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#269966 - 06/02/08 10:27 PM Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
dandy randy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 7
Loc: new mexico
To those of you who have read my 1st post: "Confusion Reigns", I continue with this separate question:

I have narrowed my decision to a MH A (26.5K) or an Estonia 168 (22K). Very different pianos, I acknowledge, but both a huge step up from my 1927 Knabe with pin block, damper, and soundboard problems.

The MH will come with two tunings and a voicing in my home. The Estonia will be prepped by the out-of-state dealer, with one subsequent tuning.

My query to you is: what questions should I ask the Estonia dealer (again, out-of-state, with the piano having never been seen or played by me)?

Also, a purely subjective question: as an intermediate adult pianist with a predeliction for Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, etc., which piano do you think best fits my needs?

One final thought--I have played only one Estonia, an out-of-tune 168, but the accolades for the 168 have me dazzled. Any caveats?

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#269967 - 06/02/08 10:51 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3441
Loc: US
dandy randy,

While these are two very nice pianos, I would never buy a piano of any brand without playing it myself. Ever. What is dazzling to one person may be less so to another. There is individual variation in all pianos, and these are no exception. The question I'd ask is "when can I try it out?" ;\)

Sophia

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#269968 - 06/02/08 11:01 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
The Mason has a more complex bass with less clear primary tone than the Estonia's that I have played. Some like the bass in one brand better than the other. Also the Estonia's that I played had very long sustain which made the chords become confused, too complex for my taste. However other people prefer the pianos with the most sustain. Chopin might sound best on an Estonia and Rach might sound best on a Mason. You have to play these pianos carefully and decide which you like best.
_________________________
Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

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#269969 - 06/02/08 11:05 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
you know,

i bought a 168 sight unseen,having only very briefly played a 190.

i am the most ecstatic of owners. they are wonderful different pianos. I'd take a trip and go play it first.

I also would have bought a Mason and Hamlin A sight unseen.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#269970 - 06/02/08 11:05 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
you know,

i bought a 168 sight unseen,having only very briefly played a 190.

i am the most ecstatic of owners. they are wonderful different pianos. I'd take a trip and go play it first.

I also would have bought a Mason and Hamlin A sight unseen.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#269971 - 06/02/08 11:50 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
Apple:

You can say that again!!!

Oh!

You already did!

\:D
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
************

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#269972 - 06/03/08 07:23 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1750
Both the pianos you mention are great. By way of personal preference, I love Chopin's music. One of the reasons I love his music is the fabulous use he makes of the bass range of the piano. For this reason, I would go for the Mason--you cannot beat their basses, and it will sound gorgeous. Overall, the reason I love my Mason so much is the amazing bass. Schubert is incredible on it. But then Mozart sounds terrific, and Beethoven, and . . . . .My piano is only bounded by the stark limitations of the person who plays on it.

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#269973 - 06/03/08 07:56 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
Owning both a Mason and an Estonia, I can highly recommend either. I think Jordang's descriptions are quite accurate. For more "growl", resonance and "darkness", I would choose the Mason. For more "sparkle" and TONS of sustain, the Estonia would reign. As far as buying sight unseen, I would make a quick trip out to the dealer you are contemplating and spend a day with the Estonia. This is a long term committment you are making, and should not be taken lightly.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

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#269974 - 06/03/08 08:44 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
NoctuGranes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Northeast USA
As a general rule, don't be "dazzled" by the PW "accolades" for anything, perhaps especially Estonia since it tends to be over-accoladed by some enthusiastic owners and dealers. One could probably argue the same for M&H though.

Play each a bunch. I love Chopin and Rach too, and have a hunch you'll gravitate to the M&H. Know the Funeral March? Bang through that heavy transition and into the singing middle section. Personally, I feel the Estonia holds something back on each. Don't get me wrong. It's a fine instrument. You should know an instruments weaknesses before you can really love it...kinda like a spouse, huh?
_________________________
-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008

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#269975 - 06/03/08 11:22 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Captain Obvious Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/06
Posts: 182
I would go for the Mason because I think the bass is much better, and the relative price is better. If the Estonia was $17k and money is a factor, the decision wouldn't be as obvious to me. The 168 is a great sounding piano, I only take issue with the bass.

As others have noted, the bass is really nice sounding on the A. I personally found the Mason A to be better in the fifth octave than the Mason AA. I think it is a great piano.

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#269976 - 06/03/08 01:34 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
The best piano is the one whose tonal palette you find most appealing, when playing the music that you like to play or listen to being played. Others can state which should sound best for a particular tune, but ultimately you've got to trust your ears and your emotional reaction.

If no clear winner emerges, just take a break from auditioning for a couple of weeks, then start again.

