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