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I am so sorry to hear about M&H's experience with the ruthless business practices in China. I used to be a tea fanatic, and learned that even in tea -- perhaps China's most famous product -- there is rampant copying and fakery of CHINESE brands by Chinese, especially of the most-prized varieties. You needed to be a detective to find the authentic items, and the reputable sellers!

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Originally Posted by wolfgangmeister
perhaps now that I have provided the context of my comment it makes more sense?

No, it doesn't. Let me say that I know what you are trying to say. I just think it's incorrect. It may be by privilege that you had the resources to buy a piano (or it may not--perhaps you earned the resources), but that you chose to convert those resources into a piano is not a privilege. It's simply a choice you made. Some guys buy motorcycles, or cars, or boats, or whatever. You chose to buy a piano. It's just a consumer choice. It may bring you joy. It may inspire you. But possessing it, in and of itself, is not a privilege.


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Originally Posted by wolfgangmeister
perhaps now that I have provided the context of my comment it makes more sense?

No, it doesn't. Let me say that I know what you are trying to say. I just think it's incorrect. It may be by privilege that you had the resources to buy a piano (or it may not--perhaps you earned the resources), but that you chose to convert those resources into a piano is not a privilege. It's simply a choice you made. Some guys buy motorcycles, or cars, or boats, or whatever. You chose to buy a piano. It's just a consumer choice. It may bring you joy. It may inspire you. But possessing it, in and of itself, is not a privilege.

On the other hand, if you look at the history of privilege in certain countries among certain races, it starts to make sense again - not about having pianos specifically, but having the wealth to buy what you choose. On a global level, I think those of us who have pianos enjoy certain privileges that many don't.

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I’m not going to get into racial issues, but possessing wealth may be a privilege (or it may not), however, what the wealth is spent on is not a privilege. It’s simply a choice.

In an alternate universe, if M&H said we only sell to certain special people, then perhaps that specialness might equate to privilege. In the real world, M&H will sell a piano to anyone.


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"Privilege" can mean a "special advantage enjoyed by someone."

"Special" can mean "not common."

An "advantage" can be a "benefit" - like a good.

Putting it together, saying one feels "privileged" to own and play his piano is like saying he feels that owning and playing his piano is an uncommon good in his life.

Words mean slightly different things to different people.


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Buying a piano does not constitute a special advantage, IMO. M&H will sell a piano to anyone. It's simply a purchase.


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in many contexts and from many perspectives, u.s. consumers above a threshold of bare necessity and subsistence can be considered privileged. for a household where having a console piano meant a significant investment, having the means to acquire a nice grand is a privilege of possessing sufficient surplus above subsistence to have that choice. no, for most u.s. or materially advanced societies, it's not a privilege in the same sense as sumptuary prohibitions against prescribed classes of people, or access to tightly rationed goods, but in a wider perspective it's not an exaggeration or distortion to consider it one.

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Originally Posted by wolfgangmeister
From the age of three, I wanted a grand piano very badly. My parents had very limited means and I would ask my parents to go visit the piano store all the time. At the age of six, they scrapped together what they could to purchase a 1970 Baldwin Acrosonic Console for my brother and I. My father and mother told me that if I practiced conscientiously and someday won the Hartford Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, that they would get me a grand piano some day. I practiced and learned the Beethoven 2nd Piano Concerto, Grieg Am Piano Concerto, Liszt 1st Piano Concerto and many other large works on that Console for ten years and at the age of sixteen I did win that competition. With the help of my parents, the prize money and the sale of the Baldwin, we were able to purchase my 1980 Yamaha C3, which I have kept to this day. You may "take exception to the notion that it is a privilege to own a piano", but perhaps now that I have provided the context of my comment it makes more sense? We are all fortunate that we still have many outstanding acoustic instruments available to purchase from a number of world-class manufacturers; Mason & Hamlin being one of them. I am inspired to play and practice on such an instrument each an every day. To me this is a privilege!



Thanks for sharing your story, I enjoyed reading it. Whether or not you consider yourself fortunate, blessed, lucky or whatever word you choose to use, I think most of us understand your point even if some take exception to your choice of words for whatever reason.

Last edited by John305; 07/14/18 06:47 AM.

