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Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin

Posted By: concertkey

Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 03:03 AM

I'm currently shopping for a new grand that will be my "final" piano. I tend to trend toward the "American" sound and love the Mason and Hamlin BB but also realize that the Estonia 190 seems to be a good deal for the money and may be a viable option. New Steinways are over my budget. Could I get some opinions from those who have shopped these brands? Would the Forster 190 or 215 make me as happy as either one of these?
Posted By: Cork

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 03:19 AM

Any of those brands would satisfy virtually any good pianist.
Posted By: Rick Clark

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 03:39 AM

I agree with Cork, but I think the extremely solid and heavy construction of the M&H will make it a better piano when it gets old, and a worthy candidate for rebuilding when the time comes. I suspect it will be worth a lot more in the long run, too.

Regards,

Rick Clark
Posted By: Steve O.

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 04:41 AM

I too debated about a BB and an Forster (incidentally, two of the heaviest pianos inch for inch). I ended up buying the Forster due to a preference for the sound. I also preferred the Forster to that of the Estonia. If you like the American sound, however, your preference may well be the Mason. All are fine pianos. You should play them all and get the one that speaks to you. I think that resale is a secondary consideration for most purchasers of large grands.

Best,

-Steve O.
Posted By: Penny

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 05:48 AM

What about a Charles Walter for an American piano/American sound for around $20k give or take? Although I haven't experienced it first-hand (other than Jim L. having a salesman hold his cell phone as he played a Foerster in New Jersey!!!), I'm told the AF is a more European sound. Also check out Schulze Pollmann for another reasonably priced grand that delivers a premium performance.

Then again, if you have the money for a Mason ... there's not much else to talk about!

penny
Posted By: CrashTest

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 06:33 AM

I don't see how a Mason and Hamlin BB can compare to an Estonia. I have played a good number of both instruments (Although more BB's than Estonias) and I always found the Estonia, while having a good tone, to have a fairly weak bass. The BB on the other hand, is very powerful, and a good deal bigger. I like its tone and sound more as well, I feel it projects more, especially in classical music.
Posted By: gryphon

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 10:45 AM

M&H v. an Estonia? what kind of price are you getting on the BB?!
Posted By: Peter 88

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 12:58 PM

Quote
I'm currently shopping for a new grand that will be my "final" piano. I tend to trend toward the "American" sound and love the Mason and Hamlin BB but also realize that the Estonia 190 seems to be a good deal for the money and may be a viable option.
From what I have learned here and from others and from shopping around, the Mason & Hamlin is the standard of excellence for new pianos because of its design and because of the way it has been manufactured since 1995. I havenít played a seven-foot piano, ever, that rivals the power and richness of a BB. It has an incredibly responsive action and seems to be built to withstand the worst that the severe northeast climate can throw at it. Regardless of what you might pay for one, it might well prove to be the best long-term piano investment out there. Just be sure to find one that speaks to you (each one is unique) and that it has been well prepped. I played a poorly prepped BB recently and would have completely soured on the brand had I not known why I hated that piano.

As to the European pianos, they almost all sound fine (if you like the bright European sound) Ė until you start to play the Romantics. In my experience, even the Bosendorfer starts to crash. None of them, except the Fazioli (I am told), is built for the big stuff. I have played BBís that never crashed on me. I also wonder about how well a European piano will hold up over the years in certain areas, especially the northeast.

If my budget absolutely did not allow for the purchase of a new BB, and I didnít own an old Mason or Steinway that I could have rebuilt, I would buy an Estonia 190 (it is certainly the best deal for the money). I played one recently (at the home of a friend) and found it to be as nice as any 6í European piano I have come across (and a lot nicer than most new Steinways). The action felt great and I was very impressed by the solid construction. But just as with the purchase of a BB, be sure to find a 190 that speaks to you and that has been well-prepped. I would also try to buy one from a dealer who has a good trade-up policy. Various dealers around the country carry both Estonias and Masons. So you can buy an Estonia now and trade up to a Mason later. If I lived in WA, I would see Alex. In PA, I would see Rich. And in CT, I would see Ori at Allegro. I think I heard that Faust Harrison in NY carries Estonia (perhaps I read it here). If they do, I would definitely check them out. From what I have been told, their Masons are prepped to the hilt. I will be there at the end of August, so I will let you know what I find.
Posted By: kenny

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 01:48 PM

I can only add that besides all 3 being great pianos, they are all great values too.
They compete favorably with much more expensive pianos.
Unlike the more widely known names, these 3 are lot of piano for the money.
I think you can't make a bad choice here.

Good prep from the best tech you can find before the sale and during the piano's first 2 years is essential for any piano.
Posted By: concertkey

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 01:56 PM

I'm getting a wealth of good information from all of you on my very tough decision. To respond to a few of you (I'll figure out the quotation system later):

I have more than one Mason and Hamlin BB in polished ebony that has been offered under 40K. The tough decision is whether to borrow to meet the BB price or purchase the Estonia or Forster which is in budget. As much as I love the BB, one could purchase an Estonia and a car for the same amount of money!

