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The New Mason Hamlins

Posted By: pianoloverus

The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 01:08 AM

I have some questions:

1. Do you think it was a smart marketing move for MH to start using Chinese parts in their actions and(other places?) instead of Renner?

2. If you found two Mason BBs that sounded and felt exactly the same(same tone and touch), would you choose the one that included some parts from China or the earlier models without Chinese parts?

3. Do you think Larry Fine was correct in ranking the newest Masons as Class 2?

4.If you own a new Mason did it bother you when the Mason was demoted to class 2?

Thank you!
Posted By: kluurs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 01:37 AM

Long Thread on M&H and Larry Fine

See above thread which covered this issue extensively. I'd buy an M&H in a heartbeat - wouldn't bother me a bit. I trust the folks at M&H - to do right and make right. As far as being a "Tier 2" piano, no, I don't think they belong there. I don't think anyone in the know would worry about it.
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 01:39 AM

these are loaded questions, but i'm going to take a shot (or get shot) anyway.

1. and 3. --- i don't think it was smart, but for a different reason than i think you're implying. i don't think Larry was so much demoting them as an instrument as he was ranking them according to the image they conveyed to the consumer by outsourcing to China. category one is essentially money is no object when it comes to building and selling the piano. i'd be less inclined to pay a premium for a piano that was built with what i perceived were less than premium parts.

2. --- i would definitely go with Renner than with parts that have much less of a track record.

4. n/a
Posted By: bitWrangler

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 02:10 AM

Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:
2. --- i would definitely go with Renner than with parts that have much less of a track record.
Seems like this is the _real_ issue (and I think a reasonable explanation for down grading MH). Renner has been around forever and is a known quantity. The problem with jumping over to Chinese parts (or really any manufacturer that doesn't have the same track record) is the issue of the unknown. I don't know if enough parts and the type of parts warrantied an entire drop in "level", but then again, it's just one guys opinion anyway, right wink
Posted By: Craigen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 02:24 AM

IMO the only downside to M&H grands in the past, including their Golden Era" whenever that was, was the action. I thought the introduction of the Renner actions into the M&H grands was the final answer to a near perfect piano.
They had to know that the sea change to Chinese parts would be a huge negative, yet they took the risk anyway. I have only played a recent grand briefly. My quick impression was that I played much like the Renner ones I was fond of.
Just because the parts come from China does not make them, by definition, inferior.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 03:13 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Craigen:
Just because the parts come from China does not make them, by definition, inferior.
I agree. But how would you answer my second question?
Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 03:42 AM

The new Mason and Hamlin grands are fantastic pianos. As long as they keep a close eye on quality, and they definitely do, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing certain components that may, for all we know, be better than they would be if made here. The proof of the pudding is in the eating--and the new Masons are magnificent in every respect. The entire assembly process, including the actions, takes place in their Massachusetts factory. I have been fortunate in having extensive experience with a new seven foot Mason of around 10 years ago and a new seven foot Mason built last month. They are both extraordinary pianos. I never thought that the ten year old piano (which I have been playing since it was new) could be improved upon, but the Mason built last month is actually even better than the ten year old one. If I had any criticism of the ten year old piano at all, it was that the action was a bit on the heavy side. The action in the newer Mason is exceptional--even better than the ten year old piano's. In answer to your second question: if the piano is as fabulous as the Masons are, I do not care where the component part is made. To turn up one's nose at a piano just because it has foreign parts elevates form over substance. I completely disagree with Larry Fine's "demotion" of the Masons--he needs to get out there and play more pianos! It bothers me that the Masons were demoted, because I think that this reflects badly on Larry Fine, for whose judgment I generally have a great respect. He blew it on this one, though. Masons are great and becoming greater.
Posted By: kenny

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 03:49 AM

Quote
Originally posted by bitWrangler:
I don't know if enough parts and the type of parts warrantied an entire drop in "level", but then again, it's just one guys opinion anyway, right wink
Larry Fine . . . Just one guy? eek


Like it or not, agree with him or not, Larry Fine is virtually the Pope of Pianodom.
Posted By: Craigen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 05:12 AM

Pianoloverus,

If you found two BB's that played great and sounded the same and you found out one had a wet sand cast plate and the other had a V-Pro plate, would it make a difference?
Posted By: I. Bruton

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 05:15 AM

All I know is this:


Everything I've ever owned that has a stamp, decal, or any sort of posting saying "Made in China" has fallen apart much sooner than I would have liked. Mason & Hamlin should keep an eye on this issue. Whenever I buy that AA that's been tempting me, I think I'll have the action converted to all Renner parts.
Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 05:30 AM

How many Yamahas are worth rebuilding? I would stack any Mason up against any Yamaha any day. Masons have only improved over the years, thanks to the Burgetts' commitment to quality. They are handmade monuments to the timeless quality of their scale designs.
Posted By: I. Bruton

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 05:52 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Rank Piano Amateur:
[QB] How many Yamahas are worth rebuilding? I would stack any Mason up against any Yamaha any day...[QB]
Do I sense a bit of emotion in that statement? No one here is comparing Yamaha to Mason & Hamlin. For what its worth, Yamaha is lightyears ahead of most of the chinese manufacturers in product reliablity and consistency. I don't know how many Yamahas are worth rebuilding, but that is a moot point. I wouldn't hesitate to rebuild mine when they're 50 years old, nor would I hesitate to buy a Mason & Hamlin. Both brands have built a reputation on exceptional quality and neither should make compromises.
Posted By: kluurs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 06:26 AM

Mason & Hamlin have a very good reputation of improving everything they do. I think their new pianos play better than the ones from 5 years ago which played better than the ones five years before that.
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 06:28 AM

It's funny. I heard M&H had spec'd some parts from China, and I was excited. Figured they'd come up with an improvement or two. But Richard wasn't sure if my piano had any of those parts, unless those aluminium capstan screws are from China.

Was it smart marketing: Not the way it turned out.

Does it worry me? Not in the least. I'd probably buy the one with the Chinese parts in it if all else was equal. I like the thought of new ideas making it into my piano.

Do I agree with Larry Fine lowering their rating? I think his rating system is not workable. It is to subjective. But as long as he defines his terms and explains how he came up with his opinions, it might help some people.

Does it bother me that he lowered the rating? Yes, a little. But not because I own one. More because 1) it seems so closed minded. "If it ain't broke, you can't improve it" ??? and 2) I don't know if could have gotten more information before making the change. If M&H wouldn't share the information, then he was right to lower their rating!

Todd
Posted By: Rich Galassini

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 06:59 AM

kluurs,

I agree with you, regardless of where any of the components come from.

Isaac,

You may have sensed emotion from Rank Piano Amateur, but I assure you, RPA is anything but that. Although she does not make a living playing piano, she is a student of the craft of building and performing. I have lost count of the pianos she has purchased from me (I think the count is presently 6), and to put her feelings into perspective:

She still owns the BB she purchased from me 10 years ago. She traded a Bosie 225 that she bought 5 years ago because she enjoyed the new Mason BB so much.

Having said that, my father-in-law (82 yr. old ex marine who landed on Iwo Jima in the third wave) STILL won't buy anything Japanese because as a young man everything they made fell apart... It probably doesn't help that they shot at him so much either.

My 2 cents of perspective, wink
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 08:14 AM

you just can't get away from the fact that buying parts from China is motivated by paying less for the parts. and the parts are made less expensive at least in part by paying workers a lower wage. it may be that these parts will stand the test of time, but you can't be surprised that such cost considerations will distinguish you from some of your competition.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 08:43 AM

Perhaps people start to slowly understand that "China is not China" any longer and a lot more needs to be known before any judgement is done.

If out of 200 new piano makers 50 are lousy, 120 are average,25 are good and 5 are excellent - it's worth to look at least at these 5.

If there is even ONE Chinese parts manufacturer today who makes EXCELLENT parts, excellent enough that some of the best makers in Germany, U.S. and perhaps also Japan are already buying there, it's worth taking note.

Watch the next Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Chinese are expected to be the by far biggest 'loosers' in terms of per capita - population ratio to gold medal winners.

But they may very well still take most of the gold in total count.....

Norbert shocked
Posted By: U S A P T

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 09:48 AM

I'm still tempted to rate pianos according to their percent content of real wood -- as opposed to molded sawdust or splinterboard covered in veneer and slapped with a shimmering plastic clearcoat).

There are pianos ranked higher than M&H that are entombed in plastic. Now whether that is "music grade" plastic or not is not my area of expertise. But it should give people pause to take the ranking with a large grain of salt.
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 01:28 PM

One piece where I'd be really worried about if the origin is at the least doubtful would be the plate - good wet sand casting is difficult, and very tight quality control of the finished product is extremely important.

And I agree with USAPianoTrucker -- the content of real wood is a very important factor, especially for the sound. I wouldn't worry too much about the coating, but splinterboard and particleboard definitely are bad.

If all the quality issues are the same, who would you buy from: manufacturers in a country where environmental impact of production and labour rights are observed or from those where they couldn't care less about anything of these?

One area where the Chinese definitely are playing dirty is sports - the way they achieve the desired number of medals is completely irrelevant to them, as long as the numbers are correct at the end.

