What Is A Piano Gray Market?

What Is A Piano Gray Market?

Have you ever heard the term gray market? In the piano industry, it can take on many different situations and circumstances.

Usually, to buy a “new” piano, you must purchase it from an “authorized” dealer. An authorized dealer is one authorized by the manufacturer to sell their brand in your area.

Technically, only an authorized dealer is allowed to sell their brand of piano, offering both warranty and factory support.What Is A Piano Gray Market?

A gray market piano can be new, almost new, or used. It’s a name brand instrument that is being sold in an authorized dealer’s area, but not by the authorized dealer. It may be the piano was not originally intended to be sold in your area, your market, or even in your country.

Piano manufacturers produce pianos in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. They attempt to keep markets separate, wholeselling and retailing them in a variety of ways. For instance, the term gray market has been applied to a large number of used pianos (mostly Yamahas and Kawais) being bought up by wholesalers in Japan and shipped to the United States in freight. While there is little or no market for used Japanese pianos in Japan, there is a larger market for them her in the US. These pianos are often offered at substantial discounts over new pricing, yet there is a discussion over whether these pianos are built for US climate.

In addition, the Internet has caused a great deal of difficulty over territorial agreements. When you advertise online, you may reach into other territories and sell across boundaries. It’s easy to step across the boundaries and sell within another zone.

Gray market is not to be confused with black market. A black market is a piano that is illegally trafficked, and is against the law or government regulations. A black market piano may be one with ivory keys, which is against the law to sell in any state.

The best way to determine if you are fully covered for both warranty and factory parts is to talk with your dealer and ensure your piano meets all requirements. They will be able to provide you with guidance on the right selection for you.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

What Is A Gray Market Piano?

What Is A Gray Market Piano?

Many industries have a gray market for selling and purchasing their products, and the piano industry is no different. If you’re looking for a quality piano and have a specific brand in mind, chances are you’ve come across the the concept of a gray market piano. But what exactly is a gray market piano? And should you consider one?

The gray market is not clear cut, and doesn’t have a distinct definition to what piano meets gray market qualifications. You may see other names applied – bootleg or transshipped ore often used as well.What Is A Gray Market Piano?

When you purchase a new piano, you will purchase it from an authorized dealer: they have been authorized by the dealer to sell the piano with warranty and factory support.

A gray market piano can be new, almost new, or used. It is name brand equipment sold through a dealer that is not authorized to make the sale within that area. It may be a piano that was not originally intended to be sold in that area, in that marketplace, or possibly even in your country.

For example, Yamaha makes different models of pianos for different markets around the world. Many of the models were sold in Japan that were never sold in the US. As such, the US does not have part information and cannot order parts for these pianos. Japan is a much more humid environment than the US. As a result, a piano that was transported from Japan to the US may develop serious problems with items like cracked soundboards, loose tuning pins, warping, misalignment of parts, or sticking keys.

Thanks to a global marketplace, a highly mobile society, and the Internet, the ability to find, purchase and sell in a variety of ways is now common place. Meaning it’s easy to find “good deals” with simple searches.

If you purchase a piano that is not found in your region, you may get a “good deal” on the piano, but you may have to go through more hoops to find a dealer willing to provide warranty service or factory assistance with problems or replacement parts. If the piano is not carried in the US, those problems could be severe enough to warrant the piano not fixable, and in many cases no longer playable. Which means the only way to restore it is to travel out of the country to obtain the necessary parts and/or service.

While a “hot” piano is one that has been stolen and then sold, and a “black market” piano is one that is illegally brought in and sold against government regulation, a “gray market” piano is simply in violation of manufacturers marketing and distributing strategy. Grey market pianos exist, and you may run across them in your bid to purchase a new piano. If you have any questions about the gray market, we would be happy to talk with you about it.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172