I will be going back to play all of the pianos that interested me (round two) this coming week and will check on the Forster for the comment about it crashing with the big romantic literature. I'll hit it hard with the opening of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto!

I appreciate Rick Clark's comments about the value of the piano in the long run and for rebuilding purposes.

My wife and mother both like the sound of the Estonia but I prefer the sound of the M&H.

I have been to Cunningham's (PA) and Faust Harrison (NY) to play their inventory. Both stores have been great.

Is the BB too much of a piano for a 13' x 16' room?
Posted By: Rick Clark

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 02:37 PM

For my ears, that would be too big (loud) a piano for that space. I would find myself backing off of the louder passages so as not to fatigue my ears. Though if you have high cathederal ceilings it will be less of an issue than if you have low 8' ceilings.

One of the things I love about Mason & Hamlin is how the dynamics match the 'body feel' you get through your hands. But if one is holding back on loudness, it kind of defeats the purpose.

I would want a Mason & Hamlin A for a room that size. I think the dynamics match the room perfectly yet the bass scale is remarkably smooth for a piano that size.

Regards,

Rick Clark
Posted By: kenny

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 02:40 PM

Quote
Originally posted by concertkey:
Is the BB too much of a piano for a 13' x 16' room?
This has come up before.
Some say yes.
I don't have as much experience as Rick. (I'd listen to him.)
I have a BB. There is volume to spare, but I don't regret putting that big piano in the room.
I think of it as a Ferreri. It can go 200 MPH, but it can also go 55.
Voicing can affect the impression of loudness, so find a good tech.
My BB is in a slightly larger living room, about 250 square feet, but there is an adjacent 200 sq ft dinning room adjacent with a large opening between the rooms. Here's pics.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum_members/Kenny1.htm
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum_members/LAparty.htm
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum_members/LAparty2.htm

The piano was in two different locations in these photos.
Heavy carpeting with heavier padding, thick drapes, tapestries may soften sound.
Have you considered the M+H A? It is also plenty of piano and I think I would be happy with it.
Would your dealer consider letting you try each piano in your home, you pay shipping?
Posted By: kluurs

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 03:03 PM

No matter what, I'd take the Mason & Hamlin. I'd take the Mason & Hamlin over a Bosendorfer for that matter -- personal taste. It is a phenomenal piano and a bargain taking all factors into consideration. If that room opens to another room, the BB might work. If it is pretty closed off I'd say go with the A. If in doubt, talk with the dealer & get an A delivered -- if you can handle more -- ask to trade immediately on the BB. Might have to cover the shipping - but still cheaper than buying your last piano twice -- as I did.

Ken
Posted By: Peter 88

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 03:16 PM

Quote
My wife and mother both like the sound of the Estonia but I prefer the sound of the M&H.

I have been to Cunningham's (PA) and Faust Harrison (NY) to play their inventory. Both stores have been great.
Did Faust Harrison have just Masons or did they have Estonias as well?
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 11:11 PM

It's really a bit of 'apples' and 'oranges' here.

Estonia sound often appeals to the particularly musical and sensitive ears [female?] who somewhat appreciate the resonnance,refinement and clarity this intrument clearly delivers.

And on price and expected appreciation it has few equals.

Mason Hamlin does all of the above but also appeals to the "animal" within yourself, the player.

It is able to 'lick like a poodle' and 'bite like a Rottweiler'.

Sorry, bullmastiff.

[Rottweilers are more likely to come with our own quite deadly...ahem....SAUTERS..... laugh laugh ]

norbert wink
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/02/03 11:20 PM

I would have to say that Mason & Hamlin builds a solid and powerful piano...their 7 foot has more power than many 9 footers.

However..you are comparing two very fine, well made pianos. The Estonia, like many other European pianos, has more exotic and arguably better wood material. However that is highly debtable and mainly a matter of personal opinion and taste.

The Estonia does have a sweeter and more expressive tone (in my opinion), but the Mason & Hamlin delivers a clear tone as well.. just with somewhat more fullness.

So this truly comes down to a matter of tastes mostly. European pianos sometimes keep their value better because they are, well, European pianos. But then again, this IS a Mason & Hamlin you are talking about. M&H offers a piano that, in my humble opinion, is a step above a New York Steinway, for a price that is at the very least slightly less than a NY Steinway.

Either piano are great choices! Good luck! smile
Posted By: Steve the ragtimer

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/03/03 12:51 AM

In my search last year (which ended up with a M&H A) I played just about every piano mentioned in this thread. The Forster had the fullest "American-like" sound of any of the Europeans. The Estonias were all nice, but each one sounded quite different, including some which approached that fullness, and others which were thinner/brighter/Mozart-like.

The BB is THE BB - no sound like it in the world. If you can afford it, have the space, and that is the sound you love, go for it. You also couldn't go wrong with the Forster, again, with the caveat that you have to love the sound from that instrument. The Estonias are nice, but make sure the one you choose has the sound you want.
Posted By: concertkey

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/03/03 02:34 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Penny:
[QB]What about a Charles Walter for an American piano/American sound for around $20k give or take?
Posted By: concertkey

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/03/03 02:44 AM

Oops. Still working on the quoter. In response to the Charles Walter, I did try the instrument and didn't like the action or sound of the one I tried.

