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#2221766 - 01/28/14 06:33 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: pianoloverus]
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: LeahG
Hard to get a PPP sound, sometimes on a chord one note is not heard. I am an intermediate pianist and have played on other pianos that were able to be controlled with better nuance, so I am comparing my own playing to different pianos.
How does the size of the rooms where you could get a ppp compare to the size of the room for your Mason AA?


Nothing to do with size of room, piano inconsistently or fails to produce a sound when touched softly.
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#2221776 - 01/28/14 07:46 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: pianoloverus]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1918
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Yes, if the room is smallish or not ideally acoustically suited for the piano, this can make it more difficult to play ppp on, I think, any piano.

How does a small room make it difficult to play ppp? Is it that reverberation also produces ppp and that, as it were, ppp + ppp adds up to pp?
_________________________
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Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2221779 - 01/28/14 07:58 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: Withindale]
prout Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 679
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Yes, if the room is smallish or not ideally acoustically suited for the piano, this can make it more difficult to play ppp on, I think, any piano.

How does a small room make it difficult to play ppp? Is it that reverberation also produces ppp and that, as it were, ppp + ppp adds up to pp?

What is ppp to a listener 3 metres away in a small room requires a different (lower) velocity of the key press by the pianist than producing a ppp for a listener 20 metres away. To the pianist the feedback from the room is more immediate ( as you state) in a small room than in a large room and, more importantly, the feedback is louder since it has less distance to travel back to the pianist's ears.
All this is moot for the OP however. That piano needs regulation if notes do not speak when the keys are pressed.


Edited by prout (01/28/14 08:03 AM)

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#2221784 - 01/28/14 08:11 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
prout Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 679
One should be able to play a slow glissando ( 1 octave per second) using the nails of your third and second finger as lightly as you desire and have every note speak. If your piano can't do this, you have a problem.

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#2221865 - 01/28/14 12:20 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: prout]
SMHaley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 513
Loc: Seattle
Originally Posted By: prout
One should be able to play a slow glissando ( 1 octave per second) using the nails of your third and second finger as lightly as you desire and have every note speak. If your piano can't do this, you have a problem.


That's a rather crude and inaccurate method for determining regulation.
_________________________
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Practitioner of piano technology
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#2221880 - 01/28/14 12:48 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
prout Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 679
Very true, but a necessary requirement and skill to perform some works, Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, for example, which is my point. The piano and the pianist must both be well regulated.


Edited by prout (01/28/14 12:49 PM)

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#2222005 - 01/28/14 06:40 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: Withindale]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Yes, if the room is smallish or not ideally acoustically suited for the piano, this can make it more difficult to play ppp on, I think, any piano.

How does a small room make it difficult to play ppp? Is it that reverberation also produces ppp and that, as it were, ppp + ppp adds up to pp?
If a piano sounds loud in some room(for whatever reason including the room is small)then I think it's harder to produce a very soft tone. The slower one has to depress the key to get ppp, the greater the chance of ghost notes.

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#2222057 - 01/28/14 07:46 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: pianoloverus]
Tunewerk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 405
Loc: Boston, MA
This is a common misconception and a good opportunity to clear it up.

While true what you said here, Pianoloverus, it is a typical thing often used to address these problems. Why? It is easy and requires less work than actually solving the source of the problem.

A loud room adds volume and stridence to tone, but it should still be possible to play pianissimo with a broad range of tone colors. An action with excellent regulation can produce whisper quiet tone in a loud room.

Double striking, or ghosting, is not necessarily a side effect of playing more softly. On a well regulated action, with the checking and rep lever systems tuned to the position and weight of the hammer, this should not happen.

To achieve flawless pianissimo, many things must be in place, some of which are in the action and some of which deal with the player. It is definitely not easy.

First, the letoff must be close, i.e. 1/16" or less. Second, drop must be at least another 1/16" to relieve the string, but not too much more. Third, the point of letoff cannot be too much more than 1.5mm before the end of the keystroke. Fourth, hammer flange pinning must be tight, but not too tight. It must be balanced with hammer mass to control the motion of the hammer. Fifth, rep lever pinning must be calibrated to the spring potential needed to lift the hammer, no more. Sixth, checking must be close, but not too close, nor at too aggressive an angle (> 23 deg.) to cause premature hammer rebound.

Friction must be consistent in the keyboard primarily (as this is the primary location of friction in the action). And here, we enter into the psychoacoustical aspect in dealing with the player. Inconsistent friction will cause the player to not know how much force to estimate to produce a given dynamic, so the input will be hard to estimate no matter how fine the adjustments are otherwise.
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#2222336 - 01/29/14 06:25 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: prout]
David C. Stanwood Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 9
Loc: Martha's Vineyard, Massachuset...
I agree. Glissando is an excellent "test" of how well an action performs. I like to use Octave glissandi. It's not a test for regulation. A piano can be perfectly regulated and still difficult to play glissando or pianissimo on. If so then the technician needs to look deeper into the condition of the action and it's set up to find the reason and solutions.

