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#2009771 - 01/06/13 12:16 AM Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O?  
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Familiarstranger Offline
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I have an option to buy a 2003 Mason and Hamlin model A for 17000 from an acquaintance( I know the piano well- ebony-) or a 1909 Steinway O that was restored in the mid nineties( soundboard was shimmed --- not replaced). All else was replaced. Tiger maple. 19000 from a dealer but I've known him for years( complete trust). I know I'll be asked which piano I prefer--- can't answer--- I really like them both equally. The bass on the steinway is fantastic--- the treble on the Mason is fab--- old yellowing ivories on Ss and shiny plastic on MH. Love em both. Truly torn. Asking for strong advice here. I think they are both good deals--though in all honesty I really don't know for certain----so few Mason and Hamlins from the 2000s for sale that I really can't judge. Let me know your thoughts! Thanks!
FS

Last edited by Familiarstranger; 01/06/13 12:19 AM.
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#2009783 - 01/06/13 12:54 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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musicpassion Online content
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musicpassion  Online Content
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Quote
asking for strong advice here


Yes!!! I've been waiting for an invitation like this... just joking, but I'll be direct, as requested:

Get the Mason and Hamlin. Here are my reasons:

-It's less expensive.
-It's almost 100 years newer
-soundboard doesn't have cracks (shimmed or not I think cracks lower resale value)
-I love Mason and Hamlin tone.
-It's got that wonderful metal spider thingy underneath
-Mason and Hamlins are the heaviest pianos I've ever heard of (mostly a good thing)
-I wouldn't want a restoration from the mid nineties... the tech I trust the most told me one time that the level of rebuild quality has generally improved since the 1990s... he cited lots of information sharing between techs., etc.
-a 2003 is a much easier piano to sell down the road if you decide you want something bigger (not saying you should or would. Some people get into the piano tradeup game and that's ok too.)


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#2009796 - 01/06/13 01:44 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: musicpassion]  
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Thank you musicpassion! Those are strong and valid points. I just sold my 1923 unrestored Steinway 0 yesterday---which is why I am in the market for a new(er) piano. I had debated and wafted for a year trying to decide on whether to spend the money to restore it(more than the price of either of these two pianos I'm considering) when suddenly I was offered what I paid for it 7 years ago. My attraction to the older pianos hasn't left--but I definitely do not want to have the same "do I fix this? replace that?" mindset in a few years if I choose the mid nineties restored Steinway. The Mason has a very rich, sonorous, sound which suits my style of playing--Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, et al. Your comments are really making me think, so thanks again. (and I pretty much exhausted all the piano stores here in Cincinnati--not a lot of choices, really). Also thinking about taking a weekend to the northeast....these choices appeared so suddenly that it would almost take away from the thrill of the search, but I wouldn't want to pass something up for that reason.
Thanks again!

#2009798 - 01/06/13 01:50 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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I have both, although the Mason & Hamlin is from 1923 and the Steinway is from 1920.


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#2009799 - 01/06/13 01:53 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: BDB]  
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You're lucky. I've never had the chance to play an older Mason and Hamlin--must be a great experience.

#2009800 - 01/06/13 01:54 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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musicpassion Online content
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Glad my thoughts were helpful.

I do also love old pianos (and Steinways), by the way. But the particulars of this scenerio would make it an easy decision for me.

Enjoy shopping!


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#2009802 - 01/06/13 01:57 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: musicpassion]  
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Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by musicpassion
Quote
asking for strong advice here


Yes!!! I've been waiting for an invitation like this... just joking, but I'll be direct, as requested:

Get the Mason and Hamlin. Here are my reasons:

-It's less expensive.
-It's almost 100 years newer
-soundboard doesn't have cracks (shimmed or not I think cracks lower resale value)
-I love Mason and Hamlin tone.
-It's got that wonderful metal spider thingy underneath
-Mason and Hamlins are the heaviest pianos I've ever heard of (mostly a good thing)
-I wouldn't want a restoration from the mid nineties... the tech I trust the most told me one time that the level of rebuild quality has generally improved since the 1990s... he cited lots of information sharing between techs., etc.
-a 2003 is a much easier piano to sell down the road if you decide you want something bigger (not saying you should or would. Some people get into the piano tradeup game and that's ok too.)


Ditto thumb thumb thumb

Plus $17K is an extremely good price for a 10 year old M&H A !!!!!

Last edited by carey; 01/06/13 01:58 AM.

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#2009863 - 01/06/13 08:13 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: musicpassion]  
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Originally Posted by musicpassion


Get the Mason and Hamlin. Here are my reasons:

1. It's less expensive.
2. It's almost 100 years newer
3. soundboard doesn't have cracks (shimmed or not I think cracks lower resale value)
4. I love Mason and Hamlin tone.
5. It's got that wonderful metal spider thingy underneath
6. Mason and Hamlins are the heaviest pianos I've ever heard of (mostly a good thing)
7. I wouldn't want a restoration from the mid nineties... the tech I trust the most told me one time that the level of rebuild quality has generally improved since the 1990s... he cited lots of information sharing between techs., etc.
8. a 2003 is a much easier piano to sell down the road if you decide you want something bigger (not saying you should or would. Some people get into the piano tradeup game and that's ok too.)
I think only #2, 3, and possibly 7 are good points in favor of the Mason.

