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Kawai GS30 very bright
#2960506 03/26/20 01:05 AM
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I've been looking for a 6 foot piano for a while, and today I saw a nice 1984 Kawai GS30 in a private sale. Pin block is clean, strings have very little rust, ribs are tight to the soundboard, and sustain is good. It even plays pretty nicely even though the letoff and drop are a bit wide. Rail pins probably need polishing, but action isn't heavy or sluggish. Keys are tight. It looks to have been well cared for, and the hammers have very little wear. The woman who owned it bought it new and kept the service receipts for the piano. I don't see that any work had been done other than tunings. I think with a good regulation and lubrication, it should play quite well.

The only thing I don't like is how bright it is. It does not have the rounded Kawai sound I expected and have experienced on KGs of that era. Had I played it with my eyes closed, I'd have thought it was an old Yamaha. Given the lack of wear on the hammers, I can only surmise that this is about how it sounded when new.

Does anyone else have experience with GS30s from the 1980s? Did they seem much brighter than the KGs? Any success in getting them voiced down to that more rounded Kawai sound?

Thanks.


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: 2018 Kawai GL10
Current fling (and it's getting serious): 1999 Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960740 03/26/20 03:29 PM
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I would suggest that a 36 year old grand piano that has no evidence of maintenance work apart from tunings is most certainly in need of voicing and regulation. With use and over time, hammers harden, even if they appear just slightly worn. How often was the piano tuned? Regular tuning at least once a year can help keep a piano sounding at its best, but neglecting voicing and regulation will also be detrimental to the tone.

it is difficult to say if the bright tone is the inherent sound of this piano. Given the evidence of the the history of maintenance I would think not. The GS series of Kawai grand pianos evolved under the company's stewardship of Shigeru Kawai and remain acclaimed pianos.


If you are seriously interested in this piano, I would advise you to have it assessed by a good technician, preferably one who is used to voicing and working with kawai pianos. Don Manino or KawaiDon as he is known here may be able to suggest someone suitable. You can PM him at Piano World.

All the best!
Robert.

Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960745 03/26/20 03:33 PM
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Voicing could do wonders. I would say that a medium voice is more likely attainable than anything mellow. The GS30 was Kawai's chief competitor to the C3 of that era, so most were or became bright. We've had only a few GS30's come through our store. I do recall several GS40's (successor, same size as GS30) that were very solid instruments after light refurbishing. I wish I could recall what the design change was in the GS40 vs. the GS30, but I do recall preferring the musical voice of the GS40 vs. the Yamaha C3 of the same era & condition.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960750 03/26/20 03:37 PM
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I would add that we've done light rebuilds on several larger GS models, sometimes going with Kawai's hammers, and other times choosing a good match from Abel. The Abel hammer isn't mellow, but does seem to have a bit more range of voicing options.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Hailun
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Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960801 03/26/20 06:45 PM
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A deep thanks to all who responded. I have decided to pass on the instrument as although it's a beauty, I didn't like the bright, brittle sound and am nervous about not being able to voice it down to my liking. The search continues!


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: 2018 Kawai GL10
Current fling (and it's getting serious): 1999 Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960830 03/26/20 08:27 PM
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Probably a wise decision Emery. Piano wisdom suggests that we should buy the piano that we like as it is, rather than what it might become. A new set of Abel hammers seems exciting, but there is no guarantee this will change the tone as you had hoped. There is also the added expense of these modifications with an uncertain result.
Keep looking and the best of luck!

Robert.

Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960853 03/26/20 10:13 PM
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It seems that tuning AND voicing AND regulation are better understood to be the standard of care for acoustic pianos, at least among the wider world of home piano owners, than was the case back in the 80's and 90's.

Tooth cleaning for dogs and (at least) annual checkups as standard veterinary care have run along a similar track.

And what do you know, pianos and dogs are living a lot longer and more happily. I don't mean to exclude cats--- don't start.


Clef

Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960867 03/26/20 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
A deep thanks to all who responded. I have decided to pass on the instrument as although it's a beauty, I didn't like the bright, brittle sound and am nervous about not being able to voice it down to my liking. The search continues!

My first grand piano, a Tokai G180 from the late 1980s, was rather brightish. But when I bought it I liked it, although I really didn't know much about what I was doing or what I wanted in a grand piano. I just wanted any grand piano and the Tokai was available and affordable.

Nevertheless, it was bought and paid for and sitting in my newly built music room (inclosed garage) and I was happy. By that time, my tuning skills had developed nicely, as well as a few other skills like basic action regulation. Hammer voicing was something new to me, but I was willing to give it try. Did some research, watched a lot of videos, and talked to some of the pro techs here, one of whom mailed me a training CD on hammer voicing, at his own expense, and wouldn't accept reimbursement. Thought that was pretty classy and generous of him.

Anyway, when I was ready to give it a try, I removed the action from the Tokai, filed/reshaped the hammers and got things set up with a small board underneath a section of the hammer tails, to support the hammers. With my new three needle voicing tool I started stabbing the he** out of the hammers with the voicing tool.

Poked my fingers and drew blood a time or two, but didn't get any on the hammers. The hammers on the Tokai were pretty hard and resisted the voicing needles, hence the hard stabbing motion. Otherwise, the needles would not have penetrated the shoulders of the hammers deep enough to have done much good. I didn't needle the strike point much, but did do some shallow needling there.

The end result was better than I expected. The Tokai was still a little bright but not as bright, by a lot. Not quite mellow, but way less bright. I was pleased with the results, despite sticking my fingers a time or two with the voicing needles.

One thing is for sure, hammer voicing is way more difficult and tedious than tuning.

Anyway, you did the right thing, Emery. You know what you want and it is always best to at least start out with close to what you want in tone and timber. I've had piano salespeople at piano stores tell they could voice a new piano anyway I wanted. I've always had my doubts about that. But I've never voiced new hammers. It may be much easier and predictable than voicing old, hard hammers.

Good luck with your piano search!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Kawai GS30 very bright
Emery Wang #2960934 03/27/20 09:29 AM
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Good decision Emery. Since you intend to do your own work on voicing it down, it’s not nearly as bad when someone buys a piano and the salesperson tells them it can be voiced down or up to exactly what the buyer wants. From watching my own tech and listening to some stories here and on the Piano Tech Forum, voicing is a big job and just not something you want to take on if you’re not really enamored with the pianos voice upon purchase. And after Rick’s story, it’s even more convincing. He liked how the Tokai sounded in the first place. My 2 cents. Best Wishes.

Last edited by j&j; 03/27/20 09:31 AM.

J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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