Yamaha G3 used grand piano review with facts | 6'1

Kevin Busse Feb 07, 2024
80 People Read
Yamaha G3 Grand Piano

I recently tuned, regulated, and voiced this exact model of piano. So, I'm writing with a fresh mind regarding the details of this piano and will share them with you here for your own benefit.

Yamaha G3 grand piano


What should I know about the Yamaha G3?


  • The Yamaha G series pianos like the G3 were the Grandfather models of the Concert "C" series grand pianos that are now currently produced by Yamaha.

  • Since the Yamaha G3 was an earlier rendition of Yamaha's "C" series pianos the piano maintains a resemblance in its construction and robustness.

  • This is especially evident when looking across the plate, over the strings, and under the "hood" where you can clearly see that the G series is the grandfather, so to speak, of current C series models.

Yamaha C Series Piano C1


  • The G series may include "Gray Market" pianos produced in Hamamatsu Japan between 1971 and 1990.

  • A dead giveaway that you can tell whether or not it is a gray market piano is when looking at the color of the pins.

  • If the pins are "blued" it is likely a "Gray Market" piano, meaning that the wood has not been tempered for a North American or European climate.

Blued piano tuning pins

  • Instead, gray market pianos were built in Japan without consideration for exportation into dryer climates like the U.S. As a result, the pianos performance is affected as evidenced by loose pins and poor tuning stability.

  • This is not an insignificant observation because the feel of the tuning pins in the pin block (from a piano technician's perspective) gives clues to how well the tuning will hold in a given piano. As a consequence Yamaha G series pianos from this time period manufactured in Hamamatsu will fluctuate out of tune due to the wood not being properly seasoned for dry climates.

  • You can easily tell if your Yamaha piano is a gray market piano by searching the serial number in Yamaha's search page.

You will know that your piano is a gray market piano if it generates this response...

"The entered serial number ******* was not made for the US market , OR this may not be Acoustic Pianos Serial Number. Please verify."

Yamaha Serial Number Lookup


Yamaha Piano Serial Number Search

  • It's important to note that Yamaha is no longer producing any new G3's, rather they have transitioned into producing the C series as mentioned before (and even "GC" series). Having said that, you will not be able to find a "new" G3 because they simply discontinued production.

  • This is crucial to remember so that you realize that no matter what you pick, this piano model already has aged for some 30-50 years and the life expectancy for the piano is more than halfway over(written in 2023 based off of the average lifespan of a new piano is 40-50 years).

  • It is also important to note that some piano dealers are choosing against listing "gray market" pianos for sale because they know that the wood was not properly seasoned for customers in North America and Europe.


Red Flag

This is a big red flag that the piano is "gray market" and experts in the industry know that a purchase should be avoided unless residing in Eastern Asia.

To quote Yamaha Corporation Technician/Tuner Dave Durben written on Yamaha's own website...



David Durben

"There is absolutely no factory warranty coverage on gray market pianos, so if you ever need any of the (likely, and unlikely expensive) repairs cited above – or any other repairs, for that matter – you’re strictly on your own."

Dave Durben - Four Things You Need To Know About Gray Market Pianos


  • The story goes that it took an American business man to relocate many of these "gray market" pianos into the U.S. at the disapproval of Yamaha to bring them to Western Countries. Apparently, they had produced enough of these pianos in Japan to where they were reaching market saturation, so the unknown businessman saw the opportunity and exported them across the globe to much dryer locations where they were not meant to belong. (This is hearsay so take it with a grain of salt).

  • "Gray market" is a misnomer for pianos that were not properly seasoned for the North American and European markets. These pianos are poorly documented by Yamaha and are generally discouraged to purchase.


Editorial Review of the Yamaha G3 Grand Piano

Written Review of Yamaha G3 Pianos

As a technician, when I first saw the "blued" pins on this piano I thought to myself "Gee, looks like a "gray market."

I looked up the serial number on the piano that I was working on and sure enough, there was no record for it on Yamaha's website ensuring that it was in fact a "gray market" piano.

After I gave this piano its first tuning the pin block felt much better than I had expected, I did however, have to tap down about a half dozen pins due to the pins feeling too loose.

Piano Tuning tools

There are definitely some positive qualities to this piano in that it has a substantial size to it in that the scaling on this piano is super crisp and clear in general unlike smaller sizes like the G1 or G2 baby grand.

Now, with the G3 being 6'1," it eliminates some of the inharmonicity found in smaller G series models. I will note however, that I do not enjoy the break in the bass section especially among a few critical notes. In much smaller grands it is more noticeable and more difficult to tune because it is "noisy." In the G3 however, my remarks about the tone in that section it is better than the smaller models, but is still slightly muddy afterall. But of the G series, it by far has the least distinguishable sour tone among them (Okay, maybe the G5 has the least).

Since it is impossible to get a brand new G3 because they are no longer being produced, it is absolutely essential to have a technician evaluate the condition of the piano by performing a tuning, regulation, and voicing of the piano at a piano workshop before even considering the instrument for purchase. Without having this service performed on the instrument, it is hardly worth a serious consideration by any pianist, however, as a piano technician myself, it is easier to tell the true potential of the instrument, and whether or not it is in good condition aside from having work done from the outset.

While some qualities like the feel of the pin block when tuning the piano and the inharmonicity present in the bass break section of this piano may not be noticeable by pianists, piano teachers, tuners, or audience members, these elements give me pause over the quality and longevity of this instrument.

Again, it may be satisfactory for most people, however I am extremely picky and would choose against the purchase of this piano myself.

Why should I buy a Yamaha G3?


Without becoming too pessimistic about this piano, I think that The Yamaha G3 is a good piano with a lot of positive traits, like a clear piano sound, strong bass section, a responsive action like many Yamaha Pianos, and is likely in a decent price range.

I do think that because the G3 is larger, it eliminates many of the issues that having a smaller grand piano comes with. The responsive action is quite nice when regulated properly and is special because it is the grandfather to what is now the new Yamaha C series piano.

Aside from the unseasoned wood, I think this piano would be a really great vintage piano for my musical needs if it were going to be kept in Japan where it was originally expected to stay for the life of the piano.

Japan

In the end, I think that the G3 is quite enjoyable to play, it's easy to work on like one would expect from a Yamaha and for a medium sized grand piano. If I were living in Japan, I may consider owning this piano in my collection, but until then, I will not be owning a G3 because it was simply not acclimated to withstand dry places such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.