Upright Mason & Hamlin problem!

Posted by: beanfriend

Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 09:18 AM

Hey ya'll!

A few days ago, I was playing my upright Mason & Hamlin, and I noticed that the sustain of the piano wasn't as beautiful as it usually is.

I played for about 10 minutes, and the keys were getting progressively stiffer and stiffer.

Now, all the keys are very stiff. It's hard to explain, but they don't go down all the way. Most of them have no sustain either, and it sounds very wonky.

The odd thing is that this problem happened so quickly. It's definitely not normal.

Does anyone know what happened?

Thanks in advance!
Posted by: Monaco

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 09:27 AM

When you say no sustain, do you mean the keys make a "thud" rather than a note?
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 09:29 AM

Well, I hate to say it, but it sounds like the pinblock has separated from the frame. When that happens, the strings get closer to the hammers, maybe even touching some of them.

Repair involves loosening all the strings, injecting some glue or epoxy into the separation, clamping the plate and pinblock back together with the frame (if the plate isn't too damaged) drilling holes through the plate, pinblock, and frame, installing and tightening bolts, and retuning. It is an expensive repair.

Open up the piano and see if the strings are really close to the hammers. You may also be able to take off the lid and top part and look at the crack from the top. (Sorry, I'm not familiar with Mason and Hamlin, so don't know the lid design)
Posted by: Dan Casdorph

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 12:14 PM

The OP does not say if its all the keys, some, or most. It may be that the regulating rail is loose, moved and hammers are blocking. You need to call a technician to take a look.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 01:05 PM

This is another thread where we can all let our imaginations run wild and try to guess, speculate, and look deep into our crystal balls for a long-distance diagnosis.

Pianos need service and attention. When has your piano last been tuned or serviced? Call a local technician, describe the problems, and make an appointment. With some luck, it is a very small adjustment, a loose rail as Dan says, after which the piano can be tuned.
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 01:43 PM

There is no way for us to tell without looking at the piano. Call your piano technician right away. As far as what it "might" be...I'll add a mouse nest to the mix.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 02:32 PM

This is the one thing I hate about pianoworld. People who think they have a right to infer there is something wrong when an expert with experience sees a problem they have seen before and recognizes exactly the symptoms, and then they feel in the right to sneakily infer that this expert is wrong to give his professional, qualified (notice I asked him to open the piano and check) advice.

There is a way for me to tell without looking at the piano; the OP has given me three specific symptoms that are only explained by my assessment.

My imagination is not running wild; these symptoms are in direct agreement to the assessment.

Obviously, technicians who view this as some out in left field guess, have never had the experience of seeing or repairing a piano with a separated pinblock.

If that is the situation, please keep your poisonous, negative comments to yourself.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 02:45 PM

I can think of other possibilities. So who are you going to believe, someone who thinks there is only one possible problem, or those who think there are other possibilities?
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 03:00 PM

It does sound like a loose let-off rail that came off it's brackets. I doubt it's the pinblock separating that would keep the keys from going all the way down. And I have repaired many separating pinblocks by the way. Pin blocks don't separate in 10 minutes.

Have a tech look at it. And please let us know what the problem was.
Posted by: Bob

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 03:07 PM

Bean, have a piano tech look at the piano. We can only guess without seeing the piano, and that will only make you worry.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 03:36 PM

Exactly. We can only guess and I too, question whether it's the pin block pulling apart. Call a technician to look at it. Get a GOOD one though.
Posted by: Bill McKaig,RPT

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 03:37 PM

A separating action rail will give those symptoms and it can happen very fast. It also explains why the sustain pedal is not working properly. If you lift the lid and look inside, you'll usually see one end of the action lifting/moving when you depress the sustain pedal.

Call your technician and have him/her come out and take a look. They will be able to figure out the problem pretty quickly. Its not something you're going to be able to fix yourself.
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 03:54 PM

beanfriend,

How old is your piano? How tall is your piano? Can you post some photos?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 03:56 PM

It really does not matter, since none of us are going to be able to repair it without seeing it.
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 04:17 PM

By the way, beanfriend, welcome to Piano World!
Posted by: rxd

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 04:19 PM

Unless you are in the antipodes, this is the season for screws to loosen around the piano. Probably simple but still a job for an expert who can put the parts back together precisely where they belong.

