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Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
#2322838 09/01/14 08:32 PM
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I have yet to try a Mason & Hamlin piano with a Wessell, Nickel & Gross composite and carbon fiber action. How does this action compare with Kawai's Millennium III action? Any experiences?

Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2322843 09/01/14 08:40 PM
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Both are very fine actions. When properly adjusted, they respond well to even the finest nuance from the pianist.

The difference I notice is that the WN&G feels a bit "brittle," for lack of a better word. It is hard to describe, certainly a bit odd, and it takes a bit of adjusting to learn the "feel of it." I have wondered if it is due to the composite shanks, but, I have never had the chance to do a side-by-side of the WN&G with wood vs. composite shanks.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2322849 09/01/14 08:50 PM
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I haven't played a Kawai in ages, so I can't comment on their action. I recently purchased a new M&H with WNG action. I find it extremely predictable. I highly recommend it.

Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323088 09/02/14 11:25 AM
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Both are quality actions but the differences between them are profound in design. First the Kawai action is merely a duplicate part for part of a traditional wood action. The WNG on the other hand is a radical and bold new design that was engineered to take advantage of the materials. I've always felt if you're going for something new, go all the way. For years Kawai inched into ABS action parts and later carbon fiber. As they first started changing materials to ABS their pianos were part wood and part ABS. My argument to them years ago was if this material is better why not use it in all of the parts rather than have some parts reacting to the environment and some not. The Kawai piano still uses one wood part susceptible to expansion and contraction, their maple hammer shank. The WNG jack is made from carbon fiber and epoxy like a giant golf club. This is extremely strong, hard and won't bend and whip like some wood shanks can. Here is a link to a better explanation than mine.
[url=https://www.wessellnickelandgross.com/index.php/action-parts/shanks-flanges]https://www.wessellnickelandgross.com/index.php/action-parts/shanks-flanges[/url]

Last edited by Glenn Treibitz; 09/02/14 12:05 PM.

Glenn Treibitz

Hollywood Piano Co. - Est.1928
http://www.hollywoodpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodPiano

1800 MY-PIANO

Steingraeber,Grotrian,Mason&Hamlin,Petrof,Estonia,Steinberg,Schulze-Pollmann,Baldwin,
Ritmuller,Perzina,Pearl River,Hardman,Roland,Used Steinway
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323173 09/02/14 02:43 PM
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I don't know if I should comment. I am neither a tuner-tech nor a really accomplished pianist, but I have a little info to share. I own a Mason-Hamlin BB with the earlier action, not the newer composite one. I have also played the Kawai action. I thought the Kawai action was really good--it made me play a little better than I normally can. With that said, I would love to try the newer Mason-Hamlin action and probably will just for fun when I stop over at my local piano dealer (Ruggero's Pianos, Raleigh, NC) as they carry the line. I bought my piano used as I could not afford a new one. (Mine is from 2004). I have to say that I like the action on my piano very much so I guess it is just a matter of trying several and deciding for oneself.

Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
Glenn Treibitz #2323322 09/02/14 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Glenn Treibitz
Both are quality actions but the differences between them are profound in design. First the Kawai action is merely a duplicate part for part of a traditional wood action. The WNG on the other hand is a radical and bold new design that was engineered to take advantage of the materials. I've always felt if you're going for something new, go all the way. For years Kawai inched into ABS action parts and later carbon fiber. As they first started changing materials to ABS their pianos were part wood and part ABS. My argument to them years ago was if this material is better why not use it in all of the parts rather than have some parts reacting to the environment and some not. The Kawai piano still uses one wood part susceptible to expansion and contraction, their maple hammer shank. The WNG jack is made from carbon fiber and epoxy like a giant golf club. This is extremely strong, hard and won't bend and whip like some wood shanks can. Here is a link to a better explanation than mine.
https://www.wessellnickelandgross.com/index.php/action-parts/shanks-flanges


Oops meant to say shank not jack 2nd sentence from the bottom.


