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Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
#2961369 03/28/20 06:53 PM
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In my search for a digital piano, I have run across the Nord Grand. Rather than develop their own action for the Grand, Nord decided to use Kawai's RH III (Responsive Hammer III) action.

I have a number of interrelated questions regarding this decision:
1) Why would Kawai agree to this arrangement in the first place? Kawai and Nord are competitors. Also, a major selling point for the Kawai digital pianos is that their actions are extremely good. Why help out a rival company?
2) If they are going to use a Kawai action in their piano, why would Nord choose NOT to use Kawai's flagship GF III (Grand Feel III) action? Was the GF III action too expensive, was it heavier or bulkier than the RH III action, did Kawai refuse to allow Nord to use their top-drawer action, what?

All comments are welcome. I would especially like to hear from Kawai James, as he works for Kawai.

Last edited by Almaviva; 03/28/20 06:54 PM. Reason: punctuation
Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961390 03/28/20 08:02 PM
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First, the GFIII action would be too deep for a stage piano. Look at the MP11: the GFIII action I believe maybe even deeper in size. The MP11 weighs 60lbs. The Nord Grand weighs about the same weight as half a fart.

People who buy Nords want a light weight board that's easy to carry.

Second: The RHIII action is quite light: a good compromise for the gigging musician.

Third: the market segment Nord operate in is different than those occupied by the Kawai MP series eg the MP7 is just more functional but heavier. . 1) the price point is different. 2) Nord piano samples are great sounding but just don't play or sound like real pianos. The White Grand is a classic example: it was fun to play, sound great, but wasn't piano like. Kawai pianos sound like Kawai 's, Yamaha digitals sound like the CFX they sample, and Korgs pianos also sound like the pianos they sample. Nords feel idiosyncratic: the dynamic control feels odd. They just sound like.... Nords. Nothing wrong with that, unless you want something like a Kawai.


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961399 03/28/20 08:44 PM
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Kawai has a business to run and the piano business may not be easily profitable, without getting creative and making the most of sunk costs.

RH III is a sunk cost and it is not a flagship component.

Notice that Kawai also builds pianos for Steinway (Boston) in Kawai factories (another sunk cost)... but those don't have the Millennium III action.

Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Doug M. #2961414 03/28/20 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.
2) Nord piano samples are great sounding but just don't play or sound like real pianos. The White Grand is a classic example: it was fun to play, sound great, but wasn't piano like. Kawai pianos sound like Kawai 's, Yamaha digitals sound like the CFX they sample, and Korgs pianos also sound like the pianos they sample. Nords feel idiosyncratic: the dynamic control feels odd. They just sound like.... Nords. Nothing wrong with that, unless you want something like a Kawai.



I don't want to derail this thread but this topic is very close to me.

Thanks for confirming my short lived experience with a Nord. In my case the Piano3. I tried to like it but every acoustic piano sample sounded the same. which was phony. I do also agree Nord's sound great when i hear them. I just couldn't convince myself I was playing a real piano. Granted that is a high bar for most digital pianos, but Yamaha and Kawai can seem to do it. I'm not a fan of Korg. I used to like Roland before Super Natural and more recent modeling attempts.

I love Nord's interface and the Kawai action. Just wish I get a Nord with the ability to play a Kawai sample for the acoustic piano.


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961425 03/29/20 12:21 AM
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And in Japan, Yamaha is the domestic distributor for Nord. it's very interesting. laugh


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961429 03/29/20 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
In my search for a digital piano, I have run across the Nord Grand. Rather than develop their own action for the Grand, Nord decided to use Kawai's RH III (Responsive Hammer III) action.

I have a number of interrelated questions regarding this decision:
1) Why would Kawai agree to this arrangement in the first place? Kawai and Nord are competitors. Also, a major selling point for the Kawai digital pianos is that their actions are extremely good. Why help out a rival company?
2) If they are going to use a Kawai action in their piano, why would Nord choose NOT to use Kawai's flagship GF III (Grand Feel III) action? Was the GF III action too expensive, was it heavier or bulkier than the RH III action, did Kawai refuse to allow Nord to use their top-drawer action, what?

All comments are welcome. I would especially like to hear from Kawai James, as he works for Kawai.


This is quite common. Korg used to put Yamaha keybed in its keyboards. Nothing unusual. This is like Subaru and Toyota. It's like saying why BMW built the Toyota Supra's engine?

Nord manufactures different products! I wouldn't buy a Nord keyboard because of the the RHIII action. The RHIII is just a feature.


Kawai MP7SE, Yamaha MOTF XF6, Yamaha WX5, Yamaha Pacifica 112v
Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
36251 #2961430 03/29/20 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 36251
Originally Posted by Doug M.
2) Nord piano samples are great sounding but just don't play or sound like real pianos. The White Grand is a classic example: it was fun to play, sound great, but wasn't piano like. Kawai pianos sound like Kawai 's, Yamaha digitals sound like the CFX they sample, and Korgs pianos also sound like the pianos they sample. Nords feel idiosyncratic: the dynamic control feels odd. They just sound like.... Nords. Nothing wrong with that, unless you want something like a Kawai.



I don't want to derail this thread but this topic is very close to me.

Thanks for confirming my short lived experience with a Nord. In my case the Piano3. I tried to like it but every acoustic piano sample sounded the same. which was phony. I do also agree Nord's sound great when i hear them. I just couldn't convince myself I was playing a real piano. Granted that is a high bar for most digital pianos, but Yamaha and Kawai can seem to do it. I'm not a fan of Korg. I used to like Roland before Super Natural and more recent modeling attempts.

