Posts Tagged ‘piano’

Mason and Hamlin Grands – Who Do They Think They Are?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

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As you may have gathered from my other posts regarding Mason and Hamlin, I AM A HUGE FAN!!!  I decided to review a couple of grand models that are my favorites. Having these pianos around me everyday leaves me “like a kid…….” nevermind, you get the picture.

The model B is one of my favorites because of its size.  The model B Mason and Hamlin measures 5′ 4″.  If you wanted to compare this piano to some other popular models you would either have to go to Yamaha C1X 5’3″ grand which, of course, Yamaha “claims”  is all Japanese made, or you would compare the Steinway S 5’1″ grand.

Mason and Hamlin B is 1 inch larger than the Yamaha C1X and 3 inches larger than the Steinway S model but would still be comparable as far as the price, length of strings are close as well as the soundboard.  Some of you may wonder if 3 inches make a big difference and the answer would be YES, YES, YES. But. the HUGE difference is a properly built instrument.  Mason and Hamlin knows how to properly build an instrument.

materials_1

The scale design of the B appears to be the same as their larger models with the exception that it is considerably smaller than it’s  closest model (the model A ).  It features their globally famous WNG action, solid spruce soundboard, amazingly perfectly weighted hammers (that are properly voiced), properly placed bridges and the same musically precise strings that are used in their larger models.

What this all means to you is that this small grand piano delivers the musicality and tone that you are expecting from a world class piano but is packed in a very small body.  You will be able to play Chopin or easily move into an Ellington improv, play a moving gospel tune or cry to the blues without that sinking feeling that something is missing.

Steinway, undoubtedly, has a great name and has historically built a great piano.  Steinway’s “S” model is no exception.  It has a great name on the fallboard and is solidly built.  That’s it! The sound tends to be very dark and getting any power or expression is pretty much out of the question.  Of course, Steinway also has Kawai’s made Boston and Pearl River’s made Essex if you are looking for an Asian-made product that is “linked” to the Steinway name.  Either of these two products will give you a product with more musical attributes than their domestic made product.  However, you have to understand that Boston or Essex are NOT in the same category as Mason and Hamlin.

BC-piano-white-30x23

Yamaha’s C1X, they claim is 100% Japanese is quite the piano  as well.  It has many of the same features as Mason and Hamlin.  It has a solid spruce soundboard and does have well made Asian strings.  If you are looking for a piano that will play those bright tones, typical of a gospel piano or perhaps a great blues sound then this may be the perfect instrument for you.  It DOES NOT compare with the Mason in its ability to create tone, color and clarity, but it does have that thin, bright tone that you would expect from an Asian piano.

Here’s the intriguing thing about the Mason and Hamlin B model.  Most pianos in this size are not able to competently deliver the proper tone, touch and clarity of sound that is found in this 5’4″ model.  How they are able to produce a piano in this size with this powerful sound is nothing short of amazing.  It has everything to do with their scale design and the superior components used in the manufacturing process that really sets them apart.  Below is my Pastor’s nephew at a NAMM show playing the Mason and Hamlin.  Enjoy!!!

In a way of full disclosure, the information above is entirely my opinion.  The way that I formed my opinion is from hours of playing different pianos, listening to their characteristics, understanding their abilities and defining their shortcomings.  Don’t take my word for it however, find a company in your area that has Mason and Hamlin pianos and test drive it yourself.  If you find another piano that you like better then, you should buy it. However, before you make any decisions, try Mason and Hamlin.

LASTLY AND MAYBE MOST IMPORTANTLY, SEE BELOW:

Made-in-the-USA-blue-2

 

Ric Overton in Burbank, CA.

 

 

 

 

What’s This I Hear About Mason and Hamlin Pianos?

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Before I begin I should tell you upfront that Mason and Hamlin is possibly my favorite piano on the planet and “arguably” one of the best-made pianos available today.  It certainly would compare in the “big boy” world of pianos.  Yes, I know all about the European pianos and Steinway.  I am VERY familiar with all of Mason’s counterparts and who competes in the arena of the finest pianos in the world.  I still stand by my assessment of the piano and I believe, if you had the opportunity to experience one like I have you will agree. If you have never had the opportunity to play a Mason and Hamlin piano, get yourself down to the closest dealership and judge for yourself!