The price difference is minimal. The thickness of Mason rims and the spider are of debatable merit. (I own a Mason so I am certainly not prejudiced against them.) The well known piano designer Del Fandrich has, I believe, said he thinks that Masons are overbuilt. Selling a rebuilt Steinway isn't necessarily harder than selling a Mason.

The shimmed cracks may lower the resale value but they also lower the present sale price. Perhaps the far more important question about the soundboard is was shimming the cracks the most appropriate step when the piano was rebuilt and what is the present condition of the soundboard in terms of its effect on tone and potential for problems? A very good tech or rebuilder might be able to evaluate the piano in this area.

If you trust the dealer selling the Steinway, he should be able to tell you about the quality of the rebuild or you could get an independent tech to evaluate it.

Unless you decide you prefer the Steinway's touch or tone, I agree the Mason is much safer because of its age and not having unknowns. However, if the Steinway rebuild is of high quality it could be fantastic and it is certainly priced much less than a new O(over 60K) or a newly rebuild O(could easily be 40K). I do think its probably true that rebuilding has improved since the mid 90's, but a great rebuilder from that time probably still had excellent results. Just speculating about this last point.

If you like them equally now it's possible playing them more would help you decide which you like better.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/06/13 10:35 AM.
#2009884 - 01/06/13 09:24 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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I'd go with the Mason & Hamlin for the sheer fact that it's newer and less potential issues. The price on the restored Steinway kind of worries me, and since it was restored around 20 years ago tells me that it may need some work in the near future.


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#2009891 - 01/06/13 09:34 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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I just went through a similar process. I would refer you to review the discussion we had in the forum: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...s.%20restored%201901%20.html#Post1995674
or "low-use SK5 vs. restored 1901 Steinway O". Then see how my final decision worked out.
Lots of good input from others there. Regardless of your close ties and trust with the people you are dealing with, I strongly suggest an independent third party inspection and opinion.
I lived in Cincinnati for a while back in the 80's...when the Baldwin name was held in higher esteem than it is now, and bought an upright straight from the factory showroom. That was cool. Now, I would suggest that traveling to check out various potential candidates is necessary, if you are serious about getting what you want. Going to NY or LA is not a bad idea, but takes some prep work and planning (and $$). You might also check out the dealers in Columbus. I see from websites that they have a good selection of restored and recent-year used pianos. I wouldn't get trapped into buying one of the two pianos you described, just because they are from reputable people, without considering other pianos as well...unless broadening your search is not an option.
Just my humble thoughts from having gone through the same ordeal the last 3 months.


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#2009912 - 01/06/13 10:30 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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I too would lean strongly toward the M&H. The price/value is VERY good and the piano is excellent (not that the Steinway isn't also good).

Masons have a reputation for a strong bass, so I would think it can be improved in the one you are considering.


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#2010025 - 01/06/13 03:02 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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For all the reasons stated above, go with the M & H. I'm a big fan of the model "O" but I wouldn't consider a 100 yr old sound board with repairs.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
#2010301 - 01/06/13 11:50 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Dave B]  
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Familiarstranger Offline
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I took another pianist friend with me today to see and play both pianos. He agreed with most of the sound advice here, although he also saw no real negatives with the Steinway-- just that the M and H was a safer choice in the long run. I also tried some Petrofs, Estonias, a Bechstein and other, newer Steinways. Still favored the original two by a large margin----have actions become lighter on newer Steinways? I missed that feeling of "sinking into" the keys like on the older model(and my own older one). The newer ones seemed more muffled in tone, and that action was just so....delicate...not sure how to describe it. Anyway, I've decided on the Mason and Hamlin. That rich, sonorous tone almost makes me feel as though I have an orchestra at my fingertips!
Thank you so very much for the welcome opinions and suggestions. I've lurked often enough and should probably become more active on this terrific sight.

#2010466 - 01/07/13 09:15 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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Please be sure to upload photos and recordings when you get it moved in and tuned!!


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#2010535 - 01/07/13 12:08 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Morodiene]  
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Ha, will post the photos(but recordings of my sloppy playing....not sure). Should be a week or so.
Thanks,

#2010596 - 01/07/13 02:19 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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Congratulations from one happy M&H owner to another. smile And please do hang around.


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#2010609 - 01/07/13 02:43 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Monica K.]  
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Thank you Monica! And thanks so much for responding to my PM last week. Your love for your own instrument has been a driving force in my decision. I'm honored to be in such good company!

#2010963 - 01/08/13 03:59 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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Congrats on the instrument! We look forward to photos. Hope you stick around on the forum.


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#2011113 - 01/08/13 11:39 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin A or Steinway O? [Re: Familiarstranger]  
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I think you will be very happy with your choice. I love my Mason-Hamlin. It is just about the same age.


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