When you’re talking about pianos, it’s very hard not to talk about Korg. They’ve made some of the finest pianos on the planet, and the G1B Air can be easily counted among them. It’s an incredibly versatile piano that offers a lot of functionalities. It has a unique form factor because it can be considered as a lifestyle piano, and yet, it’s also ideal for students and beginners. Virtuosos aren’t left out, as the G1B Air has a lot of functionalities that are geared towards experienced pianists, so it’s very safe to say that this piano can easily suit a pianist of any range and skill.
Design and Assembly
There are seven main parts of the G1B to assemble. These are keyboard/electronics assembly, the left and right side panels, the speaker box, a three-pedal assembly, a kickboard that holds the pedals in place, and a cosmetic panel. The only thing you need to assemble it is a screwdriver, while all the screws and hardware are required to come with the package. Assembly isn’t exactly trivial, but it’s doable. You need to carefully read the instructions and organise the pieces. The procedure is relatively straightforward. You partially tighten screws, finesse gaps and screw alignments as you go. Just make sure to be one step ahead of the process. Keep in mind that this is a two-person project, so make sure to ask for some assistance. After you follow the instructions closely and you’ve attached the pedal kickboard between the side panels, only then you can turn the unit upright. It has a gorgeous design, one that will fit pretty much all rooms. Judging from the design, G1B is the piano to get if you were looking for a Korg for sale because it’s not only beautiful but also an excellent piano to work with, as we’ll outline in the rest of this review.
Keyboard and Pedals
The G1B Air uses Korg’s RH3 action, which stands for real hammers. That means when you play it, it’ll sound like there are 88 hammers on the inside. The action is graded, with resistance going from heavier to lighter as you ascend the keyboard, just like on an acoustic piano. Out of the box, without adjusting the touch-response curves, the G1B Air played like a medium-weight acoustic upright. It’s not too heavy for the hands of beginners and students, but also not too light for their teachers to take seriously. The fallboard doubles as a music rack when open, and has a soft-close mechanism to prevent slamming. The three-pedal unit supports true sostenuto as well as half-pedalling, which means that pressing the damper pedal partway produces partial sustain. Both of these features are essential to traditional acoustic-piano performance.
The G1B Air has three piano samples that you can play, and these are German, Austrian, and Japanese. They represent Steinway, Bösendorfer, and Yamaha concert grands without actually using their names. At first play, the three samples might sound different from one another in terms of tonal balance across the pitch range, with the Austrian having the most thunderous bass and the Japanese sounding a bit more bright and jazzy. Investigating further will reveal that these piano tones have considerably more depth and fidelity than can be reproduced by the piano’s onboard speaker system. But things come alive when you connected the instrument’s ⅛” stereo line output to a mixer and high-quality studio monitors. A good pair of headphones will be well worth the investment, as well. Digital reproductions of acoustic pianos are rated as much based on what you don’t hear as what you do. Critical listening through high-quality studio monitors reveals no such artefacts as sample loop points when notes are sustained, obvious breaks between groups of samples originally taken at different finger velocities, and the like.
Splits and Layers
The G1B Air’s keyboard can be split, to play different sounds with the left and right hands. To engage this mode, press the Split button, then press it again to step through the available sounds for the left-hand part. There are three: electric bass guitar, acoustic double bass, and acoustic double bass with the ride cymbal. Although this covers the usual bases for accompanying yourself, it’s surprising that you can’t put, say, strings or choir in the left hand, to hold chords while you solo with the right. Splits are also the only context in which you encounter these bass sounds. To set the split point, hold the Split button and strike a key: that key then becomes the topmost note of the left-hand part.
The G1B Air is equipped with a stereo sound system consisting of a 5cm tweeter and 12cm midrange-woofer on either side. Each driver is powered by its 20-watt amplifier. The larger speakers face your knees from the speaker box; the smaller ones fire upward from inside the piano unit itself. This setup is more than adequate for practice and casual playing, but the main star of the show is the Bluetooth connectivity. You can easily pair the piano with any Bluetooth speaker, and if you have high-quality Bluetooth speakers, you’ll immediately see why. The speakers are most likely intended to be used in tandem with a device such as a smartphone. Playing your music while another track plays on the speakers streamed from your phone is always a delight. The speakers themselves might not be the absolute best, but they’re still more than high-quality enough so that even audiophiles can enjoy them.