Not targeting anyone in this thread at all, but occasionally it seems to me a bit odd that the same people complaining about cost-saving attempts of any industry in the US or Europe then complain about the high prices of their products and go on to buy cheap stuff from China. Bertolt Brecht knew it all along: "Zuerst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral." (basically: money first, then morals)

Markus
Posted By: schmickus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 03:14 PM

Action production is not quantum-phyics, so I presume that the chinese action will perform well. Better than Renner? I doubt.
Cheaper than Renner? Yes.
So M&H will safe a few bucks. But it still was a stupid move.

Personaly if I bought a new Mason I would have the chinese action replaced with a Renner (or in my dreams with a Kawai action). For aesthetic reasons.
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 04:01 PM

Schmickus,
I like the idea of plastic/carbon Kawai parts too.

But, ISO 9000/14000 companies exist in China. Nearly 2000 last I looked. And 6sigma methodology can be translated into Chinese very easily.

I went to Renner USA's website. I didn't see anything which led me to believe they have implimented 6sigma or received ISO certification. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't, and either way there is no doubt they make great parts. But if M&H found a manufacturer in China that had quality they felt was better than Renner, at an equal or lower price, they should buy parts from them.

Todd
Posted By: I. Bruton

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 04:57 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Rich Galassini:
kluurs,

I agree with you, regardless of where any of the components come from.

Isaac,

You may have sensed emotion from Rank Piano Amateur, but I assure you, RPA is anything but that. Although she does not make a living playing piano, she is a student of the craft of building and performing. I have lost count of the pianos she has purchased from me (I think the count is presently 6), and to put her feelings into perspective:

She still owns the BB she purchased from me 10 years ago. She traded a Bosie 225 that she bought 5 years ago because she enjoyed the new Mason BB so much.

Having said that, my father-in-law (82 yr. old ex marine who landed on Iwo Jima in the third wave) STILL won't buy anything Japanese because as a young man everything they made fell apart... It probably doesn't help that they shot at him so much either.

My 2 cents of perspective, wink
Hey Rich, you put things into perspective quite nicely. Though, I'd point out that the Japanese overcame their lack of quality control to the point that by 1980 or so, they were considered the best manufactureres of automobiles, technology, etc. I'm simply saying that, as a consumer, I don't think China has arrived just yet.

(But, the Cunningham piano is an example of some fine work - so there is hope!)
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 05:22 PM

ISO 9000 does not say anything at all about the quality of a product - it merely says something about operational quality control and basically only requires you to document the process -- an ISO 9000 certified facility can produce highest quality or a heap of crap - as long as it is documented.

Markus
Posted By: packa

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 05:42 PM

You can dress it up anyway you like, but no manufacturer today goes to China to get better quality; they go to get lower costs at some acceptable level of quality. That is China's current role in the world economy. How and when that role evolves in the coming years is an interesting subject for discussion and speculation, but it doesn't change the current facts on the ground.
Posted By: RealPlayer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 06:14 PM

It is easy to look at the flood of cheap, poorly made consumer goods from China and generalize about all the country's products. As a tea lover, I am involved with some traditional Chinese products, such as tea and porcelain, that are beautifully made. I feel certain that if Mason & Hamlin are sourcing their parts with care and exercising quality control, then they will be fine.

What worries me most about Chinese business culture is, as we have all seen, a willingness to cut corners, corruption and dishonesty. In the tea world, there is intentional mislabeling and fakery, especially in the high-end Chinese teas. Importers have to be very hands-on.
Posted By: Grane

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:05 PM

Well, there is the reality and there is the perception. Right now with all the toy recalls, the toothpaste recall and other environmental issues, China does not have a stellar reputation.

I'd suspect that if M&H were making their decision today, they would not outsource some parts to China -- due to the perception.

Having played a 7 foot M&H a few years ago, found the action unplayable (for me), so making changes made sense. However when one pays many tens of thousands of dollars, image and perception are consciously or subconsciously factored into the purchase decision.
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:13 PM

MJS,

I agree with that. But consistancy is a big part of quality.

packa,
That is true to a degree. However if M&H wanted something different from what Renner offers, such as aluminum capstan screws, China might be the only place where contract manufacturing costs on a low volume product aren't prohibitive. The fact that items come from China doesn't mean they are lower quality. That is a generality based on how we currently utilize China's productivity.

You can also say that at what ever quality level a given Chinese product competes, it will likely be among the lowest priced options. Otherwise, why bother using it. The stigma attached is hard to overcome, but it may be they're competing at Renner on quality and are willing to make different parts.

Todd
Posted By: U S A P T

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:14 PM

I love the Kawai Millenium action. I think it's one of the best advances in piano science in the last 100 years. In fact, although a Steinway sits in my living room, if I had to rate pianos by consistent quality of shipping packaging, I'd have to rate Kawai #1 with Mason & Hamlin and Estonia running a very close second.

Those three brands aside, as for the particleboard content, pianos are heavy enough as it is. There is at least one brand ranked way higher than it deserves to be ranked (IMHO) and most industry people know which one I'm talking about. When you add heavy polyester finishes and make large parts of the piano out of fiberboard (a polite term for pressboard), you end up with a piano that is excruciatingly and unnecessarily heavy. Usually, there is an inverse relationship between the weight and the price -- meaning that a cheap baby or parlor grand nowadays with high MDF content can weigh as much as a Steinway B or Mason A, not because of full-perimeter plates or overbuilt construction, but because the lid, music desk, fallboard, and many internal parts are constructed of pressed wood PRODUCTS and not real, solid wood.

As an ex-mover I think it's ridiculous to have to have three people to move a 6- or 7-footer simply because it's made of office-furniture raw materials and so I have a chip on my shoulder about that kind of construction.

I've moved enough M&H's in my day to know that their lids and parts are made of real wood. They vacuum up the sawdust and dispose of it. They don't turn around and use it in piano construction.
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:14 PM

Quote
Originally posted by USAPianoTrucker:
I'm still tempted to rate pianos according to their percent content of real wood -- as opposed to molded sawdust or splinterboard covered in veneer and slapped with a shimmering plastic clearcoat).

There are pianos ranked higher than M&H that are entombed in plastic. Now whether that is "music grade" plastic or not is not my area of expertise. But it should give people pause to take the ranking with a large grain of salt.
What piano is rated above M&H and entombed in plastic???
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:18 PM

I can tell all of you that this seems like a big deal only here on PW. It rarely if ever even comes up when people are considering a M&H. When it does come up, it is usually because a weak salesperson carrying alternate brands knew a client was going to look at M&H, and tried to sully the brand in the client's mind. For anyone with any experience selling pianos, this is a gift. It is very easily dealt with. Often, the client now has a bias towards M&H because they were insulted by the weak salesperson's approach. Also, in my experience, the better the person plays the piano, the less any of this means to them.
Posted By: U S A P T

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:24 PM

Well put Keith.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:28 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Grane:

Having played a 7 foot M&H a few years ago, found the action unplayable (for me), so making changes made sense. However when one pays many tens of thousands of dollars, image and perception are consciously or subconsciously factored into the purchase decision.
But to the best of my knowledge lightening the action didn't mean they had to go to China.
Posted By: Axtremus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 07:54 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:

I can tell all of you that this seems like a big deal only here on PW. It rarely if ever even comes up when people are considering a M&H. When it does come up, it is usually because a weak salesperson carrying alternate brands knew a client was going to look at M&H, and tried to sully the brand in the client's mind.
[Jumping to Conclusion]

Ergo, there are lots of weak salespeople on PW who carry alternate brands.

[/Jumping to Conclusion]

laugh
Posted By: weazer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 09:03 PM

I would be surprised to hear that this is a concern to anyone who has been to the factory or has carried the Mason pianos on their sales floor. In 16 years in the piano industry, I have yet to come across another manufacturer that I feel is more highly concerned with its quality of product. There are a few out there that equal it, but not in the same price range.

This is being way overblown by dealers that carry competitive priced product and other manufacturers trying to bring Mason down.
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 09:38 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Ryan Crossette:
I would be surprised to hear that this is a concern to anyone who has been to the factory or has carried the Mason pianos on their sales floor. In 16 years in the piano industry, I have yet to come across another manufacturer that I feel is more highly concerned with its quality of product. There are a few out there that equal it, but not in the same price range.

