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Kendall Ross Bean is a Master Craftsman and specialist in rebuilding pianos and was a Registered Tuner Technician with the Piano Technicians Guild with over 20 Years of Experience. He is the Director of Pianofinders.com
Tech Talk
with Kendall Ross Bean
This installment of tech talk is about
Seasoning Pianos for Different Climates
Note: This is a reprint of parts of a recent discussion on the Piano discussion board. -KRB

Question: Is it true that new Yamaha pianos shipped to the U.S. for sale are prepared specially for the North American climate? (As opposed to say, pianos intended for sale in Japan ). How can they possibly do this, seeing as we have so many different climates in the U.S. ? What are the possible consequences of buying a so-called "gray market" piano (one originally intended for the Japan market and climate that has been imported to the U.S. for resale?) 

13 Oct. 1999

Answer : (KRB) Thanks for your question. It is an excellent one. I apologize for taking so long to respond, but I had to do some research. Like you, I had been hearing different stories from different (potentially interested) parties. Dealers of new Japanese pianos seem to have one position, and dealers and wholesalers of used (so-called "gray market") Japanese pianos another.

I decided to call Yamaha Corporation of America in Buena Park , CA and see what they had to say.

As a result of this inquiry I discovered that apparently, yes, there are different seasoning procedures for Yamaha pianos destined to be sent to the U.S. , and different parts of the world. 

I also have a request into Kawai for information regarding this same issue. Hopefully, I will be posting this info later, after I receive it. I did, however, get a good deal of enlightenment from Yamaha on this subject. Incidentally, the Yamaha spokesperson's biggest frustration, really, was that more people don't call them directly to get the real story. I understand, though, how some people might be reluctant to do so, because, similar to the way they may view the local dealer, they also may not consider the manufacturer to be completely impartial or candid. However, Yamaha seemed very willing to share the inside story and set the record straight.)

According to the Yamaha representative, there are indeed three different lines, or "processes" in the Yamaha production facilities, which he referred to as "wet," "dry,"  and "superdry." The pianos that come to the U.S. , he indicated, are from the "superdry" process or line. One of the major reasons for this is, he said, is our widespread use of both central heating in the winter, and air conditioning, in the summer, both of which tend to dry out the air, making for a more "arid" climate. (As opposed to Japan , where "open air" is more the mode.) Pianos destined for Japan (and Asia in general) are taken from the "wet" line, since Japan is an island and tends to be more on the tropical or humid climate side. Pianos destined for say, Europe , are taken from the "dry" line. (Of course, there are many nations, and many different climates, and the actual assignments (internally, at the factory, that is) of which pianos come from which lines is probably more complicated, he acknowledged.)

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BHA Pianocenter - Gray Market

BHA Pianocenter
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,
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