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#269977 - 06/03/08 02:31 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2688
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Caveat: I own an Estonia 190.

Having recently played 1 M&H A my impression is the Estonia has a more refined sound. It is entirely capable of jumping out of the box, but "The Stars and Stripes Forever" will absolutely rock on the M&H. Chopin and Rach may be more the domain of the Estonia, especially the quieter gentler pieces, because of the Estonia's sustaining (singing) quality.

More importantly for additional $$ to get the A you may be able to get close to a Estonia 190 and that difference continues to astound. The 190 is a lot more instrument than the 168. Mine is as much piano as I'll ever want.

Finally, I'll agree with everyone else in that you have to play them and hear them. It's unlikely our tastes are exactly the same. You want to buy a piano you'll love for the foreseeable future. Good luck.

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#269978 - 06/03/08 03:28 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
piquagirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 25
Loc: Massachusetts
Dandy Randy,

We have similar tastes in piano. I have also focused my interest down to Estonia and M&H. I have scheduled a visit to Allegro Pianos (Stamford, CT) where I will have the opportunity to play both side by side. I'll let you know next week how it went!

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#269979 - 06/03/08 07:15 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
dandy randy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 7
Loc: new mexico
Thanks to all of your for your advice. I found it thoughtful and helpful. Especially because something that seems fairly rare on this forum occured: a consensus! In this case that a specific piano should be played before a decision is made.

I envy you, Piquagirl, in having the opportunity to play the 168 and the A side by side. I look forward to reading your report.

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#269980 - 06/03/08 07:17 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
FazFan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 5
Loc: Los Angeles CA
Dear dandy randy,
Both pianos are fine instruments, I'd go for the Estonia because their quality is excellent, no compromise in the way they are built or the parts.( as long as you trust the dealer out of state and the piano will be prepped). I am sure the issue of one or two free tunings and in home voicing can be negotiated with the out of state dealer if he wants to sell you the piano. The price seems right and I guess you save on the sales tax. I traded my Estonia for a Fazioli a year ago and was very happy with it. You could always take a trip to see the piano once it is ready, but I don't think you are taking a big chance. If the place you are buying from has a good reputation, they should make sure you are happy with your purchase.
Good luck.

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#269981 - 06/12/08 09:57 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
piquagirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 25
Loc: Massachusetts
Dandy Randy,

I had a nice visit to Allegro Pianos. Ori once again shared a small portion of his vast piano knowledge with me and I left feeling well informed. After having visited M&H for the tour, I fell in love with them and could not wait to compare an A to Estonia's 190. Well......there are some differences. The first thing one notices is the differences in the finishes. The M&H polished ebony finish is very wavy - it actually reminded me of antique glass. The Estonia has a much better ebony polish finish and their wood grain pianos are matched beautifully. If cosmetics are an important factor for you, then Estonia is the way to go. As far as sound goes, it's an individual preference. I really liked the M&H A my daughter and I had a chance to play, but in a side by side comparison to the Estonia, I prefered the Estonia's clearer bass. I also preferred Estonia's touch. For me, Estonia is the way to go. Only you can decide which piano "sings" to you. If you have any questions, you can PM me.

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#269982 - 06/12/08 11:32 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
RickG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 947
Loc: Texas
DR,
Where are you located in NM? How far are the stores which carry the Estonia and M-H? I, too, agree that you must go and play before any decision should be made.
_________________________
RickG

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#269983 - 06/13/08 08:21 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
You better play one before buying.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#269984 - 06/13/08 08:47 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
Dandy,

You are talking about spending +20K! Ya gotta play the instruments before ya open yer checkbook.

If you had played lots of M&H and lots of Estonias, then you might consider an out-of-state purchase, based on the general charactistics of the pianos.

I don't know what literature you have under your fingers. For me, and only me, digging into the big Brahms or Rach, I would go with the Mason. I like the bite and color. For Chopin Nocturnes, I would tend toward the Estonia. The same might be true for the Brahms' Ballads (some) and Nocturnes. For the Etudes and other substantial Chopin, then I would rather attack the Mason.

Don't buy an Estonia because it is well thought of at this forum, and believe me, I am one who loves their pianos, but, it is your ear, technique, and sensibilities which must make the decision.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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#269985 - 06/14/08 06:26 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
jollyroger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 848
Loc: Houston, TX
Dandy,
While I have an Estonia 190, I cannot stress enough what other posters have said. PLAY THE PIANO FIRST BEFORE BUYING! I have played an entire room full of M&H's as well as Estonias, and each piano is different. You can line up 5 Estonias side by side (same for M&H), and each is unique (like most other pianos). I have played Estonias that I didn't like at all. Not that they were bad pianos, just that it either had a slightly darker sound or some other characteristic that I didn't find appealing.

