The NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants) has become the main showcase for new musical instruments. This year’s event, held at the Anaheim Convention Centre, Los Angeles, ran from January 25—28 and attracted visitors from all around the world.
Many piano manufacturers had a presence at the event (see below), however, the number of new piano-related products seemed to be down compared to last year.
Nord produces a range of high-end digital stage pianos. This year the company introduced the Nord Grand 2 — a much-anticipated update to its Nord Grand which launched in 2019. The Nord Grand 2 incorporates the latest version of Kawai’s Hammer Action keyboard and has a redesigned panel fitted with LED faders.
The piano section ships with a comprehensive collection of grands, uprights, and electric piano voices. And, of course, there is also access to Nord’s comprehensive Piano Library.
Other new features include Dynamic Compression, Unison, and powerful new types of Reverb, Delay, and Modulation and Amp(lification) effects.
Jazz pianist Jesus Molina was really putting the Nord Grand 2 through its paces at the show (see YouTube clip).
Korg had more new pianos on show than most. Firstly there was the Grandstage X. This is the most powerful stage piano ever created by Korg, and features no less than seven separate sound engines.
This digital piano is a complete redesign of its predecessor — the original Grandstage. The casework now incorporates an attractive two-tone format with a stylish curved back and perforated side panels.
The Grandstage X utilises Korg’s impressive 88-note RH3 Real Weighted Hammer Action keyboard for a true piano-like touch. The piano comes with 700 pre-loaded sounds including German, Japanese, and Italian grand piano presets. The final release date is yet to be announced.
Korg also exhibited its Poetry digital piano. This is an interesting instrument that pays homage to Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). Chopin is known as “the poet of the piano” — he could make the instrument sound both romantic and poetic.
The 80-note piano, housed in a stylish contemporary casing showcases two specific piano sounds: one is a re-creation of an 1843 Pleyel, and the other is a contemporary Italian grand piano.
Chopin’s devotion to Pleyel grands is legendary, whilst the “Italian Piano” sound reflects the prominence of Italy’s Fazioli pianos at the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition.
Pearl River Piano Group
In addition to the new UP95E and UP100 small-scale upright pianos (covered in a previous WPN article), Pearl River unveiled its new QU1 Intelligent System.
This product is available as a factory-installed upgrade to any of the company’s Pearl River, Ritmüller and Kayserburg upright pianos, or it can be supplied for customer installation. The QU1 Intelligent System allows the pianist to play silently through headphones without affecting the sound or keyboard touch. It also offers comprehensive performance recording facilities.
In 2020 Kayserburg (a Pearl River brand/division) introduced its Étoile Collection of grand and upright pianos. These beautiful instruments are hand-built using exotic hardwood veneers such as East Indian Rosewood, Ziricote, Sapele Mahogany, Tiger Striped Sandalwood, Green Apple, Rose Gold Sandalwood, Straight Lined Ebony and Golden Silk Phoebe.
This, however, was the very first time that examples of the Kayserburg Étoile Collection had been shown at a NAMM Show.
The Spanish company Pocket Piano demonstrated their new PocketPiano 2. This is a digital piano that comes in a modular pack, and when disassembled the entire instrument fits into a backpack.
There are three different component modules; (1) the controller, (2) a keyboard octave, and (3) the pedal. To get the maximum compass (87 notes), one would need seven octave modules, a controller and a pedal. The modules simply link together magnetically.
And Jesus Molina also played a blistering set on the PocketPiano 2 (see YouTube clip).
Yamaha introduced its new Clavinova CSP-275 and Clavinova CSP-295GP digital pianos to the US market. The CSP Series models include more educational elements (for all levels), including a note light-guide system (Stream Lights).
These two new models feature Yamaha’s Audio-to-Score technology which analyses MP3s and other audio song data and creates chord charts which can then be played by following the Stream Lights. Another new feature is PDF-to-MIDI. The Clavinova takes a pdf scan of your sheet music and converts it into a MIDI file. This can be used to play the Clavinova directly, or to drive the Stream Lights.
The new Yamaha P-525 now becomes the top-of-the-range model in the P Series. This new digital piano, suitable for players of all levels, has updated CFX and Bösendorfer piano samples, and a few other minor enhancements to its functionality.
One piano drawing a lot of attention on the Yamaha stand was the spectacular purple C7X SH Silent grand piano once owned by Prince, and normally found in Studio B at the Paisley Park complex in Chanhassen Minnesota.
Casio unveiled three new models in its AP series of home digital pianos — AP-750; AP-550, and AP-S450. These have been covered in a previous WPN article (here).
Dexibell had its new VIVO H10V and VIVO H10MG (Mini Grand) digital pianos appearing at NAMM for the first time.
Both instruments, designed primarily for home use, feature the company’s “True to Life” (T2L)” sampling and modelling technology.
The two instruments are similar in specifications, the main difference being in the amplification and the styling. VIVO H10V is a premium quality upright (Vertical) with 7 speakers, and the VIVO H10MG is the Mini Grand version with 11 speakers.
Wurlitzer didn’t have a stand at NAMM 2024. However, it was confirmed that the owners of the Wurlitzer brand are shortly bringing out a new version of the classic electric piano. This follows on the heels of the latest incarnation of the Rhodes piano which was launched in 2021. More details will appear here when the new instrument is released.
If we’ve missed anything you feel we should have featured in this report, please let us know in the Comments box below. Thank you.
Other piano companies exhibiting at NAMM 2024 included:
- Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik
- Brodmann Piano USA / Piano Marketing Group
- Clavia DMI – Brand: Nord
- Donner LLC
- Fazioli Pianoforti Spa.
- Julius Bluthner Pianofortefabrik
- K&W Meyer
- Kawai America Corp.
- Keybird Instruments
- Korg Inc.
- Mason & Hamlin
- Modartt – Brand; Pianoteq
- The MIDI Assosciation
- Pearl River Piano Group – Brands: Pearl River Ritmüller, Kayserburg
- Piano Technicians Guild
- Proel – Brand: Dexibell
- Samick – Brands: Seiler, Knabe, Pramberger, Samick
- Shanghai Huaxin Musical Instrument Co.
- Toyo Piano Manufacturing
- Wessell, Nickel & Gross
- Yamaha Corporation of America
- Young Chang and Weber