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Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai #1722576
07/28/11 06:08 PM
07/28/11 06:08 PM
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NFexec Offline OP
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I'm new to the forum and this is my first thread here. First off, let me apologize for the long post - but I want to be as clear as I can about my points for others to understand.

A tiny bit about me - I'm 60, have played piano (and organ) for most of my life for my own amusement and occasional light fun with friends, and have had some professional training in piano regulation, repair, tuning & voicing. I don't do that for a living, but I know more than the average "Joe" when it comes to this sort of thing. I currently own a 30-year old 6'4" Knabe that actually sounds and plays quite nice as I've had new hammers installed some time ago, and have had it regulated, voiced, and maintained over the years. However, I've always wanted either a Steinway or M&H - not because of just the "name"... but because I've played a few that have just thrilled my sense of tone, voicing, and feel. I am looking at a brand-new Steinway B with a "sticker" of $85K, vs a new M&H BB with a sticker of about $73K... Other than a very small amount of action tweaking, the Steinway feels sublime. Very smooth, consistent, predictable, and what I call buttery. I can play ppp on this thing almost effortlessly and go to a roaring FFF with ease. And it's voiced very nicely. I was unable to play a 7' M&H BB, but did play the smaller AA (6'4" - same as my Knabe). I found the rather typical differences in that the M&H sound was more pronounced, the bass was the glorious M&H thunder, and the treble was pretty sparkly. It was not quite as impressive to me as the Steinway... and actually was more bright and a bit tricky to play soft and evenly. I am eager to try out a M&H BB to see my reactions.

Anyway - while at the M&H dealer, I tried out a smaller Kawai (less than 6') just out of curiosity, and while the bass and lower "baritone" range was not as clear as I like, I was quite impressed with the warm, yet clean middle and treble sound and the action was extremely well regulated. I really would love to try out a Kawai RX-6 BLK, but not really sure I can find one in my area (near Cleveland, OH). I believe the Kawai "sticker" is around $59K.

I have not gotten down to brass tacks with any of the dealers, but I am fairly sure the Steinway will not sell for much less than about 5% off sticker. . . maybe around $79K or if I am talented enough in my negotiating. The M&H BB can probably be had for around the low $50's, and I'm guessing the Kawai for around $5 - $8K less than the M&H.

OK, enough! So here's my question... of the three pianos, what are your experiences and opinions? I truly admire and almost lust after the Steinway, and I might have the same feeling over the BB M&H, but I won't know until I find and try one. I only am concerned that the M&H might be just a bit brighter and louder than I like. Not "Yamaha" brightness if you know what I mean... but I am hoping that the tone could be voiced down a bit to have a somewhat more mellow level... especially when played softly. Do you think this is true? And that smaller Kawai really impressed me, and I suspect the 7' model would even more... but am not sure. I'm hoping someone knows of the comparative differences among these three and can chime in with advice?

And... lastly... yes I know a good technician can make changes in the tone and the touch - especially with excellent pianos to begin with... but it makes me nervous to think of spending this amount of money on a piano that I "MIGHT" have just the way I want it.

So - there's about $30K difference btween the S&S "B" and the Kawai-RX6. Am I nuts to think that the S&S is worth that much more? Or should I just forget about Kawai and stick to M&H and S&S? And, no, I'm not independently wealthy. This would be a serious investment for me, and while I would love to save several thousands of dollars, I expect this purchase will be the last piano I have and I want it to bring me plenty of satisfaction and joy for the rest of my life -- and probably wind up in my daughter's (professional violinist) living room down the road after I'm gone.

Thanks for your opinions, experiences, advice.

Doug


Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org
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Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722582
07/28/11 06:37 PM
07/28/11 06:37 PM
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Arvada, CO
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Colin Dunn Offline
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Steinway commands a hefty premium for its brand-name cachet. They make excellent pianos, but there are other alternatives in the same league (such as the M&H).

I'd recommend you seek out that M&H BB and play it if possible. Of all the alternatives you mentioned, that's most likely the best compromise between performance and price.

In that price range ($50K-$80K), you should get exactly the piano you want. Also keep an eye on the market for other high-end 7- or 9-footers; if you also consider both new and used instruments, you also have a lot of European options available (Estonia, Boesendorfer, Bluthner, Schimmel, Petrof, etc.).


