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#2026469 - 02/03/13 06:33 PM Mason and Hamlin Problems  
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Aaron Garner Offline
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I bought a new M &M BB last year. I think it was made around 2008, but I'm the first owner so I have the full warranty. The problem is that there are a tremendous amount of notes in the upper two octaves that have false beats. I can hear it and I've had two really reputable technicians acknowledge the problem. They cannot tune it well enough that I could use it for a recording and that's one of the reasons why I upgraded from my Yamaha C5.

The technicians came over to replace bridge pins as a possible solution, but they ended up only doing three notes. Well that didn't solve the problem since many more notes can't be tuned properly. I know there are false beats on every piano, but this is not acceptable from a high quality piano.

I'm wondering if anyone else has encountered this problem and if so, did they solve it? The technician now thinks he can add mass to the bridge and it might solve it. Key word is might. I'm not willing to let my piano be an experiment and I don't think I should have to. I've played on many M & M pianos and they are fine pianos (except for mine).

I wrote an email to someone at M & M, but getting someone to respond is like expecting the US president to answer your letter. Perhaps I'll be wrong this time.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Aaron


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#2026492 - 02/03/13 07:05 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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I suggest you move this to the Tech Forum because you are more likely to find a solution there.

Last edited by Withindale; 02/03/13 07:17 PM.

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#2026495 - 02/03/13 07:14 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Either forum or both of them makes perfect sense. If any other Mason owners have this problem, they may very well not read the Technician's Forum.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/03/13 07:15 PM.
#2026497 - 02/03/13 07:24 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If any other Mason owners have this problem, they may very well not read the Technician's Forum.

... but they would be well advised to do so.


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#2026510 - 02/03/13 08:03 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Have you addressed this in detail with the dealer you purchased it from?

GO RAVENS!! (Sorry)

Last edited by Steve Cohen; 02/03/13 08:04 PM.

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#2026522 - 02/03/13 08:39 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Yes I have contacted the dealer and they were less than cooperative. They didn't seem to take it seriously which is too bad because it's suppose to be a reputable place in Oakland Ca. M & H has acknowledged the problem and even one of the guys back East said my particular year had the false beating problem with some pianos. M & H knows about the problem, but they haven't come up with a good solution for me. Sending someone out to try different things is not acceptable to me. If this were a lemon car, I'm guessing it would be replaced. Perhaps I'm wrong on this.


2013 Mason and Hamlin BB
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#2026523 - 02/03/13 08:40 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Aaron,

Sorry to hear about the problems with your piano. Peter was able to iron out some niggling issues with my piano. I hope everything works out with your piano.

#2026533 - 02/03/13 09:13 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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I apologize for my ignorance, but what are false beats? I am sure I could google this and find out, but I thought I might get an explanation I could understand this way.

#2026535 - 02/03/13 09:14 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Isn't this what a warranty is for? Perhaps a letter written to the dealer and cc'd to M&H to honor their warranty would help. Be specific about what you expect to happen and ask for the problem to be resolved within a reasonable amount of time (15 days or whatever).

If that doesn't get a response, then perhaps you need to have a letter written by a lawyer (with a request for the legal fees to be reimbursed to you as well).

Was this issue not apparent when you played it in the showroom? Or is it possible this occurred during the moving process?


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#2026564 - 02/03/13 10:52 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
I apologize for my ignorance, but what are false beats? I am sure I could google this and find out, but I thought I might get an explanation I could understand this way.

I'm no expert, but a false beat is an unwanted nuance or a waa--waa--waa that is unwelcome. It prevents a note from sounding clean and pure, no matter how much you try to tune it away; hence, a false beat.

False beats are less common on higher quality pianos, supposedly.

Rick


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#2026593 - 02/03/13 11:39 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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I recently bought a 2004 (or maybe 2005) Mason-Hamlin BB. I am not sure if I would know what false beats sound like, but I don't think my piano has any trouble. It pleases me very much. Hope they can fix your problem. I really think the BB is a great model for M & H.

#2026625 - 02/04/13 01:02 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Back when I was grand shopping, I remember encountering a couple of pianos that I otherwise liked with this problem in the high treble register. I'm not sure if these issues were caused by incomplete prep work, assembly problem, or material defect, but I do remember one tech mentioning either a tool or some sort of process by which the issue could probably be alleviated. I didn't end up buying either instrument, so I can't say if it was fixable in these cases. Hopefully one of the techs with firsthand experience will post with their thoughts.


