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Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
#2804370 01/20/19 12:54 PM
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Dear Shigeru Kawai owners,

The day after tomorrow, a Kawai Master Piano Artisan is scheduled to visit my SK-2 that I bought a year ago. I'm very, very happy with the SK-2, and I couldn't think of a better instrument for me. As perhaps many new SK owners before me, I’m very excited and somewhat insecure about what to expect of the MPA visit (or if relevant, what to request at the visit). If any experienced SK owner would comment on this, I would be happy.

My particular SK-2 is a very vibrant instrument, meaning that playing it, I feel very connected (some sense of resonant feeling in the keys). Also, even being only 180 cm, it possesses very large reserves of sheer volume (dynamic range is very large in my opinion – I got shivers down my spine when I first played ff in Brahms' Rhapsody op.79,2 – it’s perhaps even a little too loud for my music room). Its tone is clear and distinct (reminding me mostly of some nice Yamahas), not mellow (as often has been said of Kawais), very even and shines most in the bass, tenor and lower treble. In the extreme treble (damper-less part) it can be a bit sharp. The action is very nice, fast and frictionless. It feels slightly heavy and the key travel feels a bit deeper/longer than on e.g. Steinways. The total instrument feels like build with a lot of care, especially for integrating the parts into a very consistent and well-rounded whole. Sometimes I think of my SK as perhaps not that different in its constituent parts from other better-quality pianos, I have played in the past (a particular well-prepped Yamaha C6 and a Kawai GS50 come to my mind), the difference perhaps being the care and many hours that went into optimizing the whole instrument of the SK-2 - it's really a joy to play it!

I have since tested a different SK-2 at my dealer. It had a somewhat subdued tone compared to mine, but also seemed to have a somewhat easier played, noticeable lighter action perhaps with less key depth (not unlike Steinways, I’ve tried).
Another piano I liked was a 212 cm Steingraber, which had a lighter action, more woody and clouded tone that at p and pp had some occlusion, but then opened up at mf in an easily controllable way (however, the tone wasn’t as even across the keyboard as on the SK).

Part of me would like my SK-2 to move a bit in this direction: lighter action to require less effort of me in making music and a more clouded/occluded tone at the low part of the dynamic spectrum. Also perhaps a bit less loud overall. My question then is, if I by gaining speed/reducing playing effort in the action will lose control of dynamics, and if I by altering the tone towards mellow/subdued will lose dynamic width. Also, I ask myself, if the most sensible thing is to let the MPA follow his own wisdom in how to make the best instrument of my SK-2 on his and its own terms.

Any 2 cents on this would be appreciated.

Best,
Kasper

Last edited by kaspere; 01/20/19 12:55 PM.

Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and Berg
2017 Shigeru Kawai SK-2
1950'es Zimmermann upright
Fender Classic 50's Precision Bass -> Dynacord Bass-King T -> BassLab 212
RME Babyface (mk.1) + some microphones
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804410 01/20/19 02:58 PM
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I don't know how to Shigeru techs proceed but you could ask them the same questions you posed in your post. I don't know if the tech asks for input from the owner although that's certainly reasonable and the best way to get the piano the way you like it. Probably some posters more knowledgeable than me will offer opinions on your questions.

In terms of voicing, you can ask them if they can proceed in stages, i.e. if you are leaning towards more mellow to make it just a little more mellow, see how you like it and then make it more mellow if you want to. Or you ask him to just voice a small section of the piano as a test area. In terms of the feel, I think it's true that if the touch is too light it can be difficult to control, so again you don't want to go too far in that direction. There may be a given touch range that the tech would be comfortable and recommend adjusting the piano to.

If you are unsure of what changes you would like I think you could ask the tech what they recommend and see if what they say makes sense to you. Try and have as much discussion as possible. I think that's part of the tech's responsibility. Hopefully, he will be able to explain things to you in non overly technical terms.


Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/20/19 03:02 PM.
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804420 01/20/19 03:27 PM
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When talking to a your master tech, find pieces or parts of pieces to play so the MPA can see your touch and techniques. You can talk about what you love and what you’d like worked on right there. It’s a wonderful opportunity for you and your piano.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
My piano’s voice is beautiful!
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Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804429 01/20/19 03:51 PM
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Hello Kasper,

I had an SK2 a few years back, and had the MPA come to visit as well. Although they advertise that you'll get a whole day of service, don't be surprised if this translates to about 4 hours or so. Perhaps the larger (read more expensive) Shigerus may get more time in the home?

Given that time constraint I'd suggest that he'll voice the hammers to your liking, and give it a superb tuning and address any pedal issues and obvious faults with hammer alignment, etc. As for the regulation being lightened, I would think this would be outside of those time constraints.

I have to say that the experience that I had was interesting, but not magical. The MPA did voice it to my liking, and he was obviously very good at what he does. If you already love your instrument, he'll be able to tweak it a little more in your preferred direction. I found that I couldn't really tell the difference until I played if for a number of hours after he left.
I ended up selling that particular piano to get a bigger one of a different brand, but I still miss the sublime touch and the tone in the tenor section.


Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.


Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
scepticalforumguy #2804448 01/20/19 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by scepticalforumguy
As for the regulation being lightened, I would think this would be outside of those time constraints.
Sometimes very short and minor adjustments can make a big difference in the feel. At my most recent tuning my tech lubricated the hammer flanges, and it improved the feel and control of pp playing in a major way. It took him 5-10 minutes.

Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804487 01/20/19 06:50 PM
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You lucky duck.

I love Shigerus.

I would give my left hand for a Shigeru, but then I wouldn't be able to play, but I really like them that much.

Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804501 01/20/19 07:20 PM
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I believe your MPA will be Mr. Takanori (Terry) Otake, one of our most experienced concert technicians. Please let him know what you would like - tell him as best you can, Play the high notes and let him know it's too bright, let him know it seems a little more heavy in touch than the other SK2 you played, etc. Just having the action regulation, voicing and tuning refined there in your home will make a big difference.

Enjoy!


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804520 01/20/19 08:27 PM
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While I do not own a Kawai piano, I would be very interested in the results that the technician will achieve on his visit. I hope that you will report back to us after the work has been done and give us your impressions of the changes effected.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804679 01/21/19 11:28 AM
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Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804696 01/21/19 12:17 PM
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Hi Kaspere. I too am envious of your SK2. Concerning lightening the touch, I have spend a good amount of time experimenting/adjusting things on my Kawai GL10 to address this very issue. I have taken the action out and lubricated it, and adjusted the hammer blow distance a few times. My conclusion is that the amount of aftertouch is what affects things the most. No aftertouch, and it will feel like you're playing on concrete. Too much aftertouch and the feel will be light, but it will also feel as if you have rubber under your keys. It seems in your case, you might ask the tech to check the keydip and hammer blow distance, as these two things affect the amount of aftertouch. If your keydip is correct, my guess is that your hammer blow distance is a little excessive for your piano. I think 46 mm is Kawai spec. The default in many pianos is 44.5 mm (1-3/4 inch). Maybe your piano would play better with a shorter hammer blow distance. Reducing mine to 44.5mm was the one adjustment that lightened the touch on my Kawai more than any other.

Good luck!

-Emery


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2804824 01/21/19 07:23 PM
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Would having the piano blow distance adjusted on a humble Kawai GE-1 (5' 1") be an expensive affair? If anyone has a clue, either in terms of time to do the job or ballpark figure for cost, I'd be curious.
I notice that my teacher's 6' 1" Kawai (don't know which model) has a slightly lighter touch than mine which I prefer.