The Mason and Hamlin "A" is a wonderful instrument but doesn't have the refinement or as big a sound as the BB. As much as I enjoy both models, the highest and lowest octaves haven't been as strong on the fundamental as I would like. I've been told that a good tech can alter this somewhat.
Posted By: CrashTest

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/03/03 02:54 AM

I find the M and H BB to be comparble, if not a little inferior, to a NY Steinway B. When well prepped, both are great instruments, it really depends on taste. I would go with the B, but it is more expensive, therefor changing the game a bit.
Posted By: Mark & Laura

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/03/03 03:52 AM

Our BB has been in our home now for four months and we have never regreted our decision. A great company with great people that produce a superior product.
Posted By: Peter 88

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/03/03 12:06 PM

Quote
I find the M and H BB to be comparble, if not a little inferior, to a NY Steinway B.
You must be talking about that one out of ten new B's that has good sustain, a good set of hammers and a soundboard that is free of ridges (heralding cracks). I saw one like that here in Boston last year. The sound was quite nice, but the non-Renner action was a detraction. Have you ever driven your car on an ordinary road just before getting onto a freshly black-topped, super smooth road? You can have that same experience with pianos. Just play a new NY B and then move over to a new BB. This probably won't work with a new Hamburg B because (I am told) it has a good Renner action.

As you can tell, I am not a fan of new NY Steinways. I do, however, love the old ones. I own an old 'O' that I am planning to have rebuilt. In the hands of a top re-builder, these pianos can become jewels.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/04/03 09:57 AM

If you go to Faust Harrsion Pianos you can try out both Estonia and M&H in the same place.
Posted By: Jolly

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/04/03 03:17 PM

Correct me if wrong, but I thought all BBs shipped with Renner actions, and the hammers were Renner blues.
Posted By: Peter 88

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/04/03 10:28 PM

My understanding is that new Mason BB's and new Hamburg Steinway B's have Renner actions and Renner hammers, but that new NY Steinway B's have NY Steinway actions and hammers.
Posted By: curry

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/04/03 10:55 PM

Hamburg Steinway grands use action parts made by Renner,They are not the classic "Schwander"type actions called Renner actions but are of the same design as the New York grand action. These are also balanced(weighed-off) differently than New York models.New York imported alot of their parts from Renner for the model B&D grands years ago when the action manufacturing equipment was on it's last legs and quality was suffering. smile
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/05/03 12:56 AM

...the benefit of which obviously, was not given to their "smaller models" customers.

And I always thought "small is beautiful".... wink

norbert
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/05/03 01:38 AM

My BB is in my living room ----same size as your space...it is voiced to the room----no problems whatsoever; I play with lid up or lid closed.

Something about the feel of the BB versus the A (also an excellent piano) I definately wouldn't worry about the size of the room as long as you have a good tech do your voicing.

Mat D.
Posted By: concertkey

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/05/03 03:51 AM

Thanks for the comments about the M&H BB and room size. I'm going down to Cunningham's tomorrow to play their BB and then back to Faust Harrison on Monday to compare a BB from 1996 that was never sold but refinished by Faust Harrison. It was impressive the first time I played it last week. My concern is the depreciation that will take place when that "new" 1996 piano leaves the store. Both stores also carry Estonia but to date, the Estonia has not exhibited the power or sparkle of either Mason model. Sarah Faust, a pianist herself, was more than willing to customize the action on any of their pianos to the customer's request. I was interested in a deeper aftertouch and a "crisper" action on the BB.
Posted By: CrashTest

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/05/03 05:11 AM

I've played the pianos at Faust Harrison as well, and the BB really impressed me- just as much as a new Steinway B I played elsewhere that same day.
Posted By: Ringer

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/05/03 08:35 AM

Sounds like the power of the M&H has gotten to you! smile As an Estonia owner, I'll admit that I would have gotten a Mason and Hamlin myself, but my budget was limited to Estonias. Still, I'm having a great time with the Estonia 190 and still am standing 100% behind it. (when I'm not playing wink ) As a matter of fact, at the NW piano party, it was mentioned that the Estonia sound almost leans to the American group as opposed to the European. The exact comment was it was like a not-grown-up M&H. Anyway, good luck in your search for your piano; you'll know it when you find it!
Posted By: concertkey

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/06/03 02:03 AM

I re-measured my family room and found that it is 13' x 20' not 13' x 16'. I also neglected to mention that there is a 6' x 8' alcove attached to it. After playing the BB today, I think I'll be alright with that piano in that space. Just a note to those who think I can afford the M&H BB: this piano will put me into debt but I'm willing to drive my 11 year old Camry for another 4 years to buy a "final" piano that I absolutely love. I started my piano search planning to spend 20K and thought that the Estonia would be my choice. It still could be my choice although it is not my first choice. My wife still loves the Estonia 190!
Posted By: CrashTest

Re: Estonia vs. Mason and Hamlin - 07/06/03 04:25 AM

I do not think you will be dissapointed. As a pianist, I have played a few differnent BB's, and I have always loved their sound.
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