjunct, we are acquiring several hybrid grands for use in practice rooms by piano majors where space and budget prohibit putting a good acoustic grand. We do this in lieu of putting a piano like the K3 or the U1, which would have been the pianos of choice years ago.

Can the repetition speed on your upright piano be improved? Maybe. You need to get the right technician involved, and you're evidently on that quest.

Good Luck with your piano.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
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Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
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1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750399
07/09/18 11:18 AM
07/09/18 11:18 AM
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Did the 3 RPT's you had working on your piano play well enough to be able to feel what you were feeling?

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750403
07/09/18 11:31 AM
07/09/18 11:31 AM
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Nick,
Contact me by PM for an alternative service opportunity for your piano.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750460
07/09/18 04:59 PM
07/09/18 04:59 PM
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Mechanicsburg, PA
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In my opinion, these three technicians do not play well enough to get the feel. They'd do the standard chord, cadence, arpeggio thing.

I forgot to mention that the last technician I had (a very kind young man, about my age) also told me he really thought the ABS Carbon action in the K3 was too light (lighter than wood) which was probably contributing to my issues. Yes -- he said that. I can't believe Kawai would utilize carbon if it would lead to unforeseen "consequences" down the road. I was hoping he would just regulate the thing, taking into consideration the specs from the Kawai manual.

I want to restate that the repetition issues I have are not exhibited when attempting rapid repetition; it is medium pace repetition where the second request for strike isn't carried out because the hammers aren't ready to be launched again onto the strings.

I can get in touch as recommended with Mr Manino. I don't remember the guy's name I tried calling a few times, I think he's out of San Diego.

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2750553
07/10/18 09:19 AM
07/10/18 09:19 AM
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Two thoughts come to mind. First, we are only hearing one side of the story. Second, regulating to specs should result in the action performing a certain way, but how it actually performs is the goal, not for the action to be in "technical" specification.

My gut feeling is "a failure to communicate" between the pianist and tuner, not quite understanding what the pianist wants. Also, once someone is unhappy with one aspect of a purchase, it seems nothing else is quite right either. That's just human nature. Like if you really, really try, you can get any upright action to bobble.

Harrisburg is out of my usual range (3 hours away), but I may end up down there for one reason or another. If you are really interested give me a call. My number is in the book (I do not do PMs), my fees are reasonable, and if you are not satisfied there is no charge. smile

[EDIT:]
Originally Posted by NickTsi
...

I want to restate that the repetition issues I have are not exhibited when attempting rapid repetition; it is medium pace repetition where the second request for strike isn't carried out because the hammers aren't ready to be launched again onto the strings.

....


Setting the checking distance closer than spec can often help this particular situation.

Last edited by UnrightTooner; 07/10/18 09:23 AM. Reason: Additional commet

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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2751532
07/14/18 06:06 PM
07/14/18 06:06 PM
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Update: emailed three technicians in my area.

1) someone I used as a tuner declined to perform any service on my piano as his specialty is grands, and also stated "with an upright there isn't a lot you can do to improve its playability,
so I'm not sure what to recommend."

2) someone else I contacted doesn't have access to bench repair space and is in no position for any major work at the moment. He recommended two RPTs: person #1 above, and someone else that never returned my calls years ago for tuning work.

3) needs to get back to me.

I swear I'm not asking for the world here. All I mentioned was an interest in a main regulation sequence to resolve some issues and mentioned what the issues were.

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2751541
07/14/18 06:33 PM
07/14/18 06:33 PM
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2751573
07/14/18 09:56 PM
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Don Maninino is likely in Lancaster Pa at the Piano Techs conference. It's been going on all week and ends Sunday.

I would suggest checking the action for excessive friction, perhaps applying alcohol and water to loosen any tight parts, then regulate the action. Wear on the hammer butt leather can contribute to uneven touch = sounds like you play the piano a lot.

Lost motion causes bobbling hammers, and playing causes lost motion, so that's a normal adjustment on a new piano after heavy use. By "movement in the keys" do you mean key dip (the distance a key travels down from it's rest position) ? Unless set wrong at the factory, it usually doesn't need adjusting so soon.

Anyway, you might have better luck finding a technician next week when they return from the convention.




Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: Bob] #2751665
07/15/18 10:40 AM
07/15/18 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob
By "movement in the keys" do you mean key dip (the distance a key travels down from it's rest position) ? Unless set wrong at the factory, it usually doesn't need adjusting so soon.


I haven't checked key dip.. The music shop's technician came by a few months after I purchased the K3, saw that the keys had some play in them at rest, called Kawai and spoke with someone in San Diego. Then he took every key off, took a damp rag and hot iron, and steamed the bottoms of every key, which I think was to condense the size of the holes. I don't know what that really did, but today I notice uneven spacing between some of the keys.

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2751823
07/16/18 04:34 AM
07/16/18 04:34 AM
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Regardless of you seeking another technician I recommend that you buy a new or used copy of Arthur Reblitz's book

Piano Servicing, Tuning and Rebuilding: For the Professional, the Student and the Hobbyist Paperback – 1 Jan 1993

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Piano-Servicing-Tuning-Rebuilding-Professional/dp/1879511037

Within its pages you will find understanding of how a piano action both upright and grand works and how it should be regulated.