This is being way overblown by dealers that carry competitive priced product and other manufacturers trying to bring Mason down.
I DON'T carry M&H, and I agree with you 100%!!!
Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/02/07 11:27 PM

A couple of points as I jump back in to this debate. First, I mentioned Yamahas specifically because I noted that Bruton (I am sorry, I do not know if you are Mr. or Ms) owns Yamahas. At least historically, Yamahas have not been in the category of pianos considered candidates for a complete rebuild when they wear out. Second, and much more importantly, a couple of the posts above seem to indicate that Mason's actions are from China. Unless my eyes deceived me on my recent factory tour of the Mason facility more seriously than my increasing age would otherwise indicate, Mason's actions are built in Massachusetts, entirely by hand, by people who clearly know what they are doing and masters of their craft. As an amateur pianist who has played the piano for some 45 years, at least on and off, in my opinion the new Mason actions are superior to the previous Renner models. But as I said earlier, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Third, as a child of the labor movement whose parents were both union organizers in the relatively impoverished clothing industry, would I prefer a piano entirely made under American labor laws, with American wages and worker protections, and with no imported component parts? Certainly--but the Mason, built from scratch except for a few component parts, is as close as anyone to meeting that standard. And I underline the component part piece--the pianos are ENTIRELY assembled by HAND in Massachusetts. Is there any piano brand out there at all that contains no imported parts of any kind anywhere in its makeup? I would be inclined to doubt it. And if there were, I would still need to love it before buying it at the price level we are discussing. When I was piano shopping 10 years ago, I tried every brand out there before settling on a Mason. And that includes Steinway, Baldwin, Bluthner, and Bechstein.
Posted By: I. Bruton

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 01:22 AM

For the record, RPA, my students call me Mr.
Posted By: Axtremus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 01:44 AM

Quote
Rank piano Amateur wrote:

Second, and much more importantly, a couple of the posts above seem to indicate that Mason's actions are from China. Unless my eyes deceived me on my recent factory tour of the Mason facility more seriously than my increasing age would otherwise indicate, Mason's actions are built in Massachusetts, entirely by hand, by people who clearly know what they are doing and masters of their craft.
What these folks really meant to say is: "Mason's action parts are from China."

Some posters can sometimes be quite loose with their terminology. So the next time you read "Mason's action is from China," just mentally substitute that clause with "Mason's action parts are from China," and discuss from that vantage point. OK? smile

(p.s. If the above seems confusing to you, also read THIS DISCUSSION and see if it helps. smile ]
Posted By: Norbert

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 02:30 AM

Quote
You can dress it up anyway you like, but no manufacturer today goes to China to get better quality; they go to get lower costs at some acceptable level of quality. That is China's current role in the world economy.
This is, IMHO a somewhat outdated take on things, was perhaps more true several years ago.

When talking to business people and entrepeneurs in Germany these days, one gets a very different opinion on that.

Cheap wages are available in may places today, Eastern Europe for example.

Even previously East Germany is lagging some 20-30% in wages behind the West, the goverment is and has been spending millions in tax incentives there....

So *low wages*, don't and can't explain all that's goin going here.

The truth is that China is becoming much more interesting today because of its unbelievable, almost unlimited potential for cash paying consumers and future customers.

And the Chinese are not dumb.

In a recent billion $ sale of 180 airbuses to China, the condition was "80% has to be built in China"

Same with the German high speed train "Transrapid", presently in negotiation to run between Shangai and Beijing - a seven billion dollar project.

China for cheap labour?

Nah, we want their 100's of millions of future customers. shocked

Even high end stuff?

Wait and see.

Close to my own home town of Erlangen, somebody in Bavaria with the name Siemens, Audi and BMW was just recently whispering some unintellible stuff into my ears.....

I doubt the French, Americans, English, Canadians, Japanese and Koreans, will be far behind....

Norbert :rolleyes:
Posted By: kenny

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 02:51 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Norbert:
Close to my own home town of Erlangen, somebody in Bavaria with the name Siemens, Audi and BMW was just recently whispering some unintellible stuff into my ears.....

Here is another example of you speaking in some secret code.

I'm not psychic.
Care to explain?

Why write stuff that everyone doesn't understand Norbert?
Posted By: Starting Over

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 03:16 AM

I understand that I won't be flying on any airline that uses Airbuses if I can avoid it... :p
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 03:37 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Axtremus:
Quote
Rank piano Amateur wrote:

Second, and much more importantly, a couple of the posts above seem to indicate that [b]Mason's actions are from China. Unless my eyes deceived me on my recent factory tour of the Mason facility more seriously than my increasing age would otherwise indicate, Mason's actions are built in Massachusetts, entirely by hand, by people who clearly know what they are doing and masters of their craft.
What these folks really meant to say is: "Mason's action parts are from China."

Some posters can sometimes be quite loose with their terminology. So the next time you read "Mason's action is from China," just mentally substitute that clause with "Mason's action parts are from China," and discuss from that vantage point. OK? smile

(p.s. If the above seems confusing to you, also read THIS DISCUSSION and see if it helps. smile ] [/b]
I still think this is a misstatement. I would say "SOME M&H action parts are made in China".
Posted By: Confucian

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 07:02 AM

Think of it this way: the Germans to this day can't launch an astronaut into space. China did.

The complexity of making piano action is child's play compared to building a space program.

As long as MH does its quality control, action from China can be as good as Renner.
Posted By: Axtremus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 09:08 AM

OK... the former USSR has also launched astronauts into space. Name a USSR-made piano (or even just action part) that's widely recognize to be better than German-made piano (or action part). laugh
Posted By: kenny

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 09:19 AM

I'm getting confused now.
Do these countries send their pianos into outer space?

If so, why?

And more importantly, do the European pianos still emphasize the fundamental when played in an atmosphere with no air?
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 04:53 PM

Wasn't the Fandrich upright action designed for zero gravity? Reset springs or something?

Does it include Chinese parts?
Posted By: piqué

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 05:06 PM

the fandrich action is now built by renner in germany. last i heard.
Posted By: mdsdurango

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 05:14 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Grane:
Well, there is the reality and there is the perception. Right now with all the toy recalls, the toothpaste recall and other environmental issues, China does not have a stellar reputation.
Add to this that the Chinese government EXECUTED the Chinese government official who "allowed" the exports of ill repute. heck of a country! Let's support them as much as we can.
Posted By: Digitus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 05:34 PM

Quote
Originally posted by kenny:
Quote
Originally posted by Norbert:
[b]Close to my own home town of Erlangen, somebody in Bavaria with the name Siemens, Audi and BMW was just recently whispering some unintellible stuff into my ears.....

Here is another example of you speaking in some secret code.

I'm not psychic.
Care to explain?

Why write stuff that everyone doesn't understand Norbert? [/b]
Sorry I am late to this, but I think I know what Norbert is saying. Here's an example: my brother has a factory in China (I won't say where exactly, to protect the innocent!) that makes parts for BMW and Mercedes Benz. Their quality requirements are so high that if even one part in a shipment is out of spec, the whole shipment gets sent back.

There are indeed manufacturers in China who have extraordinary precision manufacturing capability. All the parts in an action are machined, then finished by hand. There are no mysterious or arcane incantations that one needs to know to do this. If a Chinese manufacturer can make an action from the same carefully selected lumber used by Renner, to the same or better precision than Renner, then I don't see why they can't last as long as a Renner action, or perform as well or better.

Yes there are dodgy manufacturers in China, as there are in any country you care to name. But don't tar the whole lot with the same brush. smile

If M&H was demoted because of the use of Chinese parts in the action then I think the demotion was done for the wrong reason.
Posted By: Rich D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 05:49 PM

So M&H by using Chinese parts now makes pianos of equal or higher quality than previously, makes them cheaper to build, thereby benefiting both the manufacturer and dealers, and also continues to increase list prices. Sounds like a great business plan to me. smile

Rich
Posted By: Digitus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 05:57 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Rich D.:
So M&H by using Chinese parts now makes pianos of equal or higher quality than previously, makes them cheaper to build, thereby benefiting both the manufacturer and dealers, and also continues to increase list prices. Sounds like a great business plan to me. smile

Rich
Bingo!

Think of how much margin Apple makes on its products (made in Taiwan, China, Thailand, Singapore...)?
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 06:02 PM

Does anyone know if any other parts in M&H pianos besides some of the action parts are manufactured in China?
Posted By: curry

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 06:07 PM

Plates
Posted By: RealPlayer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 06:56 PM

Quote
Originally posted by piqu�:
the fandrich action is now built by renner in germany. last i heard.
But the Renner employees have been known to bring in Chinese takeout food on occasion.
smile
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 08:26 PM

ok, mdsdurango has pressed my button in referring to the repressive nature of the chinese government.

should we be so enthusiastic and so deeply enmeshed in business with a country that has so little regard for free speech and freedom of expression?

are we so eager to stock our walmarts, and obtain quality pianos at a better price point, that we are willing to overlook who we are dealing with?

i'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to wanting products that i can afford. but i have some obligation here. the wages in china are going up, and that is a good thing. but it seems to me that the allure of the chinese business model is obscuring the problems with their government model. I recall awhile back one of our internet search engine companies was willing to limit what chinese citizens could search for in exchange for the opportunity to do business there.

the productivity rate there has been incredible, but at what costs to their citizens. the ny times recently had extensive reporting on such costs as terrible pollution and the depletion of groundwater.

forgive my rant, but it seems to me these things should be talked about more. maybe not here.
Posted By: I. Bruton

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 08:50 PM

Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:
ok, mdsdurango has pressed my button in referring to the repressive nature of the chinese government.

should we be so enthusiastic and so deeply enmeshed in business with a country that has so little regard for free speech and freedom of expression?

are we so eager to stock our walmarts...
Remember whem Wal-Mart used to tout their pride with the "Made in the USA" promotions? I liked that. I want that back.
Posted By: weazer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 09:16 PM

So it's okay to support Japan, Korea, Indonesia, etc... but not China? Did you guys beat up the new kid in school as well or just until he proved he could fight back. China will win this fight and are no worse than when the Japansese were doing the same thing many years ago and now we all seem to love them.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 09:45 PM

Quote
Remember whem Wal-Mart used to tout their pride with the "Made in the USA" promotions? I liked that. I want that back.
If you want exclusively 'made in the good old USA', go to a Goodwill Industries or Salvation Army store.
Posted By: daifanshi

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 10:09 PM

Quote
Originally posted by I. Bruton:
Remember whem Wal-Mart used to tout their pride with the "Made in the USA" promotions? I liked that. I want that back.
I. Bruton, maybe you can start getting "that back" by giving away your two Yamaha pianos...