Colin Dunn
2018 Sight-Reading Challenge Longest Winning Streak: 21 days
Organizer, Denver Area Piano Group (https://www.meetup.com/Denver-Area-Piano-Group/)

Starr Artist Grand
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Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722626
07/28/11 08:18 PM
07/28/11 08:18 PM
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Nashville, TN
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You definitely owe it to yourself to try a couple of other brands of pianos including Kawai Shiguru, Yamaha S series, Schimmel, Estonia, Petrof and there are still some brand new American made Baldwins floating around. Don't listen to nay sayers about Steinways. Yes, they command a premium price, but that's because they make great pianos. I have sat at a few Steinways that just spoke to me, but I have also sat a some Masons, Baldwins, Schimmels, and some other high end pianos that spoke to me also, one in particular was a Yamaha S series. I have also played some other high end grands that didn't speak to me, including Steinways, Baldwins, Petrofs, etc. A piano has a personality and some personalities you can really connect with, while others just don't reach out and grab you. It's not really a brand name thing, it's a quality thing and most probably also a dealer prep thing. I was recently at a Steinway dealer that had a magnificant looking D but when I played it, it was a major yawn, and I've played some D's that I felt were amazing. Welcome to the forum and best of luck looking for the piano the "speaks" to you.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722628
07/28/11 08:27 PM
07/28/11 08:27 PM
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My advice is to grab that Steinway before someone else does and don't look back. I have played a lot of old and new Steinways and old and new Mason and Hamlins, and I ended up buying a Steinway. I have not particularly liked the new Mason and Hamlins although I've liked some of the old ones very much. They are quite different animals. I find the new Masons to be quite bright and a little jangling in the treble with a big booming bass. Some people love this sound profile but I found it unbalanced and somewhat unrefined. When you cost it out over the life of the piano and the amount of time you'll spend playing it, the cost difference might not seem as important, assuming you can afford the B without too much sacrifice. That's a question only you can answer. But if you found a piano you think is sublime and thrilling-- go for it.

Good luck!
Sophia

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Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722632
07/28/11 08:39 PM
07/28/11 08:39 PM
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New York City
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You must have the wrong price(or written the wrong price) for the Mason BB. Somewhere around 45K is more realistic.

You should really compare the Steinway B only to the Mason BB and then decide if you love the Steinway enough to pay around 35K more. According to the Piano Buyer prices, the Kawai Blak 7' model should be around 5-7K less than the Mason.

My experience is that the Mason has a different sound then Steinway, but I wouldn't call it brighter or louder. Of course, this also depends on the voicing of the particular Steinways and Masons you play.

If you like the Steinway B the best, I think only you can decide if it's worth the extra money.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/28/11 08:58 PM.
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: pianoloverus] #1722655
07/28/11 09:21 PM
07/28/11 09:21 PM
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NFexec Offline OP
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Thank you for the replies thus far. I'm hoping someone who knows Kawai can discuss the differences between say, the Kawai Blak 7' model and the Shigeru Kawai SK6?? Thank you.

Doug


Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722659
07/28/11 09:29 PM
07/28/11 09:29 PM
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I'm no Kawai expert, but I believe that the Blak and the Shigeru are two different animals altogether. The Blak is mass produced, albeit to a high level, and Shigeru's are hand built.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722684
07/28/11 10:15 PM
07/28/11 10:15 PM
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Urbandale, Iowa
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Originally Posted by NFexec
Thank you for the replies thus far. I'm hoping someone who knows Kawai can discuss the differences between say, the Kawai Blak 7' model and the Shigeru Kawai SK6?? Thank you.

Doug

Unless you just don't have the space you should strongly consider the Shigeru Kawai SK-7 (7'6"). It'll still be far less than the S&S B and the one I played was probably the most controllable piano I've ever played. It wasn't as dynamic as the Estonia 190 nearby but it had a very refined sound and a huge bass and was far more controllable. It made me a better player.

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722685
07/28/11 10:15 PM
07/28/11 10:15 PM
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This thread illustrates the extent to which piano preferences are a matter of individual taste. When I was piano shopping, I compared the new Mason BB and the new Steinway of the comparable size, and I found that I did not like the Steinways that I tried and loved the Masons. (I ended up with a BB.) This is the exact opposite of sophial's view, but there we are--people like different pianos!

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722697
07/28/11 10:50 PM
07/28/11 10:50 PM
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Orange County, CA
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Of course I'd love to see you try one of the larger Kawai or Shigeru Kawai pianos to see how they strike you. Unfortunately the closest dealer for Shigeru is in Cincinnatti. If you want the information for Seta Music there, please send me a private message. He just recently ordered a Shigeru VI (the 7' size) so he should have one soon.

