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#21184 - 07/03/06 03:34 PM yamaha C3, grey market
chwejinho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 45
Loc: U.S.
Hello all,

I am a student who's trying to buy the best piano possible on my budget; on the other hand every penny counts, because I'm spending my tuition money on it.

I have just found a 1986 C3 6'1" yamaha grand, made in Japan, brought over recently by a wholesaler/techie. Condition is very good, the action is not like a new piano's, but still good. The sound is far better than I am used to in Yamahas (I don't like that underlying metallic edge). Nothing has been done to it, no new hammers or anything, but they look look okay; the seller says there will probably be no major maintenance needed for another 10 years, and I think that's probably true. It's $11,000 (USD); should I buy it, or hold out and hope for the shooting star type appearance of a playable steinway for under $20,000?

Thanks.

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#21185 - 07/03/06 03:55 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
chwejinho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 45
Loc: U.S.
also, how do you all feel about Steinway A's? Everyone tells me it's too small, with which I agree; but it's hard for me not to feel like five inches of steinway is not better than five feet of yamaha.

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#21186 - 07/03/06 04:44 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10338
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
The A is about the same size as the C3 you are considering. I would hardly call either too small for home use.

We have a rebuilt A in stock. I would easily take it over a C3. However at $11,000 the C3 deal you have is hard to beat, if the piano checks out. The rebuilt A will go in the mid-20s.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#21187 - 07/03/06 04:50 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I believe there are at least three slightly different types of model A ranging from around 6'0 to 6'3, so you're talking about a piano that is the same length as the Yamaha C3.

Also, I have sat at old Steinways that I would run away from as fast as possible. The name Steinway alone holds no allure. A old used one in somebody's house that has been ill maintained is likely to be a far less useful instrument to you than a newer Yamaha that has been lightly used and well-maintained. I would evaluate each piano as an individual.
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#21188 - 07/03/06 08:52 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
chwejinho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 45
Loc: U.S.
Oh you know what guys, I misspoke, I meant a Steinway S. I would be thrilled if I could afford an A. So is an S too small?

Also, opinions on the whole grey market thing?

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#21189 - 07/03/06 11:45 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
chopin952 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 492
Loc: North Carolina
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
The name Steinway alone holds no allure. A old used one in somebody's house that has been ill maintained is likely to be a far less useful instrument to you than a newer Yamaha that has been lightly used and well-maintained.[/b]
Again Piano*Dad, you put the Steinway at a disadvantage when stating an example. How about a well maintained lightly used model A versus an ill maintained over played C3? \:\)

chwejinho. That C3 sounds like a pretty good deal from just the price. Definitely have it checked out. Have you played other used brands within your budget? There are good quality new models out there with decent tone. Do you prefer the Yamaha sound?

Also, the Steinway S is not very impressive. You could get a better/larger piano for the same price. I would stay away from the tiny S if you are a serious musician.
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#21190 - 07/04/06 08:53 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1094
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by chopin952:
Also, the Steinway S is not very impressive. You could get a better/larger piano for the same price. I would stay away from the tiny S if you are a serious musician. [/b]
My teacher's piano is a Hamburg S built in the 40s. Although it is pretty well used up it is an amazing piano, and amazingly powerful and expressive above the bottom couple of octaves. Although I've told him there are many fine pianos he should try that weren't available just a few years ago, he is considering an expensive rebuild of this old piano.

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#21191 - 07/04/06 09:09 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
ftp Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
Isn't a Steinway S about 5'3"? I would think the piano is designed for small spaces. I wouldn't compare it to a larger piano.

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#21192 - 07/04/06 09:50 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
As far as 'Grey Market' pianos. they are just used pianos, nothing more or less. Just use the same procedure you would for any used piano. Play it, have it checked out etc.
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#21193 - 07/04/06 10:19 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10338
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Roger Ransom:
As far as 'Grey Market' pianos. they are just used pianos, nothing more or less. Just use the same procedure you would for any used piano. Play it, have it checked out etc. [/b]
That is not quite true.

Due to the "seasoning" controversy, grey market pianos sell for less than identical non-grey instruments. While there may be little difference in performance, there is a significant difference in dollar value, particularly at resale.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#21194 - 07/04/06 11:50 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1094
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by fathertopianist:
Isn't a Steinway S about 5'3"? I would think the piano is designed for small spaces. I wouldn't compare it to a larger piano. [/b]
I sure wouldn't spend good money on one, new or used. But it is astonishing to come across one that responds like a concert piano in the mid and treble.

