Part 3: Wilton H. Syckes’ Editorial Response

Posted: April 15, 2014 in Piano

The following is Wilton H. Syckes’ editorial response to the claims of Yamaha Corporation of America  as they appeared in the September 1999 issue of the Piano Technicians Journal.


Piano Technicians Journal – February 2000

Another View on Gray-Market Yamahas

I feel compelled to take exception to the remarks given by Bill Brandon of Yamaha Corporation of America, on the back cover of the September 1999 issue of the Piano Technicians Journal. I realize this is a “paid advertisement,” which naturally is not subject to the editor’s rejection. However, I feel you should know that much of what Mr. Brandon said is indeed false and extremely misleading. Please allow me to explain.

The opening word, “Gray Market Yamaha Pianos” is in itself completely untrue. Please open your dictionary and read the definition of “Gray Market” for yourself. You will, I’m sure, agree that pre-owned Yamaha (and other Japanese brands, as well) cannot, in any sense of the word, be categorized as “gray market.” My company, and I personally, enjoy a high degree of integrity and have an impeccable reputation throughout the piano industry. We buy on the open market in Japan and other countries.

Brandon equates “Gray Market” as being “pianos originally manufactured for sale in Japan” and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the folly of these words! We do not sell gray market goods, nor are we selling “bootleg pianos”. This accusation was made in a recent e-mail letter to one of my customers; then forwarded to me. The writer of those words is an executive of YCA! (Check out the definition of “bootleg” if you will.)

In the second paragraph the reader is led to believe that “serious problems may develop” with these pianos. This litany of “problems” is scary, to say the least, but the bad part of it is the admission that this great company is in the business of producing pianos that may possibly “fall apart!” I’m quite sure the President of Yamaha Japan (the parent company) is pulling his hair out, having read those comments. I think of the executives of Japanese companies (Sony, Toyota, etc.) who are serving a tour of duty in our country, and who, perhaps, bring along their Yamaha C-7 model Conservatory grand piano, only to be informed that all kinds of horrible things will happen to their treasured piano!

I wonder what kind of a take Yamaha competitors (Kawai, Steinway, Baldwin, Seiler, Schimmel, etc.) have on the admission of a highly respected technician, representing a most prestigious company, that a large number of pianos built by them will not hold up anywhere except in their own backyard. Mighty poor business if you ask me!

Bill goes on to say that “numerous calls” are received regarding problems being experienced with “gray market” pianos. Give me a break! Since 1984 I have been involved with the importation of literally thousands of used pianos from Japan, Germany, Holland, Korea, the Czech Republic, etc. The number of calls to my office with “serious” problems is minimal. Believe me, if someone, dealer or consumer, is experiencing even one of the terrible things alluded to, I would get a call. People don’t normally call the manufacturer with complaints – they contact the dealer or distributor who sold them the piano. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

I must continue with my rebuttal to the issue of “Part Support”. A wippen is a wippen; a string is a string; a hammer is a hammer; and on and on. I know of no single part in any Yamaha piano that cannot be replaced without a hassle, do you? The way I look at it, if Yamaha Corp. of America ignores legitimate requests for replacement parts, technicians should patronize Schaff Piano Supply Company for all their needs.

Finally, Mr. Brandon speaks of YCA’s “commitment to provide the best service and part support…pianos made for and sold in the United States…,” that’s all well and good, but how about all those fine Yamaha pianos residing in this country that were originally sold in other countries all around the world? Is it true that YCA will actually turn their backs on each and every piano not sold by a US dealer just for the sake of standing on some sort of ceremony? Alas!

Wilton H. Syckes

Syckes Piano Imports, Inc.

Phoenix, Arizona


The Debate about Yamaha Pianos – Executive Summary

Part 1: Problem Statement

Part 2: Yamaha Corp. of America’s Advertisement

Part 3: Wilton H. Syckes’ Editorial Response

Part 4: A History Lesson, by Wilton Syckes

Part 5: Give Me a Break, by Wilton Syckes

Part 6: FAQS about Previously Owned Yamaha and Kawai Pianos, by Wilton Syckes

Part 7: Seasoned for Destination, by Tom Donahue

Part 8: Gray Market Yamaha Pianos – What is the Truth? By Craig Whitaker

Part 9: A Conclusion




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