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Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
#3000773 07/09/20 05:37 PM
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Hello all! Long time lurker, first time posting here. I'm just curious if anyone has any insight on my piano. Here's some background information.


Click here for photos as well as some more information about the physical condition of the piano itself.


It is a Steinertone 6' 10" that I picked up last year. I originally saw it posted on Facebook by a wholesaler of sorts for $200. I could only see the outside given it was knocked down on a skid board already. I researched Steinert a bit and read about their Steinway-like designs and figured for $200 and rental truck i'd take a shot in the dark. I drove there and picked it up with a buddy not having any idea what I was actually going to end up with. The guys from the shop helped us load it up. Once I got it home, it was a pain to move considering it probably weighs over 1000 pounds. I set it up and was fairly pleased.

After getting the piano, I did some more research and everything I have found thus far makes it appear as though it was actually manufactured by Mason & Hamlin and sent to M. Steinert to be sold as a Steinertone.

I have found a few posts on here about similar pianos of this time period. (Steinertone Posing as a Mason Hamlin) This post I linked in particular is about another Steinert which appears to be a Mason & Hamlin BB. My piano is much the same as the previous one posted; full perimeter plate attached with bolts instead of screws, 6' 10" in length, thick case rim, no sostenuto pedal, original ivory keys, etc. Their piano was being rebuilt and was badged as a Mason & Hamlin on the plate, but when being ground down to be re-gilded, a Steinertone logo appeared. In my case, my piano has a plate which has Steinertone painted/stenciled on, but the paint color on the raised half moon shape is different from the rest of the plate and the half moon shape itself almost looks like it was added after the fact.

In the above mentioned post someone had reached out to Mason & Hamlin and discovered the the first Model BB was produced in June of 1900 and sent to M. Steinert and sons in Boston with a case number of 11745. I'm a little confused by this. The case number on my piano is 11743. Could this be verification that this piano was produced by Mason & Hamlin to be sold as a Steinert considering the case number predates that of the first ever produced Mason & Hamlin Model BB? For reference, the other posters case number was 11753

Given that the fall board and plate say Steinertone, I was curious as to if this piano could have originally housed the Steinertone action invented by M. Steinert. The current action in my piano is a Wessel Nickel and Gross and looked fairly old; the hammers, shanks, and whippers appear to have been replaced at one point though. I reached out to WNG via email to see if they could date the action based on the serial number on the front of it, 10972. They emailed back stating their records indicate it was manufactured between 1898 and 1899. This leads me to believe it is the original action sold with this piano. The question would then be, why does the piano say Steinertone and not solely Steinert?

At any point, I am intrigued by this piano to say the least and am looking for any information or thoughts anyone may have. I have my tech coming out to look at it sometime next week as I'm trying to decide if I should keep it and eventually have it partially rebuilt or move on to something new.

Thoughts?


1899 Steinertone Grand; Kawai VPC1 with Garritan CFX
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Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000795 07/09/20 06:56 PM
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Intriguing! And nice pictures. I'm always intrigued by Steinert, but this is the first I've heard of Steinertone!

Some quick Google searches show that Steinertone was a joint joint venture between Mason & Hamlin and the Steiner Piano Company. Perhaps Steinert was used on their [licensed?] Steinway copies, so a different name was needed for this.

You may have already seen these, but...

Interesting old advert here.

Interesting page here.



Newer pianos may be easier, but old ones like this are interesting pieces of history, and have a story to tell. Personally, I'd rather have the conversation piece, but that's just me. thumb



Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000807 07/09/20 07:26 PM
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FWIW - here's what I know as owner of a 1929 Steinert Artist Grand (6'10")

Scale appears to be identical to that of a Steinway B
There is a plate difference - the diagonal reinforcing piece from the tenor up is cast in one piece, not a bolt-on as in the "B"
There is no bell

Dampers, like the Steinertone, are Mason & Hamlin style

Mine came with a sostenuto pedal

Mine came with the original WNG action
We replaced rather than rebuilt the wippens.
We used Renner. Old wippens had bridle straps on them, some folks thought I should have preserved them. Me, I'm playing the piano, not exhibiting it in a museum. The Renners have stood up to years of my practicing and teaching and are still working fine.
Shanks, flanges, knuckles all still quite usable after the rebuild
At least on mine, hammers bored for a Steinway B work fine.
My latest set is from Renner to the Hamburg Steinway spec, pre-voiced.

So... the action was built at WNG somewhere in NY (I think)
I don't know where the case and bellywork were done
I know Steinert was manufacturing under license for Steinway
I seem to recall Steinway suing him (Steinert) for patent infringement, and Steinert stopped building pianos in 1931 or 1932.

Looking at your Steinertone, I count 8 bass unicords (my eyes aren't great...). If I've got that right, this is identical to the Steinway B and to my Steinert, so... I think your piano is not a M&H BB clone, but a Steinway B copy.