OPINIONS

Undoubtedly, we all have an opinion about what makes one piano better than the next.  Some people want sound, others want power and still others are looking for touch.  Mason and Hamlin has gone to great lengths to see that what they manufacture (Made in the USA)  is the best in those categories.  The comapny is constantly asking questions of the top technicians in the world about their opinions and making adjustments in order to produce the “perfect” piano

HaverHill, MA

HaverHill, MA

When I toured the Mason and Hamlin factory in October I was amazed at their care and attention to details.  While each of the pianos are manufactured by hand in Haverhill, MA.  they are cared for as if each one were a member of the family.  Small details are addressed as quickly and as accurately as larger issues.  Each and every part is meticulously inspected and each part is handled by a person who is trained to see flaws and blemishes.  Only the very best of parts are used.

For me, the attitude of the company is one of the first things that help sell me on a particular product.  For example, if you have a problem or question, a serious service issue or something very simple, how does the company address those issues and how quickly does the company follow through.  Do they respond in a timely manner or do they respond at all?  As a consumer, this is very important to me.  As a dealer, it becomes even more important to me.

Cecil Ramirez, National Sales Manager, for Mason and Hamlin says “The craftsmen at Mason & Hamlin invest significant time and hard work in executing the designs of our hand-crafted pianos to very strict tolerances with consistency.”

The model line up for Mason is probably the most simple in the industry.  The model 50 is their only upright model  which is 52″.  It comes in several finishes and colors.  The grand model line up  is as follows: B is 5’4″ the model A is 5’8″, the model AA is 6’4″, the model BB is 7′.  The line up finishes with a CC which is an astounding 9’4″.  So they feature for 1 upright and 5 grands.

I will feature the model 50 in an upcoming article.  Meanwhile, enjoy the great sounds of Prince Charming above.

Ric Overton in Burbank, CA.

Dynatone DPR-2000

Monday, March 16th, 2015

 

Dynatone DPR 2200

Dynatone DPR 2200

 

The new Dynatone DPR-2200H digital piano has a new sound source called the ROS V.4 which becomes obvious when you start playing the piano.  The sound is incredible and very realistic. Obviously,  this model is not in a grand cabinet like the VCP 3000 OR the GPR 2200 but it has the same great features except in an upright cabinet.

The new action called ARHA that also comes with a large LCD screen is a great new feature on the DPR-2200.  This makes the piano feel more realistic than the earlier versions of this model.  It also brings this console model in-line with the larger models available with similar features. Both the DGP-200 grand piano with ensemble and the VCP-3000 player grand model.  The problem you see sometimes in the digital piano business is that the largest model has the best action and the least expensive model has a really bad action.  This is not the case with these three models.  Dynatone has made a very consistent action in each of their ensemble pianos.

Performances like this one can not be accomplished without a great action.

Along with the great action on the DPR 2200 is also the fact that they have loaded it with 128 note polyphony and 128 individual voices.  There is plenty of room for expansion of your composition and recording.  Just record your song or performance with the piano or guitar or whatever tone you may choose.  Once you have completed your song, play it back and play your second voice on top of the recording and expand the sound to create a virtual orchestra.
Lastly, the cabinet doesn’t look or feel like one of those cabinets you buy online or one of the toy pianos you find in Walmart.  It looks and feels like an acoustic piano.

More to come…..

Ric Overton in Burbank, CA

The Piano Was Not The Original Keyboard (Part 3)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Virginal

 

The Virginal

The Virginal

 

The precursor to the harpsichord came in the 1400’s known as the Virginal or Virginals.  The logic behind the first virginals came in 1460 when a writer described it in a letter from Paulus Paulirinus of Praguein relation to the clavichord.  History books can differ in their opinions or ideas of its origin.

Quite a bit of music was written on a virginal because of its size and ease of transport.  This is a larger model of a virginal.  Some were quite decorative like this one while others were quite simple in their design and much smaller.

The tone quality or the virginal as compared to the clavichord was/is quite different.  While the clavichord struck the strings the virginal was closer in tone to the harpsichord.  Later as people began to want more sound we started making the harpsichord with longer strings and a larger soundboard with more depth of sound.

The virginal was identical to the harpsichord in the way it was made with the plucking of the strings rather than the clavichord mechanism which struck the strings like the piano.

