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#57490 10/01/07 09:08 PM
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I have some questions:

1. Do you think it was a smart marketing move for MH to start using Chinese parts in their actions and(other places?) instead of Renner?

2. If you found two Mason BBs that sounded and felt exactly the same(same tone and touch), would you choose the one that included some parts from China or the earlier models without Chinese parts?

3. Do you think Larry Fine was correct in ranking the newest Masons as Class 2?

4.If you own a new Mason did it bother you when the Mason was demoted to class 2?

Thank you!

#57491 10/01/07 09:37 PM
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Long Thread on M&H and Larry Fine

See above thread which covered this issue extensively. I'd buy an M&H in a heartbeat - wouldn't bother me a bit. I trust the folks at M&H - to do right and make right. As far as being a "Tier 2" piano, no, I don't think they belong there. I don't think anyone in the know would worry about it.

#57492 10/01/07 09:39 PM
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these are loaded questions, but i'm going to take a shot (or get shot) anyway.

1. and 3. --- i don't think it was smart, but for a different reason than i think you're implying. i don't think Larry was so much demoting them as an instrument as he was ranking them according to the image they conveyed to the consumer by outsourcing to China. category one is essentially money is no object when it comes to building and selling the piano. i'd be less inclined to pay a premium for a piano that was built with what i perceived were less than premium parts.

2. --- i would definitely go with Renner than with parts that have much less of a track record.

4. n/a

#57493 10/01/07 10:10 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by gutenberg:
2. --- i would definitely go with Renner than with parts that have much less of a track record.
Seems like this is the _real_ issue (and I think a reasonable explanation for down grading MH). Renner has been around forever and is a known quantity. The problem with jumping over to Chinese parts (or really any manufacturer that doesn't have the same track record) is the issue of the unknown. I don't know if enough parts and the type of parts warrantied an entire drop in "level", but then again, it's just one guys opinion anyway, right wink

#57494 10/01/07 10:24 PM
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IMO the only downside to M&H grands in the past, including their Golden Era" whenever that was, was the action. I thought the introduction of the Renner actions into the M&H grands was the final answer to a near perfect piano.
They had to know that the sea change to Chinese parts would be a huge negative, yet they took the risk anyway. I have only played a recent grand briefly. My quick impression was that I played much like the Renner ones I was fond of.
Just because the parts come from China does not make them, by definition, inferior.


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#57495 10/01/07 11:13 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Craigen:
Just because the parts come from China does not make them, by definition, inferior.
I agree. But how would you answer my second question?

#57496 10/01/07 11:42 PM
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The new Mason and Hamlin grands are fantastic pianos. As long as they keep a close eye on quality, and they definitely do, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing certain components that may, for all we know, be better than they would be if made here. The proof of the pudding is in the eating--and the new Masons are magnificent in every respect. The entire assembly process, including the actions, takes place in their Massachusetts factory. I have been fortunate in having extensive experience with a new seven foot Mason of around 10 years ago and a new seven foot Mason built last month. They are both extraordinary pianos. I never thought that the ten year old piano (which I have been playing since it was new) could be improved upon, but the Mason built last month is actually even better than the ten year old one. If I had any criticism of the ten year old piano at all, it was that the action was a bit on the heavy side. The action in the newer Mason is exceptional--even better than the ten year old piano's. In answer to your second question: if the piano is as fabulous as the Masons are, I do not care where the component part is made. To turn up one's nose at a piano just because it has foreign parts elevates form over substance. I completely disagree with Larry Fine's "demotion" of the Masons--he needs to get out there and play more pianos! It bothers me that the Masons were demoted, because I think that this reflects badly on Larry Fine, for whose judgment I generally have a great respect. He blew it on this one, though. Masons are great and becoming greater.

#57497 10/01/07 11:49 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by bitWrangler:
I don't know if enough parts and the type of parts warrantied an entire drop in "level", but then again, it's just one guys opinion anyway, right wink
Larry Fine . . . Just one guy? eek


Like it or not, agree with him or not, Larry Fine is virtually the Pope of Pianodom.

#57498 10/02/07 01:12 AM
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Pianoloverus,

If you found two BB's that played great and sounded the same and you found out one had a wet sand cast plate and the other had a V-Pro plate, would it make a difference?


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#57499 10/02/07 01:15 AM
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All I know is this:


Everything I've ever owned that has a stamp, decal, or any sort of posting saying "Made in China" has fallen apart much sooner than I would have liked. Mason & Hamlin should keep an eye on this issue. Whenever I buy that AA that's been tempting me, I think I'll have the action converted to all Renner parts.


I. Bruton
Piano at home: Yamaha C3
Piano at church: Yamaha P22
Digitals at home: Roland RD-800, Kawai Novus N5S
#57500 10/02/07 01:30 AM
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How many Yamahas are worth rebuilding? I would stack any Mason up against any Yamaha any day. Masons have only improved over the years, thanks to the Burgetts' commitment to quality. They are handmade monuments to the timeless quality of their scale designs.

