Japanese electronic musical instrument maker Roland is celebrating its 50th birthday. And to mark the occasion has created a very special digital piano — currently known as the “50th Anniversary Concept Model”.
The piano has been created in collaboration with Karimoku — a high-end Japanese wooden furniture designer and manufacturer. Karimoku helped design the elegant Kiyola KF-10. This mid-century-styled home digital piano was launched in 2015 to great acclaim.
The 50th Anniversary Concept Model is conceived as the home grand piano of the future. Roland hopes this instrument will blur the lines between acoustic and digital pianos.
We want users to get past the digital and acoustic concept and enjoy the natural performance and beauty purely as a piano.Yoshiyasu Kitakawa, Head of Roland’s Piano Development Division.
To this end, this Roland piano is designed not just to sound and respond like an acoustic instrument but also to be a thing of beauty that would grace any home.
The body of the instrument is made of Japanese Nara Oak. It is formed by stacking small, machine-cut layers. And by using smaller pieces of oak (offcuts), the casework is a more sustainable entity. The layers form a single shape with an attractive patchwork finish. This then houses all the elements of the digital piano (keyboard, electronics, speakers, pedals etc.).
The case has a rounded, stylised shape and looks unlike any other piano digital or acoustic. It is smooth and flowing, and inspirational.
The 50th Anniversary Concept Model has the acoustic performance of a grand piano and a shape that suits it—a round shape that does not fit against the wall or in the corner of the room.Takahiro Murai, General Manager of Roland’s Keyboard Instrument Development Department
The lid when closed provides a flat table-top surface. When opened up it reveals a large display for controlling all parameters.
The oak used for the cabinet is hard and heavy, and this, coupled with the fact that the body is a single piece, helps enhance the performance of the multi-channel speaker system housed within.
This new model features an innovative new keyboard sensing algorithm. Roland claims this provides a touch that has a more natural response than any previous digital piano.
The piano’s sounds are generated using Roland’s PureAcoustic Modelling technology. First announced in 2018, this sound engine has been further refined for use in the anniversary model.
As this is the 50th anniversary, Roland has included tonal recreations of some of the pianos it has released over the years. These include the EP-10 (1973), the RD-1000 (1986), the JD-800 (a synthesizer, 1991), and the V-Piano (2009). A nice touch.
This isn’t the first Roland concept piano. In 2015 the company ran a Digital Piano Design Competition. The winner was the GPX-F1 Facet Grand Piano. And this instrument was actually built in 2020.
In 2023, the 50th Anniversary Concept Model will go on a world tour, accompanied by a revolutionary new sound system.
Roland, despite being 50 years old, is always looking forward, and living up to its “We Design the Future” tag (a strapline it has used since the early 1980s).