Monday, June 10, 2013

REVIEW - Kawai CE220 Digital Piano - Recommended & Outstanding for its Lower Price!


UPDATED REVIEW - October 10, 2014 - Recommended - The Kawai CE220 digital piano is still a winner! - In the "under $2000 price range" for a furniture cabinet digital piano, the Kawai CE220 digital piano is very hard to beat with its wood key construction, large 192-note piano sound polyphony with individual note sound sampling, realistic pedal functions, useful digital features, and solidly built cabinet. It continues to be extremely popular for people who want a great bang for the buck under $2000 that does a very good job of reproducing the acoustic piano playing experience. Trying to find one to see and play in person seems to be difficult for most people in the US & Canada and this is likely because of the scarcity of this model. Also, as far as I know, the CE220 is not available outside of North America.

The Kawai Piano company of Japan (Ka-WHY- phonetic pronunciation) has been producing fine acoustic & digital pianos (including world class concert grands) for many years and they seem to build better and more competitive pianos every year. They are recognized as a leader in building exceptional musical instruments for recreational players, students, and professionals throughout the world so it comes as no surprise to me that Kawai  has such an impressive digital piano model as this CE220 ($1899 internet price, below left pic). Kawai also makes many other digital pianos in lower and higher price ranges that are impressive instruments, but the CE220 is in that "under $2000" price range" where many shoppers want to be. So in that price range, the CE220 is hard to beat for what it offers and it fills a niche in offering a nice looking, full featured piano at an affordable price for many people.

CE220
Although the Kawai CE220 furniture cabinet piano came out in the US in late February 2012, it has been selling out ever since that time and also shows no signs of slowing down from what I can see. I have played this model many times and was most impressed. The first thing that I noticed was the realistic upgraded piano sound. This upgraded technology includes an impressive 192-notes of piano sound polyphony (aka: computer piano sound processing power) for a better and smoother sounding acoustic piano tone. Once the polyphony is near 200 in a digital piano, it is usually more than enough even for experienced advanced players. Further more, Kawai also includes 88-key individual piano sampling which means each key or note on the piano was individually sampled, instead of sampled in groups of notes) from a real Kawai acoustic grand piano. That's a pretty big deal and gives the CE220 an edge over the other brands under $2000. This model has a stereo 40-watt built-in speaker system which is normally more than sufficient power and volume for most homes, smaller churches, or other venues, but additional (powered) speakers can be connected to the piano for an even larger volume to blow out your windows if you want that:). Also, when you listen through good stereo headphones, the piano sound realism of dynamics, expression, and detail is very realistic and it makes you think you are hearing the sound of an acoustic grand piano or listening to a CD recording of an acoustic piano.  Another nice feature on the CE220 is a USB flashdrive input. This allows you to load or save piano songs for playback at any tempo along with a great way to store your own user recordings from the on-board 2-track MIDI recorder where you can record left and right hand separately and play back at the same time or play live along with the recorded part or parts.

Kawai CE220 digital piano
Kawai CE220 digital pianoThere are a total of 22 higher quality instrument sounds on this piano (better than other furniture cabinet pianos I have played under $2000) including realistic string symphonies, church & Jazz B3 organs, choirs, guitar, etc, along with 100 realistic sounding drum patterns such as jazz, rock, waltz, big band, Latin, country, boogie, etc) which are not only a lot of fun to play along with, but help piano students to better understand rhythm and timing which are the most difficult things in music to learn. This is a very useful feature and I use it often in my teaching studio. The CE220 also allows you to layer any two sounds together or split the keyboard with any two sounds, a different one on the left and a different one on the right. One of the more unusual features on this model is a  "real-time" volume balance slider on the front control panel that will allow you to balance the volume between two sounds when layered or split. This is very handy when you need to raise or lower the volume of one sound over the other while you are playing so that you can come up with a relative volume balance which suits your musical needs in any given song or performance. No other piano in this price range (including higher prices) have this intuitive feature. Beyond that, the 88-note piano keyboard can be electronically divided into two identical 44-key pianos for 4-hand duet play utilizing the two outer pedals for individual sustain for both keyboards. This is great for student/teacher, parent/child, or for any two people who want to play the piano at the same time playing the exact same notes. Copyright AZPianoNews.com 2014