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#21195 - 07/04/06 12:32 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
That's true that the resale value may be lower. Something to consider certainly. Unfortunate but true that the negative hype has had some success. I don't know how much.
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#21196 - 07/04/06 01:15 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
CTPianotech Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/06/06
Posts: 1473
Loc: CT
That is because the "hype" is at least partially true. A piano that spends 15 or 20 years in a very humid climate such as most of the population centers of Japan, are much more likely than most used pianos to have a negative reaction to an environment that gets very dry. It is also not uncommon for these negative effects to take a year or so to fully materialize, so that an initial positive presentation can be deceiving.

Just as I would caution a piano buyer living in Denver, about buying a piano that spent 20 years in Miami, the same caution should be excersized when purchasing a "grey market" instrument.

Then we run into the issue about Yamahas policy of not offering for sale, any parts to grey market pianos. This to me seems rather unfair, since it is the end-user, who loses. It is not neccessary to have such a policy, from a technical perspective, but from a business perspective, this is Yamahas way of discouraging purchase of these instruments.

As long as all parties are aware of the whole story, the piano seems to check out, the seller is a reputable one (perhaps asking local techs?) and the purchaser is not in an area prone to excessive dryness, then a grey market piano does seem to offer a good value for the money. Do try to negotiate at least a 3 yr warranty, though (even if you have to pay a little extra) This should provide ample time to find out if this particular piano will be one of those which becomes problematic.

Rich
_________________________
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Piano Restorations in Central CT
D-C installations, Player-Piano installations/service
Ritmuller/Pearl River

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#21197 - 07/04/06 01:31 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Two comments:

1. Resale may be lower (or not) for the grey market Yamaha, but if the initial price also is lower then the piano may be no worse a financial proposition than buying a non-grey used Yamaha. If the seasoning controversy is temporary then the grey market piano may be a better financial transaction than the non-grey. The price difference that is available now may disappear in future years.

2. From what I have seen, the difference in humidity between Tokyo and New York is minimal. If the piano has been in a climate controlled space in Japan the effects of being grey also may be quite minimal. In any case, no one on this forum has been able to offer any real evidence that grey market pianos have more maintainance problems than ones that were shipped to the US initially.

I lied. I have a third comment. \:D

3. Warranty and parts issues are real. On the other hand, a reasonable buyer knows this going in. The effect of these issues again is to put downward pressure on the price of grey market pianos. This works to the advantage of buyers who are not especially risk averse.

Cheers,

DF

P.S. Chopin952: Now tell me, what fun would it be to compare a broken down grey C3 to a pristine and lightly used A selling for twelve times as much? :p
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Grotrian 192 #156455

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#21198 - 07/04/06 04:28 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
As far as climate goes, I don't see any difference comparing different climatic conditions with Japan or various areas anywhere in the world including areas in the US

I am not an expert on parts although I discussed this with the shop that restored my old Yamaha and they told me that although it's true they can't buy parts from Yamaha for grey market pianos, they have absolutely no problem getting parts and it is really no hindrance to them when they have to work on them.

When they worked on mine none of the parts were Yamaha anyway except the keytops.

I think there may be a difference in resale value though for whatever reason.

I wouldn't hesitate a second to buy grey market with all the precautions of buying any used piano.
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#21199 - 07/04/06 07:10 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
How does Yamaha distinguish if the used part is for a gray or non-gray market piano? However they attempt to do it, it must be a piece of cake to get around it.

Tomasino
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"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#21200 - 07/04/06 09:12 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
If I'm not mistaken, my rebuilder told me they asked for the serial number. I expect there are simple ways around it. I can think of several possible ways with only a couple minutes thought. If there were money involved I'm sure creativity comes into play.

Anyway, there are a number of companies who make and sell parts that work fine in Yamaha (and others I'm sure) pianos. Many parts are not particularly unique.
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#21201 - 07/05/06 11:53 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
chwejinho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 45
Loc: U.S.
my gosh, you guys are wonderful. the discussion on grey market pretty much confirms and elaborates on the opinions I've heard on grey market yamahas so far. With your input, and after some soul-searching, I have decided I'll probably go for the 1986 C3.

