What is a grey market piano?
According to Wikipedia: A Grey Market (also spelled gray market), or parallel market, is the trade of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial, unauthorized, or unintended by the original manufacturer. The most common type of grey market is the sale of imported goods (brought by small import companies or individuals not authorized by the manufacturer) which would otherwise be more expensive in the country they are being imported to. An example is drugs being imported into nearby wealthier nations where the drug manufacturer charges a higher price for a similar or equivalent product.
You may hear a Yamaha or Kawai dealer refer to a used Yamaha or Kawai piano as a grey market piano. This is done to cast doubt on the integrity of the used piano. We highly recommend and offer a large selection of used Yamaha and Kawai pianos. None of these pianos are grey market pianos, but Yamaha and Kawai would have you believe that they are somehow, inferior.
What follows is an article which appears on the Yamaha corporate website. This article, written by Yamahas service manager, details the company's position with respect to the purchase of used Japanese-made instruments.
Here is a link to the page on Yamaha's website:
We have dissected the webpage. Following each of the six major points presented in the article we have responded with additional information which we believe is essential to making an informed decision on this issue.
Everything in quotes and centered has been copied directly from the Yamaha website.
"What About Purchasing A Used Yamaha Piano?"
"Customers frequently call Yamaha Piano Service to ask about purchasing a used Yamaha piano. Typically, they want to know how old the piano is, whether it is a good piano or not, how much the piano is worth and if they should purchase it or not. We do our best to answer their questions, from a technical standpoint. We first remind the customer that they are asking us about a used piano. We explain that there is always some degree of risk involved in purchasing any used product. Without a thorough inspection by a qualified technician, it is impossible to know whether the piano has been properly maintained, whether or not it is damaged, how worn out the piano is, or whether the piano is in need of major rebuilding. We recommend that they contact a competent piano technician and have the technician make a thorough inspection of the piano, before purchasing it."
Our Reply: …
How often should I tune my piano?
The amount of times you tune your piano per year, depends on your situation. Tuning a piano with each season change is optimal. Steinway requires owners of their new pianos to tune them four times a year. Some of our local recording studio clients have us tune their pianos once a month. For folks who are raw beginners, or who aren't playing their piano that often, once a year is a good compromise.
How long will my piano take to be delivered?
Local purchases are usually delivered within 1-5 days. Long distance purchases are delivered within 2-6 weeks.
What if the piano is damaged upon delivery?
Though extremely rare, damage can occur and accidents do happen. In the unfortunate occurrence of damage from delivery, we will come to your home, assess the damage and either repair it, replace it, or offer you a full refund.
Who will deliver my piano?
If you are local, we deliver your piano. If we are overbooked on local deliveries, Camel Piano Moving Co. will deliver. Camel Piano Moving is a local company that we have come to know and trust as a professional, insured piano mover.
If you are not local, we use: Walters Piano Transport, Modern Piano Movers, Keyboard Carriage and Schaffer and Sons Piano Movers. These three companies are the best in the industry and we have trusted them for many years and hundreds of moves. This allows us to "buy in bulk" from them and we add nothing to their price. Because of this, you receive the lowest possible price and get the highest level of service.
Can I put a deposit down on the piano until my teacher or tuner can look at it with me?
Many of our local customers have asked this question over the years. Our policy is that you may have your tuner or teacher inspect the piano as long as it is done within a one week period.
Do you offer a warranty?
Yes! Our warranty covers all parts and labor for a 10 year period. It includes anything that inhibits the playability of the instrument. It covers the soundboard (not cracks in the soundboard since most used pianos have minor cracks in the soundboard), but it covers any problems with tone, such as buzzing, associated with those cracks.
What does the total piano purchase price include?
All of our prices include a bench, one in-home tuning after delivery, and a 10 year warranty on all parts and labor.
Do I have to pay sales tax?
All NJ customers must add 7% sales tax. There is no sales tax for out of state transactions.
Do you take trade-ins?
We do trade-ins for local customers, but not for long distance customers. We can, however, guide you to the best way to get the most value from the piano you currently own.
Do you share my name and information with other companies?
We absolutely do not and will never share your name or any personal information with any individuals or companies.
Does a cracked soundboard mean the piano is no good?