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#2026630 - 02/04/13 01:08 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Chopinlover49]  
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Thanks for all the replies. My false beating is pretty significant. If it were just a note here and there I could probably deal with it, but it's pretty obvious in the upper two octaves. To my ear it's completely unacceptable for a piano of this caliber. I can't remember if I mentioned this, but my girlfriend has a BB and hers does not have the same problem at all nor do most of them out there to my knowledge. I love the BB's, but not being able to get a great tuning is a big problem.

I'm hoping to hear back from Mason and Hamlin otherwise I may need to alter my approach to the problem. The Burgett's are really good people so I have faith that they will do what it takes to solve the problem.

Aaron


2013 Mason and Hamlin BB
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#2026635 - 02/04/13 01:24 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Aaron;
Sorry you are having a piano problem. False beats are a vexing issue with pianos. There are many contributing factors. Some are:

shape of the capo bar too round,
string spacing at the capo bar or through the agraffes not straight enough,
loose bridge pins,
poorly spaced bridge pins,
wood of bridge surface too soft,
bridge pins too hard,
insufficient bridge pin stagger,
bridge notching sloppy,
wood splitting at the bridge pins,
peculiar resonances along the bridge that cause the termination point to "jump" around slightly out of phase with the fundamental string frequency. (Not easy to characterize or modify, but some pianos just have this problem.)

My first instinct would be to try a traditional copper plated, mild steel bridge pin if your piano is equipped with the stainless bridge pins some recent Mason's have.

The Burgett's are usually eager to help their customers in my experience. So good luck!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
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#2026673 - 02/04/13 03:24 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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I can guarantee that nobody can do anything about it without actually seeing and hearing the piano.


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#2026730 - 02/04/13 07:23 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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The fact that, according to you, it is only happening in the treble, leads me to suspect that it is not an issue with bridge pins, notching, or bridge construction/materials. If you think about it, what is different between the treble and the tenor/bass sections? The answer is the capo bar. That's where I would focus my initial investigation.


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#2026792 - 02/04/13 09:36 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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If the issue cannot be resolved to your satisfaction within a reasonable amount of time, the dealer or the Mason Hamlin company should replace the piano with a BB and, of course, allow you to select a BB that you like a lot...not just any other BB that doesn't have the false beating problem. If the dealer has no BB you like right now, they should allow you to select one in the future. If the dealer only has one or two BB's that are not really to your liking and they move slowly, the company should pay for your trip to the factory where there may be a greater selection.

#2027160 - 02/04/13 10:25 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Pianoloverus,

I completely agree and am I think they should replace the piano. As I said, I don't want someone coming over trying a myriad of solutions until they figure it out. Although I'm a full-time music professor, I have an active playing career and spend a lot of time practicing so I need a good piano to stay sane.

Ed, you thank you for all the possible problem areas and to Chopinlover. I'll just keep my fingers crossed that a solution happens quickly because I've had the piano over six months now.



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#2027181 - 02/04/13 11:22 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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If you can prove up the condition to the company as you described it to us, what I would ask for, personally, is to swap for another unit of the same model. And of course, you will scrutinize it at a fine scale before accepting it.

It seems to me that it is possible that some rooms can contribute to this kind of sound, because of the shape and placement of the room's reflective surfaces. And therefore, acoustic treatment of the room is what it will take to give you a good sound, without the unwanted echoes.

In many cases, it's some of both.

I have heard that M&H is fine to deal with, once you can acquire their attention. Maybe NAMM has distracted them, recently.


Clef

#2027189 - 02/04/13 11:35 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Good advice Jeff. I am thinking about moving it to a bigger room than it's currently in. Although the room will certainly affect the overall sound, I would think that the false beating would be independent of the room. The technicians couldn't get most of the upper two octaves in tune using a tuner; in some cases even one string let alone unisons.


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#2027201 - 02/05/13 12:10 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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I have only very rarely come across a piano where I did not notice any falseness during tuning. In other words, it is almost always there, to a small degree at least, even in the piano owner does not notice. (Tuners rarely go out of their way to point it out to clients. Once sensitized, the owner can always be bothered by it.) So one cannot make the generalized statement: "A piano's false beats constitute a warranty case and the piano should be replaced". It is a question of degree, and of course this is where one could possibly argue one side vs the other.

I am wondering if the piano took over four years to sell because it sounded a bit "off". Did you get a special deal on it?

From what you write, it sounds like the falseness is indeed significant and demonstrable. In that case, with a piano of that caliber and price level, I would call it a warranty issue, as it can easily be argued that the instrument is not performing as intended and as designed.

