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#2108171 - 06/26/13 12:22 AM Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin?
jc201306 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 42
Hello everyone. Since this is my first posting, I will cut the chase and simply ask for your help:

Recently I am interested in a 1979 Mason Hamlin model A. It is not a rebuild. Everything is original. However from what I read in this forum, during 1970s Mason Hamlin produced pianos with questionable quality. So should I simply avoid M&H piano from this period?

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#2108202 - 06/26/13 02:12 AM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: jc201306]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23767
Loc: Oakland
Go see it. If you like it, you might have it checked out. It was not the best time for Mason & Hamlin, but they were still very good pianos.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2108207 - 06/26/13 02:42 AM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: jc201306]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1611
Loc: California, USA
It is worth looking at. There are some great instruments from this era too. If you like it, get a good tech to evaluate it, and he'll be able to give to the complete story.
_________________________
Pianist and Piano Teacher

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#2108249 - 06/26/13 07:19 AM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: jc201306]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1547
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I am posting this info from a piano tech list, it may shed some light on the history,
Regards,
Ed Foote RPT



>> Mason & Hamlin has a long and checkered history of being sold and resold,
acquired and re-acquired. Let's start in the 20's (by which time it has already
gone through about 5 ownerships) American Piano Co. got control of it through
some financial shenanigans in 1922, and then sold it to Aeolian just before
Aeolian acquired American in 1932 - which is when the Boston factory was closed
and the manufacture moved to the East Rochester, NY campus. From what I know,
quality kept pretty good through the 30's and 40's, but then started sliding and
by the 70's they were manufacturing crap that somewhat resembled Mason & Hamlin.
In 1985 CitiBank seized the assets of Aeolian, and PrattReed/Sohmer ended up
with M&H - moving manufacture to Ivoriton, CT. They actually built some M&H's
there - but never finished them before Sohmer/PR went under in 1988 - Camilleri
Rebuilders did, from what I hear. saw a few of those in Boston when I was at
North Bennet Street School - they were virtually
unplayable. In 1989, Falcone acquired Sohmer/Mason & Hamlin, changed its name
from "Falcone" to "Mason & Hamlin" and resumed production in Haverhill, MA (by
then Bud Greer - who poured $18,000,000 into the venture - kicked Santi Falconi
back to Sicily and took over himself). In 1995 Bud pulled the plug on the
venture (they never did get any sort of systematic production going) and went
into Chapter 7 (liquidation). A couple local piano hustlers playing at piano
rebuilding - Pete Murphy and Wolf (forget his last name - he actually had a pet
wolf) talked Bud into signing the assets over to them, successfully petitioned
for chapter 11 (reorganization) moved their rebuilding operation into the
factory building and restarted new M&H piano production on a shoestring.
The pianos weren't all that bad - a bit
sloppy in places, but sounded and played pretty well. They were using Renner
action parts and Kluge keyboards. Soon after I got to California, PianoDisc
offered some money to the bankruptcy court for creditors - and so ended the saga
of a couple second-rate piano rebuilders from Watertown, MA playing at piano
manufacturing. The instruments PianoDisc have
been putting out that I have seen are pretty decent, if you like very bright
tone...

Anyway, that's a gross oversimplification - but just because it has the Mason &
Hamlin name on it, and it has 88 keys, doesn't mean anything, really...<<
(Israel Stein RPT
A-Major Piano Services
Albany, CA 94706)


Edited by Ed Foote (06/26/13 07:22 AM)

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#2108378 - 06/26/13 12:53 PM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: Ed Foote]
Carey Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 7542
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
The instruments PianoDisc have been putting out that I have seen are pretty decent, if you like very bright
tone...

Anyway, that's a gross oversimplification
- but just because it has the Mason &
Hamlin name on it, and it has 88 keys, doesn't mean anything, really...<<
(Israel Stein RPT
A-Major Piano Services
Albany, CA 94706)


Definitely a gross oversimplification. I would hardly call the tone of my 2003 M&H BB (and other M&H pianos I've played in the past 10 years) as being "bright."
_________________________
Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai CA-65
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2108416 - 06/26/13 01:53 PM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: Carey]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
The instruments PianoDisc have been putting out that I have seen are pretty decent, if you like very bright
tone...