All the basic measurements are mentioned and for basic regulation the few tools that are required are illustrated.

You already have the Kawai regulation manual so this book explains in great detail how to regulate. As long as you follow the sequence of regulation you should be able to restore your action. The key spacing can be easily adjusted as the front pins are oval. Turning the base of these slightly with a special wrench will alter the spacing. (Do not try to do this with a pair of pliers as you will damage the highly polished surface)

Ian


I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2751894
07/16/18 01:25 PM
07/16/18 01:25 PM
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Nick,

Does your action check well at medium blow or less?. IOW, are they held by the backchecks at this volume, or are they kind of bouncing off the backcheck?

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2751951
07/16/18 05:22 PM
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I've encountered this in the K-3. On a slow, legato repetition when the finger does not fully lift from the key, the jack may slip out from the hammer butt on the second stroke, sliding along the curve of the butt leather and failing to get far enough under the butt to drive the hammer to the string, similar to what might happen if there was no lost motion.
Is that what is happening?
I don't have a complete fix.
Try strengthening the hammer return spring, adding a bit more weight to the back of the key, change checking either way to see if it matches your technique better, and try lifting a little higher in your repeat strokes.
Is it worse with the pedal down, better with no pedal? Perhaps a bit of weight on the wippen would get the jack under the butt faster.
You might compare a Yamaha U-1 or b3 vertical to see if you have the same problem. If so, I would say you are asking for something a vertical piano action can't do.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752005
07/16/18 10:37 PM
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I have had problems getting these pianos to check at low speed. My theory (though unproven and denied by Kawai) is that it has something to do with the ecsaine OR the backcheck felt (possibly both). I have had the exact same problem with Steinway upright replacements as well as WNG upright parts. All use ecsaine on the catcher. Rarely have I had a problem when doeskin is on there. But ecsaine is now the standard in the industry (for obvious reasons).

This may in fact have nothing to do with the problem under discussion, but it sure reminds me of problems I have had (and not successfully fixed).

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752011
07/16/18 11:18 PM
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I believe it is a problem with the spring loop design. I see all pianos that use that design instead of the spring rail have a problem to some degree, because the force against the spring weakens as the hammer approaches the string. There are ways of mitigating it by balancing the hammers properly. You need a fair amount of weight behind the shank, at the very least, but it is still not ideal

I do not know why this design is used at all. Spring rails are difficult and expensive to make, but running a spring from the butt to the back of the damper stop rail instead of to a loop would be even cheaper and easier than the spring loops.


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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752038
07/17/18 05:22 AM
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I had a client with a new Kawai upright, I forget which model, that had a problem with hammer bobbling on quiet or tentative playing.

Everything seemed to be to specification. It was not long after the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Regional Convention (MARC) and I had attended Don Mannino's excellent Kawai upright regulation class, and had the Kawai upright regulation printout with me at the client's home.

All the distances were correct, and tweaking them slightly didn't stop the bobbling.

In the end, what stopped it, was bending the bridle tape wires out slightly, so that the tapes were very slightly tighter.

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: P W Grey] #2752057
07/17/18 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
I have had problems getting these pianos to check at low speed. My theory (though unproven and denied by Kawai) is that it has something to do with the ecsaine OR the backcheck felt (possibly both). I have had the exact same problem with Steinway upright replacements as well as WNG upright parts. All use ecsaine on the catcher. Rarely have I had a problem when doeskin is on there. But ecsaine is now the standard in the industry (for obvious reasons).

This may in fact have nothing to do with the problem under discussion, but it sure reminds me of problems I have had (and not successfully fixed).

Pwg

Interesting post.
Some questions come to mind:
Were you able to test your theory by replacing the catcher material?
Have any of us tested for this problem on a brand new K-whatever out of the box from the factory?
I don't hold up much hope for a product recall from Kawai, but I would hope to see the problem, if it is one of design, addressed.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
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Rockville, MD USA
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1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: David Boyce] #2752229
07/17/18 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by David Boyce
I had a client with a new Kawai upright, I forget which model, that had a problem with hammer bobbling on quiet or tentative playing.

Everything seemed to be to specification. It was not long after the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Regional Convention (MARC) and I had attended Don Mannino's excellent Kawai upright regulation class, and had the Kawai upright regulation printout with me at the client's home.

All the distances were correct, and tweaking them slightly didn't stop the bobbling.

In the end, what stopped it, was bending the bridle tape wires out slightly, so that the tapes were very slightly tighter.


Had the same exact issue within the first year. First thing that was done was to raise the hammer rail by placing some felt on the brackets. I also do recall that the bridle wires were also adjusted slightly backward. The bobbling hammers issue was resolved at that point.

