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Joined: Dec 2008
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Are Mason & Hamlin 'rebuilt' pianos supposed to be built with 'Brand Specific' parts (IE hammers, strings, etc etc etc) - Similar to an authorized Steinway Piano that is rebuilt. Or does it only need to be rebuilt with 'quality' high-end parts?

Is there a list of what I should look for when searching for a rebuilt/refurbed M&H?

thanks
brdwyguy


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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
Are Mason & Hamlin 'rebuilt' pianos supposed to be built with 'Brand Specific' parts (IE hammers, strings, etc etc etc) - Similar to an authorized Steinway Piano that is rebuilt. Or does it only need to be rebuilt with 'quality' high-end parts?
Is there a list of what I should look for when searching for a rebuilt/refurbed M&H?
thanks
brdwyguy

Greetings,
Any piano can be rebuilt to perform at its maximum with a variety of parts. The entire brand specific imperative is a marketing ploy by one maker. Ironically, that maker's parts are of various sizes, and combinations through the years have left us with their older pianos that don't play the same with new Official Brand parts.
The Mason and Hamlin pianos do very well with the WNG parts. I wouldn't consider anything else, myself. The choice of hammer can be broad, depending on your tastes. The Ronsen Weikert line is my choice, but there are many.
Regards,

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Thanks so much Ed
yes, that's what I thought -- it seems the only good use of 'certified' parts is if one wants to Trade-Up or eventually Sell the Piano, but when it comes to names like Bosendorfer, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin. Why would someone want to sell their high-end piano?

So I would say, if your goal is to buy a Great Piano like Mason & Hamlin I would say buying a rebuilt is fine as long as the parts are High Quality which make the piano play at it's finest.

Wondering if there is a site or information that technicians found that such and such part (IE WNG) work the best in its piano.
In my case a Mason & Hamlin A is what I will be searching for (rebuilt in the 1900-1930 period).

again, thanks Ed for the information

brdwyguy


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You got a great answer from Ed Foote already. I will add that when choosing components, unless you are dealing with a large rebuilder who works with a variety of pianos and components, it is more about what the particular technician feels comfortable with, rather than a steadfast rule of what brand of hammer for what brand/model of pianos.

My best advice is to try a number of finished pianos so YOU can understand what the technician is able to do. The other possibility is to buy something that has already been rebuilt.

Good luck!


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Excellent advice from Ed and Rich -- as always.

For instance, Steinway will tell you that you have a Steinwas if you use part other than Steinway genuine parts. However, in the case of a Steinway, the new modern NY parts that they would sell to a rebuilder are exact matches ONLY for modern Steinway pianos. They have changed materials and designed many times over the decades. A modern Model D can be very different from a Model D from any given decade. Rebuilding a golden era Steinway with modern parts may result in a piano that sounds and plays like a modern Steinway D, not a golden era D. An experienced rebuilder can guide you to parts that will best fit each Steinway.

They also now own Renner - the largest maker of action parts and hammers. Hamburg Steinways have always been built with Renner actions and hammers which are of a different design than NY Steinway parts. For a time in the 1980's when Steinway was switching over from the teflon bushings in the NY actions, NY Steinway built their pianos with Renner parts in the interim. Steinway is the only maker that takes this "genuine parts only" stance.

It's more about choosing the rebuilder by sampling his work. Then one should work with him/her to choose the best components for the rebuild. There are rebuilders who can work with a variety of parts to get different results, while others work exclusively with specific brands. In my case, I visited a large Steinway rebuilder outside my local area who had Steinways with all Steinway parts and others with a mix of hammers and action parts from Renner, Abel, and Ronsen Wieckert. He asked me to play all of the pianos and make note of the ones I liked the best based upon tone. I discovered that I really liked the Ronsen hammers. I was also interested in the WNG Carbon Fiber action. I continued to talk to rebuilders and found a local concert tech/rebuilder who like Ed, prefers Ronsen hammers and is an expert with WNG actions. He is our area M&H/WNG representative. He has been contracted by M&H to rebuild some late model M&H pianos with WNG actions. Here's the key for me. He was finishing the rebuild of a Steinway Model B (same era as mine) with Ronsen Wieckert hammers and a WNG action. I was able to play his work before I made my decision. Then I knew for sure that's what I wanted to do. I am 100% happy with the results. Everyone who has played my B loves it.

But I would have never insisted that a rebuilder who is inexperienced with WNG parts and Ronsen hammers rebuild my piano with them. If I liked his/her work, and they wanted to use Abel hammers and Renner action, I'd let them use Abel hammers and Renner action. The rebuilder is MUCH more important than the parts chosen in my opinion. An experienced rebuilder can tailor the parts to meet your expectations when they know what to do with the parts they are using.

Last edited by GC13; 01/18/21 07:55 PM.
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Good rebuilders use the best parts for the particular problem, sometimes in consultation with the piano owner. The infinite variety of instruments, even with a single brand like M&H, means there is no one size fits all for every piano. For example, our tech let us try quite a few new and old key tops for our M&H before we settled on the Kluge as the best modern alternative to ivory. The ironic thing is we went through 18 months of import nonsense to bring the piano back in the country with ivory key tops but ended up ripping them all over after all.

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It really just comes down to you playing a piano and deciding if you like it or not, and the price too.

As an example, I would say the MHBB is one of my favorite designs, but I've played on some great ones and some that are terrible. The main reason MH are great to rebuild is because of the extra mass in the rim. Unfortunately, the original factory and the rebuilders who copy their recipe don't take full advantage of the thick rim. The mistaken belief that high tension scales need bigger hammers and thicker boards actually takes energy out of the system that a thick rim potential offers. MH soundboards are usually 5 to 8 lbs overweight. I find that downbearing is usually the main problem and is usually set at 1.5 degrees which creates a load of approximately 1200lbs that the board has to bear. Because of this, it eventually cracks up. Also a sign that it has suffered from fatigue.
All of this can be avoided with a slight change of the recipe. A lightweight soundboard of Swiss Red Spruce, A cold Press hammer ( I would use Ronsen normally, but since they are inconsistent, I would be leaning these days to Abel Naturals as my First choice). A 1/2 degree downbearing plan to maximize resonance, and a redesign of the string scale as their bass string design is a little chunky.
In some of their designs, they use a wooden rib tie. This is just stupid, and is a result of the tension resonator taking up too much space, and because of that, they weaken the 3 long ribs then try to put strength back into them with a tie of maple. They fixed this later by lowering the resonator. Many technicians opt to add a cut off bar, but this reduces sq. ft. which kind of defeats the purpose of getting a bigger piano in the first place. In the end, when mass permeates throughout the system, it causes an acoustic energy form that doesn't project well even though the tone can be beautiful.

-chris


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I just purchased a 1915 model A. All is original except new Abel(hornbeam wood) hammers, flanges, and shanks. I played it twice, about an hour total, and listened to the previous owner play it for about an hour. It SOUNDS!!!!. It has been meticulously maintained over its 105 years.

Last edited by Xam; 01/21/21 02:44 PM. Reason: Grammar

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