The reality is that nobody today can honestly not buy something made overseas even if they wanted to. It would be too expensive, too inconvenient, and too frustrating.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 10:16 PM

Quote
Here is another example of you speaking in some secret code.

I'm not psychic.
Care to explain?

Why write stuff that
Because some people can read between the lines and 'get it'.

Kenny,you need to come with me to famous Erlangen beerfest 'Kerwa' to lighten up. thumb

What will you be doing if you get a *hint* there by the girls, whispering "unintelligable stuff into your ears" - then don't get it?

Insider tip: they wanted to buy a beer for you..

Norbert wink
Posted By: Digitus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 11:54 PM

It's kind of hard to live a "Made in the USA" life these days, particularly when the country owes so much money to the rest of the world. And there are no such things as perfect countries or perfect governments. Reality often has a nasty habit of refusing to match fantasy. :rolleyes: laugh
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:20 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Digitus:
It's kind of hard to live a "Made in the USA" life these days, particularly when the country owes so much money to the rest of the world. And there are no such things as perfect countries or perfect governments. Reality often has a nasty habit of refusing to match fantasy. :rolleyes: laugh
Ver well put.
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:08 AM

Quote
Originally posted by packa:
You can dress it up anyway you like, but no manufacturer today goes to China to get better quality; they go to get lower costs at some acceptable level of quality. That is China's current role in the world economy. How and when that role evolves in the coming years is an interesting subject for discussion and speculation, but it doesn't change the current facts on the ground.
Paul, well put...it is a reality (at this moment) no matter how one tries to spin it.

Also, the fact that they play unfair when it comes to environmental affairs etc (I did even mention human rights!!). is just wrong...it rubs me the wrong way when I see US companies buying into, and feeding this practice; by doing so, they become part of the problem.....like feeding the 'enemy'...literally! I'm afraid I am not astute enough in business and economics to understand why this is allowed to happen, but logic tells me it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

There, I said it.....and I own a 'pre-Chinese" M&H BB. If I were buying today, I would definately put the "Chinese Connection" down in the negative column.
Mat D.
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:23 AM

Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:

should we be so enthusiastic and so deeply enmeshed in business with a country that has so little regard for free speech and freedom of expression?

are we so eager to stock our walmarts, and obtain quality pianos at a better price point, that we are willing to overlook who we are dealing with?

forgive my rant, but it seems to me these things should be talked about more. maybe not here.
I DO think this should be discussed here....bringing this to light and putting it into perspective can only help fight the trend...If the Chinese abided by all THE rules as we here in ther US must abide by, it would be a different story. As it is, it is unfair and immoral IMO. Thanks for sharing your passion & thoughts.
Mat D.
Posted By: daifanshi

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 10:53 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Mat D.:
Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:
[b]
should we be so enthusiastic and so deeply enmeshed in business with a country that has so little regard for free speech and freedom of expression?

are we so eager to stock our walmarts, and obtain quality pianos at a better price point, that we are willing to overlook who we are dealing with?

forgive my rant, but it seems to me these things should be talked about more. maybe not here.
I DO think this should be discussed here....bringing this to light and putting it into perspective can only help fight the trend...If the Chinese abided by all THE rules as we here in ther US must abide by, it would be a different story. As it is, it is unfair and immoral IMO. Thanks for sharing your passion & thoughts.
Mat D. [/b]
In other words,
"Chinese, bad bad bad!!! American, good good good!"

Really, this is starting to look more and more like some sort of cultural xenophobia.
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 11:40 PM

Quote
Originally posted by daifanshi:
Quote
Originally posted by Mat D.:
[b] [QUOTE]Originally posted by gutenberg:
[qb]
In other words,
"Chinese, bad bad bad!!! American, good good good!"

Really, this is starting to look more and more like some sort of cultural xenophobia. [/b]
I am obviously referring to Chinese business practices, but go ahead and try to defend some of the Chinese social injustices.
Mat D.
Posted By: Confucian

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/03/07 11:44 PM

Apparently I touched a nerve.
Posted By: daifanshi

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:20 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Mat D.:
Quote
Originally posted by daifanshi:
[b]
Quote
Originally posted by Mat D.:
[b] [QUOTE]Originally posted by gutenberg:
[qb]
In other words,
"Chinese, bad bad bad!!! American, good good good!"

Really, this is starting to look more and more like some sort of cultural xenophobia. [/b]
I am obviously referring to Chinese business practices, but go ahead and try to defend some of the Chinese social injustices.
Mat D. [/b]
I'm not sure how you concluded that I was defending ANYTHING. Pretty big stretch. I was just pointing out how absurd and ridiculous your "morality" rant is.

And what specific business practices are "immoral" and how does this relate to pianos?
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:30 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Confucian:
Apparently I touched a nerve.
Sorry, no, i just went back and read your post for the first time.

Certainly the Chinese can make a fine action part, but that is not really the point in the bigger picture IMO.

Sorry, I usually don't get involved in these arguments (they never go anywhere but down), but the topic struck me (again) and I happen to be a M&H owner so I thought it was somewhat relevant.
Mat D.
Posted By: Confucian

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:34 AM

As a Chinese who lived in China till 1984 and as an American who has been living in the US since 1984, I think we should put things in perspective so as to see how far China has progressed in the past 20 years.

China before 1984 was totalitarian, repressive, communist in the worse sense of the word.

Today's China is an entirely different China than the one I grew up in. I visited China a few times in the past few years. Every time I went back, I saw astonishing improvements in the lives of ordinary Chinese people. When I left China in 1984, the tallest building in Shanghai was 24 stories. A bicycle was considered a status symbol. In the community I lived (some 500 families), there was one piano.

Last year when I went back, I visited my old neighborhoold. The old buildings were torn down. 50-story apartment buildings stand in their place. Teachers, office workers, some factory workers live there. There are about 120 cars, about equal number of motor cycles, and at least a few dozens of pianos (Unlike cars, I can't see pianos parked in the garage, but I can hear them as I go up and down the elevator!)

It is true that today's China still does not have as much personal political freedom as the US. However, the people have vastly improved living standards, and enjoyed a kind of political freedom that I never had when I grew up there.

It takes time for political freedom to come to a country where economic development takes first priority. Taiwan and Singapore - 2 major growth engines in Asia - went through a similar process as today's China. People don't realize that just a short while ago, Taiwan was a dictatorship. Democracy will eventually come to China -- economic prosperity is the bedrock on which democracy can take hold. Show me a country where every citizen is well fed, well clothed, and well educated -- I can guarantee you it is a democracy.
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:40 AM

Confucian said: "It is true that today's China still does not have as much personal political freedom as the US. However, the people have vastly improved living standards, and enjoyed a kind of political freedom that I never had when I grew up there.

It takes time for political freedom to come to a country where economic development takes first priority. Taiwan and Singapore - 2 major growth engines in Asia - went through a similar process as today's China. People don't realize that just a short while ago, Taiwan was a dictatorship. Democracy will eventually come to China -- economic prosperity is the bedrock on which democracy can take hold. Show me a country where every citizen is well fed, well clothed, and well educated -- I can guarantee you it is a democracy."

Confucian, thank you for your story and your insight...I agree with you...freedom is what human beings yearn for naturally...it is a need.
Mat D.
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:42 AM

Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 01:42 AM

Originally posted by packa:
Quote

You can dress it up anyway you like, but no manufacturer today goes to China to get better quality; they go to get lower costs at some acceptable level of quality. That is China's current role in the world economy.
Why is it so difficult to accept the possibility that an item from China could be of a higher quality than what is available from the competition elsewhere??

Take plates for example. If Mason & Hamlin wishes to buy a plate in the US, they must buy from Kelly, wholly owned by Steinway. Walter does this. Mason & Hamlin has chosen to go elsewhere. If they choose to buy in Europe, they must in all probablility buy from Pilnikov, which is already busy due to the closure earlier this year of Europe's other large foundry. It's not like M & H can go to the Yellow Pages and ring up the local plate suppliers.

If Mason and Hamlin says that their new plate results in a better product, I'm inclined to believe them. Just because O.S. Kelly has been in business forever in the US doesn't make it better than all other options.

As to China's 'role in the current world economy', who is the casting director assigning the roles?
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 03:07 AM

The BRIC emerging markets are likely to dominate the world economically in the near future. That doesn't mean they won't have growing pains. Most of what we read or hear about China in the US is horribly biased by our culture and our revisionist history. Stereotyping a country with 1billion people is a sure sign of that.