CE220 intuitive control panel
Although the CE220 is intuitive and easy to use with its nice LED interface display screen in the center of the console along with easy to press buttons accessed above the keys, it also has many effects & editing features to adjust sound, tone, and key response to individual tastes. There are 5 touch-level velocity sensitivity controls for changing key response from very light to very heavy as well as different voicing features for customizing piano sound to become brighter or more mellow depending on the type of music you are playing (classical, pop, jazz, etc). There are also excellent studio reverbs/echo function to add more realism to the piano tone such as what it would sound like being played in a large room versus a smaller room. There are also some deeper micro-editing functions to bring out the nuances of the grand piano sounds in ways other pianos in this price range cannot do. You may or may not use those features but it's nice to know they are there.

CE220 full size wood-key graded hammer action
The keyboard action is the heart and soul of any piano and that's the number one thing piano teachers and players look for when shopping for a piano. The CE220 is advanced in this way utilizing the Kawai AWA Grand Pro II keyboard action, which has longer, real wooden acoustic piano keys for a fairly realistic acoustic upright piano feel. This action has authentic key balance points, see-saw type action movement, and contact placements that combine with proper hammer grading and bass key counter-weights. No other digital piano under $3000 currently has this unique wood key action and the feel of the key action is really impressive. The movement of the keys are fairly quiet, sturdy, and durable, just like a real acoustic upright piano. Also, the wooden keys give the player more of an organic experience in tone and key movement just like an acoustic piano. The 3 built-in pedals also duplicate the feel and function of the 3 standard pedals on an acoustic piano including the half-pedaling feature for more dynamic damper/sustain expression.

The CE220 has a built-in USB output to computer or iPad for connectivity to useful programs and apps for music education, notation, composing, and more ( which I encourage my students to use). I am also impressed with the fact that this model has 1/4" audio outputs & inputs to add an external speaker system if desired or to input other devices such as a computer or iPad to go directly into the Kawai audio system. In that way you can plug in headphones and hear not only the Kawai piano in privacy, but also hear the computer or iPad sound coming through the headphones...a very cool & useful feature.

The Kawai CE220 comes in a premium satin black (as Kawai calls it) which is attractive and includes a built-in sliding key cover and matching padded bench. Once again, this piano is a limited production model available only in the US and Canada. In my opinion, the CE220 outperforms all other digital cabinet pianos in its price range ($1899) for what it delivers as compared to pianos that are even higher priced such as the Yamaha Clavinova CLP430 and Yamaha CLP525. In my opinion the CE220 outperforms the popular Yamaha Arius YDP181 ($1699 internet price) as well as the Roland RP301 ($1699 store price). The bottom line on this model is...I believe Kawai has outdone themselves in the under $2000 price range and  I would recommend the Kawai CE220 at $1899 internet price for anyone (even more advanced players) wanting a solid, reliable piano with excellent piano touch movement, authentic acoustic piano wood keys, excellent detailed key touch response and dynamics, along with convincing acoustic grand piano tone.

Roland RP401R digital piano
Roland RP401R
If you want to be in a slightly lower price range but still want a good piano playing experience with many extra useful features, there is a new digital piano by the Roland company called the RP401R ($1599 internet discount price) available now that is quite impressive for its low price. I have played this new model and was impressed with its enjoyable piano playing experience with a surprisingly good acoustic piano sound and a realistic graded weighted key action along with lots of useful built-in music technology in a compact traditional furniture cabinet available in two colors. Although not quite as robust in piano sound and key action as the Kawai CE220, the new Roland RP401R is definitely worth considering if you cannot quite afford the cost of the Kawai or just want something different. Go to the following link to read more about it: Roland RP401R Review.

