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Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
#1890316 05/03/12 05:23 AM
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Has anyone had the opportunity to compare a new Mason&Hamlin with the new composite action with a modern M&H wooden action?

Particularly thinking about BB or AA size, though I imagine all sizes would be similar.
thanks


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1890322 05/03/12 05:54 AM
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Yes. Go with the WNG composite. They have put years of research into making it a superior product from many different perspectives.


Piano Technician/Tuner
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1890363 05/03/12 07:58 AM
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Yes. i did a 'blind taste test' at saphir pianos; the WNG is much lighter (and perhaps a shallower drop, if memory serves), but that might not be to everyone's liking. you should play both.

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1890516 05/03/12 12:53 PM
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I've had a chance to play both side by side in a 'blind' test. The only thing I knew was that two pianos had traditional action, one had the composite. I was able to identify the composite action without much thought and I felt it was more consistent and smoother than the traditional. It reminded me in some ways to the absolutely consistent action on the Faziolis I've managed to play over the years.

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
Entheo #1891544 05/05/12 05:54 AM
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Problem is there are no WNG pianos in the country (yet). Nor are there any Faziolis either. But they sound like a good idea, just looking for opinions by those who have played - thanks.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1891551 05/05/12 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
Problem is there are no WNG pianos in the country (yet). Nor are there any Faziolis either. But they sound like a good idea, just looking for opinions by those who have played - thanks.


What country? It is not listed in your profile.

BTW, I prefer wood.

Were you planning on buying one or the other? Travel and shipping is an option!


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1891563 05/05/12 06:53 AM
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I have played several of the new M&H grands with the WNG actions and I am impressed to say the least. One of the most imprortant factors is the stability of the parts over a long period of time. That has always been a problem with wood actions.

Jeremy Gloo

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1891586 05/05/12 07:51 AM
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of course, given the newness of the WNG actions we really don't know what the stability of the parts are over a long period of time, especially the contact points. however, in previous interviews i've read with the WNG designers they were well aware of the steinway teflon problems and took measures to prevent that from happening, but of course they don't know what they don't know wrt how their components will wear over time. in theory it looks great!

for me the action was too light. in the long view it really has to be about how the action feels. after all, we're buying an acoustic piano because of its natural elements (and in spite of them), so sound & touch should be paramount in the decision making process IMHO.

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
Entheo #1891661 05/05/12 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Entheo
of course, given the newness of the WNG actions we really don't know what the stability of the parts are over a long period of time,.


This statement at this point in time is simply disingenuous. Kawai has been using composite parts for at least 25 years -- and AFAIK, zero failures. WNG is just extending availability of composite components to most makes of pianos and adding the carbon fiber shank.

Also, the material itself IS a known quantity -- unlike the plastic used in the 1950s -- which hadn't really been tested in anything. That plastic was simply prone to failure -- in any application, not just pianos. Now, composite is very much a studied and known quantity with a history of use in many applications.

Steinway's teflon situation was far more of a botched technical service and public relations issue than a material failure. S&S didn't want to admit that other people knew more about how to service those actions than they did. There are Steinways today that are performing admirably that have teflon bushings. One of them is a model "D" that I service at a nearby university. Service on that action is far below what a felt-bushed action would be.

Using the logic in the post, no one should fly in a carbon fiber composite Boeing Dreamliner for 50 years until it is proved safe. The reality is that materials science is far more developed than it was in the 1950s. We DO know how materials will perform before we use them. Sliding friction is sliding friction --wherever it may happen.

For myself, the difference is clear. I have had concert pianists exclaim over the touch of WNG actions. You might want to check out the threads in the Technicians forum where there are statements from people like university technicians dealing with high usage pianos.

Another part of the WNG action is the hard-anodized capstans. Again hard anodized aluminum has been around for decades and is a thoroughly known product. Putting it inside a piano doesn't somehow magically change its physical characteristics. These capstans have been used by high-end custom action technicians for 20 years. Again, WNG is just bringing production to a level where it is affordable and there is adequate supply for anyone wanting to avail themselves of the benefits these capstans give.

And, as with any action, modern components will not cover up problems emerging from bad setup or poor regulation -- which are stil problems at the best of manufacturers. The same kinds of analysis and service that benefit a wooden action will benefit a composite action, as well. It just won't need to be done nearly as often.


Keith Akins, RPT
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editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1891679 05/05/12 11:03 AM
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The pros and cons of variable material actions have been discussed here at length before.

I have myself looked into this mater and come to a personal conclusion of sorts.

There's often a hint of superiority of one over the other however I personally remain unconvinced of this.

As long as we don't have pianists break up their performance during stage performances or normal players being hindered playing and enjoying themseoves at home, I fail to see the advantage of one over the other.

