[sdiy] Getting over eBay (rant)

Batz Goodfortune batzman at all-electric.com
Wed Jun 12 19:07:15 CEST 2002


Y-ellow Terry.

At 11:56 AM 6/12/02 -0400, Terry Michaels wrote:

>It isn't only a grand plan by manufacturers to get people to constantly by
>new gear and dump the old, in some cases it is a cultural issue.  I found
>this out recently in the process of buying a concert grand piano (Yamaha
>C7).  Rather than spending the money to buy a new one, (they're pricy), I
>did an extensive search for a used C7.  I found a few scattered around the
>US, but it turns out many of the used Yamaha grands available are so called
>"gray market pianos", which are pianos originally manufactured for the
>Japanese market, sold to consumers in Japan, and then later bought as used
>pianos by brokers and shipped to the US and Europe.  In Japan there is a
>cultural / religious bias against posessing anything previously used by
>someone else.  I'm told that almost all appliances, computers etc. get
>tossed into the trash when someone no longer wants them, there is no market
>for used equipment there.  That certainly keeps the manufacturers of new
>electronic equipment very busy, but it makes for poor use of natural
>resources.  It is more efficient to re-use electronic equipment, even if
>repairs are needed first.  I bought much of my test equipment for cheap
>because it was used and needing repair, I certainly saved money fixing it
>myself, and I think I did the right thing in terms of preserving the
>environment.

This would be a major problem in the case of pianos. Not many people may be 
aware that the reason a number of acoustic guitar makers went to using poly 
carb bodies etc, was because the wood to make a good sound just isn't 
available any more. Well not at a reasonable price. My one time piano 
mentor explained that the wood in his upright piano would be around 200 
years old. The piano it self was 50 or so years old and the process of 
obtaining and curing and testing the raw materials that went into it would 
have taken between 100 and 150 years. Because that's just how things had to 
be done to make a good instrument. You can't make a good piano out of 
packing crates. (Probably couldn't make a good piano stool out of packing 
crates.)

So Yamaha had a problem Where 'n' hell were they going to get wood for 
their acoustic instruments? And this ties in with the second part below.


>As for Yamaha grand pianos, Yamaha Corp. strongly discourages anyone from
>buying a gray market piano, claiming these pianos were manufactured for the
>more humid Japanese climate, and will incur structural problems if they are
>brought to the drier climates of the US and Europe.  Almost every
>professional  piano technician I talked to disputes this claim, the feeling
>is Yamaha might be serving its own interest in discouraging used piano
>sales in favor of sales of new instruments.

Yamaha have a big facility somewhere in Japan that is basically a row of 
very very large microwave ovens. I cannot describe adequately what these 
things look like but you wouldn't tip them as being microwaves. Not many 
people have walk-in microwave ovens. Let alone a factory full of them.

So basically what they do is they get relatively cheap wood and cure it 
using this special process that after a year or so, yields something a-kin 
to instrument grade timber. Thus killing two birds with one stone. They get 
their wood comparatively dirt cheap and it only takes a year or so to get 
it into condition. Plus in some cases they can even use the process to 
pre-shape the wood for various purposes such as violin bodies etc.

Cultural differences or not, the world is now so depleted of instrument 
grade timber that not even the master craftspersons can get hold of the 
traditional product. And bear in mind, this was 15 years ago and it's 
getting worse all the time. I read an article where it was suggested that 
the major research that Roland and others did into creating a digital piano 
with the exact feel and sound of a real piano was because they realized 
that in the near future, no-one will be able to make a real piano. Unless 
they started working out an alternative they might not have a piano 
business at all. And Roland didn't even have a piano business as such. They 
just saw an opportunity I guess.

But on the flip side. The Japanese are perhaps amongst the best in the 
world at recycling electronic and automotive scrap. They have been doing it 
for years out of necessity. Only a different type of necessity to 
Australia. There is no immediate pressure on Australians to recycle 
anything. We're a huge country with only 19 million people. Plenty of 
places to dump stuff and run. Where as Japan has so many people they 
actually have to sleep in coffin motels. They are literally stacked on top 
of each other. If they didn't recycle this stuff they'd be eating it.

In Japan, it's actually illegal to print the words "This battery may 
explode or leak if recharged." etc. Because it's basically bullshit. Since 
the 70s the Japanese have been able to buy dry-cell rechargers over the 
counter. In the mid 80s they were saving about 70 billion dollars a year in 
natural resources alone just by doing this. (If memory serves) Though Union 
carbide would like us all to keep buying batteries as much as possible so 
they can poison and toxify third world countries, it's actually necessary 
for them to build batteries with safety features otherwise they just 
wouldn't be able to sell them. A dry cell has to have a pressure release 
system and a method of containing all but the most serious leaks. Like when 
the batteries are 10 years old and they've fused to the inside of your radio.

They do not get infinite use out of a set of carbon or alkaline batteries 
but they can get anywhere from 5 to 20 reuses. Think about it. That means 
the Japanese are paying between 5 and 20 times less than you are for their 
batteries.

So along with their cultural propensity to constantly replace, they also 
constantly recycle. So the whole thing works out to a certain extent. I'm 
led to belive however that the push to own something new all the time was 
actually a push by the automotive industry initially. Back in the 70s if I 
recall. The reasoning went basically like this. Old car create lots more 
smog. New cars are cleaner. Force everyone to buy new cars all the time and 
you cut down on smog. How much I'm not sure. I belive they played on some 
cultural propensity to archive this aim and also made it increasingly more 
difficult to register a car after 3 or 5 years. But this spilt over into 
other products as well. And everyone wants the latest in Japanese 
technology right?

I wonder where all the tamagotchies went?

So, Since all Yamaha pianos are made using this curing process, it's 
doubtful that they would make a special batch of timber for each country or 
region. How would they know how much to make? And wouldn't they have to use 
the same timber in Pianos destined for Hawaii as they did for Japan. And 
therefor have a take back program for old Hawaiian pianos? Even though 
technically speaking, it's not Japan, it's America?

Big corporate conglomos will say just about anything to protect their 
interests. In this sense a company like Yamaha is no different to the 
tobacco industry. They're all leaching from the terminally gullable in 
western society. If we cut off the blood supply they'd all wake up and take 
some notice but none of us can do without our comforts.

All this would be OK if the system worked but it doesn't. It's mostly just 
lip service. And you know you're on the road to hell when you can feel that 
squish squish squish of good intentions under your feet.

Bed time. Time for me tablets.

Be absolutely Icebox.

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