As I recall the M&H was one of the very few u/r that had carriage bolts through the plate and all the way thru to the back?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 05:06 PM


Originally Posted By: rxd

As I recall the M&H was one of the very few u/r that had carriage bolts through the plate and all the way thru to the back?


I believe they are bolted through. The quality built uprights I have come across had this feature. Most of the ones that did not, by now have had this work completed.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 08:46 PM


As the OP has not responded to any of our posts, I assume he is not reading or interested. (It did take me a while to realize I had to select "Watch Topic" and also edit my watched topics to select "Immediately" instead of "None".

As for some of the other techs' opinions about my misdiagnosis, I am more than happy to entertain alternate possibilities, but none have offered any better possibilities.

As an exercise, let's go through this logically.

The OP mentions:
1. Problems with the sustain
2. Stiff keys
3. Keys don't go down all the way
4. Now, no sustain
5. Wonky sound

And all this happened fairly quickly. (One customer of mine heard a loud sharp noise and then, these symptoms were there. So, yes, Jean, a pinblock can separate in 10 minutes.)

A separated pinblock results in the strings pulling down on the pinblock which has separated and is off the frame, and that results in the strings becoming quite close to the hammers.

With the strings closer to the action, there is no sustain as the dampers are regulated to rise off the strings where they were, not where they are after separation.

The hammers cannot travel through their regulated blow distance. In fact, they never reach letoff because it is now behind the strings. The keys can't go all the way down because the hammers can't go all the way forward.

And of course, since the pinblock is off the frame, the tuning is all out of whack, "wonky".

Of course, if this M&H has bolts all the way through the plate, block, and frame. then a separated pinblock would be very unlikely. But Dan Silverwood does refer to "those that did not [have the bolts all the way through] by now have had this work completed." This implies that not all M&H had the full bolting design.

A loose letoff rail or separating action rail may cause sustain issues, but doesn't explain why the keys won't go down, or the wonky sound.

BDB, instead of belittling my analysis and claiming you have more explanations, why don't you offer them instead of wasting your time. This forum is for us to help OPs, not criticize other techs.

In any analysis, it is very important, when offering possible solutions or explanations, to address all the symptoms. A solution or analysis that addresses only some of the symptoms is almost always going to be incorrect, unless there are multiple issues going on.

Beanfriend, a simple visual inspection or photograph of the insides will settle this, once and for all.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 09:31 PM

A call to a technician is more likely to figure out the problem, and get started on a solution faster.
Posted by: Bob

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/11/13 10:33 PM

Guessing does not "help out" the OP. A five minute inspection from a qualified tech will give the OP the answers he needs.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/12/13 03:42 PM

Yah, so would a simple photo of the insides rule out the separated pinblock.

Analysis is nothing more than an educated guess. Why does that anger certain people? Why do certain techs feel the need to quip and belittle that exercise. I'm truly baffled. Especially since any reference to helping the OP is moot, as they apparently have disappeared.
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/12/13 04:03 PM

If the let-off rail comes off the brackets and falls onto the wippens, it sure will keep the keys from going all the way down.

The only way I could see where these symptoms could be caused by a separating pinblock is if this piano had a 3/4 plate.

We really don't have enough info, and pictures would certainly help.

All the best.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/12/13 04:42 PM

We do not know whether this piano has a pin block, let alone whether that is the problem.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Upright Mason & Hamlin problem! - 02/14/13 01:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
Yah, so would a simple photo of the insides rule out the separated pinblock.

Analysis is nothing more than an educated guess. Why does that anger certain people? Why do certain techs feel the need to quip and belittle that exercise. I'm truly baffled. Especially since any reference to helping the OP is moot, as they apparently have disappeared.


Modern society still only allows men two forms of emotional outlet and the other one is anger. Sometimes a hidden memory gets triggered and a person gets angry for no apparent reason.

Equally likely, though, there are those who find it difficult to state their own opinion without prefacing ot by putting down another's. This, too is societal.

What you suggest is a worst case scenario, and a possibility that few of us want to even contemplate. (except those who only see the lucrative side of it).

Add the extremist who never sees the middle ground.

Then of course there is unintentional rudeness. we can all be guilty of that.

A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude, (Oscar Wilde).