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First Shopping and M&H Experience
#2269759 05/01/14 06:38 PM
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Well, I took a step closer to the possibility of owning a piano and stopped by a local piano shop the other day! (Many more visits, and pianos, and months to go - not taking this fast). And wow, I just realized I wrote a novel here... in short, would like to hear if my experience is similar to others.

From a lot of reading I've done, I tend to really like the idea of M&H pianos, and have now had the pleasure of playing some. I've read the forums and Larry Fine's articles on piano shopping, but having not played a real piano in so long, wasn't sure if I would have the ear or touch to discern things. Pleasantly surprised that I did.

I got to play a new Mason and Hamlin A first, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. (Maybe I let it get overhyped in my head?) I mean, it was nice, but I thought the action wasn't as responsive as I wanted, and I heard a very distinct change in tone as I stepped over into the non-dampered high notes, to a tone I didn't care for.

Next to it, they had a new AA model. Obviously this is moving up the line in size and price, so it should be better, but I found the experience like night and day. Couldn't hear that transition in the treble, and it just had a much better sound and feel, in my highly descriptive terminology.

I didn't think there would have been that big of a difference in action (aren't they both WNG?) and sound. My question is just if this is similar to the experience of others, or maybe had more to do with preparation (or lack thereof). For the meager increase in price, I'd say the AA is tremendously better.

On the other side of it was a totally rebuilt, 100 year old Steinway, (have no idea the model), which blew away the M&H A in light responsive touch and sound clarity. But being that likely the only thing original Steinway about it was the case, it made me wonder, what exactly is it?

Well, thanks for letting me ramble.


1927 Mason & Hamlin BB
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2269760 05/01/14 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tjbron
On the other side of it was a totally rebuilt, 100 year old Steinway, (have no idea the model), which blew away the M&H A in light responsive touch and sound clarity. But being that likely the only thing original Steinway about it was the case, it made me wonder, what exactly is it?

Well, thanks for letting me ramble.


It is a piano you liked. That means more than the label on the fallboard.


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Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2269844 05/01/14 09:28 PM
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I agree with BDB. And the only way to be sure what you like is to play lots of pianos--even those larger and more expensive than what you are looking for. That way when you hit upon "the one", you'll know.


So much music and so little time!
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1916 Mason & Hamlin BB
Yamaha P155
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2269861 05/01/14 09:57 PM
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Well said BDB!

Couldn't agree more


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2269873 05/01/14 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by tjbron
On the other side of it was a totally rebuilt, 100 year old Steinway, (have no idea the model), which blew away the M&H A in light responsive touch and sound clarity. But being that likely the only thing original Steinway about it was the case, it made me wonder, what exactly is it?

If it's rebuilt, it means a rebuilder spent a lot of time making it really nice (tautologically).

If the touch was really so much nicer as you say, then it was probably the regulation being better in the rebuilt piano. M&H should be in the same class as Steinway on touch when both are regulated well.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313075 08/08/14 04:30 PM
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I finally had a chance to go back for some more piano experience. Trying to develop my opinions so I can make a decision one day. I played a couple M&H AAs again, but it just seemed like I could not get to pianissimo. Maybe they are just better for loud playing, or maybe I'm just timid, but I like to play delicately at times. I keep wanting to love the M&H's, but have ended up being disappointed. I am totally trying to be open minded about fallboard names, especially now.

I did get to play an Estonia 190, and I was impressed with the tone and response. Does anyone know what type of wood they use on the inside of the rim? It is beautiful and unique. A light colored wood, almost with a knurled look to it. Hard to find any good photos. Here's one:
Estonia Grand


1927 Mason & Hamlin BB
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313088 08/08/14 04:57 PM
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The inside rim of my Estonia is bubinga, similar in detail but reddish in tone, but the inside of the Estonia in the photograph looks lighter. It may be, though, that the camera registered the contrast greater because of the bulk of the piano being black.


Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313172 08/08/14 08:50 PM
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Sometimes it's ploy with piano stores to put a "regulated" piano next to a smaller, less expensive, piano so that you would like the bigger, more expensive one better. Buyer beware.

Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313403 08/09/14 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by tjbron
I played a couple M&H AAs again, but it just seemed like I could not get to pianissimo. Maybe they are just better for loud playing, or maybe I'm just timid, but I like to play delicately at times. I keep wanting to love the M&H's, but have ended up being disappointed. I am totally trying to be open minded about fallboard names, especially now.


The newly designed M&H AA is a loud piano. It has a light action with low inertia, as well as fairly heavy, hard/dense hammers which makes it easier to get a lot of volume with very little effort.

Originally Posted by tjbron
I did get to play an Estonia 190, and I was impressed with the tone and response. Does anyone know what type of wood they use on the inside of the rim? It is beautiful and unique. A light colored wood, almost with a knurled look to it.


That wood is birch. It is now standard on the inner rim of the 190. I like it a lot and used to sometimes special order the 190 with it rather than the bubinga. The bubinga is very handsome looking.


Keith D Kerman
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Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
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Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313419 08/09/14 01:02 PM
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If it looks like this, it's called "Kirelian", a rare wood from Finland

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Norbert smile



www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313534 08/09/14 05:59 PM
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You didn't mention your budget. Did you try the larger BB Mason-Hamlin? I think it is comparable to the Steinway B or other top level seven foot pianos and a great value. You can also find a recently used one from time to time and save some money over new and yet still get a fairly new piano not needing a lot of work.

Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2313907 08/10/14 05:24 PM
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I'm sure if you play a very well prepped Mason & Hamlin A you'll have a different experience and therby different opinion. We recently received a new one that even the tech doing the prep said was an amazing 5'8" piano out playing the other similar sized American piano in the same price tier as M&H.


Glenn Treibitz

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Steingraeber,Grotrian,Mason&Hamlin,Petrof,Estonia,Steinberg,Schulze-Pollmann,Baldwin,
Ritmuller,Perzina,Pearl River,Hardman,Roland,Used Steinway
Re: First Shopping and M&H Experience
tjbron #2314171 08/11/14 11:37 AM
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Thank you everyone, for your great comments!

Quote
it's called "Kirelian"

That's exactly what I saw. Liked it a lot!

Quote
You didn't mention your budget. Did you try the larger BB Mason-Hamlin? I think it is comparable to the Steinway B or other top level seven foot pianos and a great value. You can also find a recently used one from time to time and save some money over new and yet still get a fairly new piano not needing a lot of work.


For budget, it is not totally strict, but I am finding it hard to convince myself that I need to spend over $30k on a piano, and preferably less. I am finding my tastes fall quite above that in the "new" regime. I briefly tried the BB at the store, but did not pay a lot of attention to it, as I was quoted a price upwards of $60k. I would be happy with a nice used piano, but have recently realized how challenging it would be to find "The One" via Craigslist/used at a store/etc. Even in a metro of 4 million. And I have no idea at all how I would ever be able to commit to one long distance (AZ desert dweller, here). I've read Fine's guide, but any advice on how to approach finding a used piano would be appreciated. Seems like a lot of luck is involved, and I'm not really sure how to dive in.

Quote
I'm sure if you play a very well prepped Mason & Hamlin A you'll have a different experience and therby different opinion.


I bet you are right. I didn't care for the one I played several months ago, didn't feel it was prepped well, and there wasn't one to sample this time. A good excuse to make a return visit to the piano store! Would also like to go to the Yamaha dealer to see what else is out there. Plus I might get to play a Bosendorfer, haha.


1927 Mason & Hamlin BB

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