Anyway, that's a gross oversimplification
- but just because it has the Mason &
Hamlin name on it, and it has 88 keys, doesn't mean anything, really...<<
(Israel Stein RPT
A-Major Piano Services
Albany, CA 94706)


Definitely a gross oversimplification. I would hardly call the tone of my 2003 M&H BB (and other M&H pianos I've played in the past 10 years) as being "bright."

I guess 'bright' is a relative term. Maybe Ed hasn't been able to voice a new M&H to his satisfaction. I would call my 2009 BB 'rich, warm, sonorous'. It does not sound like 'breaking glass, clashing cymbals', which, to my ear, would be 'bright'.

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#2108436 - 06/26/13 02:13 PM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: Ed Foote]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1611
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
The instruments PianoDisc have
been putting out that I have seen are pretty decent, if you like very bright
tone...
Anyway, that's a gross oversimplification - but just because it has the Mason &
Hamlin name on it, and it has 88 keys, doesn't mean anything, really...<<

Anyone who thinks the new Mason and Hamlins have a "very bright tone"... I would question how many pianos they've actually heard. I think that characterization is completely inaccurate.

I also think it does mean very specific things when it has the Mason and Hamlin name on the fallboard. It means it is a Mason and Hamlin model (yes there have been a few changes through the years), complete with "crown tension resonator". Pianos from any era of building must be evaluated individually. Mason and Hamlins from the 1970s certainly need to be evaluated individually.

All you can conclude from company history is the piano might have problems. But it might also be great.
_________________________
Pianist and Piano Teacher

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#2108469 - 06/26/13 02:56 PM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: Mwm]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1547
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
The instruments PianoDisc have been putting out that I have seen are pretty decent, if you like very bright
tone...Anyway, that's a gross oversimplification
- but just because it has the Mason &
Hamlin name on it, and it has 88 keys, doesn't mean anything, really...<<
(Israel Stein RPT
A-Major Piano Services
Albany, CA 94706)


Definitely a gross oversimplification. I would hardly call the tone of my 2003 M&H BB (and other M&H pianos I've played in the past 10 years) as being "bright."

I guess 'bright' is a relative term. Maybe Ed hasn't been able to voice a new M&H to his satisfaction. I would call my 2009 BB 'rich, warm, sonorous'. It does not sound like 'breaking glass, clashing cymbals', which, to my ear, would be 'bright'.


I think Israel was speaking of the Piano Disk versions of the Mason and Hamlins. I am familiar with what the modern ones sound like, I have heard them at the factory, I know what they are intended to be, and they are really good. I have heard some of the era that Israel is referring to and they were really hard sounding. The whole point is that there is little consistent about this brand's history, other than change...
Regards,

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#2108602 - 06/26/13 06:03 PM Re: Should I buy a 1979 Mason Hamlin? [Re: Ed Foote]
Carey Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 7542
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
The instruments PianoDisc have been putting out that I have seen are pretty decent, if you like very bright
tone...Anyway, that's a gross oversimplification
- but just because it has the Mason &
Hamlin name on it, and it has 88 keys, doesn't mean anything, really...<<
(Israel Stein RPT
A-Major Piano Services
Albany, CA 94706)


Definitely a gross oversimplification. I would hardly call the tone of my 2003 M&H BB (and other M&H pianos I've played in the past 10 years) as being "bright."

I guess 'bright' is a relative term. Maybe Ed hasn't been able to voice a new M&H to his satisfaction. I would call my 2009 BB 'rich, warm, sonorous'. It does not sound like 'breaking glass, clashing cymbals', which, to my ear, would be 'bright'.


I think Israel was speaking of the Piano Disk versions of the Mason and Hamlins. I am familiar with what the modern ones sound like, I have heard them at the factory, I know what they are intended to be, and they are really good. I have heard some of the era that Israel is referring to and they were really hard sounding. The whole point is that there is little consistent about this brand's history, other than change...
Regards,


Thanks for the clarification, Ed !!
_________________________
Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai CA-65
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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