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#234181 - 02/19/08 10:19 PM Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
toys4larry Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/01/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Long Island, NY
Hi, my wife and I have been looking for an upright piano for our 10 year old daughter. I have looked at a lot of junk. I have realized that this is harder than buying a car. Started looking at used $500 pianos and we are now up to used $3000 pianos. We looked at new $3,000 pianos and I was not very impressed. We are now considering used Yamaha uprights. We found a store on Ebay that has used U1, U2 and U3's that are "Factory reconditioned" in Japan and come with a 1 year warranty against major defects. They are a 3 hour car ride to go see. I will not buy sight unseen. All 3 models are in the $3,000 price range. They stated that the pianos are from the 1980's and are grey market pianos.
My questions:
1. What are the negatives to these pianos?
2. Is it better to get the U3?
3. Would you still have it inspected by a tech before purchase?

Thanks for your help! Larry

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#234182 - 02/19/08 11:26 PM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
bassliner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/01/07
Posts: 38
Loc: Long Island New York
I personally own a Grey market 1984 U3A. I have read all the pros and cons about Greys and reconditioned both here at piano forums and Larry Fines book and elsewhere. Admittedly that does not make me an expert. My U3 cost me $3500, shipped, tuned, and with a bench. I was able to pick it out of many "grey market" Yamahas and Kawais from a dealer in New London Connecticut. (I live on Long Island)I chose mine based upon the tone, the response of the action, and overall condition and appearance. I have had a Damp Chaser installed just as a precaution. This piano has turned out to be a pleasure to play and listen to. Stays wonderfully in tune. If there is any real risk attached to buying a grey market instrument, I think that risk is more than balanced by the attractive prices these pianos are being sold for. My piano tuner/tech agrees it is a fine piano. For me this purchase has worked well. No negatives. Im sure there are some undesirable or worn out pianos being sold as "reconditioned". Get help to make the right decision if you need it. And yes, no question, the U3 performs better than a U1. (same footprint, fuller sound, price paid is only slightly more). Once again, I am not an expert but this has been my experience.
2 kids, a yellow lab, Yamaha U3 and P90.

#234183 - 02/20/08 12:14 AM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
Bear 1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 1348
Loc: Hillsboro Beach South Florida

Since you are asking about Yamaha, go to Yamaha's web site and click on grey market pianos to see what Yamaha thinks about them.

To my knowledge, Yamaha does not "Factory recondition or refurbish" used Yamaha pianos in Japan. There are some used piano brokers in Japan that buy these pianos and ship them to the US for resale by anybody that wants to sell them. Japanese people, for the most part, will not buy used pianos nor most anything used.

There is no Yamaha factory authorized one year warranty on grey market pianos. The one year warranty against major defects will be from the selling dealer only. Should that dealer go out of business you will not have any warranty whatsoever. Trade in value is not very good for grey market pianos either, unless you go back to the original selling dealer that made the profit by selling the piano to you in the first place,

Many dealers that are not factory authorized to sell new Yamaha pianos will stock and advertise the grey market instruments in order to bring consumers into their dealerships. Many times these dealers will try to switch the consumer to a new brand that the dealer is factory authorized to sell.

Many dealers that sell grey market pianos will tell you that buying one of these is just as safe as buying a piano from an authorized dealer. Is it? You be the judge.

Most of the above also applies to grey market Kawai pianos.

You will find that many people and dealers, on this forum, will tell you that they have experienced nothing but excellent results with these pianos. The Manufacturers will tell you the opposite.

Yes, it's better to have any used piano checked out by an independent RPT/PTG tech. Better safe than sorry.

Just my opinion.