As another footnote, the dampers on mine are mostly original (we replaced a few in the bass). I do a lot of fairly close mic recording with this piano, and the dampers are absolutely silent, no woosh.

Let us here your instrument when you're up to playing it for us, and good luck with it.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
Seeker #3000838 07/09/20 08:47 PM
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Seeker:

Thanks for the reply! A lot of useful information there.

I've read up on your Steinert numerous times in the past. It looks to be a fantastic instrument. Like yours, the key sticks on mine were not in great shape as would be expected for a 120 year old instrument. A few were broken and already glued back together.

Nonetheless, you are correct in that it has 8 bass unicords and 13 bass bicords, like yours.

After seeing your posts I had thought in the past about it being a Steinway B clone but I had ruled that thought out when I saw the designs on the plate being similar to M&H. I don't believe that Steinway model B's have full perimeter plates (perhaps I'm wrong here). In addition, the plate on my Steinert has some decorative (acoustic holes?) in them that I have not seen on similar plates of Steinway B's of that period. However, I have an add I found here for a 1906 Mason & Hamlin which has an almost identical plate to the one found in my Steinert. Take a look when you can.


1899 Steinertone Grand; Kawai VPC1 with Garritan CFX
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000842 07/09/20 09:11 PM
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A Steinway B has 20 bass notes. A Mason & Hamlin BB has 21. So they cannot have the same scale.

The 7 foot Steinerts i have seen have the 20 bass notes, and a cast diagonal piece where the Steinway B has the removable bar across the tenor section.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000847 07/09/20 09:19 PM
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I don't know if it's much of a clue, but your case number font looks exactly like mine (1928 M&H)


1928 Mason & Hamlin Model A
Play it as a VI HERE
Yamaha PF85, Formerly Kawai KG-1D
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
BDB #3000848 07/09/20 09:22 PM
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Thanks for the reply BDB.

So I double checked and I have a total of 21 bass notes (8 single, 13 double), so more similar to M&H is what you are saying then, and not Steinway B?

Dore: Not sure how much of a clue it is as well, but definitely interesting to note! Thanks for checking that.


1899 Steinertone Grand; Kawai VPC1 with Garritan CFX
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000854 07/09/20 09:33 PM
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It looks like a Mason & Hamlin BB, not a Steinway B.


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Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000856 07/09/20 09:38 PM
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Interesting. Steinertone plate sure looks the M&H in your link.
Either way, S&S "B", or M&H "BB" - $200 + sweat equity is a sweet deal.
It looks like your piano has M&H style aliquots in the treble like this one.
[Linked Image]

Steinway tends to look like this: [Linked Image]

The Steinert has Aliquot bars like the Steinway, but in my piano they are a continuous brass strip, rounded on top, flat on the bottom, rather than individualized like the Steinway. Will upload a photo if people are interested.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Maybe the clue would be the presence or absence of a tension resonator. According to the article in Wikipedia, "...Gertz was elected secretary of the company in 1903, and president in 1906,[5] and had patented the company's Tension Resonator, a device fastened to the perimeter of the wooden structure of pianos meant to prevent their sounding boards from flattening. This was first included in their grands in 1900".

You wrote that your piano was built in June 1900, and I can't tell you WHEN in 1900 they started putting the tension resonators on their grands, but this is another line of inquiry you might pursue. If it's got a resonator, it's a M&H clone; case closed. If not, definitely maybe.

Tell us where the start & end notes are for all the sections of the piano. That might provide a clue as well if the BB & B are different.

Meanwhile, good luck with the piano, and let's hear it when you have the time.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000864 07/09/20 10:19 PM
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Found this link to a picture of the Steinertone action. Never seen or played one but it looks interesting.

Larry Hofer

https://collections.mfa.org/objects/51093


Larry Hofer
Hofer Piano Works
Corona CA
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000901 07/10/20 01:39 AM
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This Mason and Hamlin BB, which I saw in person, is very similar to your Steinert.

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/msg/d/burlingame-mason-hamlin-model-bb-grand/7148600609.html

ks

Last edited by apianostudent; 07/10/20 01:40 AM.
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3000997 07/10/20 08:32 AM
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I thought Mason and Hamlin BB pianos were 7 feet, not 6'10". Maybe they were a different size in 1900?

Last edited by Rank Piano Amateur; 07/10/20 08:33 AM.
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
Seeker #3001000 07/10/20 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Seeker
Interesting. Steinertone plate sure looks the M&H in your link.
Either way, S&S "B", or M&H "BB" - $200 + sweat equity is a sweet deal.
It looks like your piano has M&H style aliquots in the treble like this one.
[Linked Image]

Steinway tends to look like this: [Linked Image]

The Steinert has Aliquot bars like the Steinway, but in my piano they are a continuous brass strip, rounded on top, flat on the bottom, rather than individualized like the Steinway. Will upload a photo if people are interested.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Maybe the clue would be the presence or absence of a tension resonator. According to the article in Wikipedia, "...Gertz was elected secretary of the company in 1903, and president in 1906,[5] and had patented the company's Tension Resonator, a device fastened to the perimeter of the wooden structure of pianos meant to prevent their sounding boards from flattening. This was first included in their grands in 1900".

