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#2212187 - 01/10/14 01:41 PM Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series)
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
Hello
I suppose everything has pros and cons. I am a piano teacher, not a technician. I like to hear feedback from technicians here. I am sure this topic has been discuss a lot, but did some searching but I can't find what I am looking for.

Q1: What is "gray" means exactly, is that means we are doing something illegal if we buy from gray market?

Q2: The problem that official Yamaha website claim is about the "weather" issues, the weather in Japan is different than USA. Right now I am in California, great weather here everyday, do you think it would be an issue?

Q3: How often you encounter this kind of piano in your tuning service? What kind of obvious problems you notice about this series?

Of course I am asking for your personal opinions, will not use these information to go against you. Please feel free to voice up your opinions.

Many thanks!!
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2212228 - 01/10/14 02:31 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
It refers to pianos which have been manufactured to be sold in Asia or non N.A. market. These pianos are being purchased en masse from people who are usually upgrading to newer better models. The pianos, then make their way to N.A. shores and sold as "used"/sometimes refurbished by piano retailers. Yamaha does keep a good record of serial numbers and will not supply replacement parts to techs or people unless you can quote them a serial number for a legit/non gray market piano. This is one difficulty encountered with these. (It is not a big difficulty if you think about it, but I will not elaborate).

The main issue is that different sealents, woods, wood drying methods/amounts are used on pianos intended for a more humid climate. The gray market pianos will often have rusty strings/pins and metal parts if not shipped properly or taken care of. They can suffer from dryed out pin blocks (loose tuning pins). They can experience regulating problems as they adjust to our clime here also. Some of these things will not appear until a few months or years go by. Many of the customers will be playing a "warranty" lottery on a gray market purchase.

Depending on who is importing it and the local area pricing the gray market pianos will sell for quite a bit less than a comparable used local legit Yamaha. I know of 1 gray market importer who wishes to keep their good reputation so they typically charge 2-3k more fore the piano than competitors, but he offers a 10 year warranty. He does this because every gray market piano gets the tuning pins changed out and restrung with new string and then properly regulated before sale. Most other dealers offer only 1 year, 3 year or 5 year warranties.

Also, one must be careful of the wording on warranties also. I know of one dealer who gives 10 year warranties on gray market yamaha's without doing any upgrades to them. However, in the fine print, it says something to the effect that the piano owner must keep the piano in a suitable climate. I figure if the pins go loose premature, they simply state your home was too dry. Not sure where that leads to but it good to keep this in mind.... "let the buyer be aware".


Edited by Emmery (01/10/14 02:34 PM)
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2212369 - 01/10/14 06:13 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
Terry Benge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 120
Loc: Southeastern Ky
I can only report on 1 C5 gray market piano. It is here in Eastern Ky. When the church first purchased it used, the pins were very loose. I contacted Yamaha and they informed me it was gray market. The church did not know. So after talking with Yamaha, they provided the next size up tuning pins but the church had to pay the labor. Even after that I tune the piano quarterly and there are big pitch swings in between tunings. It does have a damp chaser system as well. Very unstable as best we can make the surroundings.
Larry Fine addresses this issue in his books. Also, I think all the grands only have 2 pedals, not sure about the uprights.
_________________________
PTG Associate
Steinway Studio
Yamaha CP300

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#2212436 - 01/10/14 08:09 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
David Boyce Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 272
Loc: Scotland
With any kind of goods, the "gray" market refers to importing and selling those goods through channels other than the official distributor for the country.

It is not illegal, but it means that the product will not be supported by the official distributor.

Years ago it was an issue with photo equipment, for example. The Japanese camera company Nikon, has an official distributor for the UK, Nikon UK. But it was perfectly possible for an entrepreneur with some capital, to go abroad and source a containerload of Nikon cameras in another contry, available at a good price partly through exchange rate fluctuations. He could then perfectly legally import the containerload of Nikon cameras into the UK and sell them at a very competitive price in his chain of photo shops. BUT Nikon UK would not provide technical support for those cameras.

It's the same with pianos. As Emmery points out, a piano manufacturer like Yamaha may customise their pianos for conditions and preferences of different countries. "Grey" imports might be of instruments optimised for a different country. And since the official distributor has been 'cut out of the loop' as it were, why should they provide support?

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#2212438 - 01/10/14 08:10 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3500
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I have been told by two different former employees of Yamaha in Japan in the 80's and 90's that the whole seasoned for different climates thing is a load of boloney - apparent pictures of different production lines with different humidities notwithstanding. It's all marketing BS according to these techs. They cite the example of countries like Australia and the US where there are humidity variations as extreme as you could possibly get, yet they don't distribute different stock for the North of Australia/US as opposed to the South. These techs state categorically that they are exactly the same pianos for all regions and that the owner is expected to stabilise their own environment. They say it is all about protecting their markets, not about protecting pianos.

This is not my opinion, just recounting what I have heard. My own take on it is that I have a gray market U3 from Japan and it's perfectly fine, no issues with loose pins or cracking anywhere on the piano. I think the danger is largely overblown in most cases.