Rich: I am taking my tech with me before cutting the check; he says it's as fine as it seems, I'm buying. The seller is also a tech, he is giving me a 5 year warranty, so I think it's legit. I live in Santa Monica, which is on the warm/humid side, so I am hoping the climate difference will have minimal side effects in any case. My tech also thinks that I will most likely not have a hard time getting rid of it at the same price (11K) if I am ever able to upgrade to something else. But it does seem very tough to sell pianos these days.

Chopin 952: I've tried pretty much what's out there, and I don't really LOVE anything but Steinway. Yamahas are fine, and so are Kawais; I ran across a Baldwin from the 1950's which was actually pretty good. (I also tried a confusing number of piano brands I had never heard of, which were alright, but didn't warrant the price, in my opinion.) I like a heavy and somewhat stiff action though, so in a used piano, I want either an action in close to new condition, or rebuilt (or otherwise adjusted). My tech also said something about being able to put in new bushings?

I agree the Steinway S is not very impressive; but one reason why I prefer Steinways so much is that they never have, at least in my experience, that underlying metal taste that I can't seem to get away from in Japanese pianos, even the good ones. I discussed this with my tech, and he says it comes from the vibrations of the plate, and that it can be minimized, but will never disappear. I ran across an S from the 1930's, it was so sweet I would have bought it right then, if it had been available. (I live in an apt. which is not much bigger than the body of an L or a C3, so I thought the shortcomings of such a small thing would not be obvious there. Also it was relatively cheap: 14K.)

Piano Dad: I guess it's true, it's all in the piano. I was considering offering to buy a very used Steinway B (I think it's 20 or 30 years old) from a friend of a friend, but didn't, just cause it sounds really bad; I can't imagine why. I am guessing it could sound as good as I would like if a lot of work was put into it, but I can't afford that anyway.

I am going to make one more stop in the meantime, however: I'm going to check out a rebuilt 1906 Steinway O, going for 15K. Doesn't that seem incredibly cheap? Of course if it sounds like crap, then it's not cheap, obviously.

Thanks so much for all your input everyone, it really helped.

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#21202 - 07/05/06 12:10 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
birchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Vancouver
Maybe some of you piano experts can share your thoughts re: these points

1. I've heard it's actually the heating systems in Japan that are the crucial factor (they do not generally have central heating but usually space heaters moved room to room as needed)

2. What about the effects of humidity in the packing up of pianos and container shipping them by SEA on a journey of several weeks. I suppose this would apply to used pianos AND new pianos because they all have to get here by container. I don't think container ships are perfectly climate controlled, and often they have containers on deck, making for extreme changes in temperature.

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#21203 - 07/05/06 06:40 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Piana Justice Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 299
Loc: Greenville, NC
You know, I actually like the bright, hollow, matallic undertones that Yamaha has. But the only problem is that in my area, where there's not much money, I can't seem to find a Yamaha that sounds like the ones I've heard on television and on commercial recordings. All of the Yamahas in my hometown are too mellow-sounding. The only one that sounds close to the real thing is the satin-finished baby grand [I don't remember the exact model of it] that I play at a local music building. The sound is more mellow than I like and the action is heavier than I like it to be, but I nevertheless love the sound. Moreover, the most of the keys are more responsive to my touch. I've also found Yamahas to be more consistent than any other brand of piano, or else so many pros wouldn't prefer them.

Elicia
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#21204 - 07/05/06 07:05 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
CTPianotech Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/06/06
Posts: 1473
Loc: CT
 Quote:
I'm going to check out a rebuilt 1906 Steinway O, going for 15K. Doesn't that seem incredibly cheap?
Yes, but it doesn't hurt to look. I'd recommend the have a tech check thing, but it seems as though you're on top of that. \:\)

 Quote:
2. What about the effects of humidity in the packing up of pianos and container shipping them by SEA on a journey of several weeks. I suppose this would apply to used pianos AND new pianos because they all have to get here by container. I don't think container ships are perfectly climate controlled, and often they have containers on deck, making for extreme changes in temperature.
Very important points, and is in large part one of the reasons that responsible piano dealers (new or used) have a sufficient service department to bring the pianos back to optimal playing condition.
_________________________
Rich Lindahl
Piano Restorations in Central CT
D-C installations, Player-Piano installations/service
Ritmuller/Pearl River

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#21205 - 07/06/06 07:34 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
ftp Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
This is only a guess but I suspect the Steinway O is going to need considerable work. If you found one that didn't at 15K, it would be an incredible find.

