Living with a Concert Grand

Posted by: Swarth

Living with a Concert Grand - 09/11/13 11:33 PM

I have had a few weeks to get acquainted with my Mason & Hamlin CC2. It was not love at first sight and that is the chance you take when rebuilding a piano. In the shop the few pianists that played it said it wasn't "amazing". That said, when making the choices for rebuild compromises are made that may affect the sound, performance or looks. I opted for lesser than the $1000 a foot local refinishing offering. Upon close inspection, they did an OK job, overall the several thousands saved was worth it. I was hoping to place this piano in an hall rather than a home but that is not happening. The new Able action and hammers are about as good as it gets. Not having to replace the soundboard was a big deal. Still you never know what you will get. Six months passed and the unsold piano came home.

After my technician came out and put the initial fine tuning this piano came alive. The purity of tone was commented on as he is the local Steinway guy and it's much different than a D which "has lots going on". He told me this piano belonged in a studio as it was perfect for recording. His appraisal was well above what I could not sell it for. After a short discussion with my wife, whose terms of surrender was that the bringing home of stray grands ends, we decided to keep her. While not perfect, this piano has more expressive capabilities than I'm accustomed to. I'm learning a whole new way to play adding tonal colors. This concert grand is really a luxury liner. This is not a little run about or even a high powered speed boat. It takes time to get up to speed and prefers gentle handling. It's responsiveness is much more subtle and it reflects in the smooth ride. I'm really enjoying everything it can do. I'm starting to set up for recording. I still have to have my sound guy do a room treatment plan and figure out what/where microphones to use. For now I just did a quick run through so you could all hear what it sounds like.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200551336802781
Posted by: BDB

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/11/13 11:51 PM

Going out of tune already. That can be expected with new strings.
Posted by: jc201306

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 12:25 AM

Congratulation on your M&H! The recording does need some rework, since it does not sound like M&H at all.
Posted by: AZ_Astro

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 02:49 AM

What a delightful sound! Nice sustain up and down and the treble really speaks out.

I think you have a lot to look forward to as the strings finally settle down.

AZ
Posted by: Derek Hartwell

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 05:07 AM

Competent playing, but I don't care for the piano's tone. However, that may be down to the recording.

rk
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 07:41 AM

Swarth, I liked your piano and your playing! Definitely a warmer tone than I'm used to with my C7, but a nice tone indeed.

It would have been nicer if some of the wayward unisons were touched up before the recording, but it still sounded good.

I say enjoy your piano, and keep it up for sale if that is what you want to do with it. It is a fabulous piano, and I think the rebuild turned out great! And, your M&H piano adventure certainly has an interesting story behind it... smile

Rick
Posted by: Swarth

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 12:04 PM

Thanks, for the competent remark too, as recording really exposes every little error and I wasn't going for perfection, it was just a test take. Plus I'm not really a solo player, I love the comfort of a bass and a drummer. What I wanted to do was record something before it drifted anymore. After almost 3 hours of tweaking my tech told me to just play the heck out of it and it will settle down, it had drifted down ~3 cents and the unisons at least are not twanging although a few offenders are becoming annoying. I've budgeted for 5-6 tunings over the next year, the next being after the weather changes in November. Also we are installing a whole house humidifier as things dry up a bit much here in the winter. This has my wife's full approval as it should help with her dry cracking skin.

Recording a Concert Grand is a new one for me and recording one is certainly a challenge. I've only tried about 20 or so placements. This one used a Rode NTV tube condenser over the treble section and a Senheiser 421 towards the Bass, spaced about 6 feet and 4 feet above the sound board. It provided a bit of room ambience, but I would prefer to open it up even more. The room is too live for that now and there is a "shiny" resonance around 2K that must be tamed. I'll keep experimenting, but until we get the spectrum analyzer in here it's just guesswork. I'll play around with close micing a bit more but first attempts produced more percussiveness than I like. My mic selection is rather thin in Omni's , but an Earthworks type system might be an option.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 12:23 PM

You bought and rebuilt the piano with the hopes of reselling it?
Posted by: Swarth

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 12:45 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You bought and rebuilt the piano with the hopes of reselling it?


The truth is I rescued the piano from certain destruction and my original plan was to rebuild it and donate it to my church. They didn't want it. It wasn't much of a decision. If I was able to sell it I had another piano I wanted purchase, if not the worst that could happen is I'm stuck with a 9 foot CC2 that will hold it's value well over my costs for many years. What I learned most of all is what a mistake it would have been to sell it at what I was asking for.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 01:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Swarth
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You bought and rebuilt the piano with the hopes of reselling it?