Since you're prepared to spend over 20 grand, it's worth the trip to play any piano before buying.

Either way, they're both great pianos. Find the one that sings to you.

Good luck,
Roger
_________________________
Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.
Estonia 190 - Serial # 6561

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#269986 - 06/15/08 02:19 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
swampwiz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 561
Loc: Louisiana, USA
The Mason & Hamlin A is considered to be the best piano under 6'.

http://www.masonhamlin.com/pianos/details.aspx?id=88500

My own experience with the Estonia 168 is that it is a bit weak (the 190 properly shines in that regard.) I have never played on a Mason & Hamlin, so I can't comment.

They are both Tier 2A, so both would be a fine choice.

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#269987 - 06/15/08 05:56 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19200
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by swampwiz:
The Mason & Hamlin A is considered to be the best piano under 6'.

http://www.masonhamlin.com/pianos/details.aspx?id=88500
[/b]
Did you expect their website to say they were the 3rd best piano under 6'??? :rolleyes:

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#269988 - 06/16/08 01:57 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14101
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
None of the top grade German manufacturers, nor would Estonia ever use the world 'best'.

It's generally being understood that true champions of this world don't need chest pounding....

Norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#269989 - 06/16/08 03:15 AM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1750
If you want to crash around playing Rachmaninoff, buy the Mason.

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#269990 - 06/19/08 08:34 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
dandy randy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 7
Loc: new mexico
So sorry to have been away for so long. An ailing father took precedence over the piano search.

Still, there are some developments: 1. I had some friends over and we remeasured and rearranged (at least in our minds) with the resulting discovery that I could comfortably fit a piano 6'4" in length. So, my options increased (a bit to my dismay). Therefore, if I keep to my original choices of makers, Estonia and MH I could consider the 190 and the AA. 2. I have been been made aware of a Grotrian 165 (I think that is the model), used, of an uncertain majufacture date. Although this is somewhat smaller than I had looked for, I do want to try it out. (The owner is asking somewhere in the 11K range.) It will be available to play in early July. In this respect (piano size) I ask is it always advisable to buy the largest piano one can afford that fits in the home?

Does anyone know of a dealer anywhere in the southwest (I live in Santa Fe NM) who carries both MH and Estonia?) I would love to play them side by side. (Thank you, Piquagirl, for your report. By the way, did you make a decision?

Another question: what is it with this black fetish for pianos. I love wood, but the showrooms are jammed with ebony (and polished at that.)

I appreciate all the responses. I will keep you informed when, and if, there is anything to inform you about.

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#269991 - 06/19/08 08:52 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14101
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
 Quote:
Another question: what is it with this black fetish for pianos. I love wood, but the showrooms are jammed with ebony (and polished at that.)
Not really, there's lot's of wood finishes available:

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/DOG.jpg

Sorry, you're right - just teasing...

Norbert ;\)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#269992 - 06/19/08 09:22 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
In the Dallas area is a wonderful dealer who has both brands (M&H and Estonia) side by side. His prices are very good also. Peter Collora Piano in Denton, TX which is 15 miles from DFW airport directly up the interstate 35, north. Kraig Gilliam is the owner. You can find their site. www.PeterColloraPiano.com
We personally like the M&H better.

Encore Pianos in Plano, (N. Dallas) now has Bluthner, Hessler, and Grotian and some other brands side by side. (Their new store which opens in a week or so which will have this.)
_________________________
Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

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#269993 - 06/21/08 11:00 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Paulwbenn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 53
Loc: Dallas
Peter Collora Pianos in Denton just north of Dallas is the Texas dealer for both Mason and Estonia. When my wife was shopping for a piano, I read about Estonia and we went there to play one. One of the owners, Kraig, used to own Steinway Hall in Dallas. He is a very knowledgeable and easygoing guy, and when my wife told him she liked the sound of the Knabe she grew up playing, he predicted she would prefer the sound of the Mason. Neither of us had even heard of a Mason before, but it turned out he was right. She played a Mason and nothing else she played - Steinway, Baldwin, Schimmel, Kawai, etc. - compared, and a Mason is what we bought. Anyway, you can play both of these great brands (as well as Bosendorfer) side by side. You're just a Southwest Airlines ticket away from Dallas. Good luck.

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#269994 - 06/21/08 11:03 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
Paulwbenn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 53
Loc: Dallas
Sorry - looks like my post was redundant after Jordang's post - but happy to second what he said!

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#269995 - 06/22/08 12:57 PM Re: Finally, Estonia 168 or MH A
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
shipping costs are fairly inconsequential in the grander scheme of things.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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