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The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
#2308340 07/29/14 12:06 AM
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http://masonhamlin.com/crown-retention-system/

There's a 5' 8" M&H I'm looking at, that is
supposedly about 100 years old. It's priced
cheaply at $4,500 most likely due to the many
cracks in it's soundboard.

And it does have the tension resonator, although it's
a version that only has 3 rods.

The tone still seems very good, except the octave above the middle one is a bit too bright, which can be voiced out hopefully (it has new hammers).

If i buy this one, I will first try to fit a business card
between the ribs and soundboard.....

Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308369 07/29/14 03:10 AM
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The killer octave being too bright is a red flag. It often means someone has voiced it up in volume to overcome the fact the soundboard is dead. [EDIT: after reading BDB's post I realize I should fix this statement. I've seen this problem before in hack-job rebuilds. It's not accurate for me to move from that experience to using the word "often". Apologies for the inaccurate information the first time 'round] Of course this might not be the case on this piano... only an expert can tell by examining the actual piano.

The price, which you think is low, might actually be too high. It depends on the condition of the piano. I think that price would be high for a core. You mention soundboard cracks... that topic has been talked about a lot on here. A search will yield some interesting reading, which you perhaps have already done.

You ask about the crown tension resonator. It's part of the design of the Mason and Hamlin. The design for all models of Mason and Hamlin are excellent. I am not able to extract one element of the design and know much about that one element (and in my opinion there are very very few people who could do this... however a couple of those people do participate in this forum). Mason and Hamlin does succeed with a very strong, stable rim, and a strong plate.

Last edited by musicpassion; 07/29/14 04:05 AM. Reason: correcting statement

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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
musicpassion #2308370 07/29/14 03:24 AM
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While I am loathe to cater to Paul678's long-time insecurity about buying a piano, I would point out that very few people voice pianos ever, so the odds of someone "voicing up" a piano are slim, particularly doing it in an area where the notes tend to be played more and become brighter naturally. A good technician voices a piano to be even across its range, so to go to the trouble of voicing a piano and then leave it uneven enough to be noticeable is even more unlikely.


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
BDB #2308373 07/29/14 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
, I would point out that very few people voice pianos ever, so the odds of someone "voicing up" a piano are slim,

Good point. I have my pianos fully maintained, and sometimes I suppose I assume other people do too. You're right, normal playing might have done that.


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308394 07/29/14 07:32 AM
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Why do people think voicing is the panacea for all ills before regulation and tuning?


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308403 07/29/14 08:13 AM
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Has this piano had a rebuild of any kind or is it in original condition? Are you prepared to spend a lot, and I mean a LOT, to bring it back? One hundred years old is OLD unless it is rebuilt. Action, strings, soundboard, etc.

Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308410 07/29/14 08:33 AM
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If you search the archives here, I remember some lively discussions among the forum members who are technicians and rebuilders.


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Chopinlover49 #2308426 07/29/14 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Chopinlover49
Has this piano had a rebuild of any kind or is it in original condition? Are you prepared to spend a lot, and I mean a LOT, to bring it back? One hundred years old is OLD unless it is rebuilt. Action, strings, soundboard, etc.



It was restored by Renner pianos of Houston, TX. Around 2005. The owner claims the partial rebuild cost him about $8,000.

"Piano has had the Soundboard refinished, refinished plate, replaced felt and buffing hardware. Replace strings, replace pinblock, replace tuning pins, replace dampers, replace hammers replaced some keytops, check action. Replace caster wheels."

Some of the keytops were more yellow than others, so they weren't completely replaced. The action was only "checked", so I assume that means it was only regulated, but not replaced. However, the action worked perfectly fine.

The cracks supposedly formed (or got worse) after moving the piano from TX to dry Arizona. The cracked soundboard is original, so is most likely the reason he's selling this for about $4,100.

And yes, I'm aware you'd have to remove the strings and the plate to replace the soundboard, so that would cost a fortune. But again, the tone is still very good on this piano....


Last edited by Paul678; 07/29/14 09:35 AM.
Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308442 07/29/14 10:30 AM
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I remember a post by Del where he recommended using epoxy on soundboard cracks. Search the forums for "epoxy soundboard".


Dave Koenig
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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308447 07/29/14 10:42 AM
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Paul,

To your original question - the tension resonator is part of an overall design concept. Richard W. Gertz, the inventor and scale designer fo rthe Masons at the time, was a genius. If my wife would let me I might put up a shrine to him in my house.

Having said that, it is difficult to put into words what difference the extra stability, mass, and resonance that a tension resonator lends to the overall design.

There are clear diffences in the tone between a Mason pre-tension resonator and post tension resonator, but Gertz made many changes, not just that one feature. It would be kind of like comparing a 1990 Estonia to a modern one (Ok, maybe not exactly, but it is a valid comparison, I think).

