This article is in response to numerous inquiries we have received regarding the issue of “used Kawai pianos imported from Japan.” Among the most frequently asked questions are the following:
- How old are these used Kawai pianos?
- Should I have any concerns about buying a used Kawai from Japan?
- Were these pianos made differently from those made for the US market?
- Will replacement parts be difficult to obtain?
- Does the Kawai transferable warranty apply?
We hope the following answers will be of value to your customers as you seek information about these pianos.
Our research indicates that the typical used Kawai piano from Japan is about 20-30 years old. This period in a piano’s life represents a transitional time for the instrument. Piano technicians know that a piano may require a major reconditioning during these later years. The stresses caused by over twenty tons of string tension and decades of playing eventually take a serious toll on any instrument, no matter how well it is built. During such an overhaul, hammers and strings are frequently replaced, tuning pins are reset, and regulation and voicing are necessary. This process can often be quite costly. When considering an older used piano, a retail customer should “factor in” the cost of reconditioning that may be required to ensure proper piano performance.
There are other situations in which customers have been offered used Kawai pianos that are somewhat younger (between 6-12 years old). In most instances, these pianos have been subjected to rigorous daily use in music schools in Japan and, despite their younger age, will almost certainly require reconditioning much sooner than specified above.
The Issue of Wood Seasoning
Many customers have heard that there is a difference in “wood seasoning” between pianos built for the Japan market and those built for the North American market. Because of Japan’s consistently humid climate, Kawai pianos built for Japan in the past were indeed seasoned differently from those intended for North America. As a result, Kawai regularly receives reports of used piano problems caused by this transition from a more humid to less humid climate. Customers should know that such problems do occur, especially if the used piano is moved into a drier environment within North America.
Current production instruments are well seasoned for North America and the world and, therefore, are far less susceptible to the problems outlined above.
The Problem of Wood Instability
Though not all used pianos will be affected by the seasoning issues mentioned above, certainly all will be affected by the fundamental instability of wood in all piano actions. This instability compromises both the tone and touch of a piano.
Kawai addressed this problem in our later (and current) models that include ABS Styran for selected parts within the action. ABS is scientifically proven stronger and over thirty times more resistant to swelling and shrinking than comparable wooden action parts. The use of ABS reduces parts breakage and helps to ensure precise hammer alignment for more consistent tone and touch. Customers should be aware that older pianos without ABS Styran action parts cannot be expected to maintain the same level of consistency in tone and touch found in newer Kawai pianos that embrace this technology.
What About Replacement Parts?
Over the years, Kawai has built a wide variety of piano models to meet the specific needs of various markets around the world. Some, for instance, were designed for European countries; others were built expressly for music schools in Japan. Since these instruments were never sold in North America (and were built so long ago), Kawai America and Kawai Canada Music do not carry an inventory of parts for these models. Piano buyers should, therefore, understand that replacement parts will not be available for these used instruments or any instruments that were not purchased through Kawai’s authorized dealer network.
Does the Kawai Transferable Warranty Apply?
No. Kawai’s 10-Year Fully Transferable Warranty applies only to new units purchased from an authorized Kawai dealer in North America.