But I must say also, that if your heart is pulling you towards one piano that seems right, maybe you should not do too much second guessing, and stretch for it.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722840
07/29/11 05:30 AM
07/29/11 05:30 AM
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Singapore
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Doug,

You are a lucky man with that budget and the space for a very nice piano.

I'd just like to say that the journey towards finally purchasing a piano is almost as enjoyable as having finally purchased one. Different enjoyments - like enjoying pan fried cod western style with wine one week and steamed cod chinese style with chinese tea, the next.

I hope you sample the pianos and write about it in this forum. Someone who spends their cash having made an informed choice, always carries a special credibility. It is also the minority who purchase a premium piano and play it themselves. So many make the purchase as a decorative item for their million dollar real estate, or for their silver spoon child learning the piano.

Others pianos that I hope you will consider and write about your experiences are Seiler, Bosendorfer, Yamaha's new C*XA series, Yamaha S series, Shigeru Kawai, Steingraeber and Fazioli.

The Yamaha S series are quite different from the C series. Likewise the Shigeru Kawai's are quite different from the Kawai RX series.

I've not had a chance to try the new Yamaha's.

http://uk.yamaha.com/en/news_events/musical_instruments/xaseries/

Last edited by EltonRach; 07/29/11 05:46 AM.
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722870
07/29/11 08:07 AM
07/29/11 08:07 AM
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Hey Doug, what a nice position to be in. Piano shopping for a B or BB or SK6.

I have a MH AA 4 yrs old. As you probably know, each piano will have its own personality, even if the same model. Try more than one. I have had tweaking done to mine. Regulation a couple of times and a nice voicing by a master. Made a big difference.

I found a big difference between the AA and the BB. No room nor money for the BB but I loved it.

A short story. I was skirting around buying a grand but shopped for the best uprights I could find. The best being a Steingraeber. However, I had 2 others on my top list of 3. While playing and comparing sounds, the store owner asked, if there was anything on the Steingraeber that I would want to change? Huh? What piano would you like it to sound like, or something like that. Hmmmm, easy answer. That MH AA over there was my answer. And at that point I really stopped fighting my desire. That was the sound I preferred. It was like being shot with cupid's arrow! I was in love with the MH sound. In my mind of course was a gorgeous BB that I had played at the factory (and elsewhere).

Now, to compare.

I think the Steinway sound is rounder, with more overtones for the treble which of course is important in playing Chopin pieces that I am playing recently etc.

Nothing like the MH bass. It isn't just the power, it is the tone.

SK6 was nice. Just wasn't my choice.

That being said, might I suggest that since you mentioned the Yamaha sound (which I call sameness, not brightness) you might not like the brighter Schimmels nor Petrofs.
I will however stongly suggest that if you like the Steinway and MH sound, that you try the new Steingraeber 232 or the new 212 (might have a better discount than the Steinway but probably has a similar MSP) and the Grotrian Charis? Both might be in the running once you try them.

Let us know as you continue your shopping journey.

EDIT - oooh, so I have expensive taste! I see I was off by a few thousand for the Steingraebers!!!



Last edited by lilylady; 07/29/11 04:31 PM.

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722891
07/29/11 09:07 AM
07/29/11 09:07 AM
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Danville, California
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Steingraeber 212 $120,240 MSRP

Steingraeber 232 $146,871 MSRP

Great pianos. Maybe the best.



Amateur Pianist and raconteur.
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1722910
07/29/11 09:42 AM
07/29/11 09:42 AM
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Western/Central PA
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Originally Posted by NFexec
Other than a very small amount of action tweaking, the Steinway feels sublime. Very smooth, consistent, predictable, and what I call buttery. I can play ppp on this thing almost effortlessly and go to a roaring FFF with ease. And it's voiced very nicely.

I truly admire and almost lust after the Steinway, and I might have the same feeling over the BB M&H, but I won't know until I find and try one. I only am concerned that the M&H might be just a bit brighter and louder than I like.

Doug


Ultimately, don't let your brain get in the way of making the right decision wink

You'll probably be able to come up with dozens of reasons why you should buy the M&H or Kawai over the Steinway (price being just one of those reasons), but it sounds like you really love that Steinway and I'm afraid that if you go with something else, you will always be thinking about that "sublime" B in the back of your head.

Good Luck!



