Kawai K3

Kawai K3 Image

The K3 uses the same technologies as the popular K1. Although it was among the first from Kawai, it is surpassed by the K1 and K5. The K3 is a wavetable synthesizer. It has 32 waveforms, some of which are samples of acoustic instruments like piano and percussion as well as some unique waveforms. By combining two of these waveforms you can create unique new sounds or add a twist to a traditional sound. Since there are only 32 of these waveforms, the K3 also features a programmable digital waveform where you can tweak the harmonic content of a waveform allowing for added flexibility and range of sounds.

What's really neat about the K3 is that (unlike the K1) it has analog filters and envelopes! So although the sound may be digital at first, it sure does get warmed going through the filter. The low pass resonant filter even has its own envelope generator. There's also a high pass filter and a highly flexible LFO. The K3 is an interesting synth, nicely bridging the gap between the analog and digital domain of vintage synthesizers. The K3M is a rackmount module version of the K3. The K3 has been used by Jan Hammer and Patrick O'Hearn.

Lookup Kawai K3 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a Kawai K3? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

50 Visitor comments
June 6, 2009 @ 10:47 pm
People keep saying it has no midi through - that isn't true, it does, and it works just fine.
June 2, 2009 @ 2:19 am

That's bull [beep] , K3 has got analog filters, analog chorus and stuffs. K1 is just a cold PCM crap, how can it surpass the mighty K3 ?
January 31, 2009 @ 7:34 pm
underated synth by a lot of people. hard to really describe can sound very analog and you can get a amazing bass sound from it. it can also tread somewhere into dx sounding patches due to the digital waveforms.
analog envelops and analog filter. nice. i somewhat suspect its very simple yet nice chorus and delay effect are based on bucket brigade technology and not dsp. i could be wrong but they sound very nice.
keyboard is not the best feeling action but it is pretty good.
saying this keyboard is surpased by the k1 is just out to lunch. you either havent heard one or havent sat down and programed it at length. the k1 is a completely different animal and well no where near as fun to program.
this synth has its issues without a doubt. no mod wheel no midi through.
ok so for the prices they go for still it is one of the best bargains out there.
its not as cool as some but way cooler than most.
January 25, 2009 @ 3:09 am
I like this synth. I've had one second hand for over a year now . It's easy. ADSR envelopes - compared with more complex structures on the D50 and ESQ1. A warm analog filter. The chorus is great as well. It's build like a brick proverbial, the only thing to watch is the JX8P style membrane buttons which wear out. Disadvantages? Firstly - no midi through on the keyboard. The waveshapes are 8 bit samples and have a lot of digital noise - so its lucky that the thing has a great filter! You need it to filter out the 8 bit noise at the high end. Last disadvantage is that the modulation routings aren't great. One envelope each for VCA and filter and assignable LFO. Still its simplicity could be an advantage. This is not a DX7 or D50 alternative and can't do acoustic emulations. However, it does produce warm character-filled sounds that are a nice blend of digital and analog. It's a good alternative to a Roland JX8P.
September 25, 2008 @ 1:12 pm
Yet another underrated Kawai product. This is a fun wavetable module with real analog filters. You can do a few sounds on here that are reminiscent of it's much bigger blue relative. With some programming, you can come up with some really fat sounds. The editable wavetable helps, even though I personally find hard to program. The K3M is what I own, and it's perfect because while the machine is cool, it's not worth wasting a full keyboard of space on just the K3 (I say this because I have more rig than apartment now). The K3M can be had for less than $100. Adding two of the same waveforms will fatten up that single waveform. If you use the filter envelope and put the machine in unison mode, you have a very fat lead that will impress, especially when you tell them how much you paid for it.
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 4.49 (875 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    Kawai K3 | demo
    by WC Olo Garb

    Patch Files - Every patch Kawai has for the K-3, provided by Kawai.

    Manual - Download the original owner's manual from SoundProgramming.net.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 32 digital waveforms
  • LFO - YES
  • Filter - Low pass resonant filter, high pass filter
  • VCA - ADSR
  • Keyboard - 61 note (velocity + aftertouch)
  • Memory - 50 patches
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1986
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Jack Solkiewicz, found at Synth Site.

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.