I love Nord's interface and the Kawai action. Just wish I get a Nord with the ability to play a Kawai sample for the acoustic piano.



The same here. I'm actually fine with the interface. I can be better, but it's very functional. There aren't many things that I'd change during the performance.

And I don't like the sound of Roland, Nord and Korg (better than the others). Yamaha is comparable which lack of emulation and crappy half-finished samples makes it a no-go option.


Kawai MP7SE, Yamaha MOTF XF6, Yamaha WX5, Yamaha Pacifica 112v
Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Pro-TAC #2961431 03/29/20 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Pro-TAC
And in Japan, Yamaha is the domestic distributor for Nord. it's very interesting. laugh

It would be amazing if Yamaha were the distributor for Kawai. Distribution is clearly Kawai's weakest point, while Yamaha's distribution prowess is unmatched. đź‘Ź

Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961438 03/29/20 01:13 AM
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It’s a mutually beneficial business but much more for Kawai. How many gigs have you seen with Kawai stage pianos vs Nord? It’s a brand image problem. People prefer Nord over Kawai. And so it’s a statement by Kawai: our keyboards are so good Nord uses them in their flagship instrument, and ohh, do you know we have a cheap stage piano with the same keyboard wink And then it’s also beneficial for Nord who see complaints with their Fatar actions: you don’t like that you pay so much for our pianos and get subpar actions? Great, step up and buy the Grand, you’re covered.

Last edited by CyberGene; 03/29/20 01:13 AM.

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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961447 03/29/20 02:33 AM
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Short answer to both questions:

Kawai can sell their no longer top of the line keybeds and make money from that, as well as getting mentioned in specs for high grade gear.
- we chose Kawai

And Kawai keep top of the line for themselves.


Kawai MP7SE - Hammond XK3c - Synthesizers
Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961461 03/29/20 05:19 AM
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It's a natural development, which at some point happens in any industry. In the early stages you have companies building the whole product from scratch, each one with specific strengths and weaknesses.

But once an industry progressed from that, you end up with a tightly interconnected supplier/integrator chain where hundreds of companies do what are specialized on and pass their stuff on. The end product becomes just a brand.

Just have a look a the automobile industry which has gone through this process as well.


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961537 03/29/20 01:02 PM
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Don’t forget that Kawai is selling these components to Clavia. They benefit financially from every Nord Grand that is sold, and it expands product awareness.


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Abdol #2961568 03/29/20 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Abdol
Korg used to put Yamaha keybed in its keyboards.

True, but Korg was partially owned by Yamaha at the time. It's actually pretty unusual in this industry for anyone to sell their proprietary stuff to anyone else.

But yes, as others have kinda said, there was no downside for Kawai here... the Nord Grand does not directly compete with any Kawai model. And Nord's market demographic has no desire for 70 lb pianos, so they wouldn't have much need for Kawai's higher end actions. So it was a win-win.

Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961642 03/29/20 06:15 PM
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These types of arrangements are not uncommon in various industries. There was a time when Minolta and Leitz had operating agreements to share camera and optical designs.

I imagine the intellectual property attorneys on both sides were quite busy when the agreements were prepared and signed. I think it is likely that Kawai is benefitting the most here, so it is not hard to see why they would do this as long as the intellectual property is protected.

I would guess that Clavia decided they needed an alternative to the Fatar weighted actions. (The Fatar organ actions seem fine). Kawai makes some of the best piano actions and are perhaps the competitor least in competition with Clavia in the keyboard product space, so they were the final choice.

For me, even the MP7SE at about 50 lbs is a tad heavy to use for a gigging keyboard. It still is a risk for Clavia— some potential Nord Grand customers will decide they will lug an extra 15 lbs to cut the instrument cost in half.


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961669 03/29/20 09:00 PM
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Some interesting discussions in this thread.

This decision was made by senior members of both companies - suffice it to say, I was not involved in the discussions. wink
However, I believe the outcome has been mutually beneficial for both Kawai and Clavia.

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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961676 03/29/20 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Almaviva

2) If they are going to use a Kawai action in their piano, why would Nord choose NOT to use Kawai's flagship GF III (Grand Feel III) action?


An obvious reason is that GF III was only released in 2020, whereas the Nord Grand was released in early 2019.

Last edited by Burkie; 03/29/20 09:35 PM.

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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Burkie #2961679 03/29/20 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Burkie
Originally Posted by Almaviva

2) If they are going to use a Kawai action in their piano, why would Nord choose NOT to use Kawai's flagship GF III (Grand Feel III) action?


An obvious reason is that GF III was only released in 2020, whereas the Nord Grand was released in early 2019.

P.S. So you would have needed to lend Clavia your time machine smile


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Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
Almaviva #2961682 03/29/20 09:45 PM
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It's not as though Kawai is giving away piano actions. They're sold at a profit.

Re: Why are Kawai and Nord doing this?
MacMacMac #2961734 03/30/20 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
It's not as though Kawai is giving away piano actions. They're sold at a profit.


Yes, Nord Grand is twice the price Kawai can sell MP7SE for. Even MP11SE was a tad cheaper than Nord as I recall.

I talked to Clavia about Nord Grand and when manual would arrive - but I found MP7SE and went for that. Nord Grand has nothing of the settings that MP7SE offer, octave tuning or stretching etc - none. I specifically talked to Clavia about that since reason I wanted to get rid of Yamaha CLP-535 was tuning stuff I had to do massive sysex sending from computer to do tuning stuff and many other settings too for rhodes pianos. I just could not stand Yamaha harmonic beating, especially clean major with third on top, awful.

I love the Clavia synth stuff, like Nordlead 2X I have - but keybed is what I would swap for it - being synth.


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