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Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: Jason74] #2439362
07/07/15 09:39 AM
07/07/15 09:39 AM
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torrance, CA
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted by Jason74
Until very recently, I had a refurbished 1975 U1, that may well have been the kind of Grey market piano you're talking about (although I don't know it's history for sure). I had it for almost 11 years, and was very happy with it. Indeed, the only reason I don't still have it is I was fortunate enough to be able to upgrade to a brand new YUS5. Even after that time, it still sounded nice, and there were no issues with tuning stability.

Had I been keeping it, there were certainly some jobs that I would have got done, but some of those were the more advanced parts of regular maintenance, that would be needed every few years even on a piano bought new.

The only thing I (as a non expert) would have wanted to replace parts wise were the bass strings, and that's a not inconsiderable expense that i would have considered worthwhile if I was keeping that piano. Looking at the choice I made on that piano 11 years ago,I'm absolutely confident it was the right one given the circumstances of the time.

That said, in the piano market of today, I'm much less convinced that a grey market Yamaha is the choice I'd make now. Norbert is right that the Chinese makers have come a long way in recent years, and that would be a credible option now in a way that it didn't seem to be (to me at least) 10 or 15 years ago.

Yamaha's own budget models are also an interesting alternative now. There's a Yamaha dealer who posts on here (and who I actually bought my YUS5 from) who's posted the view that a new Yamaha B3 has much more in common with a new U1 than a U1 from 30-40 years ago does. With the price difference(here in the UK at least) between a grey market U1 and a new B3 not being huge, perhaps the latter might be a better choice ?

Finally, there's the simple mechanics of age .While I'm not convinced personally by the whole "seasoned for destination " argument (I hasten to add that this is a non expert view, I'm just sceptical about how that works in a context of widely differing conditions within an individual national market, especially one as vast as the U.S.A) All other things being equal, a 30 year old piano will last 30 years less than a new one of similar quality, just by virtue of being 30 years older. It's not quite that simple in practice of course, as there are so many variables at play.

But that doesn't change the fact that in terms of the simple question as to whether a grey market piano will give 10-20 years of service, my own experience suggests it probably would. And it might well be that going down that route is the best option for you. It certainly was for me when I did it. It's just that given the options now, I'd want to look at all the other options first before committing to that particular route.


This post reeks of fairness. As Jason notes, the market today presents some credible options that weren't there 10 to 15 years ago, and people looking for a piano should consider their options carefully.

The only thing I would add is that while Norbert is right to point out that the Chinese makers (his market alternative) have come a long way in recent years, it's irresponsible of him to write: "Chances are greys will be the next wave of pianos going to the dump".

Without documented proof of a significant failure rate, this is just a dealer spewing FUD, no better than the loose comments that appear here occasionally that Chinese pianos will fall apart.


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Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2439370
07/07/15 09:56 AM
07/07/15 09:56 AM
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It's also likely that the cost of those grey imports will also come down to a point where it keeps them attractive to some. The Japanese wholesale price will reduce, the importer will buy them in bigger batches (reducing unit shipping price), the retailer will take the usual margin. There's still money to be made in grey Yamahas and Kawais. The assumption that Chinese pianos have come down to nearly grey import prices is based on the idea of greys not having any room to move, but I think they do have some room to move and they aren't done with just yet. The only danger to that industry is a total lack of supply - which will only happen if Japanese people either fall out of love with pianos, or they start to buy Chinese pianos. Even then, we will see a grey import industry based around Chinese pianos some day. It's not like it can only ever be Yamahas and Kawais. The Chinese products that stand the durability test will be rivals to their own new products one day.

Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ando] #2439428
07/07/15 02:05 PM
07/07/15 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ando
It's also likely that the cost of those grey imports will also come down to a point where it keeps them attractive to some. The Japanese wholesale price will reduce, the importer will buy them in bigger batches (reducing unit shipping price), the retailer will take the usual margin. There's still money to be made in grey Yamahas and Kawais. The assumption that Chinese pianos have come down to nearly grey import prices is based on the idea of greys not having any room to move, but I think they do have some room to move and they aren't done with just yet. The only danger to that industry is a total lack of supply - which will only happen if Japanese people either fall out of love with pianos, or they start to buy Chinese pianos. Even then, we will see a grey import industry based around Chinese pianos some day. It's not like it can only ever be Yamahas and Kawais. The Chinese products that stand the durability test will be rivals to their own new products one day.


With the supply somewhat depleted and the Japanese market increasingly buying used Yamahas and Kawais, what makes you think prices will go down?


Piano Industry Consultant

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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2439443
07/07/15 03:12 PM
07/07/15 03:12 PM
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Regarding the 'seasoned for destination' point sometimes made by Yamaha and raised by Jason most recently:

I don't really buy it either. But what I do think is that a piano that has spent several decades in very humid parts of Japan, won't fare so well after being moved to a dry part of the US or even UK. I guess that's where the knowledgeable dealer will have to use their skills in the selection of these pianos for sale.

