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#1785626 - 11/08/11 11:15 PM Mason and Hamlin- too old??
Vikingmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/07/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Massachusetts
Hi Folks!
I just took posession of a very old Mason and Hamlin piano, serial number 'E' 17775. It is a large lovely upright that has been well-loved and to my utterly inexperienced eye looks 95% original with the exception of one hammer, one string, and three little red tabs that have been very carefully replaced. It is missing a string but is otherwise completely intact with minor wear and tear scratches on the finish. All the keys play. All I know is that it came from a church before I took it from the pevious owner. I agreed to take the instrument with little hesitation as I am a returning beginner after 30 years, along with my six year old and I am prone to fall in love with old things that I think I can "save'....therein lies my problem...
I plan to have a tuner check it out this week and do the best they can, but I wanted to ask some of the experienced people on this list if they might know a little more about the age of the piano and if the money I will want to spend to bring the piano back is worth it from a value point of view. I can always make the sentimental argument, I know. However, if we stick with this, I'm trying to think ahead and starting to wonder if I can stretch this piano's life out a bit or if I need to start saving my pennies and plan on a real upgrade a year or two out. Looking for a little level-headed input here! Thanks sooooo much!
Vikingmom in MA

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#1785634 - 11/08/11 11:34 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
Carey Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 7230
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Based on the serial number, the piano was built in 1907.
Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai CA-65
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

#1785648 - 11/09/11 12:04 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
Dale Erwin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/06
Posts: 41
Loc: Modesto, Ca
I have seen some from this age that had tremendous potential. It needs the analysis of a seasoned restorer not just a tuner. The soundboard design on these are exceptional and may still have life. However it is an old piece of machinery and it may take many many thousands of dollars to bring it back to a suitable performance level.
Dale Erwin
Dale Erwin RPT
Piano Restorations
http://WWW.Erwinspiano.com ....Erwinspiano@aol.com
4721 Parker rd. Modesto Ca 95357
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#1785656 - 11/09/11 12:31 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Hi Viking,

A word of cautious here: Most techs on this form will advocate for staying clear of old pianos stating that from their experience that the pianos would not be worth the money spent on them.
Well, I respectfully disagree with them. Although I haven't seen your piano (which may be quite unrepairable, not for me to judge), but I have seen beautiful pianos from that era that are not only passable, but quite playable, and far more musical than many products on the market today. I know this from first hand experience. I also own an upright made in 1906 that I still can't seem to part with after I bought a grand piano to replace it.
A number of local techs have shown what can be possible with regulation of the action, without replacing hammers, strings, soundboard or anything else. The amount for this service would be under $1000, and would include incidental amounts for replacing the odd felt, or spring.
Now, like I said earlier, I really don't know if the piano you're considering is worth it, because it may not be able to hold it's tuning, and it may also sound horrible in it's current state. But, nobody else here will know that either. Phone some local piano TECHNICIANS, not just tuners, and see who you feel most comfortable hiring to assess what is necessary to make the piano playable.
Also remember that if you talk to a rebuilder their interest lies in gaining a client, and you could potentially be spending upwards of 10K to have the thing rebuilt.
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.

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#1785912 - 11/09/11 02:20 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
Vikingmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/07/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Massachusetts
Got it. One of the main messages here is to go to a technician that understands how an instrument like this goes together, not just how it sounds...I think I have the right person on deck to do the job, given this advice, although I will need to wait until after the holidays to have it done...sounds like it will be certainly worth it.
The piano is in better shape than I should even hope to be at that age! I'm hoping to get a sound evaluation (no pun intended), and then a prioritized list of "projects" to move forward on an as needed/budgeted schedule. It sounds big and rich, not perfect, to my ear even now, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed until it is evaluated. I feel like I should give her a name.... : )
Thank you so much for the honest opinions!!
Vikingmom in MA

#1786041 - 11/09/11 06:29 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1312
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Congratulations! Of all the upright pianos of that era, I would put the Mason & Hamlin "E" at the top of the list.
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

#1786068 - 11/09/11 07:28 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23189
Loc: Oakland
Well, that one at least. The later model E was the console, which is not much better than other Aeolian American consoles.

The old Mason & Hamlin uprights are at least as good as Steinways, and easier to rebuild.
Semipro Tech

#1786069 - 11/09/11 07:28 PM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
Rickster Offline

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 9320
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi, and weclome to the PW forums!

Congratulations on your "new-to-you" M&H piano!

What's the old saying, "they don't make them like they used to"!

I went on a wild-goose chase last week to look at a Craigslist M&H model 50 upright from the late 1950's. I thought a M&H model 50 was 50" tall... it turned out to be an old M&H spinet, about 36" or less tall. I was dissapointed.

Sounds like you faired much better than I did!

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

#1786174 - 11/10/11 12:40 AM Re: Mason and Hamlin- too old?? [Re: Vikingmom]
Vikingmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/07/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Massachusetts
Thanks again! Good karma on the list! I'll post to the thread once I get more info on the old girl's condition. Feeling much better about spending the time and money on this. I'm off to look for a humidity gauge. Beginner's luck just might be a factor...we still have to see.... : )
Vikingmom in MA


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