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Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
#2820616 02/27/19 07:59 AM
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Hello, I am looking a 1922 MH A. Unfortunately I guess I found seemingly cracks at 1:32 from the movie =
https://youtu.be/Fs1jKz6KKyE

If this is cracks should I give up the piano? One of techs around me to do so as the cracks will be getting severe to require huge expenditure. Please help me to make a wise decision.

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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820673 02/27/19 10:38 AM
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That piano, yes, has cracks in the bridge caps. I believe a M&H of this era would use a solid wood bridge with a cap. However, this piano overall looks tired. Obvious cracks in the soundboard; wound strings with significant corrosion. And who knows the state of the action. Most likely no more than a core.

I suppose you are looking to transport this piano to Korea. It's probably not worth the price of transport. And once you do, what tech in Asia is truly familiar with vintage American instruments and able to rebuild them to a high level? I admittedly don't know the answer, but it is a question worth asking.

Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820682 02/27/19 11:07 AM
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It is minor surface checking, not likely to get worse unless the humidity changes a lot.

It looks to be older than 1922. It has been restrung, and the hammers are not original.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820690 02/27/19 11:29 AM
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Unfortunately, that video only shows little tiny pieces of the piano and I see lots of potential issues. BDB (as usual) is spot on. Those are not original hammers, but this does not make this piano particularly desirable.

I see soundboard cracks, bridge pin cracks, and stains on the board from a spill.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820696 02/27/19 11:39 AM
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Besides the above points made by people far more knowledgeable than me, the idea of buying a piano you haven't personally played(even if was in better condition) is not generally good unless you are not too particular about tone and touch. I think it's a mistake to be overly swayed by the name on the fallboard.

Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820718 02/27/19 12:30 PM
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Definitely this is a piano that a rebuilder should buy as a spec instrument.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820766 02/27/19 02:26 PM
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This is a project piano. If you like it as it currently plays and sounds, and your intended use is casual and occasional, then it's probably unfair to be critical of its condition at it's age. I would not consider this instrument, as-is, for a student or daily use piano. If you are considering repairs or restoration, then that cost is many times the current value of the piano and you should know that up front. If fully restored, a Mason & Hamlin model A from that era has truly outstanding potential.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820811 02/27/19 04:31 PM
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This piano needs a major rebuild, possibly including a new soundboard. So $20K-$40K investment. Me, I'd take a hard pass on this one.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2820820 02/27/19 04:58 PM
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Wow, those are some huge soundboard cracks.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
BDB #2821400 03/01/19 09:19 AM
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The seller says the piano was bought new in 1920s or 30s. Serial number is branded 30419 at underside. Thus he and I believe it is manufactured in around 1922.

Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821421 03/01/19 10:17 AM
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Pierce confirms 30419 is 1922.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821461 03/01/19 12:03 PM
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The number on the underside is not the serial number. It would be somewhat higher than the serial number.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821477 03/01/19 12:39 PM
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The case number and the actual serial number on vintage Mason's is usually close. It's not the serial number, but it is fine for confirming the age within a year, +/-.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821791 03/02/19 05:38 AM
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It looks to me, as others have already said, this piano needs extensive work to realize even a reasonable standard of performance.

That being said, I think there is nothing wrong with someone buying an instrument and occasionally using it as it is... if that person enjoys it. As professionals, we can be too judgmental about a piano's condition. If an instrument brings a person joy then that is wonderful.

I would hope such a buyer would understand the piano's condition, however. The price should also be in keeping with the piano's condition.


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821815 03/02/19 08:20 AM
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The asking price wad around 2.5K but the seller offered a lower price. Transportation to home from Chicago will cost 3K. So estimated total is 5K. I can buy an old baby grand of Yamaha or Kawai at this amount here. Or Kawai RX7 of 2003 at 11K from a private sale.

As I have some years of experiences of Kawai GS30, Yamaha G5 and U1 there's no such a motive to get these. Instead, from accidentally watching a manufacturing video of SS and MH from YouTube, I became to have a strong desire to get and play a handcrafed MH of golden age, not mass produced like Japanese pianos.

If only these cracks are repairable by shimming or other treatment I guess I can stay happy with this MH for another 20 yrs.

What makes me consider this one greatly is that the key tops was replaced with plastic at some point from original ivory. Fantastic, as a piano with the ivory keys is strictly banned to be exported from USA.

This piano shows both merits and demerits. My point was whether the cracks of sound bridge is of significant or not as many people says those cracks will cost huge to repair.

Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821818 03/02/19 08:25 AM
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The asking price was around 2.5K but the seller offered a lower price with these issues. Transportation to home from Chicago will cost 3K. So estimated total is 5K. I know I can buy an old baby grand of Yamaha or Kawai at this amount here. Or Kawai RX7 of 2003 at 11K from a private sale (in Korea)

As I have a few years of experiences of Kawai GS30, Yamaha G5 and U1 there's no such a motive to get these. Instead, from accidentally watching a manufacturing video of SS and MH from YouTube, I became to have a strong desire to get and play a handcrafed MH of golden age, not mass produced like Japanese pianos.

If only these cracks are repairable by shimming or other treatment I guess I can stay happy with this MH for another 20 yrs.

What makes me consider this one greatly is that the key tops was replaced with plastic at some point from original ivory. Fantastic, as a piano with the ivory keys is strictly banned to be exported from USA.

This piano shows both merits and demerits. My point was whether the cracks of sound bridge is of significant or not as many people says those cracks will cost huge to repair.

