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#1944263 - 08/17/12 04:30 AM Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H
Ozzidazza Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/17/12
Posts: 2
Loc: Perth, Australia
Hi all, new member and first post. The heading of this post pretty much states the question. I’ve very much appreciated reading your forum over the last couple of weeks, and feel the depth and breadth of experience in the members is extraordinary and encouraging. Hopefully I can get some well rounded advice on a couple of options I am considering for Uprights.

I am not a ‘current’ pianist, but a returning one being encouraged back into it by a daughter who desperately wants to play like her Daddy did once. (Cute how a badly played Fur Elise sounds amazing to someone who can only play chop-sticks!). Shamefully, after having achieved Grade 7 at age 16 I have rarely if ever played in the intervening nearly 30 years (I discovered girls!). However my daughter is showing good musical talent on the piano using the old Technics Digital that we have, and I recognise the need to get her (and myself) a decent piano to use. She is taking to it well (sitting Grade 1 after only 10 months), and I don’t want to hold her back. And a good quality piano is what her daddy needs to attract him back to the piano stool as well!

So I have spent the last month looking, playing, pricing, and pondering. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, European. Would love a Grand, but price and space rule it out. I have come to appreciate the consistency of Yamaha over Kawai, and the brightness of Japanese brands over the more mellow Europeans (and Korean Samick). And while Chinese (Pearl River, Hailun variants) are surprisingly good these days, I question how they will be in 10 or 20 years time, whereas I can play a 30 year old Yamaha U3 today and still enjoy it very much.

So this is a long way of saying that I have settled on a Yamaha, either U1 or U3. Now obviously Pricing is an issue, as the U1 & U3 are now superseded by YUS1, YUS3 which is outside of my price range (I am in Australia). I have found a store that has quite a selection of used U3’s, from U3H (1978 - 1980) through to the late ‘80’s, and they also have a wonderful UX1 from 1987. However these are all Grey imports. Meanwhile, the local Yamaha dealer will sell me a brand spanking new U1J cheaper than the asking price for the U3H and UX1.

So what advice can people give on these options:
1. U3H – 32 to 34 year old Grey Import for 6.7k. Choice of 3, all light on the touch (not wobbly), moderate in volume, good tonal range. No way near as loud as the later U3’s (3 – 4 million serial number range). Note that this is a good thing for us.... I had great difficulty in playing pianissimo on a lot of the later U3’s.
2. UX1 – 25 year old Grey for 7.7k. Heavier on touch, more ‘newish’ I suppose, and louder than the U3H but still with good tonal range. Can play pianissimo reasonably well. Is it worth $1000 more than the U3H?
3. U1J – Brand New for 6k, warranty, designed and prepped for Ultra Dry climate, BUT is Indonesian built. Not totally sold on touch, but cannot really compare to the others due to being in different stores and played on different days. The day I played it I was not ‘inspired’ (!!) and the music wasn’t flowing. I actually enjoyed the YUS1 sitting alongside of it more, but cannot afford it.

So some further questions:
1. Is a 25 yr old grey UX1 a better piano than the new U1J, from Indonesia?
2. Is it worth the risk of a 30 yr old Grey over a fully warranted new? To be fair, the Greys also come with 10 yr warranty, but obviously this is piano store only so not transferable, probably not even around in 10 years...

If you were me, what option would you go with?

Many thanks in advance!

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#1944274 - 08/17/12 05:31 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3504
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
My Yamaha U3 is from a similar era to the one you are contemplating. It was a grey import too. To be honest, I've come to the conclusion that all the scare-campaigning about grey imports is exactly that - a campaign. I've played on heaps of grey imports in the last year or two and they have been in no way inferior to the models made for our market. I certainly understand why it infuriates Yamaha dealers. These pianos are generally a lot cheaper than they can sell their local product for. What's more, accredited Yamaha dealers aren't allowed to sell Grey market pianos so they can't compete.

Anyway, my Yamaha has been as solid as a rock. No problems of any kind. Most grey market pianos have had relatively little use, as the better ones are chosen for import.

The main caveat I would attach to this is if you decide to make an offer on a grey market piano, get a qualified independent tech to come with you and inspect it. That will help put your mind at ease about your purchase. If it checks out from a tech's perspective, I don't see any reason to avoid a grey. Yamaha's are generally very robust and you are unlikely to need any warranty assistance in 10 years. You are also probably unlikely to even keep the piano for 10 years if you have a developing pianist in the house. You'll want a grand at some stage. So from that perspective, decade long warranties are irrelevant.

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#1944283 - 08/17/12 06:10 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
backto_study_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 398
Loc: Australia
I think you hit the nail on the head "I was not sold on the touch". And in 5 years you won't either. And want to get rid of it. Maybe, just maybe, it can be tweaked a bit.

I had the same question 5 months ago, helping my mother select a new piano. I'd played YUS1 (and 3 and 5) and tried the U1J. They were chalk and cheese. I lined my mother with them both - she walked away from the "J" real quick.

Grey market pianos. Scare tactics by Yamaha seem to be unfounded. Here in Australia, many Yamaha dealers are selling grey imports now, whereas in years past, Yamaha would have black-listed them. I suspect that you could get a younger piano than 25 - 34 years old for that money if you look around. Check a few other dealers. There are a lot of them for sale, pick the one which tugs at your heart strings and says "take me, take me". Then start negotiating downwards.

