CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964264 KBR
Dennis Heck, Import Compliance Manager
Yamaha Corporation Of America
6600 Orangethorpe Avenue, P.O. Box 6600
Buena Park, CA 90622-6600
RE: Revocation of PD C80205; Musical Instrument Tuners
Dear Mr. Heck:
This is in regard to your letter dated May 12, 2000, requesting a ruling as to the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of electronic musical instrument tuners, models YT 150, 240, 250 and TD series. You cite a previous ruling, PD C80205, issued to you on October 15, 1997, by the Port Director, Washington, D.C., concerning the classification for guitar tuners. We have reviewed the prior ruling and have determined that the classification provided is incorrect. Pursuant to sections 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the Norht American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), a notice was published on August 30, 2000, in Vol. 34, No. 35 of the Customs Bulletin, proposing to revoke PD C80205 concerning guitar tuners. Your comment was the only one received in response to this notice. This ruling revokes PD C80205 by providing the correct classification for musical instrument tuners.
The merchandise consists of electronic musical instrument tuners. Some of the tuners are specifically designed to tune acoustic, electric or bass guitars; some tuners are designed specifically for wind instruments; and some tuners may be used for any instrument. All the tuners operate in a similar manner, allowing a musician to tune an instrument by having the tuner sense the pitch (frequency) of a note played by the instrument and displaying if it is sharp or flat on a LCD VU meter and LED lights.
The articles at issue in PD C80205 were battery operated guitar tuners that measured or checked the pitch (frequency) of the sound produced by vibrating guitar strings. The sound received by a built in microphone would be compared to a selected standard and a VU meter or LED lights would display the variance. Customs determined that the guitar tuner should be classified in subheading 9027.80.4560, HTSUS, which provides for Instruments and apparatus for physical or chemical analysis (for example, polarimeters, refractometers, spectrometers, gas or smoke analysis apparatus); instruments and apparatus for measuring or checking viscosity, porosity, expansion, surface tension or the like; instruments and apparatus for measuring or checking quantities of heat, sound or light (including exposure meters); microtomes; parts and accessories thereof: Other instruments and apparatus: Other: Electrical: Physical analysis instruments and apparatus .
However, in NY 869148, dated December 19, 1991, Customs determined that battery operated, hand held tuners for both acoustic and electronic instruments, should be classified in subheading 9031.80.0080 [typographical error, should have read 9031.80.8000], HTSUS, which provides for Measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; profile projectors; parts and accessories thereof: Other instruments, appliances and machines: Other.
In your comment to the Customs Bulletin notice of proposed revocation, you submitted definitions including sound, tone, pitch, and vibration. You also submitted instruction manuals for the use of Yamaha instrument tuners.
Whether instrument tuners are properly classifiable under heading 9027, HTSUS, or under heading 9031, HTSUS.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI.
In interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs). Although not legally binding, they provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. It is Customs practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the ENs when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are:
9027 Instruments and apparatus for physical or chemical analysis (for example, polarimeters, refractometers, spectrometers, gas or smoke analysis apparatus); instruments and apparatus for measuring or checking viscosity, porosity, expansion, surface tension or the like; insturments and apparatus for measuring or checking quantities of heat, sound or light (including exposure meters); microtomes; parts and accessories thereof:
* * * * *
Other instruments and apparatus:
* * * * *
Measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; profile projectors; parts and accessories thereof:
* * * * *
Other instruments, appliances and machines:
* * * * *
Heading 9027, HTSUS, includes in particular “instruments and apparatus for measuring or checking quantities of heat, sound or light….” We do not find that heading 9027 applies to musical instrument tuners. A tuner measures pitch, frequency or vibration. We believe this to be more of a “quality” than a “quantity”. Measuring a quantity of sound is done by measuring the decibels or loudness of the sound. A machine measuring the decibels an instrument produces would be classified within heading 9027, HTSUS.
Heading 9031, HTSUS, includes measuring or checking instruments. EN 18 for heading 9031, HTSUS, notably includes “Apparatus for measuring or detecting vibrations, expansion, shock or jarring, used on machines, bridges, dams, etc.” Since an instrument turner measures the vibrations emanating from a musical machine, we find this EN to be instructive. In NY 869148 (December 19, 1991), Customs found that the correct classification for an instrument tuner was within subheading 9031.80.80, HTSUS. Likewise, we find that the proper classification for the imported electronic musical instrument tuners and wind instrument tuners instrument tuners is in subheading 9031.80.80, HTSUS.
In your comment you point to EN paragraph (29) for Heading 9027, HTSUS, arguing that spectrophotometers are analogous to your instrument tuners. However, we note that according to The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, Vol. 17 (1975) at 458, “A spectrophotometer is a spectrometer used to record QUANTITATIVELY the AMOUNT of light emitted or absorbed by a sample of material according to the wavelength.” (emphasis added) Therefore, we find a distinction between that article and the Yamaha instrument tuners. The instrument tuners are not measuring “quantitatively” the “amount” of sound.
Customs considered whether chapter 92, HTSUS, which provides for Musical instruments; parts and accessories of such articles, described the subject musical instrument tuners. However, we found that this chapter was not applicable. Chapter note 1(b) to chapter 92, states that “[m]icrophones, amplifiers, loudspeakers, headphones, switches, stroboscopes or other accessory instruments, apparatus or equipment of chapter 85 or 90, for use with but not incorporated in or housed in the same cabinet as the instruments of this chapter” will not be covered by chapter 92. Therefore, since the instrument tuners are articles which fall within chapter 90 but are separate articles not housed or incorporated within the instrument itself, we find chapter 92 to be inapplicable.
The imported electronic musical instrument tuners and wind instrument tuners are classifiable in subheading 9031.80.80, HTSUS, as other measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter.
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
PD C80205, dated October 15, 1997, is hereby REVOKED. In accordance with 19 U.S.C § 1625(c), this ruling will become effective sixty (60) days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division