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My little outpost of progress in China has one music store that carries brass instruments (one of the universities actually has a music department that teaches something besides traditional Chinese music). Usually, the sales people don't act too friendly when I look in the window, but apparently, the store has new owners. I was invited into the store--- no, I was pulled into the store--- and I was shown around . I had an interpreter with me and I told the owner(s) that I was interested in trying out an alto saxophone.

The guy runs upstairs and comes down with a boxed instrument. It was marked TD-200. Hmmm. I'm no expert on Yamaha, but the model didn't sound familiar. Through my interpreter, I asked to play it.

"You try, you buy." [Through my interpreter]

--- May I look at it? Could you open the box so I can see it?

"We open box, you buy."

I didn't take it as an offense because westerners are believed to be the richest people on earth. I'm accustomed to this sort of thing, so I declined cordially.

I tried out their pianos. Their latest Yamaha electric 88 key is quite nice. I'm lousy on piano, but in a city whose population finds watching a shoeshine intellectually stimulating, people in the store as well as on the street loved my thoroughly bad blues playing. (Yeah, they even clapped).

Okay, so the owner steers me over to his acoustic pianos bearing brand names as unforgettable as "Bill Smith" and other brands.

Then they undraped a Yamaha studio piano. I sat down and found it to be incredibly out of tune. They had just received it. The action was typical of an upright grand and even. BUT THE TUNING...

I remember back in the 1970's being in a studio in New Orleans as a Yamaha grand was being brought in, uncrated, having the legs installed and being set up. This piano had just been delivered from the wharf. (The studio owner ordered it straight from Japan or New York). The tuner (whose name escapes me at the moment, but he was the best in the area at the time) was there, ready to tune it. This piano hadn't gone out of tune, despite the long haul . Everyone was amazed.

I had to wonder why the piano here in my little outpost of progress was in such terrible tune.

Tonight, I looked up Yamaha TD-200 to discover that this Yamaha saxophone model is actually a motorbike model!

My question: is it possible that these instruments are forgeries? I'm willing to believe that the piano could go out of tune in transit, but how could the saxophone box be marked TD-200?

Food for thought.
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