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All of us here own some type of instrument. No matter what the tier or age, we are indeed privileged. You may call it privileged, fortunate, or something else, but whatever the label, don’t quibble over the wording but take a minute to be grateful for what you have.

Need some inspiration? Here is a YouTube video that should give you pause for thought.


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Originally Posted by Tom Lagomarsino
Dear Victor, Sam, Carey, Steve, Philip, SF and other esteemed friends and members of PianoWorld, First of all, I'd like to say that the Mason & Hamlin piano company is currently 100% privately owned by Mr. Kirk Burgett. There are no other shareholders or investors.

Also, I wanted to take this opportunity to address and clarify a few items and comments in this thread and also include the official Mason & Hamlin company statement on our trademark.

As some of you know, China has a very different idea about Intellectual Property than the rest of the world. Their philosophy's and laws on trademarks, patents, identities and Intellectual Property and ownership in general, have caused a lot of grief for companies like Apple, as well as many famous piano companies.

The Mason & Hamlin company and trademark is historically known worldwide as a famous trademark associated with the US company founded in 1854 and the factory currently making Mason & Hamlin pianos in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

However, another person (flute maker) in China registered the Mason & Hamlin trademark a year or two before we featured authentic US made Mason & Hamlin pianos at the Music China trade show over 12 years ago.

We have exhaustively petitioned the Chinese government and law to get our trademark back. We have also exhaustively negotiated to buy our trademark back from the current mark holder. However, we thought that an eight figure price USD was a little much. Many of our colleagues have experienced the same thing and have managed to pay a much lower price ransom to get their trademark back. We currently sell authentic Mason & Hamlin pianos under the Henry Mason name in China.

In the meantime, there is hope that intellectual property rights in China will come around to the 21st century and world intellectual property law standards and honor and recognize true historic trademark ownership.

In 2017 Mason & Hamlin had many discussions with the Grotrian company e.g. Parsons and ideas about some type of partnership, how it might work with product mix etc. Those ideas were never finalized, there is no agreement or contract. There are no co-products or designs of any type produced between the two companies. That being said, and to no surprise Mason & Hamlin is bombarded on almost a daily rate by potential investors, and other companies in and out of the piano industry who would like to have some kind of stake in the company.

If you have any other questions or comments, you can always contact me directly I can be reached at 916 803-2659 or tom@masonhamlin.com. Also, follow MH, PD and WNG on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Read below for more info on the fake Mason & Hamlin Chinese company.


Mason & Hamlin authentic trademarks and designs made by Mason & Hamlin exclusively for Mason & Hamlin pianos.


The Mason & Hamlin piano company is aware that its historic trademark logo, intellectual property, designs, artwork and marketing materials, are fraudulently being copied and used without our cooperation or permission to manufacture and sell inferior quality pianos bearing our name, specifically in China. Additionally, iterations of our historic trademark logo and company founder names are being used to market and promote these piano sales without our permission or cooperation.

These pianos are being produced in an attempt to pirate our trademarked name and illegally benefit from the high regard, historic legacy, and good reputation that Mason & Hamlin has earned in its 160+ year history. At this time, Mason & Hamlin is working to clear these non-genuine instruments from the marketplace.

No partnerships exist between Mason & Hamlin and any other piano manufacturer in producing new Mason & Hamlin pianos. Authentic new Mason & Hamlin pianos are solely manufactured in our factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA. Pianos that bear our trademark or iterations that are not manufactured in our factory are not genuine Mason & Hamlin pianos.

All new Mason & Hamlin pianos manufactured in our factory in Haverhill, MA, USA carry the following features:

- Crown Retention System, featuring tension resonator
- Wessell, Nickel & Gross composite or Renner wood actions
- Modern company logo on fallboard
- Rims made of 18 ply hard rock maple
- Original Mason & Hamlin scale design
- "Made In USA" designation on fallboard
- Official string scale design for each model
- Brass hardware on case
- Distinctive case arm molding
- Tapered legs (grand piano) with brass ferrules and barrel or dual wheel casters
- Represented by an official dealer partner of Mason & Hamlin

As a customer, if you are seeking to own a genuine Mason & Hamlin piano, make sure to look for the features that are distinctive to new Mason & Hamlin pianos. If you are suspicious about the authenticity of a particular Mason & Hamlin piano, ask your salesperson about the instrument. An authorized Mason & Hamlin dealer will be readily able to vouch for the genuine nature of the Mason & Hamlin pianos they represent.

