As one of the world’s premier builders of acoustic pianos, Kawai has long understood the importance of an instrument’s touch, or “feel,” to the player. Without a keyboard action that responds perfectly to an artist’s commands, a piano can never create the precise sound that the artist seeks. For this reason, the primary goal of Kawai design engineers has been to create digital piano actions that provide the same exceptional level of responsiveness and nuance found in our fine acoustic pianos. With this goal in mind, Kawai has created two types of digital piano actions – ones with traditional wooden keys and ones with plastic keys.
Kawai’s wooden-key actions have long been heralded for providing the finest touch found on any digital piano. All 88 keys are made entirely of wood to ensure the natural feel of a grand piano. Not only do these actions feature extra-long wooden keys (for greater control), but also a mechanical design similar to that found in Kawai’s acoustic grand pianos. The extended length of the wooden key allows for a pivot point in the middle of the key. This creates movement on both ends of the keys and pushes the hammers in an upward motion from the back of the key (the same as a grand piano action). This critical element provides the player with a level of expression and control normally found only in grand piano actions. Only Kawai’s wooden-key actions offer this type of mechanical design.
Kawai’s The Grand Feel (GF) and Grand Feel II (GFII) are the latest in Kawai’s long line of wooden key actions. In addition to the aforementioned attributes, both actions offer graded hammers, key counterweights, “Ivory Touch” key surfaces (white keys), Let-off and triple sensor key detection. Both actions offer the longest key length of any Kawai digital piano. The GFII action also adds “Ebony Touch” key surfaces (black keys) along with improvements in the hammer weights.
As its name suggest, the Grand Feel Compact (GF-C) action has been designed to reproduce the authentic touch weight characteristics of the industry-leading Grand Feel keyboard actions, within a smaller form factor. The new action retains the long wooden key sticks used for all 88 black and white keys, and the familiar ‘seesaw’ mechanism employed by acoustic grand piano actions for centuries. However, despite its smaller unit size, GF Compact features an extended key pivot length, providing a more consistent touch weight when playing towards the rear of the keyboard.
The RM3II action is an earlier version action that offers many of the same attributes as the GF action, including the center pivot mechanical design, graded hammers, key counterweights, “Ivory Touch” key surfaces (white keys), Let-off and triple sensor key detection. The AWA PROII is an even earlier version wooden-key action that, along with the mechanical design mentioned above, offers graded hammers and key counterweights.
The other type of Kawai actions are ones that use plastic keys. These actions use an industry-standard design where the pivot point is placed at the back of the key, not in the middle. (This type of design is the only one used by every other digital piano brand.) These actions utilize a hammer component under the keys that creates a mechanical movement and feel similar to an acoustic piano. Additionally, the hammer weights are “graded” where the left-hand, or bass, keys are heaviest. As you move up the keyboard, the hammers gradually become lighter. This simulates the same characteristic found in an acoustic pianos action where the hammers are larger in the bass region and gradually get smaller as you move up the keyboard.
The Responsive Hammer (RHII and RHIII) actions are the latest versions of Kawai’s plastic-key actions. In addition to the aforementioned features, they offer “Ivory Touch” key surfaces, triple sensor key detection, and Let-off. The RHIII adds key counterbalancing.
The new Responsive Hammer Compact (RHC) keyboard action has been developed to reproduce the distinctive touch of an acoustic grand piano. Its spring-less technology and sturdy construction delivers consistent upward and downward motion for a smooth, natural, and highly authentic piano playing experience. Designed along the principles of the RHIII action, the RHC action delivers superb touch in a more compact and lightweight package, making it ideal for instruments such as the ES110 portable digital piano.
The AHAIV-F is an earlier version action with the aforementioned graded hammers. It is a previously top-of-the line action that now offers superior touch in entry-level Kawai digital pianos.
Due to their smaller size/weight and lower cost, plastic key actions are found on Kawai digital pianos where the instrument’s overall size, weight or cost is a consideration. For instruments where this is not a concern, or where “no compromise” performance is the goal, Kawai’s highly-acclaimed wooden-key actions are utilized.