The truth is I rescued the piano from certain destruction and my original plan was to rebuild it and donate it to my church. They didn't want it. It wasn't much of a decision. If I was able to sell it I had another piano I wanted purchase, if not the worst that could happen is I'm stuck with a 9 foot CC2 that will hold it's value well over my costs for many years. What I learned most of all is what a mistake it would have been to sell it at what I was asking for.
Are you the poster who found this piano is some shack on a mountain a while ago and then ran a contest(with organic coffee as the prize for the first PW poster who could guess the piano from some clues?
Posted by: ando

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 01:59 PM

I was waiting the whole video to hear some thunderous bass notes - but they never came! It's a lovely piano though.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/12/13 03:23 PM

Looks like you got yourself a heck of a nice piano!
Posted by: Swarth

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/13/13 11:30 AM

Originally Posted By: ando
I was waiting the whole video to hear some thunderous bass notes - but they never came! It's a lovely piano though.


No thundering bass and while it can thunder the bass balances with the rest of the piano. You almost have to coax it out to be more assertive. When you call for it, the presence of 9 feet of bass strings pretty much envelopes you.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/13/13 03:39 PM

Verum non modo perceptionem
Posted by: Dwscamel

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/13/13 05:16 PM

I think it sounds warm. Of course, I liked your playing a lot too.

I agree that being stuck with a concert grand isn't the worst thing in the world, though I'm probably biased because I'd love to adopt some strays myself smile.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/14/13 11:58 AM

I had a chance two years ago to adopt a Mason-Hamlin CC which needed a lot of work but just didn't think I could afford the total costs. Seeing yours, I get a few pangs of regret for the road not taken, but I think I made the only choice I could. Enjoy your wonderful piano!
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/14/13 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I had a chance two years ago to adopt a Mason-Hamlin CC which needed a lot of work but just didn't think I could afford the total costs. Seeing yours, I get a few pangs of regret for the road not taken, but I think I made the only choice I could. Enjoy your wonderful piano!


Ummm... I don't think you could place a 9 ft. in the space your 7 ft. occupies. Do you?
Posted by: NFexec

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/23/13 11:46 PM

I'm used to M&H's sounding somewhat more bold and projecting than yours. It almost sounds like the hammers are undersized or purposefully voiced for a more mellow tone. Yes? No? As you say, it may be the room and microphone... but I have to ask: You mentioned a hard time selling it. Was the piano that much out of tune when auditioned by prospects? My guess is that with a few more tunings and maybe another touch up voicing session it will be a very nice instrument.

Doug
Posted by: Barry1963

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/24/13 09:29 AM

listening to it right now, very nice !!
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/24/13 09:42 AM

Rich;

At the time, I still lived exclusively in New York and had a large place for it. Don't now, though.
Posted by: Swarth

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/24/13 01:20 PM

Originally Posted By: NFexec
I'm used to M&H's sounding somewhat more bold and projecting than yours. It almost sounds like the hammers are undersized or purposefully voiced for a more mellow tone. Yes? No? As you say, it may be the room and microphone... but I have to ask: You mentioned a hard time selling it. Was the piano that much out of tune when auditioned by prospects? My guess is that with a few more tunings and maybe another touch up voicing session it will be a very nice instrument.

Doug


When the one person who bothered to even look at the piano auditioned it at the shop it was closer than it is now. It has been less than a month now since the initial in home tuning and it has drifted almost as bad as it was before. The strings are starting to stretch out and you can start to feel the difference in the hammers, which yes, we chose the Abel natural felt which are very soft. I'll tune it again probably in November after the weather changes and the room treatment is finished. No voicing is planned until things stabilize, which appears might be a while. While it feels a little "Squishy" at times, the piano can project quite well.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 09/24/13 08:12 PM

Swarth,

That is going to turn into a FABULOUS sound!!!

...and I never use the word "fabulous"...

Just give it time to settle and play in. You won't be sorry. Whoever did the work did a wonderful job already, and the "voice" has not even matured yet!
Posted by: PhilipInChina

Re: Living with a Concert Grand - 10/20/13 12:06 AM

When deciding how well one of a selection of pianos would fit into my music room I did a simple test. I cut a piece of plexiglass to a 1:20 scale size of my music room. I then cut some pieces of card at a 1:20 scale of the 3 pianos I was considering and positioned them where I might want them. (I also cut one to represent a 9' grand- and realised that that would be just too much).

All you need to do is all measurements of the room and piano are in metres. Then multiply by 5 and that gives you the model length but in centimetres.

It gives you a really good visual idea of how things fit.