We ask that our dealers, distributors, and customers help us in our mission to curtail the unauthorized activity of copying and pirating Mason & Hamlin designs, by reporting any information that you observe to the Mason & Hamlin piano company.

Mason & Hamlin Piano Company


Dear Tom,
Sorry to hear about the problems in China, but it's great news to know Mason&Hamlin is firm in it's goal of being one of the best piano manufactures in the world. My personal experience, as a MH BB owner, is of great joy, and I thank every time I play this wonderful instrument.
Best wishes!


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I was fortunate to be spotted that I am currently in Shanghai to play concerts by a piano manufacturer and was invited to attend Music China, on what was supposed to be a trade-only day.

I probably got to see hundreds of pianos and tried a few dozens. I can unequivocally say that while the quality of some China-made pianos are getting better, none is what I’d call a concert quality instrument, even though I only tried larger grand pianos only.

Then I can across the big Mason&Hamlin booth. There were signs everywhere about its history and technological innovations, but I didn’t see a single genuine Mason&Hamlin on display.

Mason&Hamlin wasn’t the only current brand getting ripped off. There was a big booth under the name of Steinbourg that was peddling Stuart&Sons as a German piano.

The scene is desperate, with the growth slowing down and the sales figure expected to take a nose dive in the near future. There were female models, many European, many in skimpy dresses, garnering attention of potential buyers. There was even one dressed in an 18th century outfit, peddling ornately decorated instruments.

The reality is that the vast majority of these makers will be history soon. The big ones like Pearl River, Hailun and others will probably be around but most others will not weather the downturn.

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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
The scene is desperate, with the growth slowing down and the sales figure expected to take a nose dive in the near future. There were female models, many European, many in skimpy dresses, garnering attention of potential buyers. There was even one dressed in an 18th century outfit, peddling ornately decorated instruments.

The reality is that the vast majority of these makers will be history soon. The big ones like Pearl River, Hailun and others will probably be around but most others will not weather the downturn.
Is the anticipated downturn in piano production/sales due to economic conditions in China - or to a declining demand for pianos by the Chinese?


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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
Mason&Hamlin wasn’t the only current brand getting ripped off. There was a big booth under the name of Steinbourg that was peddling Stuart&Sons as a German piano

I can assure you that Mr Stuart does a very poor German accent smile

We’ve known about this for quite some time. There’s not much that can be done since once you manage (expensively) to close one down it pops up again very quickly in a different place. In fact this is not as creative as one effort which was in the news a little while back - https://www.facebook.com/7NewsMelbourne/videos/10156742627629301/, not to mention this - https://www.facebook.com/1780185172194905/posts/2146641395549279/.

Otherwise Ken’s post is very close to the mark.

Regards
Chris


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Mr. Iisaka,

The REAL Mason & Hamlin has a booth at Shanghai under the name "Henry Mason." It is old news that the Mason & Hamlin folks have been fighting for years to get the rights to their name in China. At the Shanghai show, brands like Mason & Risch, Bush & Gerts, and even Ravenscroft (uprights) are to be found and have no connection to the genuine product! It is the nature of the business in China, and in the past 10 years of attending the show, I have seen many of these come and go. The use of female models is not new, and if you've ever attended NAMM in LA, the Chinese models are modest by comparison with those used in the MI section of NAMM.

But I'm curious, just what about the Yangtze River concert grand, or Kayserburg concert grand that were on display did you find to be "not concert quality?"


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Originally Posted by master88er
The REAL Mason & Hamlin has a booth at Shanghai under the name "Henry Mason." It is old news that the Mason & Hamlin folks have been fighting for years to get the rights to their name in China. At the Shanghai show, brands like Mason & Risch, Bush & Gerts, and even Ravenscroft (uprights) are to be found and have no connection to the genuine product! It is the nature of the business in China, and in the past 10 years of attending the show, I have seen many of these come and go. The use of female models is not new, and if you've ever attended NAMM in LA, the Chinese models are modest by comparison with those used in the MI section of NAMM.