And try to remember, when you look for Made in the US tags because you don't like China's politics, that we were as bad or worse than the Chinese for years. We had slaves, we offered money for scalps, we lied and broke treaties, and Joe McCarthy was what, 50 years ago?

China has four times our population and a lot less money. Despite that their government is laying the foundation, the infrastructure, for amazing growth and development. So before you judge them, consider how many more Chinese would be sick and starving if their government were only twice as efficient as ours is right now.

Freedom is a relative need, we give up many freedoms even in the US. Food, clean water, shelter . . . have historically taken precedence over freedom in many countries. Or don't you guys think slavery had an economic rationale?

When you pass judgement on the Chinese government, try not to forget our growing pains were equally horrendous. Rich as our country is, it wasn't too long ago that our government locked up people for their political beliefs, segregated them due to the color of their skin, or supported invading another country because a president lied.

Oops, sorry, better turn rant mode off before I go even further off topic. I'll head to bed now.

Todd
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 05:40 AM

just to be clear, i'm not looking for "made in the us" tags. and i'm sorry if i sound zenophobic. that was not my intent. in fact, i have a great deal of trouble with what we have done in the world for many years now. i can understand somebody not wanting to do business with us because of this.

and i know it is difficult, if not impossible, to base purchasing decisions solely on the country of product origin.

and i have respect for some of the pianos coming out of china, and for the people who buy these pianos because they are decent and affordable pianos.

my problem is that we tend to equate business success with a status that i don't think is deserved by the chinese government. it may be that they have come a long way, as Confusion believes, but they have a long way to go as ar as the basic rights that i cherish. to say that they will get there is by no means assured. and flooding the world with goods is not going to get them there.

i don't think there is any question but that we are there because china currently has one of the cheapest labor forces. that is what we do. go where labor costs are cheapest. and we are there because, as norbert recognizes, it is a huge country of consumer opportunities.

i don't like to measure things in consumer opportunities. or lowest labor costs. i will, and have, paid more to avoid this.

i'm not saying we shouldn't do business with china. a lot of good that would do. what i am saying is we have an obligation to influence our own government to influence china to liberalize rights in the country. we have no right to just make a buck off the opportunities that china represents.

now, to return to this thread. Larry Fine was NOT demoting M&H because they did business with china. he ranked them lower because they have taken steps to cut costs. they could be dealing with pakistan, for all Larry cares. they are not taking a cost is no object approach which other first category piano manufacturers do take.

thats fine for M&H to do, and they maintain a wonderful product, but if this takes them out of the first category it should come as no surprise to anyone.
Posted By: Digitus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 09:05 AM

If M&H cut costs and still makes instruments that are as good as or better than before then what's the big deal? That's the question.
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 09:22 AM

@Norbert -- actually a lot of German business are withdrawing production from Eastern Europe and China because of the near impossibility of proper quality control. With wage gaps slowly getting smaller, that is becoming more and more an issue. Part of the current economic upturn in Germany and reduction in unemployment (which unfortunately took a while to materialise) is that production (and not only the design and marketing) is called back into Germany because most German companies, in the markets they compete in (which are generally high-price markets) just cannot afford doubtful and varying quality from their suppliers and manufacturing. If you can only sell half of what is produced, what benefit is it if wages are low?

@Cofucian: Germany has no need to launch an astronaut into outer space to prove itself. And actually is part of a rather successful commercial space programme with the Ariane rockets. The technology exists.
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 09:26 AM

@Toddler2 - of course, consistency is part of quality. But with an ISO9000 certification you can still consistently produce shoddy quality and you won't lose the certification as long as you document your processes.
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 11:32 AM

mjs,
I agree, thought I had already said so.

But M&H can't test every screw and spring before using it. So consistancy makes it possible for them to trust the parts they spec in China.

If the random sampling they tested were all better quality than the Renner parts they examined, and the factory is ISO9000 certified and using 6sigma methodology (which I consider more valid), they likely have a better part than Renner produces.

I don't know if they do. But unlike many, I clearly believe it is quite possible to beat US and German quality in China, and to save money as a bonus. Outsourcing is no longer a strictly cost saving strategy, even in China.
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:24 PM

Toddler2 - must have misunderstood your earlier statement (my apologies), since I thought you qualified your agreement with making it sound as if consistency was almost a sufficient criterion (which it isn't) rather than a necessary (which it is) of quality.

To be honest, ISO9000 certification in my opinion is a bureaucratic heap of crap - interestingly mostly displayed by companies with a (at least perceived) deficit on the quality front. Those companies who intrinsicly have an approach to quality wouldn't benefit by going through a "certification" - it becomes an administrative exercise in self confirmation which costs time and money.

To be honest, I also believe that there is no reason to believe why a Chinese company shouldn't be able to produce first rate quality - but that has nothing to do with them being certified or not.

However (and I think I said that earlier), I do see problems with sourcing parts (and that applies to anything) from China, but these are mostly political, social, and environmental issues. But this is not limited to China - I also disagree with buying meat from other continents just because it may be cheaper to produce there as an example.

As I have said in a different thread - I have never played or seen a M&H piano, and sourcing action parts (and plates? I'd be much more worried about those, to be honest) from China may on paper be a sensible business decision based on an completely unemotional cost-benefit analysis. However, pianos are highly emotional items, and therefore only time will tell whether the decision was wise.

Markus
Posted By: Axtremus

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 12:54 PM

If we assume, for the sake of arguemnt, that:

<dd>Chinese action parts are "better than" German Renner action parts</dd>

Then does it not follow that:

<dd>Boutique piano manufacturers like Bösendorfer, Fazioli, Blüsthner, etc. who continue to use German Renner parts are just shallow stuck-ups who either (1) are so far behind in keeping up with industry development that the fail to recognize and take advantage of the availability of superior action parts, or (2) just want to use lower quality brand name parts for the sake of using brand name parts -- all with a sustained cost disadvantage?</dd>

Furthermore,

<dd>Why aren't Renner themselves start making parts in China, or at least source sub-components from China?</dd>

There is simply no intellectual consistency in all these.

(A) You can't argue for "Chinese parts are better than Renner parts" without implicating those who use Renner parts compromising on component quality.

(B) You can't argue for "Renner parts are better than Chinese parts" without implicating those who switched from Renner parts to Chinese parts compromising on component quality.

So which is it?

If you aren't willing to accept the consequences of choosing either (A) or (B), then the best you can do is:

EITHER
(C) admit you don't know which is better and stop participating in this ****ing contest;

OR
(D) argue that "Chinese parts and German Renner parts are equally good", which implicates that Renner is charging a premium for no good product-based reason. [A variant of this is to argue that Renner pays more because they're adhering to stricter environmental protection guidelines and give their employees better benefits... so it's morally justified to pay Renner a premium for all the social and environment good Renner is doing, vis a vis the stereotypical "evil, irresponsible" Chinese manufacturers (which kind of jive with this other discussion wink ) ]

OR, if you really, really want to...
(E) argue that somehow certain piano designs have certain magical properties that makes them work better with parts sourced from German Renner versus parts sourced from China (and vice versa). Then you have to explain those magical properties and why either German Renner or the Chinese cannot make "equally good" parts that can work "equally well" with piano designs with such magical properties. Personally, I look forward to reading lots of BS from this angle. So good luck with that, and have fun! smile
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 01:14 PM

Good points there, Axtremus - but it does imply that only two factors - cost and quality - are decisive for a company where to source parts from.

Maybe it all boils down to which parts manufacturer can best meet the needs of which piano builder? With the needs being any combination of cost, quality, readiness to make desired changes (flexibility), delivery times and whatever you can think of? The beauty of that (if I may say so) is that we now have so many factors that no answer is possible, so everybody is wrong (and right in some respect). wink
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 01:25 PM

Quote
Why aren't Renner themselves start making parts in China, or at least source sub-components from China?
Is it proven that they are not, or is it assumed that they are not?
Posted By: Monica K.

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 01:34 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Axtremus:

(D) argue that "Chinese parts and German Renner parts are equally good", which implicates that Renner is charging a premium for no good product-based reason.
I'm not choosing any of your options, Ax (just call me an action agnostic wink ), but I did want to point out that *EVEN IF* Chinese and Renner parts are equally good, it could still make sense for Renner to continue charging a premium on the grounds of long-term reputation and brand identity.

Anybody remember the New Coke fiasco? Coke did a gazillion focus groups and market research studies, showing that, in blind taste tests, people overwhelming preferred the taste of New Coke to regular Coke. But they sadly underestimated the nature of their customer's brand loyalty and the vehemence of the backlash when New Coke was introduced.

M&H's decision to use Chinese parts reminds me very very strongly of this saga...
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 01:35 PM

The last time I checked, their products say "Made in Germany" which means that at least a very high proportion (but not everything) of it has to be made here.
Whether all the screws and similar things come from Germany isn't quite clear, but very likely (there are major manufacturers in the area). I would also think that some of their customers might have a say in where they source parts from.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:03 PM

Quote
The last time I checked, their products say "Made in Germany" which means that at least a very high proportion (but not everything) of it has to be made here.
Is that a government standard that applies to a variety of products or an industry standard self-enforced by piano makers?