I know some that other high-end manufacturers who had some warranty issues with bridge problems in the past, so M&H would not be in bad company. Every manufacturer hates the kind of publicity that these kind of forums can bring, and that can add a bit of pressure for your case. I hope it all works out to a happy ending for you.

#2027221 - 02/05/13 12:52 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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I completely agree with everything you said. Mine is pretty significant. You are right, I did get an excellent price for it and it could have been the reason it didn't sell for so long. It was not in great tune in the store, but most pianos are not in my experience. I could tell it had a nice tone and I liked the way the action felt - still do. I assumed it would be fine once it was tuned a few times. I didn't start noticing the problem until it was tuned in my home. Maybe the lesson is to have a piano tuned before you buy it even if it comes out of your own pocket.

By the way, someone at the factory back East even mentioned that there were several pianos that had more than normal false beating in the year mine was built.

I know the Burgett Brothers from doing recordings for their Piano Disc company several years ago. I can't imagine that they wouldn't do whatever it takes to make a customer happy. They are very good people and their pianos are great in my opinion.


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#2027245 - 02/05/13 02:08 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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It is widely known that false beats are not uncommon among pianos, some have few, some less and hardly any have none.

The reasons for this are many and each case is different.

Proper prepping including several tunings right in beginning,i.e. allowing strings to stretch can help reduce the problem.

Strings stretch differently at different sections, before or after alliots for example, so there's quite a bit to this.

IMHO a top tech understanding the issue is about the best remedy I can think of. Perhaps MH can recommend one to you?

best wishes,

Norbert


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#2027249 - 02/05/13 02:23 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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If I ran across this, barring anything readily apparent, the first thing I would try is restringing the affected area of the piano, because that is fairly innocuous if it is not the problem, and cheaper than most other possible solutions.


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#2027338 - 02/05/13 09:25 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
If I ran across this, barring anything readily apparent, the first thing I would try is restringing the affected area of the piano, because that is fairly innocuous if it is not the problem, and cheaper than most other possible solutions.


+1

And, base on the facts as presented, the restringing should be covered under the warranty.


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#2027349 - 02/05/13 09:52 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Plain wire by itself is almost never the source of false beats. New wire is an added source of tuning instability so it does have the "benefit" of creating more work for the tuner.

If when new wire is installed; problems with capo bar shape and string spacing issues are addressed THAT will have a material affect on reducing the number of, intensity of, and volume of false beats. Even the width of the unison string spacing at the capo can have some affect on false beats. Also proper tone regulation to establish perfect unison phasing at hammer strike can help.

As Supply points out; all pianos have some false beating, if they are weak they mostly disappear into the unison when well tuned because of the pitch pulling effect of bridge coupling.


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Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
#2027358 - 02/05/13 10:20 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Even the width of the unison string spacing at the capo can have some affect on false beats. Also proper tone regulation to establish perfect unison phasing at hammer strike can help.

Hi Ed,

Why would width of string spacing can effect the presence of false beating?

Jim Ialeggio


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#2027366 - 02/05/13 10:51 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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Hi Jim,

It has to do with how straight the string path goes over the V-bar. Any sideways deflection of the duplex segment in relation to the struck string segment induces more horizontal displacement of the vibrations. The H-mode effective speaking length usually differs from the V-mode. When the pitch difference is outside the unison coupling window, beats arise.

Also, the unison phasing conditions are easier to maintain when the hammer striking width is reduced. And unison phasing helps eliminate false beats.

Gotta go tune now!
Ed


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Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
#2027415 - 02/05/13 12:05 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Aaron Garner]  
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...and for those piano players who have lynx's ears: if you want a piano virtually free of falseness, save your nickels and buy a Fazioli or a Steingraeber. In my estimation, that is about as pure a tone as is available out there. Everything else...., well,... beats. (YMMV)

#2027417 - 02/05/13 12:13 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin Problems [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Hi Jim,

It has to do with how straight the string path goes over the V-bar. Any sideways deflection of the duplex segment in relation to the struck string segment induces more horizontal displacement of the vibrations. The H-mode effective speaking length usually differs from the V-mode. When the pitch difference is outside the unison coupling window, beats arise.

Also, the unison phasing conditions are easier to maintain when the hammer striking width is reduced. And unison phasing helps eliminate false beats.

Gotta go tune now!
Ed


What about the D-mode? If you have H-mode and V-mode, you have to have D-mode.

(Sounds like someone trying to enhance the $-mode.)


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