Second hand pianos are being imported from Japan. Mostly Yamaha and Kawai, grands and uprights. The quality is extremely varied (despite the A+ rating given to many of them), some of them are quite high quality, but these seem to drown in a sea of ordinary and downright rubbishy instruments.

-The NSW Piano Technicians Guild, regarding grey market pianos

Second hand Piano

Second Hand Pianos

Before purchasing a second hand piano, it is important for customers to be aware of the fact there is always a degree of risk involved. This is true whether you are purchasing from a piano dealer, or a private seller. More often than not, second hand pianos are “grey market imports”. This means that a piano has been brought in from Japan and sold to a piano dealer in Australia - arguably one of the highest risk piano purchases a consumer can make.

Before purchasing a second hand piano, it is important that you are aware of:

  • Age
  • Intended Country of Sale
  • Build Quality/Pre-Sale Preparation
  • Storage and Maintenance History
In this way, a second hand piano is much like a second hand car; build quality will protect neither from the rigors of age and elements or a careless user who fails to carry out regular maintenance.

The Lifespan of an Acoustic Piano

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the expected lifespan of a piano. This is hardly surprising, given that many stringed instruments do sound better with age if they are well maintained. We suspect this myth is also perpetuated by some more unscrupulous piano dealers. It is generally agreed by piano technichians that the best years of a pianos life are the first 20-30. After this, the vast majority of pianos, will require a fairly substantial refurbishment, regardless of build quality.

Depending on how well the piano has been maintained througout this time, this could cost substantially more than buying an entirely new instrument. Indeed, the replacement of strings and tuning pins alone can cost upwards of $4000.

Of course, there are examples that run contrary to this, but they are few and far between. Perhaps Yamaha put it best by saying "they are a bit like people. Some people live to 100 years but don't perform as they did at 20."

Without a thorough inspection by a qualified technician, it is impossible to know whether the piano has been properly maintained, is damaged, how worn out the piano is, or whether it is in need of major rebuilding. It is also crucial to determine whether the piano was originally manufactured for the Australian market.

Grey Market Pianos

Australia's second hand market is absolutely flooded with grey market pianos. These primarily come from Japan, and while they are cheaper than their New counterparts, they are almost invariably end up costing more money within a few years.

Large Piano makers like Yamaha, Kawai and Steinway manufacture their pianos with the specific climate they are destined to be settle in in mind. That is to say, they design slight variants on the same instrument that take into account the climate of the country of sale.

During 50 years of exporting pianos to other parts of the word, Japanese researchers found that in general, the indoor environments of homes in Australia are considerably drier than in Japan. Some of this is related to the outdoor climate and some of it is related to the indoor environment, which is affected by such conditions as heating and air conditioning systems. This research led Yamaha to the development of computer-controlled drying kilns and other manufacturing procedures, so that pianos destined for Australia would be properly seasoned for the Australian home, thus avoiding moisture-related problems that can result in tuning issues, warping or cracking in the soundboard.

A used piano made for the Asian market is will almost invariably struggle with the dryness of the Australian climate. This can lead to the development of irreversible problems, and more often than not leads to problems that cost more than buying a new piano would have in the first place.

Most disturbingly, the majority of these grey market pianos are not being sold by private sellers, but piano shops.

Based on our experience with pianos not seasoned for the Australian market, from a service standpoint, we strongly discourage the purchase of one of these used "made for Japan" pianos.

Do You Ever Sell Second Hand Pianos?

Yes, but very rarely. we don't often find second hand pianos that we are willing to chance - one or two a year at most, and they tend to disappear very quickly. We only take on pianos that were originally purchased at Logans, maintained regularly by one of our technicians, and have undergone an extremely thorough inspection.

We do not, as a rule buy cheap second hand pianos, or even take them as donations. Our interest is, and always has been in making sure that our customers get the absolute best value for money possible, and have an instrument they can count on. You can Contact us if you have questions about our stock.

Clients who are thinking of buying a secondhand piano may be surprised to find out the affordability of a new Yamaha piano. Many people purchase a used piano for the same price as a new Yamaha piano from Logans, including delivery and Australia's most comprehensive pre-sale piano preparation

You can read more about this at Yamaha's Website