David Stanwood
_________________________
http://www.stanwoodpiano.com

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#2222372 - 01/29/14 08:19 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 596
Loc: shirley, MA
In addition to the fine regulation advice above, lets not forget the 800lb gorilla in the room...I have played fine pianos, set up with skill according to the finest regulation and key weighting protocols, that were still tonally uncontrollable. This because the problem was not exclusively the action itself, but, as mentioned earlier in the thread, hard and/or heavy hammers that were inappropriate for either the belly's impedance, inappropriate for the intended venue, or inappropriate for the tastes and aural sensitivities of the pianist.

When a pianist complains about not being able to play P, or PP, the complaint can come from several vectors. One vector is the regulation as discussed above. A second vector is that the pianist is already struggling to reduce the velocity of their touch, as the sound pressure in general is too much for their sensitivities. In this situation, which is endemic, either the pianist rides the soft pedal, or they are struggling to reduce the global force used in pressing the keys. "Holding back" is another way of saying this.

When a pianist "holds back" out of necessity, the inconsistency of strikes, particularly at p, pp and ppp will be lacking. Finely regulated notes will strike inconsistently, because the the "holding back" jambs the hand and finger muscles...its really quite tiring, and can start to hurt. The more one "holds back" the worse the inconsistency gets, so it becomes a powerfully negative feedback loop.

Have your tech consider changing out those Renners for a cold pressed hammer like Ronsen. It sounds like, for you, they will be a constant source of frustration. Even if voiced down, the voicing will not be stable.

Jim Ialeggio



Edited by jim ialeggio (01/29/14 09:08 AM)
_________________________
Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA

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#2223521 - 01/31/14 09:10 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
RoyP Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 784
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio
Originally Posted By: LeahG
Hi Karl.

Is Standwooding a replacement of the action or is it a re-working of current action?


Since no one has answered this question yet...
The Stanwood method is typically applied to what is there. It can be done in conjunction with new parts, if desired. But often, it is applied to the current action. I am certified as a Stanwood tech, and would recommend going with the Stanwood system. I think it is still the most comprehensive method available to technicians, and have seen many success stories using this method. But still, the actual work is up to the technician. The Stanwood system is a tool we use, but it is up to us to implement the design well. The are choices to be made, a big one being hammer weight. It is up to us, as technicians, to tell David what we want.

How the process works is your technician takes the current action. It should be well regulated to start. Measurements are made. We send the data to David, along with a description of current comments and what the customer desires in action. He then analyzes the data and sends back the specifications. It is a blueprint. Along with the specifications, we get graphs which show how much fiction there is, where the weight problems are, etc. It is then up to the technician to make the action parts the correct weights, and to adjust the action ratio to fit his specifications.

Mr. Stanwood hasn't failed me yet. His designs have been just what the doctor ordered.
_________________________
Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com

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#2223533 - 01/31/14 09:41 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: Gene Nelson]
piano_deb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 787
Loc: Memphis, TN
Originally Posted By: LeahG
The dealer I bought from is in another state and did not prep the piano, and no longer sells M&H.

Originally Posted By: LeahG
I have had partial regulations but I will follow advice and try to get the top-notch tech to just do a complete workout.

After spending over $30,000 on a new piano of high prestige, I did expect everything to be in excellent playing order. In retrospect, I would have bought a used piano for $10-$15K less.

It's a bit like buying a new car vs. used: you pay more for the new car expecting everything to be in great condition. The used car you buy at a much lesser price may need some money put into it to get it up to speed.

Originally Posted By: LeahG
One tech spent a few hours working on the action with slight improvements. He was a recent grad of some piano school in Boston and I don't think he was very experienced. I had one other work on it and no suggestions were made. I have been resistant to spending $1,000+, like I stated, after spending so much on this piano to begin with did not feel justified but I am now reaching out to 2 techs, one is Stanwood certified, the other is considered the best in the area w/ 40 years experience including concert grands.

LeahG, I'm not a tech, but thought I'd ask a question or two because I’m rather confused by the history of your piano.

You say that you the dealer is in another state and never prepped the instrument? Did you buy a new “piano in a box”? One that you never played, that was never on the dealer’s display floor? Did the dealer send a tech to prep the piano for you after delivery or were you expecting it to play perfectly “out of the box”? Beyond that, it sounds like you have had the piano since 2007 and never been happy with its playability — but you’ve only ever had two techs, one of them very inexperienced, do a couple of “partial regulations”?

My immediate thought is that the piano needs to be fully prepped and regulated. Proper prepping is absolutely necessary to ensure playability: Pianos are not at all like cars that are drive-off-the-lot ready on arrival from the factory. (A full piano prep includes dozens of small but critical adjustments to even out the action; I’m quite sure the techs here would be happy to explain the details to you if desired.) And it sounds like the action needs a full regulation, not some partial fix that won't really fix the underlying problem. Proper prep and regulation are baseline care, along with regular tunings, to get and keep any piano performing as intended. As Greg stated ...

Originally Posted By: Gene Nelson
Unable to get a good PPP or smooth dynamics without a lot of effort.
_______________________________________
Classic symptoms of an unregulated action.
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Charles Walter 1500
Happiness is a shiny red piano.