Estonia 190
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: Furtwangler] #1722944
07/29/11 10:43 AM
07/29/11 10:43 AM
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Great comments, everyone - I truly enjoy the "electronic camaraderie" over this topic and it is helping me. I indeed am very humbled by my position in life right now and my ability to upgrade pianos - again - I am not independently wealthy and this will be a serious purchase.... but that's why I'm seeking out all of your help with this. Thank you all. Now all I have to do is FIND one or two examples of the above suggestions!

Doug


Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723021
07/29/11 12:56 PM
07/29/11 12:56 PM
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Posts: 18,289
Lexington, Kentucky
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Originally Posted by NFexec
I truly admire and almost lust after the Steinway, and I might have the same feeling over the BB M&H, but I won't know until I find and try one. I only am concerned that the M&H might be just a bit brighter and louder than I like. Not "Yamaha" brightness if you know what I mean... but I am hoping that the tone could be voiced down a bit to have a somewhat more mellow level... especially when played softly. Do you think this is true?


Welcome to the forum, NFexec. smile

If you had to make your decision right now, on the basis of the information you have in hand, I would give you the same advice that sophial did: Buy the Steinway and don't look back. The extra cost is not much amortized over the life of the instrument, and you're clearly much more excited about it than the other (largely hypothetical) options you talk about.

Of course, you DON'T have to make a decision right now, in which case my advice is to keep shopping, so that if you still end up choosing the Steinway, you'll feel better that you made the right decision after being able to sample a lot of contenders. I do agree that a Shigeru Kawai is worthy of an audition, and I'd urge you to make the visit to Seta music to try out their 7-footer when it arrives. They are a Mason & Hamlin dealer, too, along with Estonia, so you would have the opportunity to compare directly some of the most popular alternatives to Steinway that get talked about here on the forum. (Disclosure: I bought my M&H A from Seta and found them very helpful and easy to work with.)

The last observation I would make is that I don't recommend buying a piano in the hopes that voicing will make the tone more satisfactory to you.

Good luck with shopping, and please keep us posted!

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723025
07/29/11 01:02 PM
07/29/11 01:02 PM
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I'd ask yourself as well which risk you are more comfortable with: the risk of losing the Steinway which sounds like your ideal piano versus the risk of thinking later that you might have found a piano you like as well or better at a lower price.

Which is likely to bother you more down the road?

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723033
07/29/11 01:11 PM
07/29/11 01:11 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,289
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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That's a good point. I wouldn't recommend waiting three months, say, to try out that Shigeru. But it's not likely the Steinway will be sold out under you in the next week or two.

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723039
07/29/11 01:15 PM
07/29/11 01:15 PM
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+1 Sophia!

Hi Doug~
All the previously mentioned instruments are most excellent ones and everyone has their preference(s) based on each their own criteria. You can't go wrong with any of the aforementioned choices.

Certainly continue test-driving, (might cause further brain-damage) but if you continually are using your first choice as the standard by which you are judging the others, then you go back to confirm what you first thought - you already know what to do.

If I had my druthers in this case, which you do, I would stick with my first choice and go with the piano that knocks (knocked) you over. How much of it can you stand? wink

Look forward to knowing what you decide.
Glen


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Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723047
07/29/11 01:33 PM
07/29/11 01:33 PM
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What's interesting to me is that if we were talking about violins, prices can get pretty crazy for the very finest instruments - spending hundreds of thousands or even millions for the very best.

We're lucky - because even though a $35K difference sounds like a lot, if it gives you the piano of your dreams - and you can afford it - you're getting off easy compared to what string people have to pay for the very best.

Having said that, there are some pianos of most of the best brands that really stand out. I played a small Yamaha at a hotel once that I liked so much I half wanted to take home. There was a beautiful old M&H that I fell in love with a number of years ago - ditto a Baldwin SD10 back in the 70's, a Steingraeber 168 (unbelievable piano), a Bosie that was like butter and a certain Steinway B sitting in my living room. ;-) Whenever you find your piano the one that speaks to you - that seems to make you play better than you are - and if it is for sale, that's the piano you should go for - not the one next to it that's $4k less. Since the beginning of this board, I don't think there's been a single regret about getting the dream piano - but more than a few folks who regretted settling for something less.

If it is a Kawai or Yamaha, M&H or Bosie - Steinway or Steingraeber - you choose.

Again, it sounds like price is not an issue for you - so that's the counsel. When price is an issue, then one does the best one can with the circumstances.


Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723059
07/29/11 01:53 PM
07/29/11 01:53 PM
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If price "wasn't an issue" the OP would probably have already bought the Steinway even lthough he hasn't tried even one Mason BB or other make.

