Subtitle: The Value of Steinway, Knabe, and Mason & Hamlin Reproducing
Pianos -- Subjective Approach
I noticed with great interest the note from Ed Copeland, who was asked
by a friend as to the value and prices one might attach to these three
major pianos with reproducing systems. Ampico rolls are, in my
opinion, the easiest rolls to acquire both in the original and recut
If one can find an fine 7' Mason & Hamlin with a nice case and matching
bench, which has not been through various botched fix ups, many
collectors in the Midwest would consider this to be the instrument to
own. It has the magical ability to fit into the available sound space
of a normal living room and not express so loud as to drive everyone
out of the room.
If I had to associate the sound of the Mason with a woman actress
(don't we collectors have some strange fetishes!) I would call my
Mason, if I was lucky enough to have one, my "Michelle Pfieffer" piano:
sleek and sophisticated, with underplayed qualities worth exploring.
Steinway would probably win the comparison between these three pianos
if one did a poll both in this country and Europe. A good 7' Steinway
is hard to resist. It made its reputation on the concert stage as
being the only piano big enough and tough enough to withstand the
banging of Liszt and Percy Grainger. It is a most aggressive piano if
voiced to be so, but with proper voicing can purr like a Mason & Hamlin.
For many, unless your music room is quite large, the sound of such a
piano will demand that you listen to it and not expect to talk with
your guests. Since I do have such a piano to be delivered from my
rebuilder this Spring, I am considering the name of Demi Moore for this
piano. The Steinway exhibits all the qualities of Demi Moore in the
movie Striptease and GI Jane: assertive, beautiful and with a decided
attitude for silky performance.
The Knabe would be my third choice and not at all in the running. The
Knabes I have heard quite frankly sound stodgy, with lumpy bass, an
indefinite middle and a stringy-sounding upper. I must confess that I
have not heard a ground-up restoration of a Knabe, and if the piano is
perhaps a 7' model it might, in the hands of a master rebuilder, be
coached into becoming a quasi-Steinway or Mason.
If I owned a Knabe like the ones I have heard, I would tend to associate
it with Lucy Lawless, the actress who plays Zena, Warrior Princess.
Zena is more than a little bit plumpish and an over-drawn character,
right out of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle!
Okay -- now I know I have offended Knabe owners and all the women who
read this Digest, but hey, lighten up! Do we have any takers out there
who have named their pianos after famous male actors?