It's your money ... Spend it however way you want. \:\)

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

Barry J "Bear" Arnaut ♫
46 Years in the Piano Industry
Retired Kawai/Shigeru Kawai Regional Manager
(My posts and threads are my opinions only)

#234184 - 02/20/08 10:06 AM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
Kugelis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 20
Loc: Chicago, IL
About 5 years ago I bought a grey market Yamaha U1 thru Chicago's infamous Biasco. I knew there was some risk involved, being unsure of the origin of the piano and distrusting the dealer, but for $2000 at the time it seemed an irresistable deal, and I was pining to have an acoustic piano again (having sorrowfully had to sell my Kawai when I moved). Maybe I was just lucky, but the piano is fine. I've had zero problems with it and no complaints. I have to think some of the anti-grey arguments are a bit suspect when you analyze them. For example, is there a Yamaha factory warranty on ANY used Yamaha? I'm also not convinced by the "not made for the Western Hemisphere" argument. What are we, on a different planet? I think it should be obvious why Yamaha would discourage anyone from buying used.

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#234185 - 02/20/08 11:37 PM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
M&HAAdriver Offline
Silver Expires April 2010

Silver member until April 2010

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 272
Loc: Centennial, Colorado
You hit it Kugelis. I bought a used NA market C3, and the warranty was invalid once resold. I didn't need warranty work while I owned it, but it's clearly no factor in your decision, Larry.

Bear1's post pretty much says it all. But regarding Yamaha's opinion of grey market, "what Yamaha thinks about them" is really pretty predictable. I was personally persuaded by potential later trade-in uncertainty, but most of the other stated negatives seemed implausible at best. Not much word in these pages of first-person documentable problems.

So, my opinion FWIW is "be not afraid" if you intend to keep the instrument for the foreseeable future. But if you might be thinking about trading, remember Yamaha has successfully scared enough people that your trade-in market will be reduced if you buy gray.

Whatever you do, have any used piano checked by a professional tech. The quality of the rebuild should be verified.
** Bob ** M&H AA 92809 **

#234186 - 02/23/08 05:45 PM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
Please compare these two ad copies/presentations:

1. Used Yamaha U1 48" piano for sale at $3000. Used in a music school six hours a day, five days a week, for thirty-five years. Spent the last thirty-five years in a moist climate with little HVAC. All original parts."Refurbishment" includes cleaning and polishing the cabinet. Sorry no meaningful warranty.


2. Used Yamaha U1 48" piano for sale at $3000.
About ten years old. Fully refurbished to like new condition. Ten year seller warranty on parts.

Presentation 2 is given to most Gray Market prospects. Presentation 1 (the truth) doesn't sell many pianos.
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

#234187 - 02/23/08 07:06 PM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
toys4larry Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/01/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Long Island, NY
Update on search:
Wetook the 3 hour trip to see the pianos. They had about 10 to chose from. My daughter tried each one and found a 1983 U1A that she liked. As I began to inspect the piano I found several little things that I did not like ( some rust on pins, thin felt on hammers). I then checked the strings for the hammer return springs and they were all broken. The salesman then told me that they would be replaced before the piano was delivered. Apparently this is not part of the factory refurbishing. We will continue shopping! Thanks for the input!

#234188 - 02/23/08 07:19 PM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
Craigen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/05
Posts: 1815
Loc: West Coast
Right on Toys!
Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.

#234189 - 02/23/08 07:49 PM Re: Refurbished Yamaha Advice needed
John Mila Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 245
Loc: So California
Hello Toys,
In my Yamaha store, if I go to 15 different Yamaha verticle pianos, I recieve a very close rendition of the same sound.
A few years ago, I almost took a job, managing a store that imported these products.
When I walked the room, I found two basic tones produced with 'these' pianos, either bright and tinny, or muffled.
So comparing 'refurbished' product by some mystery company in Japan (not Yamaha) yields product with quality control or lack of all over the place.
Conspiracy theorists would like you to believe that Yamaha doesn't want to lose the biz, but these pianos without return springs etc, are just a symptom of a non-existant quality standard, compared to the piano with one of the highest quality control standards in the biz.

Good Luck
John Mila de la Roca, Manager
Keyboard Concepts, Tustin CA
Piano Tuner/Tech 30 years

Yamaha C3-KorgN364-Kurzweil K2500-Yamaha P200-Roland Ax1 & Les Paul Custom gold Top 57 re-issue and 6 nameless guitars.


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