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: Furtwangler] #1723161
07/29/11 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Furtwangler
Steingraeber 212 $120,240 MSRP

Steingraeber 232 $146,871 MSRP

Great pianos. Maybe the best.




And, only 80k for the 212 in the UK! And, DEFINITELY the best! smile

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723170
07/29/11 04:51 PM
07/29/11 04:51 PM
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sophial Offline
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Is there that big a price difference from the UK to the US for Steingraeber? or is that 80K pounds ?

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: pianoloverus] #1723186
07/29/11 05:10 PM
07/29/11 05:10 PM
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NE Ohio
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NFexec Offline OP
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NE Ohio
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If price "wasn't an issue" the OP would probably have already bought the Steinway even lthough he hasn't tried even one Mason BB or other make.

This is mostly true. I am a bit nervous about spending over $80K for an instrument that will mostly be for my personal enjoyment... and so if I find something that really does give me that certain "thrill" but for thousands less, then I won't miss the S&S B. It will take some time and effort to get to that point, and I'm not in a big hurry... however I won't want to continue the search forever!


Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org
Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: sophial] #1723197
07/29/11 05:32 PM
07/29/11 05:32 PM
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beethoven986 Offline
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Originally Posted by sophial
Is there that big a price difference from the UK to the US for Steingraeber? or is that 80K pounds ?


About 52,000GBP. Roughly 80,000USD. It's kind of funny, really. At Steinway Hall London, a Hamburg D goes for about 114,000GBP but if you take a 30 minute train to the countryside, you can get a Steingraeber 272 for under 70,000GBP.

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723198
07/29/11 05:33 PM
07/29/11 05:33 PM
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beethoven986 Offline
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Have you tried the 7' Schimmel? You can get that for somewhere in the 50s.

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723278
07/29/11 09:06 PM
07/29/11 09:06 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,796
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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"...It will take some time and effort to get to that point, and I'm not in a big hurry... however I won't want to continue the search forever!"

Auditioning, oh, six to eight contenders is hardly "forever," even if you listen to each model three times (at least) on three different days. Finding examples of all of them might take awhile (and I think you left out Baldwin, Bosendorfer, Charles Walter, Estonia, Fazioli, Grotrian, Hamburg Steinway, and a few others).

What you say shows a healthy and reasonable attitude, though. There are those who have made a second career out of trying this and that piano, and yet after sampling such a feast, still left the table hungry and unsatisfied.

I think you will find something you can love, and afford, and that you can find local talent who can provide continuing service so that your piano gives you its best. The table is hardly bare, even in these tarnished times when the Golden Age has long since passed us by.

No matter how delicious the buffet, you can't eat everything. Remember Alka-Seltzer.


Clef

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723311
07/29/11 11:03 PM
07/29/11 11:03 PM
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What a wonderful dilemma. Sorry, I know its causing you some angst. I can't find a Shigeru anywhere near me, so I have nothing to add there. But your situation really resonates with me. Maybe thats because we're about the same age and appear to value some of the same things in a piano (i.e. a wonderful action that easily gets us to ppp).

You seem to have the money but you are understandably concerned about "value." I've played many Mason's of all sizes, new and rebuilt, and they are really wonderful pianos. Two of my favorite pianos have been coincidentally Steinway B's, one new one rebuilt. I have played a number of Steinways I didn't much care for. But those 2 had what I liked most about great Steinways, balance and evenness across the registers and the signature Steinway overtones. They also both had very controllable actions. One approached "sublime."

So you can guess what I think I would do in your shoes. I would not spend very much time trying to find a better value that came close to sublime. What is that worth? Who knows?

I would also go back and throw every piece of piano literature that I loved at that Steinway. I would go back at least two or three times. If she was still sublime, and I was still in love with her, I wouldn't waste any time buying her.

Btw, I didn't have the money to buy the Steinway that approaced sublime.

Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1723424
07/30/11 07:50 AM
07/30/11 07:50 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 4,346
North Hollywood CA.
pianobroker Offline
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Of course this inevitable choice you are about to make is and should be one based on YOUR personal,subjective assessment of your three choices. I personally have and own all three of your piano options but not the exact three pianos of direct comparison. Upon making a decision based on the pianos on a objective assessment, I'd go the Steinway B, no question. Making a decision based on pricepoint is always a compromise in the end. There is no challange in finding the ultimate piano if price is not a consideration.

