|What Our Customers Should Know About "Pre-Owned, Used, or Restored Kawai and Yamaha Pianos.
C. Anthony Pessarra, Owner/Technician -
Apparently both Yamaha and Kawai companies find it necessary to attempt to convince buyers that restored
pianos from Japan should not be purchased. The reason? COMPETITION! Although they say problems "could"
develop, KeyArts has not had one single problem with any piano. If we did we would not sell them or warranty
First, let me make it clear that I have the highest opinion of Kawai and Yamaha products having been an authorized
dealer for Kawai and having sold Yamaha pianos as a consultant. And we represent their products today both
used, restored and continue to refer customers to dealers for new pianos. We know that Kawai imports used
pianos from Japan to assist their dealers to compete and it is probably so for Yamaha as well, but I can't prove it.
The coined term "Grey market" implies that there is something illegal or unethical going on. Nothing can be further
from the truth.
There is nothing illegal or unethical about restored, pre-owned pianos from Japan. It is simply a case of corporate
paranoia in the case of these companies in my opinion and in the opinion of other dealers of used pianos in the U.
S.A. I think you will come to the same conclusion if you peruse the information on the subject. In a certain sense
the whole controversy is humorous and in another sense a bit sad to see all that energy spent in trying to invalidate
a history of quality products just to scare a few buyers. My customers tend to think for themselves and see through
the "smoke and mirrors" to the truth...once they purchase a piano, play it and enjoy it, all the controversy becomes a
moot point and vanishes in a puff of smoke as it should.
* * *
This paper is designed to provide an unbiased and realistic view of various questions surrounding used and
restored pianos from Japan and applies to all pianos in general. Here are the most asked questions.
version will assist in your inquiry. Congratulations if you have purchased a piano from KeyArts as we are sure you
will enjoy it to the fullest. And if you are considering a pre-owned Kawai or Yamaha piano as your next purchase,
we are just as sure that after reading this article, clarity and understanding will prevail.
WHY ARE THERE QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THESE PIANOS?
First you must understand that any large corporate structure with millions of dollars at stake will do everything to
protect their product, integrity, reputation and image....and the $$$ at the bottom line. Secondly, I assume and I
think rightly so, that Yamaha and Kawai would if they could, push a button and have all pianos older than about 15
years suddenly sink to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean! Then there would be no controversy or issues. However
this is not the case nor will this happen.
Both companies have an enviable reputation for quality control and consistency in their pianos. This has led to the
somewhat sticky situation of quality competing with quality. Neither company would dare to publicly and actively
criticize their own product just because it is 10, 15 or 25 years old in order to sway a customer to purchase a new
product. But with innuendo and subtle suggestions phrased to make you think that their purpose is to HELP you,
the real purpose is to create a climate of fear and worry in a customer. The natural response to that type of strategy
is that an astute customer will then conclude that if they purchase a new piano, it will have the same problems at
some point in a not so far future. You can't flim-flam honest folks for very long with that one.
Thus there has begun a campaign much akin to a smoke screen, with all kinds of innuendo, obfuscation, half-truths
and creative dialogue filled with information, nuts and bolts discussions, mis-information and lots of quasi-tech
talk...the whole point of which is to create the feeling of insecurity and fear in the potential customer and the
vision of a catastrophic dream-like scenario developing i.e....on some night in December, about 2 or 3 years from
now at roughly 3:05 a.m. your restored Kawai or Yamaha piano in one fashion or another suddenly dissolves into
splinters amidst a cloud of dust and crushed soundboards and splitting pin-block ....etc. etc. A salesperson says,
"Now, you certainly would not want that to happen would you? Therefore for another $4,000 or $5,000 dollars you
can take this brand new piano and your worries are over!" Fear and unease is the goal in order to psychologically
maneuver buyers into brand new piano purchases at hundreds and thousands of dollars more. It has been stated
that competition is not the problem and that they sell all of the pianos they make....however we know that many of
our customers considered new but purchased restored pianos at half the price. And we suspect that competition
IS a major factor!
That's it folks...the sole reason for these questions and issues are to frighten you into opening up your pocket
books and shelling out those additional thousands for the current model. Just for fun, visit a store and mention that
you are considering purchasing a beautiful, restored 1992 Kawai 6X for about $4595 or an absolutely perfect
Yamaha U3, drive out at $3900 and you will be entertained by a sharpie-sales person for about 15 minutes or so
telling you various versions of the midnight scenario above. And you might be lucky enough to hear the old... "and
you need to make sure they don't have square wheels ...they put them on some models you know." ( Be sure to
clap! if they use that one). Now that you know what is really behind the scenes, let's look at the rest of the story.
THE AGE OF USED PIANOS
These pianos range from about 1970 (The new technology) up to the current date. At some point in the life of a
piano, some major reworking or restoration is necessary. This is normal and is usually done when the piano
approaches approximately 25 to 35 years in age. It is customary to repair, replace, regulate, or recondition most of
the parts in the instrument including the finish. This process is costly and must be done by highly qualified workers
and technicians. Our pianos are professionally restored or rebuilt enabling them fit for another lifetime of use. In
fact some Yamaha and/or Kawai factory trained techs consult or work with the restoration factory to make sure that
pianos are adjusted to original factory specifications.
When considering one of our pre-owned pianos, our customers should be aware that the reconditioning required
to ensure proper piano performance has been done. The factory goal is to bring these instruments back to the
level of performance they had when new. We do not sell pianos that have been severely used in music schools and
institutions such as colleges and universities where severe degradation can occur. Nor do we sell pianos that
were built in the 50's and 60's and draw the line at 1970 but suggest 1975 and newer. These were the pianos that
had the problems.