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#2212439 - 01/10/14 08:12 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
David Boyce Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 272
Loc: Scotland
ando what you say makes good sense.

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#2212493 - 01/10/14 10:44 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ando]
Blues beater Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 128
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
A lot of times gray market goods reflect nothing other than pricing issues. I am in the automotive repair business. I am told that in Europe and Canada people are relatively unwilling to spend money on AC in their vehicles. So, despite it being in violation of their contract with Toyota of America, big dealerships will buy a batch of Ac compressors, etc. from gray market channels from abroad from a dealerships whose retail is way less than the wholesale price to a dealership in the US. We get parts from a certain huge wholesale distributor that have the Toyota or Nissan emblem ground of the casting and the parts are reboxed.

I strongly suspect there is nothing wrong with the Yamaha gray market pianos. Its just a matters of what the market will bear in different areas and protecting strategies that take advantage of that.

Does Yamaha ship a different piano to Albuquerque, N.M. than they do to new Orleans? I doubt it.

Don in Austin
_________________________
Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, and unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate

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#2212496 - 01/10/14 10:55 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7223
Loc: Rochester MN
The whole "seasoned for its destination" is a long past issue. When the Yamahas were introduced to the US, in the 1970's, the wood was not well seasoned for any purpose. The instruments were not of the best quality. That's a long time ago and Yamaha learned a lesson from the whole mess.

As far as gray market pianos are concerned, there are a lot of them imported and they are used pianos which have been spruced up to look nice. Often they are out of schools and have been beaten to death. With any used instrument, it is up to the buyer to have the piano fully inspected to find out what your money is actually buying.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2213797 - 01/13/14 03:06 AM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: Blue Beater
Does Yamaha ship a different piano to Albuquerque, N.M. than they do to new Orleans?


Is there a way to find out the truth about this?
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2213830 - 01/13/14 06:54 AM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: Blue Beater
Does Yamaha ship a different piano to Albuquerque, N.M. than they do to new Orleans?


Is there a way to find out the truth about this?


Yeah, but it depends which truth you want....the Yamaha dealer/employees truth or the independant dealer/customer truth. Official Yamaha dealers and employees have little contact or feedback from grey market buyers...they are also censored by the mothership as far as what they reveal about the product, so take their info with a grain of salt.

I can only comment on what I see here in Canada, in the Toronto and surrounding area. I get called a fair amount to pre-assess a grey market Yamaha prior to a customer's commitment to buy. The prices have dropped so much on these in the last few years that the risks are not as high as they used to be, but the risks are still there.

Consider the fact that these pianos often take a several month protracted journey on a container ship to get here. I have seen some come in double wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap with dessicant inside...I have seen them come in with cardboard strapped around the corners to protect against chipping and nothing else.


Edited by Emmery (01/13/14 06:58 AM)
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2213889 - 01/13/14 09:39 AM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Grey market instruments have a poor service record locally here, primarily because the initial shipments were instruments coming out of universities in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. These instruments had received heavy use prior to arriving here and really required restorative work.

All of these instruments were acclimatized to their locale for the previous 30 years or more, and when brought here the winter heating systems in Canadian households dried them out completely leaving the majority of them unusable and unserviceable. Word got out, the value of the grey market instrument dropped significantly, as a lot of people were stuck with an instrument with little or no re-sale value.

Along with the inability to identify which Yamaha’s were grey market and which were not, the further problem with obtaining replacement parts from the manufacturer, most people moved on to purchase something else.

Interestingly enough I have observed that the grey market instruments do better when they are not situated so far from the equator such as Canada. I also learned that the grey market pianos coming in after 2005 had considerable work completed on them previous to sale, around here anyways. Those instruments have fared better than the original shipments, but the problem with replacements parts still remains.

There is mention in this thread of when Yamaha instrument was introduced to NA. Yamaha instruments came to Canada in 1958(Steigerman was the name owed by the Loewen family) and to the US in the early sixties.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2213947 - 01/13/14 11:36 AM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: Blue Beater
Does Yamaha ship a different piano to Albuquerque, N.M. than they do to new Orleans?


Is there a way to find out the truth about this?


I mean if there a way to find out if Yamaha "official" dealership a different (non-gray)-piano to CA than to MN (one place is very cold, one place is very warm)
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2213973 - 01/13/14 12:42 PM Re: Gray Market Yamaha Upright Piano (U Series) [Re: ezpiano.org]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3500
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: Blue Beater
Does Yamaha ship a different piano to Albuquerque, N.M. than they do to new Orleans?


Is there a way to find out the truth about this?


I mean if there a way to find out if Yamaha "official" dealership a different (non-gray)-piano to CA than to MN (one place is very cold, one place is very warm)


The pianos are the same. I've spoken to two people who were employees of Yamaha, one of them as senior engineer. They are the same pianos. Yamaha has invested a lot in the marketing of this myth, but it's all hot air (pardon the pun).

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