Kawai was established 1927 and has in its portfolio a large spectrum of musical instruments, chief among them – pianos. Though Kawai also produces electronic keyboards and other musical instruments at the center of their research and development is a flagship grand piano. And in that category the crown jewel is a Crystal Piano – a fully transparent lucite body grand piano.
‘Crystal’ in crystal pianos refers to the fortified lucite alloy that the piano’s body is made of – not the rhinestone crystals as many might mistakenly imagine. The rhinestone covered Baldwin piano was custom made for Liberace in the 1960s and was recently showcased at The Grammys by Cardi B and Chloe Flowers.
The strong acrylic also known as lucite is the material of which the piano body is molded. The higher-end the piano the less bolted parts are in it – in other words the body is formed in the shape of the piano from scratch, such as the entire leg and the frame case curvature.
The light conductivity of luxury lucite pianos is over 92% therefore in vernacular many refer to them as glass pianos, akin to those fabled glass slippers of Cinderella. While appearing glass-like – lucite is incredibly strong and durable and unlike glass can withstand the string tension on the frame and powerful vibrations which occur when piano is being played.
True certified acrylic is the same material that is used to make bulletproof doors and windows which attests to its incredible durability. Furthermore authentic acrylic will not oxidize and yellow neither with time nor from exposure to sun, which is what happens to subpar acrylic substitutes.
Also important to note that due to the very nature of lucite molecular structure it is completely humidity proof and does not get affected by weather fluctuations like the natural wood.
Acrylic pianos are easier to care for than one might assume at first glance – special water-based cleaning solution will buff off the slight surface scratches and imperfections much like any other piano finish.
Acrylic falls into two categories: cast and extruded. While cast acrylic is more resistant to certain solvents the extruded is easier to cut and polish and comes in at a more moderate price-point.
How much does a crystal piano cost?
As with all luxury items the price of a crystal grand piano depends largely on materials used across the entirety of the instrument, the level of craftsmanship and the extent of customization. The finest of the luxury crystal grand pianos begin at about $150,000 and move well into the high six figures.
The entry-level crystal piano options come in at a $20,000-$70,000 and often have some acrylic detailing such as legs, lids and music stands while the rest of the instrument is made of the traditional wood. These are perfectly viable options for individuals who are seeking a statement-making piano with unique personality but for whom the overall superb performance quality of the instrument is not a primary consideration.
Kawai Crystal Pianos
Kawai has been developing crystal pianos since the very beginning of when acrylic technology became available.
This semi-transparent crystal grand piano has been designed to showcase the frame, strings and the keyboard action of the piano utilizing industrial-grade acrylic material.
In keeping with traditional grand piano design the form of CR-40 bows to the classic outlines and simple elegance of concert hall instrument.
CR-40 is 59 inches wide, 6 feet long and stands 39 inches tall. It weighs-in at 930 pounds which is 30% more that traditional piano of adequate size.
While it dazzles with it’s high-tech transparency the sound of this grand piano is remarkably indistinguishable from the performance concert grand pianos. Kawai uses its proprietary Neotex keys material which is made of silica-filled semi-porous cellulose compound that provides an amazing, ivory-like high-grade professional experience for the pianist. The material absorbs sweat and natural oils and improves finger traction thus minimizing accidental slippage (wrong notes alert!)
The sound board is made of solid spruce, which is the best natural material for the finest resonance. The frame is custom tapered which allows natural vibration within the body and the piano while it’s Millenium III action is showcasing Kawai’s proprietary action design at it’s performance-finest.
Production is limited to 3 CR-40 per year.
To commemorate its 100 anniversary KAWAI created CR-1M on the base of its award -winning Shigeru Kawai SK-5 grand piano. At 6.1 feet long CR-1M shows off Japanese craftsmanship at its best with transparent body and mirror-polished metal elements.
CR-1M Millennium III carbon fiber action is at the heart of this ultra-rare instrument. There will only be five CR-1M made so Kawai devised a very unique semi-order system where the interested party can customize the design of their own and no dream is impossible with this legacy piano manufacturer.
Are There Other Acrylic Pianos on the Market?
The world’s largest market share of the crystal pianos belongs to German legacy piano manufacturers: Blüthner and Schimmel. With decades of experience developing a proprietary alloys and compounds, designs and technologies these are the ultimate high-performance ultra luxury acrylic pianos available today.
The Chinese counterparts are more budget-friendly while still providing a fine instruments and wonderful experience of a transparent piano. They are Heintzman & Co, Chloris and Steinhoven.
iDyllic Excellence by Lucid Pianos
The world’s only entirely acrylic grand piano iDyllic Excellence uses no wooden support beams or multiple bolts. This piano is molded of acrylic and looks like a dazzling glass sculpture. But don’t let the fragility of this beautiful piano trick you – it’s incredibly strong and powerful instrument.
Schimmel K213 Glas
As you can expect from one of the oldest piano manufacturer’s in the world Schimmel Glas is masterpiece of engineering, innovation and ultimate craftsmanship. Designed to reveal the soundboard and the action Schimmel Glass K-213 is weighing-in at 1770 pounds and is 7.55 feet long 60.6 inches wide and 40.3 tall.
Schimmel Glas is a luxury instrument and will set you back about $260,000.
Chloris Acrylic Piano
Entry-level acrylic pianos are gaining popularity for their remarkable visual statement and enormous appeal to the younger customer. Perfect for parties and social media events these LED lit pianos are exceptionally photogenic and will make an amazing addition to vlog or a blog that features some creative or musical content. They clock-in at about $15,000 and are a wonderful choice if the performance qualities of a true pro grand piano are not at the top of your priorities list.
There is now a wide spectrum of crystal acrylic pianos available on the market to satisfy the demand of every wallet. The less expensive ones provide a wonderful bang-for-a-buck and are really a fun option for a classy entertainment and will liven up any room they are in.
On the high-end of the spectrum the German super-machines are of tremendous performance quality on par with traditional concert grands of the world’s best stages. The innovation and craftsmanship of Bluthner Lucid Pianos is indeed second-to-none and they are able to provide customization options one never even knew were possible.
These pianos are for the true collector to whom money is no object and quality is everything.