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#2041031 - 02/28/13 09:08 PM Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak?
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1524
Loc: NJ
I am very interested in buying an older M&H grand. I played a 50 year M&H (asking $6500) in need of cosmetic repair, however, I am more concerned about some cracks in the soundboard, and the lack of power in the bass section of the piano. Would the fact that it's a 5'8 piano explain the weak bass? I thought M&H pianos were known for their deep powerful bass sections.

The upper register has a very pleasing tone. Is there anything that could be done to improve the bass? I've had bass strings replaced on a prior grand, with no improvement at all in the sound, so I'm very reluctant to go that route again.
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#2041103 - 03/01/13 12:06 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1627
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Many experts say that cracks per se in the soundboard do not degrade the sound. However, the presence of cracks in the soundboard suggests that the piano has suffered some kind of environmental stress.

We can usually hear defects in pianos more easily than see them.

A professional evaluation of the piano would be the best way to go, but I would think that a 50 year old piano with a cracked soundboard and lacking power in the bass would have serious faults which only a complete rebuild could address.

Robert.


Edited by Robert 45 (03/01/13 12:07 AM)

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#2041121 - 03/01/13 01:23 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I am very interested in buying an older M&H grand. I played a 50 year M&H (asking $6500) in need of cosmetic repair, however, I am more concerned about some cracks in the soundboard, and the lack of power in the bass section of the piano. Would the fact that it's a 5'8 piano explain the weak bass? I thought M&H pianos were known for their deep powerful bass sections.

The upper register has a very pleasing tone. Is there anything that could be done to improve the bass? I've had bass strings replaced on a prior grand, with no improvement at all in the sound, so I'm very reluctant to go that route again.



As a general rule, pianos that are 50 years or older, in original condition, are automatic candidates for rebuilding (they should be, at least). A 5'8" piano should produce sufficient volume and tone quality for most people. If this is not the case, your expectations are either too high, or there is something wrong with the piano. In the latter case, it could be as simple as regulation or voicing, or it could be something more intermediate like dead strings, or it could indicate a serious problem that is only fixable with rebuilding. Only a tech can diagnose this.... in person.

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#2041221 - 03/01/13 07:46 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Entheo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1275
Loc: chicago, il
i owned a 2000 model A for 10 years; it had incredible bass for its size. if the older models are of the same design (which i believe they are), the bass side of the piano angles out slightly to increase the size of the soundboard. if true then a weak bass would be caused by factors other than the design & size of that piano.
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#2041251 - 03/01/13 09:00 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1524
Loc: NJ
Thanks everyone, that is VERY helpful! I've asked the tech who evaluated the piano to contact me.
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Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member

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#2041255 - 03/01/13 09:17 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10746
Loc: Georgia, USA
How old are the bass strings? They do have a life-span and tend to loose some of their zest over the years. The hammers can affect bass tone too... of course, I'm no expert.

Good luck!

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

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#2041256 - 03/01/13 09:19 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10789
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
While cracks in a soundboard are often harmless, they also can reduce crown and downbearing and therefore affect tone.

The weak bass may well be related to the cracks. I'd say that is likely.

A good tech will know with a quick examination.
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Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2041274 - 03/01/13 10:04 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ataru074 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 1129
Loc: Houston, TX
I just played yesterday a 5'8" and a 6'4" masons... they are "new" and they have the wood action and not the composite one. in that case the 6'4" produces a way more pleasant and balanced tone than the 5'8".. both in the 5th octave and in the bass register... the 5'8" is nice, but is "flatter"
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Private Piano Teacher. MTNA
working on:
Albeniz: Iberia
Beethoven: Op 53
Bartok: Mikrokosmos vol. 5
Debussy: Estampes
Moszkowski: Op 72

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#2041524 - 03/01/13 05:36 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1524
Loc: NJ
Rickster, the bass strings have never been replaced, so they are 50 years old.

Steve, thanks for the info.

Ataru, the only way I can really explain the bass, is that it lacks sustain and power. It doesn't have the same depth I've heard in other old M&H's. So, are you buying the 6'4" :-)
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#2041537 - 03/01/13 06:06 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
RickG1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/10
Posts: 339
Loc: TX
My Mason-Hamlin "A" has incredible bass, I feel, for its size. Almost as powerful as my S & S "B". That is what impressed me when I would play a M-H.
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#2041545 - 03/01/13 06:21 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10789
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
The rebuilt (with good original soundboard) M&H 5'8" grand we have on our salesfloor has a very full-bodied bass.

That is one of the reasons why I suspect the the cracks in the soundboard on the piano you are considering are the cause of the weak bass.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2041608 - 03/01/13 09:32 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: beethoven986]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1625
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
A 5'8" piano should produce sufficient volume and tone quality for most people. If this is not the case, your expectations are either too high, or there is something wrong with the piano.


Yes, I like the way you phrased that! I agree a 5'8" shouldn't have the weaknesses you're describing. The last M&H I played that size was actually rather dillapidated, but it still had quality bass.
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Pianist and Piano Teacher

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#2041732 - 03/02/13 06:16 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin 5'8" - bass strong or weak? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ataru074 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 1129
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Ataru, the only way I can really explain the bass, is that it lacks sustain and power. It doesn't have the same depth I've heard in other old M&H's. So, are you buying the 6'4" :-)


Right now I have a 6'1" kawai gs30.. next time I'm not buying anything shorter than 6'10... I'm looking a mason BB's, schimmel konzerts, rebuilt S&S, used bosies .... but before I want to progress one notch or two in my playing ability... I'll also look at estonia, especially the 225 if I can find one.
_________________________

Private Piano Teacher. MTNA
working on:
Albeniz: Iberia
Beethoven: Op 53
Bartok: Mikrokosmos vol. 5
Debussy: Estampes
Moszkowski: Op 72

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