Glenn Treibitz

Hollywood Piano Co. - Est.1928
http://www.hollywoodpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodPiano

1800 MY-PIANO

Steingraeber,Grotrian,Mason&Hamlin,Petrof,Estonia,Steinberg,Schulze-Pollmann,Baldwin,
Ritmuller,Perzina,Pearl River,Hardman,Roland,Used Steinway
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323384 09/02/14 10:06 PM
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Interestingly it is that carbon shank that gives many fine pianists pause. Because it is so stiff it reacts differently than a traditional wooden shank.

This means that the attack is different than a pianist expects.

This is by no means something that is insurmountable but it is something that a player has to get used to.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
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(215) 991-0834 direct
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Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
Rich Galassini #2323412 09/02/14 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Interestingly it is that carbon shank that gives many fine pianists pause. Because it is so stiff it reacts differently than a traditional wooden shank.

This means that the attack is different than a pianist expects.

This is by no means something that is insurmountable but it is something that a player has to get used to.



Well, this isn't quite correct. The flex in the carbon fiber is similar to the ideal wood shank -- of which there may be a few in each set of wooden shanks. What can be said of the difference without any challenge is that a set of wooden shanks will always be more inconsistent note-to-note than a set of CF. (And, WN&G does vary the flex from bass to treble by using CF tubes with 3 different wall thicknesses.)

Variations in flex create variations in energy efficiency from note to note -- which can be felt but can't be fixed with lead or geometry. (Although playing with lead or geometry can certainly muck it up further!)

The other big difference is the rigid bushing. The S&S solid bushings were really great and were developed because of the known problems and deficiencies of conventional felt bushings and brass pins. The problems they had were fundamentally because the solid bushings were mounted in wood and the learning curve to succeed was too steep before it became a marketing disaster. Now, with solid flange/shank material, it is possible to realize the promise of solid bushings: a rigid hinge joint that doesn't twist every which way and at the same time permitting lower friction which will remain consistent more-or-less for the life of the piano.

Beyond my own experience and my customers' response, the big story for me is the number of universities that have WN&G installations. We all know that universities are one of the places where good pianos go to die. If there were issues with the WN&G installations, we'd be hearing about it by now. Remember the hue and cry soon after S&S solid bushings first iteration came out?



Keith Akins, RPT
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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's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
kpembrook #2323430 09/03/14 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook

Well, this isn't quite correct. The flex in the carbon fiber is similar to the ideal wood shank -- of which there may be a few in each set of wooden shanks. What can be said of the difference without any challenge is that a set of wooden shanks will always be more inconsistent note-to-note than a set of CF. (And, WN&G does vary the flex from bass to treble by using CF tubes with 3 different wall thicknesses.)


I am very familiar with the product, Keith. I will stand on my original statement. Traditional shanks have more flex than CF tubing.

Originally Posted by kpembrook
The other big difference is the rigid bushing.


Absolutely. The hard bushing made a big difference in the evolution of this product. This was something we recommended as a BETA user. Unbeknownst to us it was developing as we suggested the change, only their execution of it was better than the ideas we had.

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Beyond my own experience and my customers' response, the big story for me is the number of universities that have WN&G installations. We all know that universities are one of the places where good pianos go to die. If there were issues with the WN&G installations, we'd be hearing about it by now. Remember the hue and cry soon after S&S solid bushings first iteration came out?


Keith - if you heard me say that the WNG was problematic I need to say that I did not say that. The system works and if you are comfortable using it - more power to you! We use WNG only occasionally, but YMMV.

Since you brought up university installations we should also disclose that many universities were asked to use these parts in development and got them free or nearly free in return for input. That doesn't mean everyone using them benefitted in this way, but I feel it deserves disclosure.

You might like hearing the opinion of the man who managed the manufacturing of the S&S teflon bushings. He shopped hard for a piano and it was a pleasure to hear his thoughts on the WNG actions we were installing at the time:

New Technology in Action

FYI, after 18 months of shopping the East Coast (and Germany) his final choice was a Bosendorfer from us.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Visit our Online Store
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Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323660 09/03/14 12:15 PM
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Rich a few things.