A new Steinway B to me is not the route to go unless you hit the powerball lottery and you have already exhasted your options in the CUSTOM rebuild remanufacture market. But what do I know? wink


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Re: Mason & Hamlin vs Steinway vs Kawai [Re: NFexec] #1725337
08/02/11 04:48 PM
08/02/11 04:48 PM
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I thought I'd give an update. I'm still not done with my "auditions" of new pianos... but have found some interesting if not confusing results. First off, the Steinway B that spoke to me is still around, and I played it again after a week's rest... along with two new A's. I also found the Yamaha C7 and two C6 models, and a used Steinway B... along with the original auditions of the M&H A & AA.

Yamaha C7

So I now have tried 9 instruments. I was very surprised by the C7. At a very soft to say, forte level, it was MUCH less harsh than I remember the last Yamaha I tried... a few years ago. And the action was lighter than the Steinway. I was pretty impressed! However, when played FF or more (or accent one or two notes at a time at a louder level) there were signs on the Yamaha brightness that shone through. Now I realize some consider that desirable and would not consider it to be harsh. But to me, it was harsh. I suspect SOME of that could be
controlled with voicing... but it concerns me that so much of that brilliance rose above the ensemble to an unbalanced level. In fact one or more of the deeper bass strings actually sounded tinny and harsh - almost as if it were vibrating against the soundboard or adjacent string with an FFF expression! Hmmmm. This one is not yet out of the picture, but it will need some serious thought.

Yamaha C6

There were two of these. One was actually voiced rather nicely - almost (ALMOST) Steinway style if you know what I mean. It had a soft, yet clear tone in the mid and upper registers, but it was a bit dull in the bass. Overall, it needed some roundness that was missing. The other C6 was considerably brighter. And, as much as I prefer mellow and sweet, I preferred this one as it had more dynamic range to express. However, this one was just too strident in some ways. Still better than the "old" Yamahas I've been used to.... but not quite there yet.

The advantage of the C7 (for example) is it has a wonderful dynamic range and can be played softly without much difficulty. Individual notes can also be controlled as accents with ease. Very impressed with this. But the louder dynamics really worry me. The C7 is the largest piano (7' 6") and has the "smallest" price tag of $39,900. Not bad.

Used Steinway B

This one was built in 1993 and is physically in nearly new condition, with very little action or hammer wear. It felt just a tad more heavy than the C7, but that could be changed. The voicing was a little harsh in some registers, but I suspect this piano was never voiced other than when it was new. Some sections sounded just as I expected them to - outstandingly expressive, warm yet pronounced without a glaring tone. Yet other registers were either a bit thin or fuzzy. Again - I suspect a good regulation & voicing would improve most of that. Yet there is still an overall difference in my gut to this one as compared to the new "B" I recently played. Not a bad one - just.. well, perhaps not as dynamic and impressive. The acoustics of the room where it sits might affect too, I suppose.

New Steinway B

This is the same one I recently played. I played it again yesterday and was disappointed that some of it was noticeably out of tune which of course made a difference in my "sublime" sensation. I also was getting pretty tired by the time I played it so I was not quite as smitten as I was the first time.... but that too could change on another day once this piano is touched up a bit. It has a definite clean and predictable feel and articulation... and the sound is noticeably more pronounced than on the A or even the M&H. It is less "in your face" in the bass compared with the Yamaha C7... but still carries a wonderful projection - yet not harsh. Time will tell a bit more with this one!

New Steinway A (1)

Brand-new and voiced a bit on the soft and even demure side. Yet, it still had wonderful, round, clean and clear projection. It was quite difficult to get a lot of volume out of this one, but for ballads, pretty chopin, or a lot of pop music, this one was brilliantly suited. Action was extremely nice, but not perfect... again... not a deal breaker. I liked this one, except missed the full yet controlled projectile feeling of a slightly keener bass.

New Steinway A (2)

This one sounded bigger than it its 6' 2". More robust voicing and great projection. It lacked only a very modest amount of clarity in the middle - bass range as compared with the B. But I know there is a reason for that. The regulation was very good, but I'd have it "buttered up" just a tad. The "A" is about $10K less than the "B". I also liked this one, but wished it had just a little more presence and sustain. This one is also still in the running

Shigeru Kawai

I have not yet played one, and only have read about and seen YouTube examples. A dealer that is about an hour away from me claims he will be getting this line and will also have a M&H BB in stock in September. So unless something extraordinary pops up, or I get an offer I can't refuse, I may be waiting until then to check these two out.

Mason & Hamlin

As previously reported, I enjoyed the AA (6' 4") but felt it was a bit harsh and heavy. I would like to see a BB before making my choice. So we shall see.

Just checking in.

Doug


Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org
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