I would never choose one piano over the other simply by "action". Depite the fact that this has become a strong selling point for some - either way.

If this were the case, one simply would need to opt for one piano with a mechanic clearly proven to be superior.

By ALL makers and especially - over time.

I doubt very much the Germans as world's premier action makers, would be much behind the A ball in this game.

In my mind it's still about choosing the piano first and foremost - not the action...

My personal opinion and 2 cents.

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 05/05/12 11:08 AM.

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Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
Entheo #1891686 05/05/12 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Entheo
for me the action was too light.


Exactly. I have no problem with the WNG action but it just doesn't feel right to me.

Rich


Retired at the beach

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
kpembrook #1891700 05/05/12 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
This statement at this point in time is simply disingenuous. Kawai has been using composite parts for at least 25 years -- and AFAIK, zero failures. WNG is just extending availability of composite components to most makes of pianos and adding the carbon fiber shank.


disingenuous? it seems it's you with the axe to grind, keith. i was the proud owner of an M&H model A for 10 years and seriously considered moving to a BB with WNG action. i've also been in software engineering for over 25 years, so i know a little about product development knowns and unknowns.

and i did not know that kawai has been using WNG actions for 25 years. AFAIK, WNG full composite have been in production for what, maybe two years? let's be careful about comparing carbon apples to oranges.

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Also, the material itself IS a known quantity -- unlike the plastic used in the 1950s -- which hadn't really been tested in anything. That plastic was simply prone to failure -- in any application, not just pianos. Now, composite is very much a studied and known quantity with a history of use in many applications.


my point was not about the reliability of composite but how it interfaces with other materials. historical case in point...

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Steinway's teflon situation was far more of a botched technical service and public relations issue than a material failure. S&S didn't want to admit that other people knew more about how to service those actions than they did.


this is simply not true. from the Piano Buyer article on steinway's teflon bushings: "But in actual practice, the new bushings were far from trouble free — what Steinway didn't realize was that dimensional changes in the wooden flange would affect the Teflon bushing. As the flange swelled with humidity, it put more pressure on the Teflon, which in turn pressed tighter on the center pin, causing the action to feel heavy and sometimes sluggish. Conversely, when low humidity caused the flange wood to shrink, the Teflon bushing became loose in the wooden part, causing a noticeable click when the key was played."

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Using the logic in the post, no one should fly in a carbon fiber composite Boeing Dreamliner for 50 years until it is proved safe.


the dreamliner is one of the most delayed product deliveries in industrial history. care to guess why?

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
kpembrook #1891743 05/05/12 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Entheo
of course, given the newness of the WNG actions we really don't know what the stability of the parts are over a long period of time,.


This statement at this point in time is simply disingenuous. Kawai has been using composite parts for at least 25 years -- and AFAIK, zero failures. WNG is just extending availability of composite components to most makes of pianos and adding the carbon fiber shank.

Also, the material itself IS a known quantity -- unlike the plastic used in the 1950s -- which hadn't really been tested in anything. That plastic was simply prone to failure -- in any application, not just pianos. Now, composite is very much a studied and known quantity with a history of use in many applications.

Steinway's teflon situation was far more of a botched technical service and public relations issue than a material failure. S&S didn't want to admit that other people knew more about how to service those actions than they did. There are Steinways today that are performing admirably that have teflon bushings. One of them is a model "D" that I service at a nearby university. Service on that action is far below what a felt-bushed action would be.

Using the logic in the post, no one should fly in a carbon fiber composite Boeing Dreamliner for 50 years until it is proved safe. The reality is that materials science is far more developed than it was in the 1950s. We DO know how materials will perform before we use them. Sliding friction is sliding friction --wherever it may happen.

For myself, the difference is clear. I have had concert pianists exclaim over the touch of WNG actions. You might want to check out the threads in the Technicians forum where there are statements from people like university technicians dealing with high usage pianos.

Another part of the WNG action is the hard-anodized capstans. Again hard anodized aluminum has been around for decades and is a thoroughly known product. Putting it inside a piano doesn't somehow magically change its physical characteristics. These capstans have been used by high-end custom action technicians for 20 years. Again, WNG is just bringing production to a level where it is affordable and there is adequate supply for anyone wanting to avail themselves of the benefits these capstans give.

And, as with any action, modern components will not cover up problems emerging from bad setup or poor regulation -- which are stil problems at the best of manufacturers. The same kinds of analysis and service that benefit a wooden action will benefit a composite action, as well. It just won't need to be done nearly as often.


I'm with Keith on this. There are ways to test the longevity of products. This is a non issue. Also, the hard bushings in WNG actions are NOT Teflon, so there is no point in bringing that up.