What is the minimum standard for domestic product content? Is it based on the estimated value of the different parts, their bulk, their weight, or simply the number of imported parts proportional to the domestic?

I only ask because "made in USA" can mean many different things and many games are played with this phrase.
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:34 PM

Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:

now, to return to this thread. Larry Fine was NOT demoting M&H because they did business with china. he ranked them lower because they have taken steps to cut costs. they could be dealing with pakistan, for all Larry cares. they are not taking a cost is no object approach which other first category piano manufacturers do take.
On what do you base your statement of Larry's reasoning?
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:35 PM

As far as I know there is some minimum standard based on the estimated value of components (in the sense of raw materials + value added). There is no central authority governing, apart from case law that a significant majority has to be domestic (otherwise it would be in violation of fair trade laws). The emphasis is on what is "significant".
The case-law is somewhat complicated, as it always depends on the individual case, but those components and the labour which essentially define the final product have to be domestic for it to carry the label.
Translating to piano actions: screws? probably irrelevant where they come from, unless they would in particular define a special aspect, say: are essential for regulation; where the wood comes from is probably irrelevant, but the labour done in it needs to be domestic because that is what essentially makes the product distinctive.

Basically you can't buy components elsewhere and assemble them in Germany and label it "Made in Germany" unless it is the assembly ALONE which makes the product distinctive (which wouldn't be the case for a piano action).

And that is, by the way not limited to "Made in Germany" but applies to all suggestions of the same.

Somewhat unsatisfactory, but I don't think there is a better answer.

Markus
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:39 PM

It just occurred to me: it would be interesting to know if the plate would already constitute an essential part of the piano in the sense that it needs to be domestic for the labeling. My gut feeling is no, because the plate alone doesn't make a good instrument, but rather how the instrument is built around it. On the other hand a bad plate can ruin it despite all other efforts.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 02:53 PM

Quote
As far as I know there is some minimum standard based on the estimated value of components (in the sense of raw materials + value added). There is no central authority governing, apart from case law that a significant majority has to be domestic (otherwise it would be in violation of fair trade laws). The emphasis is on what is "significant".
The case-law is somewhat complicated, as it always depends on the individual case, but those components and the labour which essentially define the final product have to be domestic for it to carry the label.
Translating to piano actions: screws? probably irrelevant where they come from, unless they would in particular define a special aspect, say: are essential for regulation; where the wood comes from is probably irrelevant, but the labour done in it needs to be domestic because that is what essentially makes the product distinctive.
There seems to be some wiggle room in this, especially if it takes into account labor. I believe that M & H puts together its actions in the US. I'm no expert, but I would assume labor is a very large part of the cost of a completed action.

Quote
It just occurred to me: it would be interesting to know if the plate would already constitute an essential part of the piano in the sense that it needs to be domestic for the labeling. My gut feeling is no, because the plate alone doesn't make a good instrument, but rather how the instrument is built around it. On the other hand a bad plate can ruin it despite all other efforts.
Where are the German makers buying their plates? Are they all going to Pilnikov?
Posted By: mjs

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 03:00 PM

Plates? I don't know, but there are many small and medium sized foundries in Germany that do wet sand casting. Steingräber used to have theirs cast in Bayreuth, but that foundry doesn't have the capacity anymore at the moment, so now they have them cast somewhere else nearby (still in Bavaria) - that was what I was told in June. No idea about the other manufacturers.
Posted By: kenny

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 03:38 PM

What's so magic about having everything come from one country?

That seems rather limiting, if not narrow-minded, and it may prevent using "better" parts made elsewhere.

Better to have a "Quality wherever you find it" philosophy.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 03:41 PM

Just a thought

Mason and Hamlin's decision to source parts in China has definitely polarized their customers and fans. This is the second long thread to show that effect, the first being the one that began with Cecil Ramirez' opening post, and ended with the thread being locked. http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18686.html#000000

To make everyone happy, Mason and Hamlin should offer its own action and a Renner action as options. There would be nothing strange about that. Charles Walter is doing that in the US and Bohemia in Europe. There are probably others as well.

Since Mason and Hamlin believes that its new action is superior and improves its product, they should obviously price it slightly higher. The resulting collision of the ' you get what you pay for ' thought process with the ' sourcing in China is invariably a matter of cutting costs ' thought process would certainly be amusing, to say the least.
Posted By: Les Koltvedt

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 04:06 PM

To offer choices in the manufacturing process does nothing but drive the COST up, makes the process that much more complex. It would not be in M&H's best interest to do that and try to keep cost under control. Being an ex DCX now Chrysler LLC employee, Germans have a completely different mind set then the REST of the world ..imo The world has a perception of what German technology is and it may not be accurate.

I have attended the last 2 M&H factory tours (thanks FB) and I feel they are doing a <b>Exceptional job :t:
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 04:07 PM

turandot,

Just to clarify the Walter grands only come with Renner actions and Kluge keys.
The uprights are offered with two choices, both come with Abel hammers. In which the alternative to the Renner is $1,000.00 less. For an upright that is a huge difference. Especially if most here are saying there is no difference in quality.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 05:35 PM

Rod,

I was only citing examples of piano makers who offer a Renner option, not equating Walter pianos with M & H pianos.

Monster,

It may not make sense to offer options on automobile assembly lines, and it may not make sense for small production piano makers either. But the fact is, some limited production makers seems to feel it is a worthwhile option. In addition to Walter and Bohemia I believe that Steigerman premium and Perzina are Asian makers that offer Renner upgrades.

from Monster M & H
Quote
I have been tracking this thread and trying to keep out, but it finally got me…
I hope it wasn't my post that 'got you'. I actually agree with everything you say about M & H's commitment to quality. My comment about offering a Renner downgrade was partly tongue in cheek. To me, M & H is taking a hit for being forthright, while others are working silently in the shadows.
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 05:41 PM

Steve,

that is my interpretation of what Larry says in the latest supplement. i don't have it with me now, but i believe his description of category one pianos emphasizes the cost is no object distinction of these pianos. these makers put in parts that are the best available, i.e. renner action parts, regardless of cost. at least these parts are recognized by most of us as the best available. china's parts cost less and don't have a track record. parts made in korea or indonesia would be viewed basically the same (pakistan was a bad comparison).
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 05:48 PM

turandot,

I did not get the tongue in cheek. Did not think you meant a Renner would be a downgrade.

My comment was simply stating that the Walters do not offer other options on the grands as you alluded to. They are Renner actions. Renner is not an option it is standard.
Posted By: Les Koltvedt

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 05:56 PM

I also believe that Larry's supplement stated that S&S NY quality is DOWN but that they remained in the Class 1c category only because of their overall sound and not the build quality of the product... that just doesn't make sense to me...

Further more, reading posts in the tuner-tech forum, Renner is not the most desirable end product, so what does that say? Is Renner just the Cadillac of actions?
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 06:22 PM

Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:
Steve,

that is my interpretation of what Larry says in the latest supplement. i don't have it with me now, but i believe his description of category one pianos emphasizes the cost is no object distinction of these pianos. these makers put in parts that are the best available, i.e. renner action parts, regardless of cost. at least these parts are recognized by most of us as the best available. china's parts cost less and don't have a track record. parts made in korea or indonesia would be viewed basically the same (pakistan was a bad comparison).
On another brand, I made the same assuption. After communicating with Larry directly, I found that his basis was NOT what he seemed to imply in the Suppliment.

Based on that experience, I would advise everyone NOT to make that kind of assumption.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 06:53 PM

from Steve Cohen
Quote
On another brand, I made the same assuption. After communicating with Larry directly, I found that his basis was NOT what he seemed to imply in the Suppliment.

Based on that experience, I would advise everyone NOT to make that kind of assumption.
Well, apparently you can communicate for free.
Most of us will need to pay the consultation rate. laugh That seems expensive to find out that what he means is different from what he says.

In any case, Category 1....built to a standard with no Asian content...... is rapidly drifting toward never-never land.
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 06:55 PM

Monster,

What is the most desirable action parts according to technicians?
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 06:58 PM

I am still not convinced that there are ANY new pianos being made today that do not have at least some parts made in China.
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 07:00 PM

turandot,

What is never-never land? Do you mean they are too expensive?
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 07:12 PM

Steve,

I'm sure nobody knows where every screw is made.
That been said I do not find a screw being as important for performance or lasting value. Screws don't have moving parts.

I can say, the Walters tell me that they do not use any Chinese parts in the grands or uprights unless, once again, as I have said, you order a Chinese action for the uprights, to save some money.

I have heard the same for some German pianos.

For the record I am commenting on this thread not to put down the M&H but in response to comments made by others.
I find nothing wrong with the performance of the M&H.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 07:50 PM

Quote
What is never-never land?
It's a place that does not exist.
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 08:00 PM

turandot,

So are you saying that the best pianos made in the world are going the way of M&H and utilizing parts from China?
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 08:15 PM

Just from curiosity, does anyone know which action parts M&H is getting from China?
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 08:33 PM

Hi Rod,

I'm saying that Mr. Fine's category 1, as he presently describes it , will probably have fewer members as time goes on because it entails requirements that will be harder and harder to meet, except for extremely limited production companies. However, I suspect Mr. Fine will revise the category to accommodate pianos with known Asian content if he is satisfied of the quality of the Asian content.