Many customers have heard that there is a difference in "wood seasoning" between pianos built for the Japan
market and those built for the North American market. As a result, we have done detailed research and study on this
subject with the findings that these pianos share the same problems that are common to any other piano.
Customers should know that problems can occur with any piano, especially if moved into an extreme environment
within North America such as a desert area or high mountain ranges or very wet and humid regions. All pianos will
have problems under those conditions both used and new. Production instruments from the 1970’s+ built by Kawai
and Yamaha were well constructed and have little or no problems. Normal service, including tuning and
adjustments, are the same as the requirements for any other pianos. For technical discussions about wood
seasoning see the complete document. Do you really think that "The Wisdom of the East" is powerful enough to
know where each and every new piano will end up? Really now! New pianos are moved constantly across the
micro and macro climates of North America with few if any related problems.
THE PROBLEM OF WOOD INSTABILITY
Though not many used or new pianos will be affected by the seasoning issues mentioned above, certainly all will
be affected by the fundamental instability of wood. This instability is just the inescapable characteristic of wood
itself. (see my full document for an explanation) Kawai and Yamaha both use so-called “plastic” parts as well as
wood. Both materials have their pro and con arguments. However, a new or well regulated and restored Kawai or
Yamaha can be expected to perform as well as it did when new… which was excellent!!…and I doubt that either
company would make a statement to the contrary.
Of course should you want the latest model then by all means purchase one (at a cost of twice as much or more
than a restored instrument). Since my days as a Kawai and Baldwin dealer, I have never owned a “new” piano for
my personal instrument…only restored grand pianos and uprights such as the Kawai US-6X, US-55, RX & KG
Grand and the Yamaha “C” series and “S” series custom Grand along with the UX and U3 uprights. These pianos
play like a dream and thanks to their reasonable cost, I and my customers have saved considerable $$$ over the
REPLACEMENT PARTS...OF COURSE WE HAVE THEM !
Kawai and Yamaha would prefer that potential customers believe that parts are not available for used, or restored
pianos for obvious reasons. Piano buyers should understand that replacement parts are and will be available
for these used instruments or any instruments that were built by these companies or any other piano builder,
regardless of where they are purchased or their age. As further common sense demands, one might ask how
could a piano be restored or rebuilt if there were no parts available. At that point I say, “Come on…you
can’t flim-flam honest folks with that line.... I can pick up the phone any time and order any part I need."
Kawai & Yamaha 10-Year Full Warranty applies only to new pianos purchased from an authorized Kawai or Yamaha
dealer in North America. However, reputable dealers such as KeyArts provide a 5yr warranty.
Support from the factory enables us to return any piano for credit and replacement should there ever be a service
issue that we cannot take care of in a timely manner.
KeyArts Full Warranty Is Transferable.
It is significant to note that warranty issues are few if any. Over the period of the last 25 years we have had no
problems with restored Kawai or Yamaha pianos other than what occurs with any other piano i.e. tuning, minor
adjustments, and normal care. In fact we will repair or replace a piano immediately if repairs cannot be made.
To date this has never been necessary. In point of fact, our pianos play better than they did when new. With our
Artist Concert Preparation, custom voicing, regulation and adjustments can be performed, to enhance the tone
and mechanical operation of the action! This is not done at the factory but is a custom feature with close
communication with pianists who demand the finest response from the Grand Pianos.
What This Discussion Really Means.
At a price of ½ or 1/3 the cost of a new piano, our customers enjoy the high quality of the Kawai and Yamaha
instruments. And better yet, the price you pay for a restored piano is essentially the “street” value that the piano will
retain for years and even into its second decade of use. Unlike new pianos, you will not loose 40% of the value
overnight when you “drive it home”! See our Warranty document that provides protection for any problem that could
develop. Although it has never happened, we will replace a piano immediately if a severe problem presents.
Why would KeyArts sell pianos that would have problems?
Since my customers have my phone number, and know where I live, I am available personally for any complaint
about Kawai and Yamaha used pianos. Unlike other stores and sales people that hide behind the corporate veil
and procedure, I am immediately available to solve any problems that might exist. The only calls I receive are
requests for tuning, adjustments and just plain thank-you calls and my conclusion is that there are no problems
with these used instruments. IF we had problems with our pianos, we would immediately cease selling them.
Our major "problem" is customer service, taking care of our customer base mostly in yearly tunings.
In over 25 years we have never had a warranty claim on any Yamaha or Kawai used, restored, re-manufactured or
new. Now what does that tell you? It should tell you that if what the Yamaha and Kawai dealers are telling you that
horrible things will happen to your used piano and if in fact true, then my phone would be ringing at midnight with
angry customer complaints continually …..I can assure you that IT DOES NOT!
You are welcome to contact me with any questions you may have about Yamaha and Kawai used and restored
pianos. Thank you for considering KeyArts for your purchase. If you have purchased a piano or are considering a
purchase from KeyArts you are welcome to request the .pdf file of my white paper investigation: “Piercing The
Cloud of Confusion” .
Final thoughts: Most of the pre-owned Yamaha and Kawai pianos that you see are "polish and tune" only pianos
that have not been factory restored, thus you will have an as-is piano. The difference is that factory quality and goals
bring pianos back to the closest possible AS-NEW condition. This is a far cry from a polish and tune piano!! All of
our pianos are factory AAA condition with warranty and factory backup.
CLICK HERE: See the Yamaha Kawai Piano List - call or email for quotes and information.
To read "Piercing The Cloud of Confusion", for even more insights, click CLOUD.
Yamaha & Kawai Pianos, New or Pre-Owned.....
......quite possibly the most advanced pianos in the world