Piano Keyboards

Shopping guide to Piano Keyboards, from Ethical Consumer.

Shopping guide to Piano Keyboards, from Ethical Consumer.

This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

We're sorry but the score table and Best Buys for this report have been removed because they are out of date.


The report includes:

  • Timber issues raised from the instruments
  • Workers rights in forested areas
  • Chemical makeup of keyboards


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He that pays the piper calls the tune

Katy Brown investigates the musical instrument industry and discovers some disharmonies.

This report covers electric piano keyboards. The four keyboard companies in this report are all Japanese.


Workers' rights

Korg and Roland both manufacture keyboards in Japan and Italy. Roland also makes keyboards in China. Casio keyboards are all made in China. Yamaha sources its keyboards from Japan, China, Korea and Malaysia. Although unions are allowed in South Korea the government makes effective collective bargaining difficult; complicated legal procedures for organising strikes makes such action hard to carry out and strikes continue to be severely repressed by the government.
The law on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) contains preferential provisions in relation to foreign companies investing there, exempting them from many national regulations on labour standards. Keyboards for export are probably made in such zones. In Malaysia there has been a 30-year ban on the formation of an independent industrial union in the electronics industry.(1) From a workers' rights point of view an Italian or Japanese model is likely to have been produced under much better conditions than a Chinese, Korean or Malaysia one. In Japan private sector employers generally respect trade union rights.(1)

Samantha Maher from Labour Behind the Label comments "The industrial 'miracle' in China and South-East Asia may have made clothes, toys and musical instruments more affordable for people here in the UK, but there is no reason why it needs to cost so much in poor working conditions. Companies need to be persuaded to dance to a different tune and make sure their factories are paying workers a living wage. Above all, they should be finding ways that workers can organise to defend themselves when management makes unreasonable demands."


Toxic Chemicals

As with all electronics goods there are potentially a whole host of toxic chemicals lurking inside electronic keyboards. Both Roland and Korg have not received any criticisms with regard to their use of chemicals but as they don't produce environmental reports it's hard to tell if they are making progress in this area. Yamaha and Casio have not received such criticisms either but do produce environmental reports. Whilst Yamaha's indicates that the company is aiming to expand the use of lead-free solder in its wind instruments, Casio claims to have largely discontinued its use of lead solder in 2004.



Buying second-hand is usually a cheaper and less environmentally damaging option than buying new. Try E-bay or Freecycle (www.ebay.com, www.freecycle.com)



  • Forestry Stewardship Council, FSC UK, 11-13 Great Oak Street, Llanidloes, Powys, SY18 6BU Tel: 01686 413916 Email: info@fsc-uk.org www.fsc-uk.org
  • The Global Trees Campaign runs the SoundWood programme, and includes a directory of instruments makers which it endorses and covers a range of musical instruments. (Found in the projects section of its website www.globaltrees.org/proj.asp). C/o Fauna & Flora International, Great Eastern House, Tenison Road, Cambridge, CB1 2TT Tel: 01223 571000 Email: soundwood@fauna-flora. www.globaltrees.org
  • Greenpeace Music Wood Campaign, Greenpeace, 702 H Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20001 Tel:+001 202 462-1177 Email: info@wdc.greenpeace.org www.musicwood.org
  • International Labour Organisation, International Labour Office, 4, route des Morillons, CH-1211, Geneva 22, Switzerland. Tel: +41.22.799.6111 E-mail: ilo@ilo.org www.ilo.org
  • Labour Behind the Label, 38 Exchange St, Norwich NR2 1AX, England, Tel: 01603 666160, info@labourbehindthelabel.org, www.labourbehindthelabel.org
  • The Rainforest Alliance, 665 Broadway, Suite 500, New York, NY10012, USA. Tel: +001 212 667 1900 Email: info@ra.org www.rainforest-alliance.org



1. www.icftu.org viewed 8/09/06
2. www.musicwood.org viewed 8/09/06
3. www.world.casio.com/corporate/ viewed 17/08/06


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