Because of the nature of wood traditional shanks have inconsistent flex. There is no way to claim every wood shank will perform the same. I think the tube system in WNG is ingenious and while it doesn't produce the flex traditionalists may be used to it produces a result some swear by.

While it's true that many school were and are still being given a WNG kit to try out in one of their pianos, many of these schools were satisfied enough with the results to change over numbers of pianos in their inventories to WNG. We have a few people on this forum that were at schools that have done this and it would be interesting to get their input.

I'm not very sure that what the man from the company that made Steinway's Teflon bushings and his piano selection has to do with the WNG action but for what it's worth I recently had a famous film composer who was on a 2 year quest for a piano and chose a Mason BB over a Bosendorfer. This doesn't mean the Mason is better as you inferred the Bosendorfer was in telling us about your customer who chose it. It only means this film composer liked one over the other. As we all know too well, the choice of a piano is highly personal.


Glenn Treibitz

Hollywood Piano Co. - Est.1928
http://www.hollywoodpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodPiano

1800 MY-PIANO

Steingraeber,Grotrian,Mason&Hamlin,Petrof,Estonia,Steinberg,Schulze-Pollmann,Baldwin,
Ritmuller,Perzina,Pearl River,Hardman,Roland,Used Steinway
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
Glenn Treibitz #2323682 09/03/14 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Glenn Treibitz

I'm not very sure that what the man from the company that made Steinway's Teflon bushings and his piano selection has to do with the WNG action but for what it's worth I recently had a famous film composer who was on a 2 year quest for a piano and chose a Mason BB over a Bosendorfer. This doesn't mean the Mason is better as you inferred the Bosendorfer was in telling us about your customer who chose it. It only means this film composer liked one over the other. As we all know too well, the choice of a piano is highly personal.


Did you read the blog post Glenn?

It isn't about his piano selection at all. He is a plastics engineer who had wonderful things to say about the WNG action and how they are going about correcting the problems he saw with the Teflon bushing concept. That is all.

I suppose mentioning his purchase at all muddied the waters. That was not my intent.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
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(215) 991-0834 direct
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323716 09/03/14 02:30 PM
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My experiences mirror Keith's. I just installed my first set of WNG shanks in an old Yamaha C7 and the parts have exceeded my expectations, which were by no means low. Virtually no re-pinning of action centers were needed, and when you're trying to get your note-to-note friction tolerance to +/- 1.5g, this is very impressive. The voicing is also extremely consistent. Sustain is also better in the treble section, where it was sorely lacking, though the Ronsen hammers play a role in that, too. It's entirely likely that this is the first time this Yamaha has ever sounded like a piano!

Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
Glenn Treibitz #2323722 09/03/14 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Glenn Treibitz
Rich a few things.

Because of the nature of wood traditional shanks have inconsistent flex. There is no way to claim every wood shank will perform the same.


Sure there is. Just measure the flex, hardness, resonance frequency or whatever parameter of interest may be, and sort them to the extent it matters. Better piano manufactures do this. This should be cost effective if done at the dowel stage.

Best wishes-


phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Toccata (G minor) BWV 915
(and trying not to forget the other stuff I know)
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
Rich Galassini #2323724 09/03/14 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Originally Posted by Glenn Treibitz

I'm not very sure that what the man from the company that made Steinway's Teflon bushings and his piano selection has to do with the WNG action but for what it's worth I recently had a famous film composer who was on a 2 year quest for a piano and chose a Mason BB over a Bosendorfer. This doesn't mean the Mason is better as you inferred the Bosendorfer was in telling us about your customer who chose it. It only means this film composer liked one over the other. As we all know too well, the choice of a piano is highly personal.


Did you read the blog post Glenn?

It isn't about his piano selection at all. He is a plastics engineer who had wonderful things to say about the WNG action and how they are going about correcting the problems he saw with the Teflon bushing concept. That is all.

I suppose mentioning his purchase at all muddied the waters. That was not my intent.


Got it. Thanks Rich.