As a pianist who has played somewhere over 10 instruments with these parts (M&H, Steinway, Bluthner, Steingraeber), They all have all play very similarly.... lower inertia and better repetition. Even though I believe these parts are superior to wood parts, I would not select a piano simply because it has WNG parts.

That said, one needs to be careful when pairing hammers with the carbon shanks; harder hammers just sound ugly on them in the upper registers.

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
Entheo #1891996 05/05/12 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Entheo



and i did not know that kawai has been using WNG actions for 25 years. AFAIK, WNG full composite have been in production for what, maybe two years? let's be careful about comparing carbon apples to oranges.


I did not say that Kawai was using WNG parts. Kawai has been using their own composite parts. The selling brand name on the material doesn't mean it isn't essentially the same. Main point is that it is one example of non wood that has proven highly successfully in hundreds of thousands of pianos. In that respect, WNG is simply "democratizing" composite and making the product available for non-Kawai pianos.


Originally Posted by kpembrook
Also, the material itself IS a known quantity -- unlike the plastic used in the 1950s -- which hadn't really been tested in anything. That plastic was simply prone to failure -- in any application, not just pianos. Now, composite is very much a studied and known quantity with a history of use in many applications.

Quote

my point was not about the reliability of composite but how it interfaces with other materials. historical case in point...

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Steinway's teflon situation was far more of a botched technical service and public relations issue than a material failure. S&S didn't want to admit that other people knew more about how to service those actions than they did.


this is simply not true. from the Piano Buyer article on steinway's teflon bushings: "But in actual practice, the new bushings were far from trouble free — what Steinway didn't realize was that dimensional changes in the wooden flange would affect the Teflon bushing. As the flange swelled with humidity, it put more pressure on the Teflon, which in turn pressed tighter on the center pin, causing the action to feel heavy and sometimes sluggish. Conversely, when low humidity caused the flange wood to shrink, the Teflon bushing became loose in the wooden part, causing a noticeable click when the key was played."


No, Piano Buyer is incorrect. The facts are as I stated earlier. There WERE problems. The problems were NOT inherent in the material but more in knowing how to service the new material. There ARE people who developed appropriate service protocols at the time. S&S teflon IS still functioning satisfactorily today. I was "there" in active piano service on S&S instruments when it was all unfolding and I stand by my direct observations and the confirmation of others who also happen to know.

While the technical challenge that Piano Buyer mentions did exist, but it was not impossible to overcome. One permanent approach was to saturate the wood that received the teflon bushing with penetrating epoxy -- thereby stabilizing the wood. But the main service problem was the precise sizing that teflon needed to fit the centerpin and which could not be serviced according to official S&S technical protocols. Others implemented precise fitting but S&S took a "not invented here" mentality and did not publish those protocols until there were so many improperly serviced actions in prominent places that it was a total customer relations disaster and no one would touch teflon actions because of the reputation they had.

(And, of course, that's not to mention the perpetual problems that happen with felt bushings every day that keep us piano technicians busy. )

But further, the "how it interfaces with other materials" represents a complete non-understanding of WNG parts and what they have done. They have gone ALL composite. The material is consistent with itself. There is no composite/wood interface at any point. In doing that, they have eliminated the challenge that S&S faced by using a harder bushing and putting it in a non-wood supporting element.

Quote

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Using the logic in the post, no one should fly in a carbon fiber composite Boeing Dreamliner for 50 years until it is proved safe.


the dreamliner is one of the most delayed product deliveries in industrial history. care to guess why?


The Dreamliner is flying and used by some of the upscale airlines. Of course there is a learning curve with assembly processes with any new material. But part of Boeing's delay has nothing to do with the material but rather their subcontracting various subassemblies which they naively assumed could just be snapped together, as it were, and that didn't work out as planned. A plan, incidentally, which never could have been conceived with predecessor matierials.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1892030 05/06/12 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
Problem is there are no WNG pianos in the country (yet). Nor are there any Faziolis either. But they sound like a good idea, just looking for opinions by those who have played - thanks.

Keeping in mind you are in Australia, there is one Fazioli dealer in Perth. But I doubt you'd go there just to try one out wink

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1892101 05/06/12 06:47 AM
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always amusing when service technicians & end users expound on the complex process of developing product requirements, design, development, QA & release engineering. unless you have participated in that process at a high level of responsibility with a large team of (usually multinational) professionals on a new complex proddev project i can assure you that you can never fully know how that product will respond under the infinite real world variables, and those plans always include remediation, because it's always required.

when you have more variables than constants in the dev process it's known as heisenberging, which is what new proddev is constantly struggling with. CIP (continual improvement process), as in kawai's case, is incremental changes measured against a backdrop of constants. WNG is the former. like i said before, time will tell.

Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
Entheo #1892230 05/06/12 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Entheo


when you have more variables than constants in the dev process it's known as heisenberging, which is what new proddev is constantly struggling with. CIP (continual improvement process), as in kawai's case, is incremental changes measured against a backdrop of constants. WNG is the former. like i said before, time will tell.


Greetings,
I am not sure sure I would characterize the variable/constant ratio at WNG as being so high that they are heisenberging. There is different info at all levels of resolution, but at immediately practical levels, WNG seems to have reduced the number of variables , ie, friction between metal and wood, between wood and leather, the instability of wooden flanges, variability in shank flex, likelihood of assembly tolerances accumulating (which can have jacks leaning in windows, offset buttons, etc.) There is no comparison between the tolerances of precision casting structures vs. shaping wooden parts to be glued together to form the same.

Amid all these reductions of variables due to composites' stability, is the new bushing. After disassembling many brand new actions on high end pianos, I can say that there is no way the WNG can be any more erratic, simply from a friction standpoint when tested, as new. Even the best pianos' bushings are variable, and rarely do I find an action that doens't have some inning so loose it lets the parts wobble in play. So, if the hard bushings' resistance changes under use, (and the most extreme testing done so far says that it doesn't), at its worst, it would approach what we are using now.

Teflon was great, sorry so many didn't know what they were doing with it. I am also sorry the factory refused to stabilize the wood joint around it,blah blah. I believe WNG has it right, and I think the future of wooden parts is going to resemble the future of wooden golf clubs and tennis rackets.
There is also the comparison between the energy expense of harvesting, transporting, curing, cutting, forming, and ultimately throwing away 1/2 or more of the wood in manufacturing vs. mixing up just what you need to make a set. The second, though immersed in manufactured product, seems greener, on balance. The numbers might be surprising.
Regards,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 05/06/12 04:38 PM.
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
lilylady #1892689 05/07/12 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by lilylady
Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
Problem is there are no WNG pianos in the country (yet). Nor are there any Faziolis either. But they sound like a good idea, just looking for opinions by those who have played - thanks.


What country? It is not listed in your profile.

BTW, I prefer wood.

Were you planning on buying one or the other? Travel and shipping is an option!

Thanks

I'm in Australia (and been off-line for a couple of busy days).

I've been looking at a new (Hamburg "B") Steinway - to keep me company during my retirement which started about 7 weeks ago. I've got a Schimmel Classic at present, only a couple of years old.

But I'm checking out alternatives before I commit to what will be my last piano, and, other than my home, the most expensive purchase I'll ever make. There are only "B" and "O" Steinways in stock, others would be special order (or rebuilds). I do love the "B". The first time I played it, I didn't want to leave it, and 2 more visits have reinforced that feeling. It seemed to take over playing for me, and places where I would sometimes fumble, always worked. It has a lovely soft - loud progression. I haven't played the "O", as it's in their store 600 miles away, though I'll probably do that soon.

The only M&Hs in stock by the only dealer in the country are AA and BB wooden action - both about 4 year old stock. The BB has a very consistent action, not as fast as the Steinway, and the sound seems a bit "boomy" at times - if that's a musical (or unmusical) term. Also, each time I visit it, I feel less satisfied by it - maybe because I've played the Steinway yet again. I've played both M&Hs for 3 or 4 hours each over 2 or 3 visits. The AA just doesn't excite me - it's tone and touch both seem lacking (though it's a beautiful Bubinga timber).

However, the dealer has just ordered some new M&Hs, (not sure of the size), and they'll have the Composite action. I'm wondering whether I should wait for them to arrive, or settle for the Steinway "B" (or "O"). I've heard that the composite action is a huge improvement, however, I'm hoping to find opinion from those who have been able to compare.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
PassingBy #1892700 05/07/12 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Rotom
Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
Problem is there are no WNG pianos in the country (yet). Nor are there any Faziolis either. But they sound like a good idea, just looking for opinions by those who have played - thanks.

Keeping in mind you are in Australia, there is one Fazioli dealer in Perth. But I doubt you'd go there just to try one out wink

Thanks - I just checked - it's 100 hours return drive - assuming no stops to Perth.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Mason&Hamlin wooden vs WNG action
backto_study_piano #1892796 05/07/12 08:22 AM
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Something I didn't mention is that the WNG models would be about 20% dearer than the wooden ones on the floor. It seems the consensus is that there's not sufficient improvement to warrant going to the newer (so new that they haven't arrived (or possibly not been made).

If that's the case, I think I'll be opting for the Steinway option - even though it's substantially more expensive.

thanks, Alan


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
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