I am currently corresponding with my last technician and brought up a lot of points. He also was at the convention in Lancaster PA and spoke with David Reed with Kawai. He feels he may be able to resolve some issues, short of a full regulation and is open to experimenting. Also recommended adding weight to the hammers, but of course, that's is just based on correspondence at this point. I will be printing off some of the replies in this thread just in case they would prove useful. This gentleman is very open and wanted to ensure expectations are understood with what can be done with a vertical.

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752256
07/17/18 08:29 PM
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Bridle straps, AKA Hammer return devices (on some pianos) . Sometimes the key dip needs to be deeper than spec. I suppose roughing up the catcher with sandpaper might help. Specs are just a guideline - it's ok to deviate from them to get the action to cycle properly.




Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: Seeker] #2752344
07/18/18 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Seeker
Originally Posted by P W Grey
I have had problems getting these pianos to check at low speed. My theory (though unproven and denied by Kawai) is that it has something to do with the ecsaine OR the backcheck felt (possibly both). I have had the exact same problem with Steinway upright replacements as well as WNG upright parts. All use ecsaine on the catcher. Rarely have I had a problem when doeskin is on there. But ecsaine is now the standard in the industry (for obvious reasons).

This may in fact have nothing to do with the problem under discussion, but it sure reminds me of problems I have had (and not successfully fixed).

Pwg

Interesting post.
Some questions come to mind:
Were you able to test your theory by replacing the catcher material?
Have any of us tested for this problem on a brand new K-whatever out of the box from the factory?
I don't hold up much hope for a product recall from Kawai, but I would hope to see the problem, if it is one of design, addressed.



No, I have not actually messed with changing it (on newer instruments). When I am replacing leather on an older instrument I never use ecsaine, only leather. Now...is that a perfect solution? Unfortunately not, since it is an interface thing with the backcheck felt. I have had difficulty obtaining backcheck felt hard enough to provide firm enough interfacing. Virtually all the felt sold as backcheck felt today is too soft and moves as the catcher comes in contact with it, therefore not providing a firm grab. On a hard blow it is no problem. It is the medium to soft ones where the problem lies. If the old felt is still in good shape (owner did not wait till catchers were worn to wood and digging troughs into the backchecks) I can re-use it and it usually works well. If they are shot and need replacement...I expect minor issues.

Anybody have a good source for dense backcheck felt, and cut wide enough to fill up a backcheck head?

Now, although I have not actually tried it, I believe I recall Del Fandrich suggesting adding a small weight to the catcher to provide the inertia that is lacking due to the spring thing. This could be a bit tricky on a plastic action.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 07/18/18 09:41 AM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752373
07/18/18 11:38 AM
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On the OP's piano, I think it's definitely worth trying just bending the bridle strap wires towards the player a just a little, and see what happens.

Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752397
07/18/18 02:35 PM
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I would agree

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752456
07/18/18 07:19 PM
07/18/18 07:19 PM
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Could you make a quick video showing us the issue? Now you've got me really curious to see this in person.



Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752877
07/20/18 08:14 PM
07/20/18 08:14 PM
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Bob Offline
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An upright grand I tuned today had hammer return straps. The notes where the bridles were broken were a bit slow to return.




Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2752942
07/21/18 10:40 AM
07/21/18 10:40 AM
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slobajudge Offline
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My recommendation is to sell that piano. It is obvious that it doesn`t fit you well whatever the reason may be. People here choose your side, but I am not convinced what is the real reason after bunch of technicians who doesn`t know how to help you and don`t understand you. Maybe the problem is your feeling about that piano, so get rid of it and next time carefully choose another one.

Last edited by slobajudge; 07/21/18 10:43 AM.
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2753025
07/21/18 08:01 PM
07/21/18 08:01 PM
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Posts: 1,362
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline
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Orange County, CA
It's amazing the speculation that appears from so many sources here, non of whom have seen the piano.

I am not willing to join in and speculate what the issue is. But keep in mind that the Kawai action is very widely respected, and performs extremely well when it is set up correctly. Something is wrong with your piano that needs to be fixed.

It amazes me some of the opinions expressed here.

Call Kawai America and ask to speak with David Reed, the tech support manager. Let him know what the issues are, tell him the names of the technicians who have been out, and of course the information about the piano and when you bought it, etc. He will help get this sorted out. 800-421-2177.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: KawaiDon] #2753037
07/21/18 10:10 PM
07/21/18 10:10 PM
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Michigan
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kpembrook Online content
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Originally Posted by KawaiDon
It's amazing the speculation that appears from so many sources here, non of whom have seen the piano.



Absolutely. A real technician onsite will provide actually useful information. Anything online in this kind of circumstance is pure speculation.
Sorry I was unable to connect with OP when I was in Harrisburg last week.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Kawai K3 - Technicias won't regulate action [Re: NickTsi] #2753038
07/21/18 10:12 PM
07/21/18 10:12 PM
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Minneapolis, MN
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I had a Kawai UST-9 for 11 years and had at most one problem with just one key. I know yours is a different model, but there's gotta be a tech out there who will be able to understand and fix the problem.

Good luck!



Mason & Hamlin AA
Working my way through Faber-Piano Literature Book 3 and Piano Sonatinas Book 2
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