A shop I was in recently, who has a U3 for sale (grey market) said that sometimes the pianos come in with spongy pins or rusty strings, or loose pins, poor bridges, and in that case he just has the importer take them back.

Even with all this in mind, I've never played a grey market U1 or U3 that I really enjoyed. There were some that were good and consistent, and there were others that frankly, sounded like the board had failed.

I'm sure that you can find good ones out there, of course, but any dealer that claims them to be as good as the new ones is probably stretching it a bit - and there are some who make this claim.

Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: Steve Cohen] #2439456
07/07/15 03:45 PM
07/07/15 03:45 PM
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I just wouldn't want to own a grey piano. What a terrible color for a piano.

(Kidding).


Marcus Valdes
Fayetteville, GA
Kawai RX-5, Kawai MP11
Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: Steve Cohen] #2439557
07/07/15 11:40 PM
07/07/15 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Originally Posted by ando
It's also likely that the cost of those grey imports will also come down to a point where it keeps them attractive to some. The Japanese wholesale price will reduce, the importer will buy them in bigger batches (reducing unit shipping price), the retailer will take the usual margin. There's still money to be made in grey Yamahas and Kawais. The assumption that Chinese pianos have come down to nearly grey import prices is based on the idea of greys not having any room to move, but I think they do have some room to move and they aren't done with just yet. The only danger to that industry is a total lack of supply - which will only happen if Japanese people either fall out of love with pianos, or they start to buy Chinese pianos. Even then, we will see a grey import industry based around Chinese pianos some day. It's not like it can only ever be Yamahas and Kawais. The Chinese products that stand the durability test will be rivals to their own new products one day.


With the supply somewhat depleted and the Japanese market increasingly buying used Yamahas and Kawais, what makes you think prices will go down?


If demand goes down, prices go down. I think I addressed how that might play out in my post. I'll add that I have spoken to two different importers of grey market pianos and they are not finding it hard to get their hands on pianos. The pricing relative to new Chinese pianos is the primary reason why prices will have to drop.

Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ando] #2439682
07/08/15 11:37 AM
07/08/15 11:37 AM
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torrance, CA
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Originally Posted by ando

I have spoken to two different importers of grey market pianos and they are not finding it hard to get their hands on pianos.


Maybe they are breaking into climate-controlled homes in Indonesia and Malaysia to get their hands on them. grin

Ando,

This is a bit of a digression, but let's assume that ebony, if (s)he was initially confused, is not confused at this point.

I have spoken with zero grey market purveyors in the US, but I know this. Ten years ago inventories of grey market Yamahas were mostly from the seventies and early to mid eighties. Now, ten year later, that's still the case. At a certain point one begins to think that scarcity of supply is at least as big a problem as demand.

On the demand side, a lot of this depends on the response of the Yamaha distributor in the regional market.

In Europe, some Yamaha authorized retailers avail themselves of Yamaha's own grey market wonders, reconditioned by Yamaha itself and sold with appropriate Yamaha documentation. You might call this a join 'em if you can't beat 'em strategy. Yamaha Europe has also sold the lower cost b series from Indoenesia for several year, and yes, that's "b" not "B, the only product series that Yamaha designates with a lower-case letter.

In Australia, as was pointed out by another Aussie member posting on this thread, the lower cost Indonesian variant of the U-1 is branded as a U-1J, thus providing Aussie buyers with two distinct U-1 pianos with two distinct origins and two different pricing levels.

In the US, our Yamaha distributor gave us the Chinese Cable Nelson (thanks a bunch!) followed by the Chinese T-118. The T-118 was introduced with great fanfare as a low-priced U-1 clone about five years ago. Now it's a discontinued Yamaha product found only in the archive, and sales of China-built Yamaha pianos are said to be sold only on the Chinese market. Instead we are now getting the b-3 from Indonesia which bears a striking resemblance to the Australian U-1J. This piano is from the same b series offered in Europe years before it arrived here.

It's my belief that all these branding and marketing strategies were conjured up to take downward price pressure off of the standard U-1, pressure that came from the grey market and from low-priced new Chinese pianos that don't make any money for Yamaha.

Within the California segment of the US market, it hasn't worked. The standard U-1 is under as much price pressure as ever.


Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier
Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: turandot] #2439689
07/08/15 12:00 PM
07/08/15 12:00 PM
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Hobart, Australia
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Originally Posted by turandot

I have spoken with zero grey market purveyors in the US, but I know this. Ten years ago inventories of grey market Yamahas were mostly from the seventies and early to mid eighties. Now, ten year later, that's still the case. At a certain point one begins to think that scarcity of supply is at least as big a problem as demand.



That's interesting, Turandot. We may be looking at a difference in business models rather than an actual shortage of pianos. The two dealers I spoke to are dealing primarily with late 80s and 90s pianos - in fact they don't deal in 70s pianos at all. So their inventory has been maintaining the 20-25 year piano age that we might expect.