These are another YouTube to solicit your opinions.
Thank you.

https://youtu.be/bEm_gUNRVwk

https://youtu.be/FYDku551lhk

https://youtu.be/cv658Ly34vk

Last edited by NoteByNote; 03/02/19 08:33 AM.
Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821835 03/02/19 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by NoteByNote
The asking price was around 2.5K but the seller offered a lower price with these issues. Transportation to home from Chicago will cost 3K. So estimated total is 5K. I know I can buy an old baby grand of Yamaha or Kawai at this amount here. Or Kawai RX7 of 2003 at 11K from a private sale (in Korea)

As I have a few years of experiences of Kawai GS30, Yamaha G5 and U1 there's no such a motive to get these. Instead, from accidentally watching a manufacturing video of SS and MH from YouTube, I became to have a strong desire to get and play a handcrafed MH of golden age, not mass produced like Japanese pianos.

If only these cracks are repairable by shimming or other treatment I guess I can stay happy with this MH for another 20 yrs.

What makes me consider this one greatly is that the key tops was replaced with plastic at some point from original ivory. Fantastic, as a piano with the ivory keys is strictly banned to be exported from USA.

This piano shows both merits and demerits. My point was whether the cracks of sound bridge is of significant or not as many people says those cracks will cost huge to repair.

These are another YouTube to solicit your opinions.
Thank you.

https://youtu.be/bEm_gUNRVwk

https://youtu.be/FYDku551lhk

https://youtu.be/cv658Ly34vk
You would not be the first person to buy an authentic American made grand piano and have it shipped over seas to another country/continent. However, as you have stated, the shipping cost is more than the cost of piano. BDB, Rich, Sam Bennett, terminaldegree, and others here, have given you good advice.

As for the cracks in the bass bridge, I agree with BDB, I've seen worse. I also agree with terminal degree in that the big cracks in the sound-board would bother me more, but those can be repaired to an extent also. If the cracks in the bass bridge really bother you, I've repaired bridge cracks worse than the ones in the video with epoxy with good results. But no worse than it is, I'd leave it alone and call it character. The bridge cracks are a non-issue until it starts to affect the tuning of the piano when the bridge pins move further into the crack when tuned.

It sounds to me like you have your heart and mind set on the M&H. If you want it and can afford it, I say go for it. If it turns out that you made a mistake, you will have learned a valuable lesson going forward, albeit an expensive lesson. I've experienced a few of those (expensive lessons) myself.

Good luck!

Rick


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Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821837 03/02/19 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by NoteByNote
As I have some years of experiences of Kawai GS30, Yamaha G5 and U1 there's no such a motive to get these. Instead, from accidentally watching a manufacturing video of SS and MH from YouTube, I became to have a strong desire to get and play a handcrafed MH of golden age, not mass produced like Japanese pianos.
For many steps in manufacturing, "hand crafted" is inferior to mass produced machine crafted. "Hand crafted" is a marketing ploy to some extent. But even if the quality of the piano was very high when it was produced, I think it's irrelevant at this point unless you want to spend probably a huge amount on a rebuild . Even that's a bad idea because you can't be sure how the piano will sound and feel after the rebuild. All the above is why they are willing to sell it to you for almost nothing,

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/02/19 09:57 AM.
Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821851 03/02/19 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by NoteByNote
The asking price wad around 2.5K but the seller offered a lower price. Transportation to home from Chicago will cost 3K. So estimated total is 5K. I can buy an old baby grand of Yamaha or Kawai at this amount here. Or Kawai RX7 of 2003 at 11K from a private sale.

As I have some years of experiences of Kawai GS30, Yamaha G5 and U1 there's no such a motive to get these. Instead, from accidentally watching a manufacturing video of SS and MH from YouTube, I became to have a strong desire to get and play a handcrafed MH of golden age, not mass produced like Japanese pianos.

If only these cracks are repairable by shimming or other treatment I guess I can stay happy with this MH for another 20 yrs.

What makes me consider this one greatly is that the key tops was replaced with plastic at some point from original ivory. Fantastic, as a piano with the ivory keys is strictly banned to be exported from USA.

This piano shows both merits and demerits. My point was whether the cracks of sound bridge is of significant or not as many people says those cracks will cost huge to repair.




How do you know if you can "stay happy" with this MH for 20 years, much less 20 minutes, if you have never even played it, don't know how the action feels, or hundreds of other variables that affect the playability, musicality, and satisfaction of a musical instrument?

Keep in mind I say this as someone who owns a "golden-era" Baldwin who really does have affection for older American instruments.

Last edited by violarules; 03/02/19 10:44 AM.
Re: Buying a piano with cracks in the bass bridge
NoteByNote #2821909 03/02/19 01:16 PM
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NoteByNote,

If your budget is $5k, you should look locally for a good upright. If you have budget for a properly restored Mason & Hamlin, then you will be in for a real treat. If you total budget is somewhere in between, then your best place to look might be at some brands with high value, but less brand power and a sound design that is less like the Japanese pianos that you mention. I think you have misplaced your hope in that Mason to be your answer with anything less than a total overhaul.

I am personally enamored with vintage Mason's, with the model A and BB having my highest esteem. When we restore them fully, the A's are in the $30k's and the BB's are approaching $50k. Whatever essence that piano still has is severely blunted by 100 years. Repairable or not, that soundboard looks really bad. Repairing the bridge is major work ($$$), but relatively simple in the right hands.


Sam Bennett
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