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About Origin and Quality of second-hand pianos in Vietnam 

I. Origin:

In addition to black market pianos with no authenticity information, most of the secondhand pianos in Vietnam are imported from Japan. In Japan, there are several big suppliers which collect used pianos with large scope, warehouse with a capacity of thousands of pianos, modern facilities, and excellent technicians of all levels who categorize and carry out maintenance. They collect pianos from musical centers, schools, individuals who want to change or improve their instruments. This explains the variety of piano categories and qualities. Statistics show that there are hundreds of thousand secondhand pianos in Japanese warehouses but this number is decreasing because of the high demand from many countries including Vietnam and China.

As the pianos collected are of different qualities, the providers have to check after collecting to categorize the musical instruments. These steps are followed.

The piano is divided into 5 main parts to check, including Body, Key, Pin, Action, and Soundboard. Sometimes it is divided into 3 only: Body, Action and String.

Check every part to evaluate and establish criteria for piano from A to D according to the quality. The definition for establishing the criteria of suppliers is different, following are the methods to classify and evaluate quality of a Japanese big supplier:

- AA category: this category is overhauled from a very low quality and old piano. It is replaced with authentic parts, painted with high standard and high technology, hence it is of high quality, beautiful form, like new, and it can still keep a good wood frame. These pianos are quite expensive.

- A category: The piano of this type has very new parts. It only needs cleaning and polishing. Pianos that are from this category are normally used by only one owner, and are rarely used. These pianos are also quite expensive.

- BB category: these pianos have minor scratches. Some suppliers call the category AB. These pianos have been used by individuals but are still of very good quality.

- B category: these pianos have more scratches than BB category, some keys are split, strings are rusty, and soundboard is dirty. These pianos need to be technically dealt with and replace some parts before playing. If these pianos are replaced by good components and technically fixed by senior technician, their quality is similar to BB category.

- C and D category normally come from music center or school. Their quality is very low, hence they need to mainly repair before using.

* After practically observing at the moment, we can see that secondhand pianos in Vietnam come from these sources:

1. Some pianos are imported from Japan and then sold directly or distributed to agencies. Which kinds of pianos are often imported?

Note: Because different suppliers have different ways of evaluating, only the above-mentioned evaluation categories are used including AA, A, BB, B, etc. Some other suppliers’ A category is marked with much lower quality.

- AA and A: are not imported as they are too expensive

- BB (AB): are imported by some companies, but not much due to high cost and low availability

- B: mostly imported

- C: some, but not much, are imported to renew.

- D: is hardly imported because the technology and material conditions in Vietnam have not met the requirement to repair and renew.

2. Other pianos are on the market after being bought and sold, or discarded by musical centers or schools.

II. Quality:

As I have mentioned above, pianos of BB (AB) and over are still of good quality and only need to be cleaned and checked to use for many years. B pianos need to be technically dealt with by professional technicians who have good components to substitute. If they can do that, B pianos can be of good quality as BB pianos. The problem is, not many piano dealers have enough facilities and technical ability to do so. Instead, they just focus on hiding outside mistakes to make the pianos look good, but do not really care about the engine inside. Some piano shop owners even employ apprenticeship technicians or those with not very good ability to repair and regulate, which makes the pianos worse and worse.

As almost all the imported pianos in Vietnam are B type (or equal), you have to pay attention to the following things when buying pianos:

What is the type of piano that you are looking for? You have to be aware of the evaluation criteria and know how they evaluate pianos according to its quality A, B, C, D, etc. by asking them to show the Certificate of Quality.

Talking to know about shop's technician. Evaluate if he/she have enough experience or not.

Do the store have original components to change when you want to?

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