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#21206 - 07/06/06 08:59 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
masaki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 374
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
 Quote:
1. I've heard it's actually the heating systems in Japan that are the crucial factor (they do not generally have central heating but usually space heaters moved room to room as needed)
I do not know what space heaters are, but it is true that most Japanese houses are not central heated. According to a white paper, more than 90% families in japan own kerosene heaters, which produce a lot of water molecules.

In most cases, upright pinanos are placed close to the walls where the temperature in winters is lowest than other part of the room. I guess relative humidiy in such rooms in winter in Japan is nealy 100%.

 Quote:
2. What about the effects of humidity in the packing up of pianos and container shipping them by SEA on a journey of several weeks. I suppose this would apply to used pianos AND new pianos because they all have to get here by container. I don't think container ships are perfectly climate controlled, and often they have containers on deck, making for extreme changes in temperature.
According to a used piano exporting compay in Japan, they buy used pianos in Japna, send them to Vietnam to recondition(or restore) and then ship to the world including north america. Used Japanese pianos are not always shipped from Japan direct to North America. Some(or most) of them stay in tropical countries for several weeks.

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#21207 - 07/06/06 09:15 AM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
masaki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 374
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
 Quote:
1. I've heard it's actually the heating systems in Japan that are the crucial factor (they do not generally have central heating but usually space heaters moved room to room as needed)
C3 is considered, in Japan, a minimum model for students in Japan.
unwealthy families generally use kerosene heaters in winters and own ebony C3s. A little more wealthy families use non-kerosece heaters(e.g., conentional air conditioners) and own C3 in mahogany or Kawais which are less durable than Yamaha and need more maintenace costs than Yamaha.
If I buy a low-end pianos used in Japan, I would avoid ebony C3, and would never buy ebony Yamaha uprights.

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#21208 - 07/06/06 05:37 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
Graybeard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 219
Loc: Greenville, SC
You can better understand the grey market thing with Yamaha if you remember that Yamaha USA is a separate corporation form Yamaha. Yamaha USA buys pianos from Yamaha & resells them. A piano sold by Yamaha in Japan that winds up in the US made Yamaha USA no $$$. That's why they offer no support for these pianos. When you order a part for a Yamaha USA sold piano, you must give a ser #. They keep track of what was ordered for which piano. They can't be expected to have all of the Japanese numbers in their data base. Bottom line, Roger Ransom is right, they're just used pianos.
_________________________
Clint Tucker, Piano Retailer For Almost Thirty Years(OMG). Yamaha and Pramberger

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#21209 - 07/06/06 07:38 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
chwejinho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 45
Loc: U.S.
masaki, I don't understand.. is there really so much difference in price between mahogany finish and ebony finish that families in Japan who buy the mahogany have a significantly more affluent lifestyle? would you avoid the used ebony C3 from Japan because it's likely to have been put to harder use, or because it would be kept in non-optimal conditions?

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#21210 - 07/07/06 10:52 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
masaki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 374
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
 Quote:
is there really so much difference in price between mahogany finish and ebony finish
 I tried to find a Yamaha grand full price list that includs Mahogany and Walnut modes, and learned no such list available on the web.
Yamaha, Japan says Mahogary and Walnut modes are availabe on made-to-oder bases, but they do not mention about the prices. In the past, as I remember, Mahogany modes are approximately 15% more expensive than ebony on list-price bases.
Ebonies are ready-made and discountable 7-20%, but
I guess made-to-order models are not discountable as in ready-made modes.

 Quote:
have a significantly more affluent lifestyle?
Significantly more affluent families in Japan would not buy any Yamahas regardelss of the body finishes. They would by Bösendorfer or S&S. Walnut or Mahogany Yamahas are for only for families whoare little wealthier than average, restaurans or bars.
 Quote:
would you avoid the used ebony C3 from Japan because it's likely to have been put to harder use, or because it would be kept in non-optimal conditios?
Both.
Ebony C3s are mainly used by college students and enthusiastic amateurs and are heavily used.
An attribute in which, considered at least in Japan, Yamaha is superior than Kawai or any other manufacturers is durability. Yamaha users in Japan are believing their instruments can survive in high humidities(e.g., 70 or up) and voicing is virtually unneccessary.

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#21211 - 07/13/06 07:01 PM Re: yamaha C3, grey market
chwejinho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 45
Loc: U.S.
By the way, I didn't get the C3; my heart was just not in it. I'm holding out for a Steinway. Thank you all very much.

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