Buying a Used Piano
Found in: Equipment
Vonnie L., Oregon
I recently did quite a bit of research on pianos before buying one for my home. I have a friend who sells and reconditions pianos who encouraged me to find out for myself before buying.
One of the very best piano brands out there is Yamaha and the best deal is on the used Yamahas imported from Japan. But there is some very misleading information out there about used Yamahas that are not built for a specific market, i.e. “gray-market” Yamahas.
After listening to my friend and reading everything I could find, I was convinced that he was right, that there is nothing dangerous about buying a used Yamaha that was manufactured “for the Japanese market.” The problem for the company is that they make such a wonderful long-lasting product and Japanese families always buy new products. When their children lose interest in playing (obviously they’re not SM students!), they want to get rid of the piano because their houses are very small. But because of cultural values, no one wants to buy someone else’s used stuff. So dealers import them to the US (and probably to other countries as well). Since they generally still look and play like new, it is harder for the authorized Yamaha dealers to get people to pay full price for a new one.
I ended up buying a used “gray-market” U-1 Yamaha from my friend and I absolutely love it. In fact, it is what inspired me to get back into piano playing and teaching in a bigger way.
So, yes, always encourage people to get expert advise before buying. If they buy from a private party, they may get a great deal and may not. I sold my old (1887!) upright very cheap even though it played fine, because my friend told me it would soon need complete reconditioning. This is something a novice probably wouldn’t recognize just from trying out all the keys. If it sounds very loud and bright, it probably has worn pads and is in need of an expensive overhaul. I was so accustomed to my piano’s loudness, that I thought the Yamaha sounded muffled and it took me a while to get used to it.