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Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand (Read 1685 times)

Offline marshamcdowell78

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Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand
« on: September 01, 2015, 08:38:51 PM »
Hi! I am looking at two used pianos on Craigslist. The first is a 1930 Knabe 5'3" baby grand, brown mahogany, refurbished by a piano technician/tuner with 41 yrs experience. New hammers, strings, etc. Pictures look like it's in good shape. It's listed at $1500 (picture in 1st attachment). The second is a 1929 Mason & Hamlin 5'4" baby grand, refurbished by two PTG piano technicians. It's listed at $5000 (picture in 2nd attachment). I am going to play both tomorrow but would like to have opinions on what might be the better option.

Thanks!

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand
«Reply #1 on: September 03, 2015, 10:10:32 AM »
So did you play these pianos yet ?
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline marshamcdowell78

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Re: Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand
«Reply #2 on: September 03, 2015, 04:27:56 PM »
Yes. The Knabe was nice but I wasn't as impressed with it or the technician. It was a project from a friend, of a friend so not a lot of history and it had been sitting in pieces for a long time. I was pretty weary of that one, especially with the very low price. The technician admitted she was just trying to get it out of her shop.

The M&H, on the other hand, I was very impressed with the technician and the piano. His shop was very clean and the piano was covered. The finish of the piano was in great shape. The technician had replaced the bushings, felting, and key tops. A few strings had been replaced and a crack in the sound board had been professionally fixed. The tuning pins had been cleaned up but still showed signs of age. Not rusty but more of a patina. The technician explained everything he did to restore the piano and it only had 1 previous owner. The piano also had a Dampp Chaser installed. All in all I was impressed with the technician and the piano played beautifully. The bass cords had a little buzz, which the technician pointed out before I even played it, and he's going to replace those before I get the piano. He is also going to tune it after it gets moved and acclimated and will fix any strings if they pop in the next year or so. So, I did put a deposit down on the piano. I'm hoping it's one of those rare gems. I know the price was low for this type of piano but the technician seemed to care about his work so hopefully it will be a good piano for me.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand
«Reply #3 on: September 03, 2015, 07:24:17 PM »
Yes. The Knabe was nice but I wasn't as impressed with it or the technician. It was a project from a friend, of a friend so not a lot of history and it had been sitting in pieces for a long time. I was pretty weary of that one, especially with the very low price. The technician admitted she was just trying to get it out of her shop.

The M&H, on the other hand, I was very impressed with the technician and the piano. His shop was very clean and the piano was covered. The finish of the piano was in great shape. The technician had replaced the bushings, felting, and key tops. A few strings had been replaced and a crack in the sound board had been professionally fixed. The tuning pins had been cleaned up but still showed signs of age. Not rusty but more of a patina. The technician explained everything he did to restore the piano and it only had 1 previous owner. The piano also had a Dampp Chaser installed. All in all I was impressed with the technician and the piano played beautifully. The bass cords had a little buzz, which the technician pointed out before I even played it, and he's going to replace those before I get the piano. He is also going to tune it after it gets moved and acclimated and will fix any strings if they pop in the next year or so. So, I did put a deposit down on the piano. I'm hoping it's one of those rare gems. I know the price was low for this type of piano but the technician seemed to care about his work so hopefully it will be a good piano for me.

I would strongly suggest you get an independent evaluation of the current condition,  the work that will be needed, the estimated timeline for needing and the cost.  This needs to be independent of the seller so there are no surprises later.   Get all in writing from the evaluation and the owner.

I am a huge fan of older pianos but not a huge fan of costly surprises. 

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand
«Reply #4 on: September 03, 2015, 08:53:07 PM »
Just so you are aware, a cracked soundboard can drive down the cost of an instrument even if repaired. Also, It doesn't have to be an issue if properly dealt with but a cracked soundboard can be the cause of a buzz someplace over the register of the piano. You said it has a bass buzz, did the tech give any clue as to why ? The key words here are "can be", doesn't mean it is. Other things ( and simpler things) can cause buzzing too. In terms of the sound board buzzing, a usual cause of the buzz would be areas along the crack line that are separated/ separating from a rib. Reattaching is generally possible. If the guy did this repair professionally I wouldn't expect a buzz from the soundboard. Still and again, just so you know ?! Suggestion: see if he gets rid of this buzz before more money is spent and identifies the cause and fix to you.

Otherwise M+H can be great pianos.

I had a feeling the Knabe was a basket case and is why I didn't respond to your first message before you went to see it.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline marshamcdowell78

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Re: Knabe vs Mason & Hamlin, baby grand
«Reply #5 on: September 03, 2015, 10:54:19 PM »
The technician felt the buzzing was coming from the strings. I will definitely play it again before final purchase. Thanks for all the info!