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#617318 - 06/19/02 04:02 PM Mason & Hamlin A grand piano- which years best/to be avoided?
cece Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 31
I came across a used Mason & Hamlin A. I am not sure of the year yet, and will get the serial # to verify. But are there certain year ranges which are ideal/ or to be avoided- as far as construction/tone, etc.??

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#617319 - 06/21/02 02:43 AM Re: Mason & Hamlin A grand piano- which years best/to be avoided?
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Since the replies to your question are a little thin, I'll at least give you my 2-cents worth. . .

In 1980, I bought a brand new M&H, 5'8 or 5'10, something like that. The reason I bought it was I loved an old, early 1900's M&H 9', loved the huge sound and especially loved the heavy action. The tone of the small grand I bought was fine, no complaints. But, within 2 years I had destroyed the hammers and action beyond voicing and adequate regulation. It was then that I learned that M&H was bought out by Aeolian, and the quality was not the same as the reputation established by the older instruments.

I know that times have changed much for the better, and that newer M&H's are wonderful instruments. As for which years started the comeback, I'm not sure. But somewhere around 1980, I'd steer clear.

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#617320 - 06/21/02 11:09 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin A grand piano- which years best/to be avoided?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The last ten years are ideal if you don't mind paying the higher prices. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that quality wise, they're on a par with those of the "Golden Age". They may very well be the best current American pianos around, even surpassing Steinway. The latter aren't at all bad but often they need hammer prep work done, else they're too "anemic" sounding.

Mark Mandell
www.pianosource.com

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#617321 - 06/30/02 02:35 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin A grand piano- which years best/to be avoided?
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Reblder, or other expert techs,

Why was my 1980 M&H (Aeolian) such a disappointment to me (assuming my personal experience above could be a general endictment of M&H/Aeolian)?

When a quality manufacturer is bought out by a conglomerate, it would seem to me that the sources for materials would be the same, the craftspeople would be the same, the design/construction would be the same. Is/was it simply peripheral yet essential components like hammers that they changed, or are there other ways a "new" owner can cut costs in building a piano?

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#617322 - 06/30/02 07:51 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin A grand piano- which years best/to be avoided?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Rvaga--

I doubt this would be any solace to you but I had come across other M&H's during this time and all were disappointing. What stands out in my mind, was the inferior quality of the action parts and various mechanical problems(sticky notes, pedal problems, etc.). As you probably know, the M&H was hardly alone in that respect. The Steinways too were of a poorer quality at least in part due to the use of the teflon bushings(which caused a noticeable clicking sound). I think then that in the interests of cost cutting, the manufacturers resorted to cheaper materials and even quality assurance was cut back. This is why the Asian pianos(especially the Yamaha)were able to take advantage of that period and make the big inroads they did(actually the Yamahas had the quality but the Korean pianos chief selling point was their affordability).

Mark@pianosource.com

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#617323 - 06/30/02 07:55 PM Re: Mason & Hamlin A grand piano- which years best/to be avoided?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I wanted to add(FWIW)that in the case of Baldwin for instance, the manufacturing was done in Holly Springs, Miss. which may be the lowest wage paying state in the country. In addition the actions were(and still I think are)manufactured in Juarez, Mexico. You can be rest assured that with factors like this that you're not exactly getting top quality manufacturing done.

Mark

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