Glenn Treibitz

Hollywood Piano Co. - Est.1928
http://www.hollywoodpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodPiano

1800 MY-PIANO

Steingraeber,Grotrian,Mason&Hamlin,Petrof,Estonia,Steinberg,Schulze-Pollmann,Baldwin,
Ritmuller,Perzina,Pearl River,Hardman,Roland,Used Steinway
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323789 09/03/14 06:03 PM
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Well, I have just received my new Mason BB with the WNG carbon fiber action at home, and it's absolutely GORGEOUS.
Two weeks ago I invited two great pianists to try the piano, and participate in an inauguration party, one a very famous classic brazilian pianist (Licia Lucas), and the other a jazz/bossa nova composer, maestro and pianist, my former teacher (Luiz Zago).
They were VERY MUCH excited with the piano, and especially praised the feeling of the piano action.
Bellow, two links with part of this experience:

http://youtu.be/Y6Wev0zlkKc?list=UUapE4d3HHHiIerCfPuO8QGg
http://youtu.be/E5vySjJwQRw


Piano.Brazil
1987 Baldwin SD10, 2013 Mason&Hamlin BB, 2007 Euterpe/Bechstein 160, 1924 Hoepfner Upright
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323797 09/03/14 06:54 PM
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Those are great recordings, Piano Brazil. The Gershwin is so à propos. How do you like your piano? How is the touch from your point of view?

Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323820 09/03/14 08:10 PM
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I like the idea of composite shanks to eliminate the problem of variable friction with the pins as the shanks expand and contract with fluctuating humidity.

A sales rep at the Kawai dealer in Utah told me a few months ago that they have started re-pinning their grand pianos as a standard part of the prep-work, because the arid Utah climate means the pins they are shipped with are too loose.

Kawai considers the shaft a tone-producing element of the action, requiring wood. I wonder if they could make the end of the shaft, where it's pinned, out of composite materials, while still leave most of the shaft wood.

Rich, what kind of actions do you put in your M&H rebuilds?

Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323859 09/03/14 10:41 PM
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I have used the W,N%G hammer shank on many rebuilds and it is my preferred shank. When the action is properly tone regulated, I don't think any pianist can notice the difference between well regulated actions with primo wood shanks or W,N&G carbon fiber shanks.

The W,N&G shanks are far more stable and uniform than wood parts. I am ecstatic to have them available for my work. It raises the value of my rebuilt pianos because the durability and service costs over time are reduced from what competing top tier pianos require.

The type of hammers that I have seen on recent M&H's produce a too easy bright tone. The range of color is also reduced from what was typical in the past with M&H. This seems to be deliberate on their part. I am not fond of it but some pianists are.

Thus the tone regulation will color your perceptions of the actions hugely. It is very difficult for a pianist to experience a true A to B comparison between wood or composite actions unless they have a piano they know well rebuilt with the W,N&G parts.


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: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2323862 09/03/14 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ColinDS
Those are great recordings, Piano Brazil. The Gershwin is so à propos. How do you like your piano? How is the touch from your point of view?


Thank you, ColinDS. I am really SO happy with the instrument. It's very well built, sounds great, with a wonderful sweet but solid tone, the bass is fantastic and the lead voices come out very clear throughout the whole keyboard. WOW!

About the action: it's so uniform and responsive that it becomes wonderfully predictable, transmiting confidence and joy to the musician. As a matter of fact, that was the opinion of every pianist that played on my piano so far.

I highly recommend the piano, and specifically the WNG action.

Best wishes.


Piano.Brazil
1987 Baldwin SD10, 2013 Mason&Hamlin BB, 2007 Euterpe/Bechstein 160, 1924 Hoepfner Upright
Re: Mason & Hamlin's action vs. Kawai's Millennium III action
ColinDS #2324087 09/04/14 04:39 PM
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Piano_Brazil - great videos and what a great way to celebrate your new instrument. It sounds and looks great - and I bet the action feels great. One question - after you had it delivered did you hire a tech to do any regulation yet? I've had my Kawai for about a year and I want it a bit more sensitive than it is now.

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