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#2224207 - 02/01/14 02:07 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: piano_deb]
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
Hi Deb.

The piano was on the floor, and i bought it to an extent on name brand and reputation along with an aggessive sales person. When it arrived, I was allotted a tuning and basic regulation (like sitting the strings). I have been resistant to plunking down several thousand more to get what i (stupidly) thought would be a tier one piano in great condition.

I spoke to the Stanwood qualified Tech in my area and he wants $5000-$6000 to do the work, which is simply too much to sink into this piano. I will be contacting the best rated tech in the area and ask for either a full regulation and voicing or put the piano on the market and try to sell it.
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#2224429 - 02/01/14 11:19 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1876
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
LeahG,
What do you think a new or like new M&H BB that played and sounded like perfection and was in perfect condition would sell for?

You stated you purchased your piano in 2007 for$30K plus. Investing $5 to $10K more to have the action and tone regulation done to the highest standards-if done in the proper way-will produce a piano with wonderful control of wonderful tone that will wear better than any factory new piano made today.

The issues that would condemn your a BB piano of your vintage to mediocrity would be hardened capo bar, hard bridge pins, and/or poorly done bridges.

I do recommend that you audition examples of work from technicians who are skilled at tone-regulation and action rebuilding. Then have the ones you trust prepare a proposal for fixing your piano. Try and get them to guarantee results.

Good luck!
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2224491 - 02/02/14 05:42 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
Hi Ed.

Thank you for your post. From a novice buyer's perspective and from the website promise on Mason and Hamlin website:

"The feel or touch of a Mason & Hamlin piano is responsive to the pianist’s most subtle nuances, allowing ultimate control, expression, and the highest level of playability possible. The finest quality keys deftly transmit the dynamics of a pianist’s fingers to the tips of the Premium Blue hammers–from the softest pianissimo to the boldest double fortissimo."

I expected that the sales price of a new piano would include the piano performing as described. Did not realize that pianos left the factory incomplete. Again, analogy to buying a car: pay more for a new car and expect to have to put no money into it other than basic oil change (or tuning) vs. buying a used car for less money expecting to pay for some more expensive repairs. Lesson learned.

Now that I know this, I would have just gone to a rebuilder directly or bought a used piano for half the price, then spend $10,000 for custom improvements.

I will take your advice and try to get a proposal with guaranteed results and go from there. Thank you!
_________________________

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#2224492 - 02/02/14 06:02 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1097
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I am a little lost here. $6000 worth of work on an action that doesn't require parts replacement seems high. That would buy 60 hours of my time, and that is enough to repin the entire action, rebush the keys, weigh every key and hammer, calculate my weight curves and set keys and hammers to them, shape hammers, put it together and regulate, tune and voice and still have a day or two left over. And,that is a worst case scenario.

This isn't rocket science. Other than the nightmarish work of the 1960-70's, I haven't seen a Mason and Hamlin action yet that couldn't be made to whisper,with control.

And, you could have spent twice as much on another brand, and still had all these problems, too!
Regards,

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#2224548 - 02/02/14 09:54 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
RoyP Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 784
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio
I thought the same thing, Ed. That's alot more than I charge. I assumed that it must have included parts. But who knows?
_________________________
Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com

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#2224557 - 02/02/14 10:14 AM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
Tunewerk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 405
Loc: Boston, MA
Leah, you know as a novice buyer who just wants the action to play quieter, it can probably be done for under $1,000.

Many technicians on here assume you want the action to perform flawlessly with comprehensive work, that will make your new Mason perform better than any other new Mason out there.

There's no way to tell without looking at it first hand - whether these problems that you perceive are resultant from one simple thing that is out of adjustment, or 10 things. It could be something very simple.

One thing I've learned is it's always a surprise what various people sense and how it differs.

It sounds like you are very disappointed and just want your new piano to work like it should. That I understand. It would be fair for your dealer, who sold you a piano not regulated properly, to pay for part of this.
_________________________
www.tunewerk.com

Unity of tone through applied research.

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#2224598 - 02/02/14 12:04 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1876
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Ed Foote,
I am assuming Leah's AA has Renner Blue hammers. Which will not produce a full dynamic range with the type of tone color BB's are historically noted for that is durable. The felt is too dense, heavy and inelastic. So the price range I give is for hammer replacement and complete tone regulation.

I also caution her to have the capo bar checked for any hardening and if it has those hard bridge pins they used recently-there will always be this added metallic edge to the treble that is not characteristic of the historic AA sound.


Edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT (02/02/14 04:54 PM)
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2224711 - 02/02/14 03:51 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
Just to clarify....

It is a AA model

The 5-6K Was quoted to do a Stanwoodization of the action which I believe is quite extensive.
_________________________

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#2224743 - 02/02/14 04:56 PM Re: Mason Hamlin Action/Touch Not as Advertised [Re: LeahG]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1876
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
LeahG,
Thanks for the correction. I will edit my previous post to read AA where it read BB. I will leave my other post as is.
Thanks
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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