Keybird Instruments has launched a new acoustic piano that weighs just 50kg (110 pounds). Compare this to a typical upright at around 250kg (550 pounds), and to a grand piano which can easily be twice that weight.
From their research, Keybird discovered that 90 per cent of pianists prefer an acoustic instrument, yet the majority chose to purchase a digital. The reasons: price, size, weight and the ability to play using headphones. But they found people still want the feel, sound and presence of the acoustic instrument.
The innovative new piano, the Keybird X1, addresses the size, weight, and of course price issues. As a result, this upright will fit into an average family car, one person can move it, and it costs under 2,000 euros!
To achieve this, Keybird’s designers completely re-wrote the rule book. The piano is split into two main modules – the keyboard (including the action) and the soundbody (strings, soundboard, frame and case). These weigh 15 kg, and 35 kg respectively. New materials are employed throughout, and some traditional elements such as the casework have been “re-imagined”.
Compromises however, have been made.
Firstly, the compass of the keyboard is 69 notes (E to C) rather than the traditional 88. 69 notes of a full-size keyboard span one meter, and most cars’ trunk/boot will accommodate this width.
Secondly, the piano only has one string per note (like the Klavins Una Corda). Strings exert a phenomenal force on the frame of a piano and by reducing their number from around 230 to just 69 a far lighter frame can be used. This gives the piano a purer, albeit less harmonically rich, tone.
Single stringing, however, makes the piano much simpler to tune. So much so that a smartphone tuner app can be used.
Keybird Instruments is a Danish company based in Copenhagen at a place intriguingly called Hall of the Odd — a centre for entrepreneurial start-ups.
It is the brainchild of Lander Pinson. Initially a piano technician, Pinson trained as a mechanical engineer at the Danish Technical University. Living in a small upstairs apartment, he had little room for a traditional piano, so he took an old upright and cut it down to four octaves. He constructed a smaller soundboard and welded up a new frame … and an idea was born.
Pinson formally founded Keybird Instruments in January 2019, with initial funding came from the Innovation Fund Denmark (Innovationsfonden).
The Keybird X1 is just the first step. Intended future developments include 88, 73 and possibly 49 note models as well as a silent option enabling use with headphones.
The price of the Keybird X1 is just 1,970.00 euros (approx. $2325.00; £1,800.00 excluding tax and shipping). Where else can you purchase an acoustic piano for this kind of money?
Weight: 50kg (soundbody 35kg, keyboard 15kg)
Dimensions: 135 x 100 x 50cm
Keyboard Range: 69 keys (E-C)