There is one more digital piano in this price range that should be definitely be considered before you make a purchase, and that is the Kawai ES7 compact home digital piano which can also be used as a portable digital piano too. It is an amazing instrument for its size, looks great in its semi-polished black cabinet, and in my opinion actually has a more realistic piano sound and key action feel than even the CE220, and the keys are plastic, not wood! It's all in the way Kawai has designed and built this model which has a natural organic feel and tone that is beyond that of the CE220 and the Roland piano I mentioned. The ES7 also has some extra cool digital features that I find very useful and I talk more about that in my review of this instrument at the following link: Kawai ES7 review.

CE220 *Take a look at a Kawai video demonstration for the CE220 here: Kawai CE220 video

Just so you know, there is no scientific or perfect digital piano rating system (like stars, check marks, numbers, etc) as some people on the internet would have you believe...and that's why I don't do it. There are just too many variables in piano tone, action, pedaling, and what's actually best for you. In fact there are some so-called "reviewers" out there who have no idea of what they are talking about, they say things that are just not true at all, they rate cheap keyboards along side of digital pianos which is ridiculous (keyboards are not digital pianos), and what they report is only so they can link you to an Amazon site to make THEM money if you buy something. These "reviewers" are as impartial as bees are to honey...in other words, they are not impartial and they only will say things that gets you to buy a piano on their Amazon links. If you see something like that, then run away from those people as they are not there to help you, regardless of they say. In fact, I have noticed that many of these "fake review sites" steal my content and then post a version of it on their web sites. I know this because they would NEVER have been able to test out the pianos that I have and come up with the conclusions that they state in their reviews. This is because they have never played those digital pianos and in fact may not even know how to play a piano at all. It is true that imitation or downright coping is the sincerest form of flattery so people stealing (coping and reusing) my blog content does not bother me (too much). Unfortunately on those sites it is done solely to make money off of you, and that does bother me a lot!

If you want more piano info and LOWER PRICES than internet or store discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

* I recommend eMedia educational software. If you decide to make a purchase after clicking on link below, I have arranged a big discount for you direct with eMedia for their educational software and that discount price is displayed through this link only! I want to see everyone learn to play and enjoy piano!

53 comments:

  1. Any idea when the CE220 will begin showing up in stores?

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  2. You may contact me directly by phone and then I can give you that info (assuming you live in the US). Thank you.

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  3. Is the CE200 becoming substantially less expensive since CE220 is coming out? I'm thinking this will become in my budget range (less than $1500)

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  4. The older CE200 piano is completely discontinued now and no longer available

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  5. And by "no longer available" I mean there are no more at the Kawai factory or warehouse although there still could be a few of the CE200's floating around at stores or on web sites. But at this point, an upgrade to the CE220 is certainly worth the small difference in price.

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  6. Thank you for the additional detail. Typically I like purchasing "last year model car" because of the minor change and substantial price difference. But as you pointed out, the price difference seem to be minor but improvement is substantial.

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  7. I am currently looking at the Kawai CP119 - have you had the chance to play one and would you comment on it if so? Lynn

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  8. Tim,
    How does the CE220 AWA ProII keyboard action compare to MP6's "Response Hammer"?

    thanks

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  9. Hi Tim,
    As a fellow teacher, I find myself agreeing with almost everything that you write. Well done-- very balanced.

    One question that I don't know the answer to is what Kawai Cabinet piano is the equivalent of the MP10 and the MP6? I don't think that there is a cabinet counterpart, but I thought that I'd check in with you.

    A.

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  10. There are really no equivalents except that the key action in the MP10 is also found in the CA93 cabinet piano. The key action in the MP6 is also found in the CN43 & CN33 cabinet pianos. But as far as piano & instrument sounds, functions, features, flexibility, and many other things, the MP6 & MP10 are much different and far more advanced than these cabinet models.

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  11. Hi: I have been looking at the Yamaha Clavinova series-440 or 470 and Kawai CA63 and CE220 models. I really just want a digital piano that sounds and feels like an acoustic piano. What would you recommend? Thanks so much.