#57501 10/02/07 01:52 AM
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Originally posted by Rank Piano Amateur:
[QB] How many Yamahas are worth rebuilding? I would stack any Mason up against any Yamaha any day...[QB]
Do I sense a bit of emotion in that statement? No one here is comparing Yamaha to Mason & Hamlin. For what its worth, Yamaha is lightyears ahead of most of the chinese manufacturers in product reliablity and consistency. I don't know how many Yamahas are worth rebuilding, but that is a moot point. I wouldn't hesitate to rebuild mine when they're 50 years old, nor would I hesitate to buy a Mason & Hamlin. Both brands have built a reputation on exceptional quality and neither should make compromises.


I. Bruton
Piano at home: Yamaha C3
Piano at church: Yamaha P22
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#57502 10/02/07 02:26 AM
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Mason & Hamlin have a very good reputation of improving everything they do. I think their new pianos play better than the ones from 5 years ago which played better than the ones five years before that.

#57503 10/02/07 02:28 AM
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It's funny. I heard M&H had spec'd some parts from China, and I was excited. Figured they'd come up with an improvement or two. But Richard wasn't sure if my piano had any of those parts, unless those aluminium capstan screws are from China.

Was it smart marketing: Not the way it turned out.

Does it worry me? Not in the least. I'd probably buy the one with the Chinese parts in it if all else was equal. I like the thought of new ideas making it into my piano.

Do I agree with Larry Fine lowering their rating? I think his rating system is not workable. It is to subjective. But as long as he defines his terms and explains how he came up with his opinions, it might help some people.

Does it bother me that he lowered the rating? Yes, a little. But not because I own one. More because 1) it seems so closed minded. "If it ain't broke, you can't improve it" ??? and 2) I don't know if could have gotten more information before making the change. If M&H wouldn't share the information, then he was right to lower their rating!

Todd


Previously: M&H AA (2006)
Currently: Phoenix C212 (2016)
#57504 10/02/07 02:59 AM
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kluurs,

I agree with you, regardless of where any of the components come from.

Isaac,

You may have sensed emotion from Rank Piano Amateur, but I assure you, RPA is anything but that. Although she does not make a living playing piano, she is a student of the craft of building and performing. I have lost count of the pianos she has purchased from me (I think the count is presently 6), and to put her feelings into perspective:

She still owns the BB she purchased from me 10 years ago. She traded a Bosie 225 that she bought 5 years ago because she enjoyed the new Mason BB so much.

Having said that, my father-in-law (82 yr. old ex marine who landed on Iwo Jima in the third wave) STILL won't buy anything Japanese because as a young man everything they made fell apart... It probably doesn't help that they shot at him so much either.

My 2 cents of perspective, wink


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#57505 10/02/07 04:14 AM
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you just can't get away from the fact that buying parts from China is motivated by paying less for the parts. and the parts are made less expensive at least in part by paying workers a lower wage. it may be that these parts will stand the test of time, but you can't be surprised that such cost considerations will distinguish you from some of your competition.

#57506 10/02/07 04:43 AM
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Perhaps people start to slowly understand that "China is not China" any longer and a lot more needs to be known before any judgement is done.

If out of 200 new piano makers 50 are lousy, 120 are average,25 are good and 5 are excellent - it's worth to look at least at these 5.

If there is even ONE Chinese parts manufacturer today who makes EXCELLENT parts, excellent enough that some of the best makers in Germany, U.S. and perhaps also Japan are already buying there, it's worth taking note.

Watch the next Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Chinese are expected to be the by far biggest 'loosers' in terms of per capita - population ratio to gold medal winners.

But they may very well still take most of the gold in total count.....

Norbert shocked


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#57507 10/02/07 05:48 AM
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I'm still tempted to rate pianos according to their percent content of real wood -- as opposed to molded sawdust or splinterboard covered in veneer and slapped with a shimmering plastic clearcoat).

There are pianos ranked higher than M&H that are entombed in plastic. Now whether that is "music grade" plastic or not is not my area of expertise. But it should give people pause to take the ranking with a large grain of salt.


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#57508 10/02/07 09:28 AM
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One piece where I'd be really worried about if the origin is at the least doubtful would be the plate - good wet sand casting is difficult, and very tight quality control of the finished product is extremely important.

And I agree with USAPianoTrucker -- the content of real wood is a very important factor, especially for the sound. I wouldn't worry too much about the coating, but splinterboard and particleboard definitely are bad.

If all the quality issues are the same, who would you buy from: manufacturers in a country where environmental impact of production and labour rights are observed or from those where they couldn't care less about anything of these?

One area where the Chinese definitely are playing dirty is sports - the way they achieve the desired number of medals is completely irrelevant to them, as long as the numbers are correct at the end.

Not targeting anyone in this thread at all, but occasionally it seems to me a bit odd that the same people complaining about cost-saving attempts of any industry in the US or Europe then complain about the high prices of their products and go on to buy cheap stuff from China. Bertolt Brecht knew it all along: "Zuerst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral." (basically: money first, then morals)

Markus


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#57509 10/02/07 11:14 AM
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Action production is not quantum-phyics, so I presume that the chinese action will perform well. Better than Renner? I doubt.
Cheaper than Renner? Yes.
So M&H will safe a few bucks. But it still was a stupid move.

Personaly if I bought a new Mason I would have the chinese action replaced with a Renner (or in my dreams with a Kawai action). For aesthetic reasons.


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Blüthner 190, 6ft3, 1903
J.L. Duysen 195, 6ft6, 1897, (under construction)
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