It may be different in the US. Maybe they are getting the older pianos because the profit margin is better on them. It really depends on local economic conditions and what they will spend on pianos. We don't know about the unit cost on each piano they import, so this is quite speculative. All I can say is that the fact that many grey market pianos are still from the 70s and early 80s where you are is not actually evidence of a shortage.


Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2439709
07/08/15 01:28 PM
07/08/15 01:28 PM
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If yamaha japan vends its own grey market pianos in europe, it belies all the hooey about "seasoned for destination".

K*


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Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2440029
07/09/15 01:42 PM
07/09/15 01:42 PM
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How much does it cost to re-string, re-pin, hang new hammers, set new dampers, regulate, and buff the finish on a U1 or U3 -

US tech: what would you charge?
Any Pianowrold techs from Japan? What would you charge?

Curious minds..


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Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2440295
07/10/15 03:24 PM
07/10/15 03:24 PM
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Quote
it's irresponsible of him to write: "Chances are greys will be the next wave of pianos going to the dump".


It's already happening.

Not all greys mind you - but certainly some of the oldest.
Movers telling me it's becoming an increasing number all the time.

Nobody believed me when we saw exact same happening with older type pianos and grands only few years back.

Let's check back on this in few years.

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 07/10/15 03:26 PM.

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Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2440346
07/10/15 08:04 PM
07/10/15 08:04 PM
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Well we decided to purchase a brand new piano instead of trying to find a newer used Yamaha (made for US market).

Before we came to that decision, I asked the dealer of the used pianos if he could show me some pianos that were made for the US market, and he confirmed he had none. I also asked if he had any newer used pianos, of which he had none.

I found it very odd that all the other places I looked for used pianos only had older pianos from the 70s and 80s. Without checking each and every serial number, my guess is that most, if not all, pianos are grey market. And it confirms what previous posters had said about the changing attitudes of the Japan market towards used pianos...lessening the supply of newer used pianos into the US market.

What I find astounding is the dealers are charging such high prices for such old pianos. I was very close to paying $4,500 for a 1981 U1. Instead, I paid $6400 for a brand new U1. Money well spent in my opinion considering the alternative.

I enjoyed the discussion on this thread and found it extremely informative and helpful in making my decision. The ironic thing is that the dealer of the used pianos, in his defense of grey market pianos, directed me to this sight to learn about used Yahamas and assured me that I would be more comfortable with a grey market piano after researching the subject here. I have to say that it has been quite the contrary.

Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2440348
07/10/15 08:09 PM
07/10/15 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ebony628

What I find astounding is the dealers are charging such high prices for such old pianos. I was very close to paying $4,500 for a 1981 U1. Instead, I paid $6400 for a brand new U1. Money well spent in my opinion considering the alternative.

I enjoyed the discussion on this thread and found it extremely informative and helpful in making my decision. The ironic thing is that the dealer of the used pianos, in his defense of grey market pianos, directed me to this sight to learn about used Yahamas and assured me that I would be more comfortable with a grey market piano after researching the subject here. I have to say that it has been quite the contrary.


Yeah $4500 for that is pretty crazy. It should be more like $1200-1500, but if they're starting at $4500, not sure how you're going to get there.

You did well on the new U1 - that's a fair price.


Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2440349
07/10/15 08:10 PM
07/10/15 08:10 PM
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Hi - congratulations, enjoy your new piano. It should give you decades of enjoyment.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2440362
07/10/15 09:40 PM
07/10/15 09:40 PM
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torrance, CA
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Originally Posted by ebony628

I enjoyed the discussion on this thread and found it extremely informative and helpful in making my decision. The ironic thing is that the dealer of the used pianos, in his defense of grey market pianos, directed me to this sight to learn about used Yamahas and assured me that I would be more comfortable with a grey market piano after researching the subject here. I have to say that it has been quite the contrary.


It's good that the discussion was helpful, but you made the call. Given what the market offered you, it was the right one. If the best you could do on a new one had been $8000 and the grey market had been $3500 with a good warranty, the spread between the two prices might have made things a little less obvious. But the current market puts your grey market guy at a big competitive disadvantage to an authorized Yamaha retailer willing to sell a new one at a very small profit margin. And the grey market guy certainly can't sell his 1981 U-1 for $1500. He most likely paid at least $1000 more than that at wholesale and is paying interest on flooring cost. It's just a tough time for people in the grey market trade.



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The fate of the modern wartime soldier
Re: Very confused about grey market Yamahas [Re: ebony628] #2441150
07/13/15 04:49 PM
07/13/15 04:49 PM
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Does anybody know how the 2011 earthquake and tsunami affected the supply of grey market pianos? I'd guess that a lot of people in Japan had bigger problems than upgrading their pianos, and chose to keep what they had.



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