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  12. All of the pianos you mentioned are good ones. If you want more info on them and/or others, please email me directly.

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  13. Thank you for the reviews. For 2,000 or less do I go with Celviano 620 or Kawai ce220

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  14. Hi
    I am trying to decide between the Kawai CE 220 and the Yamaha arius YDP v240. The stores around me have to order the kawai so I haven't seen it hands on. Any comments between these two models?
    Thanks

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  15. Great review!!!

    You told me about this piano on the phone a few months ago before it came out. However, none of the stores have in stock for me to try out. Frank & Camile had only 1 which they sold and they have been trying to get another..

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  16. You may email me direct for info on factory availability and how to get one for less money

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  17. Tim,

    Any info where I can get the Kawai CE 220 right now and what you tjimk the cheapest price might be. Thanks for your excellent reviews and help.
    Thanks,
    Barry
    bbeau72788@aol.com

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  18. You cannot get the CE220 right now. I have been told they are heavily backordered from Kawai and new orders will not be available for quite awhile. As for price, $1899 is a very low discount price for this instrument, and in my opinion, is already priced too low given what Kawai's competition has to offer and the fact it will not be available for quite awhile. I would recommend you purchase another piano for less money if you cannot wait and afford the price of this instrument. If you have other price or product related questions, you may email me directly

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  19. Tim,
    Thank you for reviewing these pianos! I had ordered a CE220, thinking it would come this month. Now I'm told it will come in September. In the meantime, I could get a CA 63. How long has this model been around? Is it the same or better than the CE220?
    Thanks!
    -aruna

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  20. Tim,
    Thanks so much for your reviews! Very helpful. How does a CA63 compare to a CE220? Does the CA63 have any particular advantages over the CE220? And vice versa.

    Thanks!

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  21. Hi Aruna,

    For info on piano comparisons, you may email me direct with your questions at the email address in this blog.

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  22. For such a great piano, Kawai didn't plan ahead and make enough of them to stock the stores. Doesn't make sense! I'm getting the Roland DP900 instead..

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  23. Kawai did not anticipate the surge of demand for this model but will have much more quantity towards the end of July at this point. In most cases "patient" people get the best outcome:. The piano you purchase will likely be with you for many years so it's too bad that some people let a month or two of waiting get in the way of a long term purchase. I wish you musical success.

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  24. A month or two of waiting?

    Try 6 months Tim!

    Never the less I'm going to hold on a bt longer or until the end of the summer...For the price and all that it offers it might be worth the wait. I just hope I like the way it sounds and feels when I finally get to try it out.

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  25. Hmmm...it depends on where you live, when you order, who you order from, etc. It is worth the wait although I can tell you how to get one soon (if you live in the US) if you email me directly

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  26. Hi,

    I am a beginner. DO you recommend any (**key) piano that I may purchase?.. (my budget can't excees 1,000 USD)

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  27. What is the difference between this piano and the CN23 or CN33?

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  28. I was wondering the same thing, how does the 220 compare to Cn23 and cn33?

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  29. Hi Tim,
    I just found your website and am excited about the Kawai CE220. I haven't read any posts about whether the demand for these pianos has slowed and whether if I ordered one now I could get it by Christmas. Any ideas?

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  30. If you would like info about piano demand and availability from various brands and/or models, please email me directly and I can answer your questions.

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  31. Hey, Tim. I got the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones you recommended this afternoon. WOW!!!! Tried them on my new Kawai CE220 this evening. I can only hope the KRK Rokit Powered 5 Generation 2 Powered Studio Monitors you recommended are as good, because the onboard CE220 speakers will NEVER sound the same again! Every note in every chord was absolutely clear and resonant. Thanks for the recommendations, and I'm glad I ordered the CE220 from you.

    best regards
    richard

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  32. I was planning on a YDP-181 but you have convinced me to go with Kawai!

