Kawai began making pianos as a company in 1927, however Kiochi Kawai, the company’s founder and first president, began building pianos long before that. The company was founded in August 1927, and it is headquartered in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan. Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd. is best known for its grand pianos, upright pianos, digital pianos, electronic keyboards and electronic synthesizers. Since the 1970s, Kawai has pioneered the use of alternative materials to improve the consistency and stability of piano performance. In 1971, the company began to use acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a composite material, for parts of its piano actions to overcome the problems associated with the use of wood. Kawai grand pianos have evolved steadily over the decades from the Model 500/600 built in the 1960s and 1970s, to the KG Series in the 1980s and early 1990s that became popular among teachers and institutions. During these years, Kawai grand pianos earned a reputation for long-term, stable performance even in heavy use.