I'm also saying that rating a piano or piano components based solely on country of origin is as preposterous as rating the quality of a piano or a piano component based on its cost.

And yes, I do think that Mason and Hamlin is getting a very raw deal.
Posted By: weazer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 09:39 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Rod Verhnjak:
I'm sure nobody knows where every screw is made.
That been said I do not find a screw being as important for performance or lasting value. Screws don't have moving parts...
When I was at the factory all the parts were seperate in different boxes. None of them were pre-assembled moving parts. Mason workers put the entire action together from what I could tell. Pretty good quality control if you ask me.
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 10:27 PM

turandot

I Agree thumb
Posted By: swampwiz

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 10:52 PM

I would not consider purchasing any type of expensive piano brand if there are any non-trivial parts from non-Japan Asia. This cannot possibly help out M&H, unless they decide to significantly reduce their price level so that they are no longer an expensive brand.
Posted By: swampwiz

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 11:05 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Axtremus:
OK... the former USSR has also launched astronauts into space. Name a USSR-made piano (or even just action part) that's widely recognize to be better than German-made piano (or action part). laugh
Estonia?
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 11:06 PM

from swampwiz
Quote
I would not consider purchasing any type of expensive piano brand if there are any non-trivial parts from non-Japan Asia.
Well, maybe Mason and Hamlin doesn't want your business, wiz. Could be they've heard about the nightmare you caused for Petrof and GIC. laugh
Posted By: weazer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 11:07 PM

Quote
Originally posted by swampwiz:
I would not consider purchasing any type of expensive piano brand if there are any non-trivial parts from non-Japan Asia. This cannot possibly help out M&H, unless they decide to significantly reduce their price level so that they are no longer an expensive brand.
But you would buy a Japanese piano with many more asian part for around the same price?......I'm not seeing the logic here. It's not that much more in price already. Where do you think they ought to be priced?
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/04/07 11:28 PM

Quote
Originally posted by swampwiz:
I would not consider purchasing any type of expensive piano brand if there are any non-trivial parts from non-Japan Asia. This cannot possibly help out M&H, unless they decide to significantly reduce their price level so that they are no longer an expensive brand.
IMHO, that is a foolish position.
Posted By: Utrumpet

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 01:08 AM

Well said Steve. I agree. 'Foolish' is a much gentler word than came to my mind.
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 01:19 AM

Ryan,
Do you know which were from China?
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 01:44 AM

Turandot,your reply to wiz was pretty funny, but I think others are a little quick to call him "foolish."

In his latest supplement, Larry Fine notes that Group 1 pianos put quality considerations far ahead of cost, etc. He goes on to say that M&H , while a great instrument, has a manufacturing approach more consistent with Group 2. Group 2 differs from Group 1 in part because of cost considerations. Group 1, we know, is a lot more expensive.

This is basically what wiz is saying. Its not illogical, and its not foolish.

Or did Larry not mean to say what he said, Steve.
Posted By: weazer

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 01:49 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Toddler2:
Ryan,
Do you know which were from China?
Unfortunately I do not.
Posted By: cm2872

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 02:16 AM

I thought I remember reading in a different thread a while back that the cost savings on action parts from China could not possibly be significant enough on the bottom line for M&H to risk their reputation (to save a few bucks).

In other words, the parts must indeed be of better quality in M&H's view.

Just how much savings can be had by outsourcing parts from China versus Germany (Renner)?
Posted By: John Pels

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 02:18 AM

Gents, this makes for a great discussion. I'm not sure that there is any likelihood of closure anytime soon. I feel that it was STUPID from a marketing standpoint for M&H to go with the Chinese action parts to save a few dollars. It completely alters the perception of the quality of the instrument RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY. If you are essentially building something that is perceived to be a cost no object, best in the world product, you do EVERYTHING in your power to create that perception and thereby add value. This is especially critical for a company in M&H's position, that is a re-formed entity seeking to reassert some dominance in the market.And make no mistake, this is a niche market. The folks that buy M&H aren't the same gang hunting Pearl River or Yamaha. They are buying something a little unique and they want bragging rights. There are NO bragging rights in Chinese parts.

I own a vintage M&H and it is a great instrument. I wouldn't buy a new American piano that used Chinese parts. It says all of the wrong things to me, even if there is actually no difference real or otherwise. There is plainly no "track record" for Chinese action parts. The Koreans not long ago, manufactured many action parts that have been disassembling ever since. The action felt was sub par as was a lot of the glue. It just didn't hold up over time. Will the Chinese? Who knows! If instead they had said that they would be using Tokiwa parts from Japan (I assume that they are still made there,)then I would have felt better. Nonetheless the standard of the world and the action parts that I use in rebuilds are typically Renner. They have been uniformly of a higher quality than the domestic stuff (no longer available), and Tokiwa as well, though Tokiwa rates a VERY close second.

Bottom line is that M&H needs to be PERCEIVED to be striving to be the best. This hurts that perception. In 10 years this may be a moot point, but if action parts start failing, the whole perception of M&H could change overnight and that could be disastrous. I think that the bean counter that hatched the idea of sourcing action parts from China should be drawn and quartered. I'm not so much worried about the plates. That's a different manufacturing process. I think that Fine's cautious attitude is warranted. If his re-classification hurts the brand, once again, they brought it on themselves.
Posted By: Confucian

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 02:42 AM

"When you pass judgement on the Chinese government, try not to forget our growing pains were equally horrendous. Rich as our country is, it wasn't too long ago that our government locked up people for their political beliefs, segregated them due to the color of their skin, or supported invading another country because a president lied."

Todd, well said!
Posted By: cm2872

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 02:42 AM

Another thought:

Many of us on PW criticise people who claim Steinway is best because we believe it's all marketing hype.

Is there any difference with respect to Renner? Or is it all marketing hype? Has Renner built a name for itself that hasn't been challenged? Does Renner = the best?

We praise Kawai for having the guts to develop a composite action, yet criticize M&H for trying something different?
Posted By: Confucian

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 03:08 AM

John Pels: "I feel that it was STUPID from a marketing standpoint for M&H to go with the Chinese action parts to save a few dollars"

Mason Hamlin is only a $17MM company, including other products. It's SMALL business -- and marketing is expensive. I worked in marketing for Unilever, and it is not uncommon to have a $35MM new product launch budget. M&H are doing everything they can to keep their head above water. I wouldn't be surprised that the company changes hands again in a few years.
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 03:22 AM

from Gutenberg
Quote
Turandot,your reply to wiz was pretty funny, but I think others are a little quick to call him "foolish."
Gutenberg,

I was trying to be light-hearted. I hope wiz took it as such. Anyway, I think he's used to me getting on his case about his Petrof adventure.

Your interpretation of L. Fine's commentary on M&H's ranking is the same as mine. I just don't see a necessary correlation between buying the part with the highest cost and getting the best part. The relative cost of labor and the relative strengths of currencies play a part. I think it's naive at this point to assume that what costs the most worldwide is in fact the best.

from John Pels
Quote
I feel that it was STUPID from a marketing standpoint for M&H to go with the Chinese action parts to save a few dollars. It completely alters the perception of the quality of the instrument RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY. If you are essentially building something that is perceived to be a cost no object, best in the world product, you do EVERYTHING in your power to create that perception and thereby add value. This is especially critical for a company in M&H's position, that is a re-formed entity seeking to reassert some dominance in the market.And make no mistake, this is a niche market. The folks that buy M&H aren't the same gang hunting Pearl River or Yamaha. They are buying something a little unique and they want bragging rights. There are NO bragging rights in Chinese parts......

I think that the bean counter that hatched the idea of sourcing action parts from China should be drawn and quartered.
John,

I'm not qualified to respond to your specific concerns about the parts, but I think there is reason to believe it was not a bean counter's decision. It may be instead an attempt to exert greater control over product quality and variance among parts. Here is what Cecil Ramierz had to say in the older M & H thread. I think he addresses the points you are making now.

from Cecil Ramirez
Quote
Our company philosophy has been "use the best parts available, build the best piano possible". This philosophy is prevalent in our manufacturing process. When a part comes from a specific place in the world, that does not automatically mean that the part gives the best performance or reliability. I know that this is a radical concept for some readers, but here's the harsh truth: you can no longer strictly associate origin with quality.

In case some of you think that my statement is "selling out", consider the following. It would be much easier on our marketing (and less expensive overall) to stay with famous OEMs and use their parts without having a second thought about their quality. What reason could a successful piano company have to jettison traditional suppliers? If you think it's just to save money, better think again. While many of these famous OEM suppliers have not been in business as long as Mason & Hamlin, the potential collateral damage involved in lost sales to a company that makes only 350 grands a year is not for the faint of heart. And the "so-called savings" gained from using a "less popular" part in our pianos would not offset that kind of loss. So let's put the money issue to rest right now. We have conducted our own involved and highly educated manufacturing tests and have concluded that the parts we are using in our pianos today are the best parts we can use.