But I'm curious, just what about the Yangtze River concert grand, or Kayserburg concert grand that were on display did you find to be "not concert quality?"


I will never have the level of experience and knowledge of the piano industry and pianos as you do. I am sorry to have pointed out something that is obvious and old news to you. If I had offended you, I apologize.

I did not have a chance to play a Kayserburg concert grand, but I did try a Hailun, Niendorf and several other concert grand pianos. Both appeared to be a copy of Steinway D (as are most concert grand pianos in the world) which isn't surprising, but Music China really isn't a good place to judge the quality of instruments due to literally hundreds of pianos being pounded simultaneously. However, I can certainly say that the amount of friction in the action was excessive, Hailun had a twangy bass, and that's not from being out of tune, and both were generally unpleasant to play. Niendorf fared much better. This was on the first day of Music China. First-rate makes such as Fazioli, Blüthner were clearly far superior.

I have had a chance to try Yangtze at a Parsons store alone, far far away from the cacophony however. It is again a copy of the Steinway D, except with the inner rim that looks more like a Fazioli. Again, it was quite an unsatisfying instrument. While its regulation was much better, it really didn't possess the dynamic range required for the stage. While it was lovely at mezzopiano, it really couldn't go beyond forte. The more you give, the less it responded. The sound became muddier as the volume / hammer volume increased. What I found amusing is that it too had the devil's octave,

Chinese pianos are clearly getting better, and some are tapping into European makers legitimately to improve their quality. However, I have not yet encountered an instrument that is equal to Yamahas or Kawais. However, it's just a matter of time that they produce something much better.

Originally Posted by Carey
Is the anticipated downturn in piano production/sales due to economic conditions in China - or to a declining demand for pianos by the Chinese?


It's just a number thing. With 50 million people taking piano lessons, and 5 million pianos being made every year, the demand growth is slowing down. Soon, the demand itself will go down, and when that happens, mediocre makers will disappear. It's fair to say that the piano market in China resembles that of the 1920s in the US, and the 1980s in Japan. There were hundreds of piano makes in US back then, and there were hundreds in Japan at the peak of its market. The vast majority of the makers will disappear soon as the market shrinks.

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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
Originally Posted by Carey
Is the anticipated downturn in piano production/sales due to economic conditions in China - or to a declining demand for pianos by the Chinese?
It's just a number thing. With 50 million people taking piano lessons, and 5 million pianos being made every year, the demand growth is slowing down. Soon, the demand itself will go down, and when that happens, mediocre makers will disappear. It's fair to say that the piano market in China resembles that of the 1920s in the US, and the 1980s in Japan. There were hundreds of piano makes in US back then, and there were hundreds in Japan at the peak of its market. The vast majority of the makers will disappear soon as the market shrinks.
Thanks for the response, Ken. I agree that the piano market in China was bound to reach a saturation point. I wasn't aware of a similar phenomenon in Japan in the 1980s - but it makes perfect sense. The piano industry in the USA was decimated in the 1930s due largely to the Great Depression - and the increased popularity of the more affordable radio and phonograph (which tended to replace the large player pianos that so many folks owned back then). The smaller (more affordable and modern looking) spinet models were developed in response to that trend.

While it may be :"old news" that the M&H "folks have been fighting for years to get the rights to their name in China" it is relatively "new news" to many of us here on PW. So I appreciated your observations regarding the Music China Trade Show.


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Hi Tom or anybody else,
Are all plates for Mason and Hamlin made in the USA?


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Mason and Hamlin plates have been made in China for some time now, if I recall correctly.

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Dear Tom, thank you for the info. I don’t own an M&H but it’s reassuring that M&H is staying in the USA and making the “authentic M&H piano”. I’m sorry that greedy Chinese companies are stealing your copyright and designs to make cheap junk with a stolen nameplate. It’s horrifying.
What happened to Baldwin pianos still breaks my heart.


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Quote
Mason and Hamlin plates have been made in China for some time now, if I recall correctly.


If the plates are made in China, wouldn't make sense to get at least the strung-back made in China versus shipping to the USA a bare plate?


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