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  33. Hi Tim

    I'm in the process of purchasing a piano, and am considering the CN34 and CA65 -- CE220's are not available in Aus. I played for many years, but have not for the past 20 years, and my children and wife are starting to learn. So I guess I can justify getting a decent instrument.

    Some questions I'd appreciate your answers to
    1. Any comments on these instruments?
    2. I think both of these instruments have 256 note polyphony. Why so much? How much is enough? TO use that much do you need to layer sounds?
    3. You indicate elsewhere that tablets can be interfaced with digital pianos to good effect in learning how to play. What do you need for this/recommend for this? WIll it work with these pianos?
    4. I notice that the Yamaha Cvp601 (which only has 128 not polyphony) has a screen, and the instrument can convert midi files to sheet music displayed on the screen (I think) -- and guide you through learning it. Can a similar thing be done with a tablet and either the CA 65 of CN 34?
    5. Any comments on the yamaha cvp 601, beyond the notes you have made in another post?

    Looking forward to your advice -- all your info is much appreciated!

    Kind regards

    Matt

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    1. Hi Matt,

      I would prefer to answer your questions via email since they (your questions) are so varied and so many. The blog comment area is typically for the piano in question in the review and not for detailed info on a variety of other pianos. Please email me directly. Thank you

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  34. We are impressed by the Kawai CE220 but a bit put off by the controls -- seems like these are distracting and inconsistent with the desire to look like a classic upright piano.

    For anyone who has a CE220: Is it possible to slide the keyboard cover forward half-way, to cover the digital controls? I've seen that on some Yamahas, but no one mentions it for this Kawai.

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  35. The CE220 will always have the control panel showing and there is no intermediate way to cover it other than completely covered when the piano is not in use. This has not been an issue with this model and the overwhelming majority of people who own this piano buy it for the upgraded musical features that it has including the polyphonic range and wood key action. If the CE220 wasn't continually back ordered for up to 3 months at a time, perhaps Kawai would be more concerned but it would appear they are not. My advise is that Yamaha CLP or Roland HP pianos would be the instruments you should look at as they have this feature.

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  36. I can't decide wether to get the yamaha 162, the kawai Ce220 or the Casio Privia PX 850... can you shed some. from your personal experience which out of all 3 is the best in your opinion?

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  37. you could be happy with any of those choices...it just depends on your piano experience, musical goals, playing skill level, and expectations. You may email me for more info or call me directly during my studio hours if you live in the continental US.

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  38. I've had the CE220 for several months now, and I love the keyboard action and I really like how it sounds, but I was wondering if you thought adding a subwoofer would be beneficial.

    I have seen them sold online bundled with what appears to be an inexpensive subwoofer, which made me think that perhaps adding a decent subwoofer could give any digital piano a fuller sound. Is this generally recommended, and if so do you have any recommendations for particular products that work well for pianos?

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  39. Tim,

    I wanted to take a moment just to thank you for your reviews. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to pianos, but my daughter (7) is interested in learning to play. I almost bought the Yamaha YDP-181 until I saw your review of it and of the Kawai. It wasn't available in-store to compare side-by-side with the Yamaha, so finding your review was very helpful....and I went with the Kawai. Our CE-220 just arrived yesterday, took me less than an hour to assemble, and at least so far, I think it's fantastic, not to mention looks quite nice in our living room. Now I just hope I have as good of luck picking a teacher for her. ;-)

    On an unrelated side note, I had a similar thought as the previous post, that adding a speaker with more bass would enhance the sound. (I don't think a true SUBwoofer would help a lot as there's not a lot of very low frequency sound from a piano, but certainly something with a decent woofer and good mid-range presence.) Not that the built-in speakers are bad, but they're nothing special either.

    Regards, and again, thanks.

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  40. Im very sad, i want to buy a Kawai CE220, but it's only available in the US and Canada... This is the perfect digital instrument for me, wooden keys, good price, nice piano sound and can't get one. Why Kawai? Europe want a same piano!