Enjoy getting back into piano.
_________________________
Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#1944284 - 08/17/12 06:13 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
backto_study_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 398
Loc: Australia
Oh, I forgot - I had a UX, bought new in 1979. It's pretty well worn out now, but my daughter and grandchildren are making good use of it now. It was a great piano - for an upright of it's age.
_________________________
Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#1944400 - 08/17/12 10:31 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
Elkayem Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/12
Posts: 159
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
Wow, it is as though you and I are living same life in parallel universes right now. Well, similar but not exact. I took a 20 year break from piano before acquiring a Yamaha digital a few years ago. And as my young daughter is now learning piano, I recognized the need for an acoustic. In my part of California, there are lots of grey market Yamaha uprights, so I had a good chance to sample this market. I came to this forum with questions and got a lot of great feedback (including some very helpful PMs). Here is that thread, maybe you will find it useful:

Buying a grey market Yamaha thread

It was very important for me to get a full 52" upright. I like playing bass lines, and the shorter pianos just didn't do it for me.

My advice would be to visit lots of dealers and be open to considering other options than just Yamaha. You will learn a lot in the process, and you may find a beautiful used instrument in one of the stores that you hadn't considered. I did. Also, I was quite impressed with the new Hailun I tried, despite having the same reservations about Chinese pianos. My sense is that it would be a step up from the Indonesian Yamaha you are considering. I will leave the expert opinion to other members on this forum.

Also... Enjoy the process of buying your piano. I had a ball. And one last thing... You won't regret relearning piano. In my case, it all came back to me much faster than in expected, and I have fun with it every day.
_________________________
Schimmel 130T

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#1945710 - 08/19/12 06:45 PM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
Ozzidazza Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/17/12
Posts: 2
Loc: Perth, Australia
Hi all, appreciate the thoughts. I think I have scratched the U1J off of the list.

So I'm happy to take a risk on a Grey import, however here in Perth the pricing is so much higher for these than over in the eastern states. E.g. I saw a beautiful UX3 on the weekend for 7 grand. However by just stretching another 2 grand I can have a brand new YUS1.

This always happens to me. 'For a few dollars more you can get this!!'

I would appreciate comments on another option:

I can 'rent' a U3H (1980 year) for about $150 a month, the first 3 months comes off the purchase price. Purchase price is 6.5k, or outright buy 5.9k.

The feeling I have is that if I make it too 'expensive' first up then it becomes a hard thing to justify, considering all the other financial pressures we have in the world at the moment. But 150 a month for a few months gets it into the house, if it's a clanger then we give it back.

Thoughts?

Or should I just hock the future and buy the brand new YUS1 instead?

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#1945884 - 08/20/12 12:32 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
Elkayem Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/12
Posts: 159
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
Based on my recent piano shopping experience, 6K seems like way too much money for a 30 year old grey market U3. Maybe you could talk that figure down. I couldn't bring myself to pay 4K for a similar piano a few months ago. Is the market that much different in Australia? If you can get a new YUS1 for only 2K more, that seems like a far better deal, and would have been a good deal in the US. Retail price here for the YUS1 is 14K, without negotiated discount. It is a very nice piano and will not have 30 years of wear and tear on it. In this case, it would seem to me that stretching would be the right thing to do.
_________________________
Schimmel 130T

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#1946052 - 08/20/12 10:43 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
backto_study_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 398
Loc: Australia
We did the same thing looking for a piano for my mum earlier in the year - U3 and YUXs were $5,000 minimum for fairly old ones, newer ones were between $6000 and 7,000. I think she got the new YUS1 delivered just over $9,500. She's also in Brisbane.
_________________________
Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#1946070 - 08/20/12 11:10 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Elkayem]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3504
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Elkayem
Is the market that much different in Australia?


My word it is! We look at the American prices with total envy. You have such a richness of choice and prices we can only dream of. Not only that, but for some reason most of the bargains (ie normal price in the US) to be found in Australia are in the Sydney and Brisbane areas. Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide - very few bargains to be found. We pay through the nose. It's rather depressing sometimes. I've been dreaming of a nice grand piano for so long, but it's still beyond my means at this point.

I did pick up my U3 on eBay for a decent price though. Even a 50 year old U3 is around $3-3.5k in Melbourne dealers.

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#1946083 - 08/20/12 11:58 AM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14116
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
I once talked to a Perth dealer who told me that business is getting real tough. At least they seem to still be getting
high prices for their greys. Or is it 'because' of it?

On the West Coast of Canada we are inundated with these pianos, stores sell them, tuners sell them, private people sell them. Looking like the glory run of these pianos is coming to an end, at least in our neck of the woods...

Last Saturday we got an almost new U1 piano in as trade.
To be frank I was almost shocked.

It's gonna sell us a lot of other pianos....

Norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#2079048 - 05/07/13 10:41 PM Re: Opinions on Yamaha U1J vs Grey UX1, U3H [Re: Ozzidazza]
mafooo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1
Funny, I find myself in almost the exact same spot as the OP; learned piano for 10 years as a kid, didn't play much at all for 25 years, bought a Yamaha YDP-141 digital electric for Christmas a few years ago, and now the older kids (10, and 6) have outgrown it, well the eldest has anyway...

I too am looking at used U1/UX1/U3, around the 5-6k mark, although I am in Sydney, not having to pay Perth prices...

Can I ask the OP, what did you wind up getting and why??

Anyone else who has bought one of these 'grey' imports in the last few years, I'd appreciate your thoughts on owning it.

Thanks heaps!

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