Kawai GE-1
Faber All-in-One, Book 1
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805000 01/22/19 10:36 AM
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Dear all,

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and insightful suggestions. Mr. Otake is now through the first four hours of regulation and still going. As you kindly suggested, I gave my preferences to Mr. Otake encompassing an overall lighter action for easier/more effortless playability; a more mellow tone overall and especially in the extreme treble; slightly shallower keydip and (if possible) making the damper lift with a little less grip (producing a very faint sound). Also a single key had a slightly different sound, which he has corrected. He seems excellently skilled and very methodological and analytical in his approach to my preferences. I am looking very much forward to testing the final result, and I will keep you posted!

Best,
Kasper


Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and Berg
2017 Shigeru Kawai SK-2
1950'es Zimmermann upright
Fender Classic 50's Precision Bass -> Dynacord Bass-King T -> BassLab 212
RME Babyface (mk.1) + some microphones
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805014 01/22/19 11:12 AM
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Kaspere, that's very exciting to get an interim report while the work Mr. Otake is doing is still in progress.
Looking forward to your follow-up.


Kawai GE-1
Faber All-in-One, Book 1
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
TryAnotherName #2805215 01/22/19 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by TryAnotherName
Would having the piano blow distance adjusted on a humble Kawai GE-1 (5' 1") be an expensive affair? If anyone has a clue, either in terms of time to do the job or ballpark figure for cost, I'd be curious.
I notice that my teacher's 6' 1" Kawai (don't know which model) has a slightly lighter touch than mine which I prefer.


It's a very easy adjustment, just have to do it 88 times ;-) It took me about an hour. Your tech should be able to give you an estimate.


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805349 01/23/19 06:24 AM
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Thanks, Emery! I will ask my piano tech when scheduling the next tuning in a few months.

But obviously no comparison to Kaspere's Shigeru Kawai. Kaspere, hope you are thrilled with the recent adjustments!


Kawai GE-1
Faber All-in-One, Book 1
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805369 01/23/19 07:28 AM
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Dear all,

Mr.Otake stayed for another hour yesterday, before he asked me to test the result of his efforts. It was a very exciting moment for me and my 8-years old! To my joy and amazement, mr.Otake had produced an even better result than expected. All my wishes and preferences as stated above had been fulfilled. But somehow the piano also now has an even more tight, crisp, responsive action - it's markedly faster and easier to play, but it didn't lose any sense of control. Also, the tone has been softened slightly, more so in the extreme treble. It has become slightly darker, woodier sounding at low to moderate levels, while retaining the dynamic width which I have learned to love during the past year - overall the tone (which already was very fine) now has gotten to a new level of delicacy. I would say, that the instrument now has more refined colors from pp to mp. Damper lifting was also improved (less lifting noise). We just kept playing for hours yesterday night.

I am very, very grateful to mr.Otake for his excellent skills and effort in understanding how to integrate my preferences into the character of the instrument, while optimizing the whole.

Thanks also to all of you for your suggestions. It was clearly a good idea to discuss my preferences with mr.Otake, who excellently integrated them into his work.

Best,
Kasper


Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and Berg
2017 Shigeru Kawai SK-2
1950'es Zimmermann upright
Fender Classic 50's Precision Bass -> Dynacord Bass-King T -> BassLab 212
RME Babyface (mk.1) + some microphones
Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805375 01/23/19 07:44 AM
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How exciting! I have played quite a few Shigeru Kawai instruments, including, SK2, SK6 and SK7, but mostly SK3s. I remember two in particular (both SK3). One I loved as soon as I played it. Another I did not enjoy that much, but after an extensive regulation similar to what you describe it felt transformed (I did not realize it was the same instrument until I checked the serial number). A few weeks later it was sold, albeit not to me.

Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805378 01/23/19 07:44 AM
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Congratulations! A skilled technician can do wonders with a fine piano. Enjoy your instrument!

Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805389 01/23/19 07:55 AM
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A good experience and "happy ending"!



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Re: Shigeru Kawai: MPA visit next week
kaspere #2805528 01/23/19 01:58 PM
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Awesome Kaspere. I bet you can't keep your hands off that piano now! If you have any thoughts on what exactly Mr. Otake adjusted, please post. Amateur tinkerers want to know. :-)


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
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