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  41. Tim, some articles on what you can and cannot do with the piano being reviewed, in regards to play along cds and backing tracks for us " non teches" thanks

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  42. Hi Tim,
    Which one you recommended CE220 or CS4?
    Thanks

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  43. The Kawai CS4 is a polished ebony piano cabinet version of the Kawai CN24. The CS4 and CN24 are very good pianos as is the CE220, but there are different reasons to own one over the others. If you want more info on this please email me directly.

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  44. Hello.
    I am currently debating which piano to purchase. I do not intend to buy another piano ever again, and I am 100% sure I want a digital piano. Originally, I was going to get the Yamaha Clavinova CLP 430, but I was told that its SALE price is $2700. I have found others online who claim they got even cheaper prices than that. Now I found the CE220 from your CLP 400 series review. Would you recommend getting the CE220 over the CLP 430? I know you stated in your CLP 400 review that the CE220 is as good as the CLP470, but which one will last me a good 8 years and then some (I need it to last until I graduate).
    Thanks!

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  45. Hello.
    CE220 was introduced in early 2012 about 2 years after they introduced CE200. Does this mean that a new model is now about to come? I am debating to myself if I should wait or buy it now. If you have any idea, could you share? thanks,

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  46. The previous CE200 was out for approx 3 years and the normal life cycle of digital pianos is approx 3-4 years. The CE220 has a lot of life remaining in it and in fact is Kawai's top seller and regularly gets sold out dues to its popularity. If this piano fits your needs I would recommend you not hesitate to buy it. If you live in the US and want more detailed info or want to know how to get further discounts beyond internet discount pricing, please email me directly.

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    1. Hello Tim,

      Thank you for the reviews. They are well written and very informative. I plan to purchase a CE220 in October assuming the model is not replaced by then.

      I have been playing since 1953, during that period I have ranged from very good to mediocre hack depending on a variety of factors. I do love to play and with some extra time since I retired I'm going to make a concerted effort to play well again. I live part time in "The Villagers" located approximately thirty miles south of Ocala, FL. There is a Kawai dealer in Ocala. Any assistance in obtaining a good price would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you again for the information.

      Best,
      Ed

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    2. Ed, Thanks for your comments. I can assist you with lower price info on many new digital pianos including Kawai, so please contact me by email and I can give you more detail

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  47. Hi Tim! I've been reading your reading you reviews for a while now. I was wondering what is a better Digital piano to buy. The Casio AP-450 or Kawai's CE220? What do they have in common? The difference of the touch and tone also.

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  48. Hello Tim, thank you for your comments in this blog. I have contacted a dealer last week asking him for the Kawai CE220. He told me that he does not work with Kawai. He says that he does not consider them good digital pianos because..."they mix plastic with wood" and because they are assembled by machine in Indonesia. Not in Japan. Instead, he wanted to offer me a Galileo in that range of price. What do you think about those comments? Thank you.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. That is the most ridiculous comment I have heard in a long time and it was likely made by a "salesperson" who is only interested in selling you something they have in their store regardless of quality (so they can make commission off of you) while knocking down any other brand and making it sound bad (when it is not) so their brand can sound good. Most name brand digital pianos these days are assembled in Indonesia, China, Korea, and a few other countries. It is not the country in which it is assembled that matters as it is the people who work there, the design and components of the product, and the piano company owners of that factory that make them. Kawai, Yamaha, Roland, and Casio all are Japanese companies that produce high quality instruments designed by those companies in Japan and made by factories that are owned by those companies. On the other hand, Galileo, an Italian company, buys many of their pianos pre-made from other Chinese manufacturers and the product is not made by Galileo. In many cases the Galileo product has noticeably cheap key actions, cheap sound chips, and cheap pedaling systems which they pass off as very high quality when it is really not that way as compared to the name brands. Do yourself a favor and run away from that Galileo salesperson as fast as you can and never come back. With the untrue things they told you about Kawai, they cannot be trusted in anything they say. Buy a Kawai, Roland, Yamaha, or Casio as they also have much higher resale value as well. If you live in the US and want more info on pianos or lower pricing than internet or stores, email me directly and I can help you with that.

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