A Conclusion Which Favors Yamaha
In an effort to reconcile the opposing understandings between Yamaha and importers of used Yamahas, I sought out a source that would better explain Yamaha’s argument in this debate. As it turned out, I was able to contact someone who has some pretty compelling information to add to the debate.
Seasoned for Destination
Where importers hold the view that humidity is similar in all parts of the world, and that it would be impossible to know whether a piano would be purchased by someone in a humid area vs a dry locale, my source reconciled this by revealing that Yamaha conducted studies that tracked the temperatures in homes – not localities. Pianos are, after all, placed in homes – not outside where they are exposed to the extreme weather of any particular area.
Yamaha’s research led them to discover that American homes, most often heated using central heating, are generally hotter than homes in Japan and Europe. This discovery was made in the 60s after Yamahas first pianos experienced problems in the U.S. The corrections were made by 1964, and have remained incorporated in the manufacturing process since then – no doubt they have refined and improved their approach many times too. This explanation places the emphasis on the variations in humidity levels in the homes, and provides a satisfactory reconciliation between the opposing views.
Yamaha Corporation of America bears no obligation to provide parts for pianos they did not import. If anything, the importers of used pianos bear that obligation. They would not have access to parts from Yamaha since by nature of their business, they are not the U.S. distributor of new pianos. Since there is no official and authorized distributor of used Yamaha pianos (sanctioned by Yamaha), Yamaha of Japan would have no business interest in providing parts to importers. Parts are available through piano supply houses, so I have to favor the importer’s arguments on this point.
Clearly, used Yamaha pianos were not intended to be sold in the U.S. But what happens to these pianos when they are brought here? I put that question to my source tonight. He explained that the variations in the “seasoning” process are small, but pianos that are placed in locales other than the intended destination do in fact go through changes. For instance, if someone owned a piano in Asia and relocated the instrument anywhere in the U.S., the piano would react to the change in humidity. There are many situations where that reaction may be greater or smaller. For instance, if an Asia family kept their home heated more along the lines of how they lived in Asia, then it seems reasonable to suggest that the reaction would be small.
The important point here is that once the change in the piano was realized, the piano would be quite fine in its new locale. Give two years for changes to be fully realized, and after that the cause for concern is greatly diminished. That raises the question: how severe might those changes be and what damage might be realized as a result of that change? On this, my source would only confirm that Yamaha Corporation of America receives many service inquiries from owners of imported Yamahas informing them of extreme changes in their pianos. Based on that information, it seems reasonable that Yamaha Corporation was factually correct to report the occurrence of extreme changes and damage. However, any damage that occurred may in fact not be related to humidity factors, and it seems likely that Yamaha would more likely field calls from piano owners that were desperate in their quest to find help. Conversely, piano owners who were satisfied with their used pianos would have no reason to contact Yamaha Corporation of America.
The reconciliation here is a bit easier to visualize. Two self-interested parties are basing their opinions on two completely different sets of experiences. Yamaha Corporation of America is going to hear more horror stories about the used Yamahas that suffered damage since being imported, and importers are going to base their opinions on the success stories that they uncover. As one dealer reported, “I do not receive any complaints about used Yamahas.” Maybe they called Yamaha Corporation of America instead.
In the first blog, I said that some used Yamaha pianos are very good pianos, and others are terrible pianos. It should be obvious to everyone that each competing interest is going to put his best foot forward, and that his competitor is going point to the failings of his adversary.
This suggests that each party to the dispute has a bit of truth to his argument. I suppose if I asked a Democrat to explain the political climate of the nation, it would not be in agreement with a Republican’s explanation. If perchance a Democrat intended to go to a Republican Convention, it would be wise to “season” one’s point of view based on the “destination”. It might also be argued that a Democrat was a “gray market” participant whose destination was never intended to be a Republican Convention.
Pardon the analogy, but I think it clarifies that people who have different experiences, values and attitudes, can in fact develop points of view that are so conflicted that each party would think the other is lying.
The lesson for consumers remains as it was. Consult a professional tuner/technician before you buy any used piano. The lesson for industry professionals will be left for them to discover. I am not in charge of teaching piano industry professionals, or creating marketing campaigns for Yamaha Corporation of America. My job is to serve my clients. Now that I have found a reconciliation between the several points of view, I feel better prepared to help my customers sort through the conflicting statements they might hear as they shop for a Yamaha piano.