You wrote that your piano was built in June 1900, and I can't tell you WHEN in 1900 they started putting the tension resonators on their grands, but this is another line of inquiry you might pursue. If it's got a resonator, it's a M&H clone; case closed. If not, definitely maybe.

Tell us where the start & end notes are for all the sections of the piano. That might provide a clue as well if the BB & B are different.

Meanwhile, good luck with the piano, and let's hear it when you have the time.

That picture of the Mason aliquots is from my website

Steve

Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3001010 07/10/20 09:25 AM
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Akressevich,

Fun Fact: The first Mason BB was delivered to Morris Steinert.

We rebuilt the Steinertone you mention in your opening post.
It is clearly a close copy of a first form Mason BB; the wide case BB with what we call the pretzel bowl cast into the plate.
The big difference is the Steinertone action.
You cannot just mount a new action stack; the keyset must also be replaced as their ratios differ too much.
There may also be differences in the action cavity.
Does yours still have the proprietary action?

If it does, I know that Charlie Jackson from The Piano Museum, pianomuseum.org, is looking for a Steinertone for his collection. I know that He would be willing to swap a real Mason for a real Steinertone. At the very minimum, he would be would want the action, should you choose to replace it.

Morris Steinert wrote an autobiography. It is a great read, as his personality just shines through. It is a google book now.

Craig


Craig Hair
Hampshire Piano
Chesterfield, MA
Conservative Piano Restoration
Watch us on YouTube

It is never too late for a happy childhood.
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
Steve Jackson #3001011 07/10/20 09:35 AM
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Sorry, Steve. Looks like you do some great work.
I should have credited you for the photo and pointed to your website.
I'd update the post to do that, but I can't at this point.

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by Seeker
Interesting. Steinertone plate sure looks the M&H in your link.
Either way, S&S "B", or M&H "BB" - $200 + sweat equity is a sweet deal.
It looks like your piano has M&H style aliquots in the treble like this one.
[Linked Image]

============SNIP===============

That picture of the Mason aliquots is from my website

Steve

And while I'm crediting photos, the Steinway aliquot photo is from http://www.lapianoservices.com. "Jim Wilson" is shown as the owner of LA Piano Services on the website.

Last edited by Seeker; 07/10/20 09:38 AM. Reason: Add'l Info

Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
Craig Hair #3001100 07/10/20 01:11 PM
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Craig Hair,

A lot of interesting information, thanks for that. Unfortunately, my piano does not have the original Steinertone action, but an 1899 WNG which has since had parts replaced at one point or another. Still, I'll reach out to Charlie Jackson about the piano to get his thoughts.

I'll see about posting some pictures of the action later today is anyone is interested. Interestingly enough, I just remembered that when I previously had the action out I noticed some writing on it. Handwriting was different in a few spots, but I believe it had "Hume HBB" as well as a date written on it.


1899 Steinertone Grand; Kawai VPC1 with Garritan CFX
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3001115 07/10/20 01:45 PM
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I would like to see how they handled the change in the action. How does the action feel?
Hume is a name associated with Steinert. Pianos with that name are quite nice.


Craig Hair
Hampshire Piano
Chesterfield, MA
Conservative Piano Restoration
Watch us on YouTube

It is never too late for a happy childhood.
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
Craig Hair #3001312 07/10/20 09:14 PM
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Craig Hair,

Here is a photo from the last time I pulled the action:

[Linked Image]


In terms of the feel, it's hard to say. They feel on the heavier side maybe, compared to my Kawai VPC1. Dynamics are a little difficult to control right now but i know it needs regulation. I've been putting it off though until i decide what i'm going to do with it as I'm sure there are parts which need to be at minimum fixed, or better yet replaced, before i have it regulated. Many of the hammers don't check properly, if at all; a few of them double strike occasionally as well. Nonetheless, my tech is coming out on Wednesday so we'll see what he says.

What do you think of the action from this photo? Am i right in thinking that hammers, shanks, and whippens appear to have been replaced?


1899 Steinertone Grand; Kawai VPC1 with Garritan CFX
Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3001324 07/10/20 09:58 PM
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Yes, the hammers, shanks, and wippens have been replaced.


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Re: Steinertone Grand or Mason & Hamlin BB?
akressevich #3001506 07/11/20 01:20 PM
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It is hard to squint just right, but it looks like the key ratio can be nowhere near the .5 to .6 of normal actions.
This will make those standard parts unwieldy.
Your tech will be able to tell friction from leverage issues.

That does look like an early WN&G action cage.

I called these pianos close copies, because we found rough edges on the custom cast plates that Mason would have beveled.
Other than that, they seem to be real masons.


Craig Hair
Hampshire Piano
Chesterfield, MA
Conservative Piano Restoration
Watch us on YouTube

It is never too late for a happy childhood.

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