This is a question and an issue that can scare many customers very easily. New piano dealers want you to believe that a cracked soundboard renders the piano useless or at the very least devalues the integrity of the instrument. The fact is that Steinway & Sons does not warranty their soundboards against cracking. Why? A good soundboard is prone to cracking because of its nature. It is more responsive to vibration, therefore creating better tone. It is also more responsive to humidity changes, therefore making it more prone to cracking. Some less expensive brands like Samick manufacture laminated soundboards which will never crack but will never produce great tone. Yamaha and Kawai seem to have found the middle ground with a non-laminated board that is not as resposive as the finer brands, but, will not crack as easily under the same conditions.
In some pianos, however, the cracked soundboard is an indication that other problems exist due to excessive dryness. Knowing the difference between a cracked board that is a problem and one that is not due to a problem is imperative. We inspect and repair literally hundreds of soundboards each year and we will never offer a problem piano to a potential customer. We also back that up with a 10 year warranty on every piano we offer.
What are the differences between spinet, console, studio and upright pianos?
All of these pianos fall into a catagory called 'verticals'. Height is the main difference here. Spinets range from 36" to 39" high. Consoles range from 39" to 44" high. Studios range from 44" to 48" high and full size uprights range from 50" to 56" high. Spinet pianos differ from the rest because they have an inferior action (playing mechanism) which is called a drop action. Because of its design, a drop action is not as responsive as a direct blow action, which is what consoles, studios and uprights have.
What is the difference between a baby grand and a grand piano?
There is no exact cut-off point between a baby grand and a grand piano. A more accurate way of describing these instruments is by their exact size. For example: 5'1" grand, 6'3" grand, etc... Measure your space in the area where your piano will be. Keep in mind that all grands measure about 5' wide.
What is better, an upright or grand piano?
This depends on how much space you have. If you have the space, we recommend a grand, however, a higher quality upright has better tone and touch than a lower quality grand piano.
What is the difference between Rebuilt and Refinished, Reconditioned, and As-Is?
- Rebuilt and Refinished: This is the most extensive process that we do to an instrument. The cabinet is stripped and refinished, and the strings, pinblock and damper felts are replaced. A decision is made to either replace or recondition the soundboard. The action is evaluated and the appropriate work is done. Since the condition of actions varies so greatly (depending on its past use) we make a judgement to either replace or recondition component parts. This may sound strange, but a skilled craftsman lets the piano tell them what to do. Careful listening, playing and visual observation help us make the right decisions to bring out the best in the piano.
- Reconditioned: Piano reconditioning refers to working with all the original parts. It is generally done to later model pianos and includes cleaning, french polishing and/or compounding the cabinet and hardware. The interior is reconditioned by cleaning, tightening, lubricating, tuning and regulating to the original factory specifications.
- As Is: One of the reasons we offer "As-Is" pianos is that tuners, technicians and dealers can purchase these instruments and recondition them for resale. An "As-Is" piano may be appropriate for some end users if the instrument is going to be used for beginner to intermediate use or if the customer was handy and possibly wanted to refinish, recondition or clean the piano themselves.
What are the best brands of pianos?
It may be foolish to try and give a quick easy answer to this question. A piano professional would want to find out more about your needs before they would recommend the best brand for you. By getting more information about your tastes and needs and giving you more information about different pianos, a truly caring sales professional can give you the tools you need to select the brand that is best for you.
But lets say you want us to generalize a little. Steinway and Mason & Hamlin are widely considered to be the best American pianos. Below these two brands fall Baldwin (depending upon the model, because Baldwin makes a wide range of quality levels within their line), Knabe, Chickering (again, depending upon the model), Sohmer, Hardman (again, depending upon the model). After these fall most of the other brands. At this point it should be stressed that there are many exceptions to this hierarachy. There are also differing opinions and personal preferences among technicians.
Any discussion about the best brands must include Yamaha and Kawai. These two brands are not as fine as Steinway and Mason & Hamlin, but they are more consistant and still very decent. Because they are priced so much lower, but still approach the quality level of the finer brands, they are considered a good value. A used Yamaha or Kawai in excellent condition is an exceptional value.
Should I buy a piano without seeing and playing it in person?
It depends. First lets talks about the people who would never buy a piano without seeing and playing it. These are the people who have a specific sound and touch that they want in their pianos. These folks will play dozens of pianos before they narrow down their choice to the instrument that will sing to them. It's hard to put into words what that person hears and feels when he or she knows that right instrument, but they know.
For many of us, it's not that critical to find an elusive, perfect instrument. However, we still want a decent, if not excellent, instrument that will serve us well for many years.
Here are some questions that will help to determine the piano that is best for you.
- Is the piano going to be for a beginner?
- Do you have to stay within a budget range?
- Is furniture style important?