Here is Keith Kerman's explanation (from the same thread) of what Mason and Hamlin is actually doing.

from Keith Kerman
Quote
Mason & Hamlin makes its own action. They do not use a Renner action. They never used a Renner action. They do not use a Chinese action. They have never used a Chinese action.
Mason & Hamlin makes its own action, but they use parts sourced from action part makers such as Renner. They also source some parts from China, as well as other parts of the world, for the actions made by Mason & Hamlin, in the USA, for the Mason & Hamlin pianos.
A company like Estonia, has an action made for them by Renner. It is made in Stuttgart, Germany, at the Renner factory, to Estonia's design. Companies such as Bluthner do the same thing.
There is a great distinction between a Renner Action, or a Chinese Action, and an Action made by Mason & Hamlin in the USA, of which some of the parts come from Renner, as well as other parts of the world, including, but not limited to China. Mason & Hamlin also may change suppliers in the future as they see fit. They have the option to use any suppliers in the world, as they make their own actions. I hope this clears this issue up.
John,

One thing that is pretty clear in the old thread....Anyone who had first-hand playing experience with the previous M & H products and the new series posted that the new ones were even better than the previous ones. In the case of sales professionals, this could be seen in the light of their efforts to sell their inventory. But the same opinion was given by M & H owners, including some owners of the previous models.
This may be a case where PERCEIVED QUALITY is of no value.
Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 03:36 AM

Well, we have cerainly beaten this topic to a pulp. It is worth noting that there is NO criticism ANYWHERE in the above lengthy thread of the sound or performance of the new Masons. The thread is all about perception, based on the entirely unfounded position that the non-moving Chinese parts in Masons must, because they are from China, be inferior to the parts they replaced. I would urge anyone who thinks this to find a new Mason and play it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, after all.

Those of us who, like me, love the new Masons and value their quality will continue to do so. Those of us on the Piano Forum who, unlike me, believe that the country of origin of a non-moving part by definition and without additional evidence determines its quality will no doubt continue to believe that, however flying in the face of reality their position may prove to be. Those of us on the Piano Forum who, unlike me, believe that perception is more important than performance will continue to believe that it was a marketing mistake (not a quality one) to include non-moving parts from China because of the adverse impact of such inclusion on the bragging rights of the piano brand. Let's move on.
Posted By: John Pels

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 05:38 AM

William, with all due respect, I have already read all of that old stuff. Ramirez can make any rationalizations he wants. His posture is defensive. Why? He can make any dopey claims about Chinese action parts he wants. How do you evaluate parts over time if the time hasn't happened? HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN EXISTENCE??? It is the biggest pile of balderdash I have heard. But in his defense, what else can he say?

For the sake of comparison, I have an SD10 Baldwin that was underwater in New Orleans for a day. What is miraculous is that the wippens are still intact. The felt fell off, but the wood maintained its integrity. The pivots are not totally rusted. Most of the bushings are still intact. These are Renner parts. Of course when I get around to it, they will all have to be replaced nonetheless, but they didn't disintegrate and they still function pretty much as they should, a heck of a lot better than some Steinways with verdigris anyway.

Keith and I tend to agree on virtually all points. I agree, the action is "Mason and Hamlin", but what exactly does that mean. They source the action frame where, the action brackets where, the hammers, shanks and flanges, wippens where, keys where? When we talk action parts we are talking basically all of the moving parts. Wippens, shanks and flanges, and hammers, typically comprise what we call the action. I feel quite secure that we are talking basically here of the aforementioned action parts, maybe the damper action as well. Mason and Hamlin are assembling "their" action from components purchased from whom? I am picking on the moving parts largely because as I opined previously, the Koreans made some real junk that all techs now contend with. The time has passed and they are now being evaluated and found wanting.

Piano amateur, you are MISTAKEN!! We are not talking about non-moving parts. The only non-moving part is the plate. And yes, I am sure brand new it will play wonderfully. My question is for how long will that continue? Ramirez doesn't know, no one knows, because the parts have not been in existence long enough for ANYONE to know. I love M&H. I hope that they last for 100 years. I only opined that I hate to see a company shoot themselves in the foot by making assumptions that cannot be validated in the short term. I never said that Chinese parts were inferior. I said it takes time to get to that truth.Who knows, maybe in another 20 years I will be using Chinese parts in my CC2 to replace the Renner parts installed presently. That's about how long it will take to determine whether they are indeed of the same quality.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 05:59 AM

All I can say is that it is my strong belief that Mason will be upgraded in the near future once again to their rightful place in tier one.

Nicely besides Estonia, of course.....

Norbert laugh
Posted By: turandot

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 06:33 AM

Hi John,

Thanks for the response. What can I say? I guess I'm just one of the dopey ones who take the 'dopey claims' at face value. Cecil Ramirez did say that he understood that from a marketing angle these changes might not be popular. I guess you feel that M & H is just trying to save a few bucks. My instinct tells me that they were less than satisfied with certain parts they were receiving and made a change.

Maybe Rank Piano Amateur is right that it's time to move on. I still wonder if it is proven or just assumed that all the parts of the Renner action are sourced in Germany. The post from mjs indicates that it is not necessarily the case.
Whatever, I always enjoy reading your posts.

Keep the faith,
William
Posted By: pianobroker

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 08:29 AM

From what I have found out from conversing with a few action part manufacturers in China is that for a manufacture to tool up and do a run on a custom action part to ones specs, they need a minimun 5000 piece order. Most of the Chinese pianos utilize a generic Renner type copy action part manufactured by the few exclusive action part factories.If this is true than most of the parts are of equal quality though many piano manufacturers design and assemble their own action stack. True there are probably factories that machine parts to a higher precision level than others but they are still available to all the Chinese piano manufacturers.

I also find that hard to believe that M&H in assembling their own action, actually assemble each and every wippen in that, it is a moving part. I could concieve of them maybe assembling the flanges to the shanks but again what for.

Do you really think that M&H would make this risky move on their part knowing the consequences of public perception unless there were other internal politics involved. I doubt it!

As for Renner action parts.They are far from perfect. All the high end German piano manufacturers have a quality control division that inspects,accepts and rejects each and every shipment of Renner parts from the factory. I personally order just as many Renner action parts as the smaller manufacturers (restoration purposes) and constantly send back my share. Though I must say,we've done over 250 restorations using Renner action parts with only one faulty gluejoint on a Renner wippen (that I know of) Not bad! Why would I make a change?
I've said this before (John P. will agree) if quality upgrade was the issue,why not go Japanese. Tokiwa parts have a proven track record much more so than the Chinese plus they will tool up and do smaller runs,so I've heard. Even the Japanese parts are still making changes in improving their quality materials which Renner has already incorporated (ex.syntheic knuckle)You think the Chinese are seasoned more so than the Japanese. Me don't think so.
Why take the chance unless their is a financial concern. New M&H play fine but I still use Renner exclusively in a high end M&H restoration.
Posted By: NoctuGranes

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 12:27 PM

Interesting thread...kind of...but I'm shopping for a grand and I think a much more important question is how the M&H plays. I live in New England, and love the idea of a local american piano, and I like the M&H sound better than most. However, I've played 4 AAs so far (including 2 rebuilds and 2 new) and in every case I felt like I was walking somebody else's large poorly trained dog: the things just seem to run away from me. I'm guessing it's more the thundering bass than the action, but maybe some of each. Just feels unrefined. Visited Faust Harrison last week and like the feel of the Estonia so much better...wish it sounded like a M&H, though.
Have I tried the wrong pianos? Do they have a giant showroom in Boston I should visit?
Posted By: John Pels

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 01:24 PM

PB, I agree. I never assumed that M&H did anything other than buying a box of wippens, a box of shanks and flanges and a set of hammers and assembling them. It would be silly to assume that they work any other way. It makes perfect sense to assume that they are using a "generic" Renner or Renner copy. The action was likely designed around such parts thereby making it less expensive to source parts from a few manufacturers, Tokiwa included.

Cud518, it is likely not such an onerous task to request voicing that will even out the sound of the M&H's that you reference. BUT...you are on a slippery slope trying to get the American instruments to sound more European. That is the allure after all of the classic American grand. That's sort of like trying to turn a rottweiler into a terrier. I always thought that it was easier to control a powerhouse piano by learning to play in a more quiet subtle way. BUT...when you need the power, it is readily available.
Posted By: Rich Galassini

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/05/07 01:58 PM

Quote
Visited Faust Harrison last week and like the feel of the Estonia so much better...wish it sounded like a M&H, though.


That is surprising. You had mentioned "unrefined", which I would never use to describe a well prepped Mason, particularly one presented by my friends at F-H.

But if you genuinely prefer the more reserved tone of the Estonia, that would be something completely different. The model that each company uses for tone is different and there is subjectivity to that. Rest assured that both pianos are very fine instruments.

Keep us posted,
Posted By: Les Koltvedt

Re: The New Mason Hamlins - 10/08/07 03:37 PM

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