I hope that helps,



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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308460 07/29/14 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul678
The cracks supposedly formed (or got worse) after moving the piano from TX to dry Arizona. The cracked soundboard is original, so is most likely the reason he's selling this for about $4,100.

Granted, Houston is infinitely more humid than Arizona (and adjusting from one climate to another is even hard for human beings) - but didn't the current owner use a humidifier in his home for the piano once the instrument was moved to AZ?


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Carey #2308470 07/29/14 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by carey

Granted, Houston is infinitely more humid than Arizona (and adjusting from one climate to another is even hard for human beings) - but didn't the current owner use a humidifier in his home for the piano once the instrument was moved to AZ?


No he did not, and he has admitted this was his own fault.

And now he's paying for that mistake, as I'm sure he could have sold this M&H for many thousands more than what he could now get, had he prevented the cracking.

So essentially, this a 100 year old piano rebuilt in 2007, with a cracked original soundboard.

Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308473 07/29/14 11:36 AM
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Well, my M&H is almost 100 years old. It had a partial rebuild in 1981, action, strings and case work, and it sounds absolutely gorgeous. I've been told by several people that the soundboard has excellent crown still. My experience has been that if the environment is fairly consistent, the instrument is overall more stable in tuning than most other pianos.

Several technicians have said something very similar, like "my god but your piano is old!" Until they check out the soundboard, and then tell me it looks really good.

Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308474 07/29/14 11:41 AM
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Does anyone know who Renner Pianos of Houston, TX, is? I've been in Houston for over a decade, and I've never heard that name before. Not that it really matters....

Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
laguna_greg #2308478 07/29/14 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Well, my M&H is almost 100 years old. It had a partial rebuild in 1981, action, strings and case work, and it sounds absolutely gorgeous. I've been told by several people that the soundboard has excellent crown still. My experience has been that if the environment is fairly consistent, the instrument is overall more stable in tuning than most other pianos.

Several technicians have said something very similar, like "my god but your piano is old!" Until they check out the soundboard, and then tell me it looks really good.


So yours has the original soundboard? Is it cracked at all?

Is there a way I can measure the crown on this piano?

The tone and volume seem to be still good....

Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308551 07/29/14 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul678
Originally Posted by carey

Granted, Houston is infinitely more humid than Arizona (and adjusting from one climate to another is even hard for human beings) - but didn't the current owner use a humidifier in his home for the piano once the instrument was moved to AZ?


No he did not, and he has admitted this was his own fault.

And now he's paying for that mistake, as I'm sure he could have sold this M&H for many thousands more than what he could now get, had he prevented the cracking.

So essentially, this a 100 year old piano rebuilt in 2007, with a cracked original soundboard.


Sent you a PM. grin


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Carey #2308580 07/29/14 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by carey


Sent you a PM. grin


I didn't see it?


Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308592 07/29/14 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul678
Originally Posted by carey


Sent you a PM. grin


I didn't see it?



You will now..... grin


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308716 07/29/14 08:31 PM
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Quote

Having said that, it is difficult to put into words what difference the extra stability, mass, and resonance that a tension resonator lends to the overall design.


Nothing.

If it were otherwise I wonder why many of world's top pianos [including those which are not..] don't show any deficiency in this regard.

Our Sauters for example, have been so dead stable in Canada's tough climate, they were perhaps specifically made for 'Canadian climate'

Norbert wink


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Re: The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator: Help or Hype???
Paul678 #2308735 07/29/14 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul678
Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Well, my M&H is almost 100 years old. It had a partial rebuild in 1981, action, strings and case work, and it sounds absolutely gorgeous. I've been told by several people that the soundboard has excellent crown still. My experience has been that if the environment is fairly consistent, the instrument is overall more stable in tuning than most other pianos.

Several technicians have said something very similar, like "my god but your piano is old!" Until they check out the soundboard, and then tell me it looks really good.


So yours has the original soundboard? Is it cracked at all?

Is there a way I can measure the crown on this piano?

The tone and volume seem to be still good....


Hi Paul,

No, I don't have any cracks. Yes, it's the original soundboard. Ye, it is possible to measure the crown, but I don't know exactly how this is done. I have yet to make a tech demo this for me so I can do it myself, but the technique sounds quite simple. You take a string, and place it at different points cross-wise under the belly. The crown is determined by how much distance there is from the string to the soundboard across the length of the string. So, it should touch at the edges of the soundboard where you are holding it, and not in the middle, if I get this right.

Having said, does anyone want to correct me if I totally blew that explanation? Please feel free.

Paul, the next time you get a good tech to come over, make them show you how to measure this on your existing piano. Then you won't need my paltry explanations of the great mystery...


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