A Smaller Virginal

A Smaller Virginal

The virginal was very popular during the early Baroque period although like the clavichord and by a large part the harpsichord the tone was to light to be heard with the other instruments and even more difficult in larger public performances.

If you do a quick search on the virginal you will quickly see many different variations of this cool instrument.  It is difficult to imagine that once this was cutting edge technology and this was a privilege to own.  The tone quality of this instrument was among the best available in a keyboard instrument at this point in the 1400’s.

 

Art in a VirginalArt in a Virginal

However, music for the virginal and the clavichord would be written for many years to come BECAUSE of the tone.  You may also note that many, MANY works of art show a young lady sitting in front of an instrument that most people assume is a harpsichord or clavichord but, as it turns out is actually a virginal.

Ric Overton

http://PianoSD.com

The Piano Was Not The Original Keyboard (Part 2)

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Although keyboard instruments as we commonly know them today has gone through many changes the idea on the whole was originally created in 1361.  In 1361 there were essentially no flats or sharps as we know them today.  Over the period of the next 300 – 400 years (yes, that is an accurate number) we had gone through a number of changes that brought us to the “newest” scale and was finally publicly and famously endorsed by Bach.

Bach The Well Tempered Clavier

Bach The Well Tempered Clavier

In 1722 J.S. Bach penned The Well Tempered Clavier which was arguably one of the most famous works of all time. He repeated this work in 1742 and underscored the original endorsement of the idea of equal temperament in keyboards.

More information on The Well Tempered Clavier can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Well-Tempered_Clavier in the Wikipedia website.

While we have little information of the first pianos to be created the Medici Family indicates that pianos in their pseudo present day form was in existence as early as 1700 and potentially as far back as 1698, however, the only pianos that we have in existence today date back to 1720.

The point is that the whole idea of the modern day piano would date back to the early 1700’s.  In the beginning the present day piano is closest related to the Clavichord.

The Clavichord

The Clavichord

The Clavichord

Most people agree that the clavichord was invented sometime in the early 1400’s.  Then as early as 1502 and later in 1504 there is some mention of the Clavichord being used in public performances in both England and Germany. In 1460 however, in a descriptive letter of the virginal which was also believed to have been invented in the early 1400’s and there is some reference to the clavichord as well as virginal.

The clavichord has various “editions” which differ in sense of temperament and design.  Some clavichords are “fretted” instruments while others were “unfretted” which would help determine the technique used while playing as well as the music that could be used as well.

The Virginal

The differences in the virginal and clavichord will be discussed in later posts as well as the harpsichord and piano.  So you can see some quick pictures of the virginal and clavichord, I posted a couple here.

The Virginal

The Virginal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The differences are not really noticeable at first glance but there are some significant differences between these two instruments.  We will get much more acquainted with these early instruments and how they are finding their way back into music  today.

 

Ric Overton

http://PianoSD.com

The Piano Was NOT The First Keyboard (part 1)

Monday, October 29th, 2012

As most of you know, I am 100% a piano fan.   I love the way they look, feel, sound and maybe even smell ( at least when they are new ).  I thought about the fact, however, that I am never looking past the piano.  I never quite get back to the basics of where it all started at least as far as the lineage of the piano is concerned.

There is a very rich history in piano building that spans back to the late 1300’s into the 1400’s and I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the very beginning and see if we can (at least partially) bring it all full circle.

Although keyboard instruments as we commonly know them today have gone through many changes, the idea of a keyboard instrument  was originally created in 1361.  In 1361 there were essentially no flats or sharps as we know them today.  Although there are physically notes on the keyboard with the 5 incidentals they had different notes in the beginning.  Over the period of the next 300 – 400 years ( yes, that is an accurate number ) we have gone through a number of changes that have brought us to the “newest” scale and was finally publicly and famously endorsed by Bach in the early 1700’s.   Much more about that to come in the next parts.

I will be presenting to you in the next few blogs about the history of the piano.  I learned quite a bit myself and hope that you will as well.  It is a little confusing as you move backward to understand the scale designs so, I have tried my best to put the information in my own words and leave out some of the less famous keyboards.

Over the period since the early 1300’s (over 700 years of history) there have been many, many versions of the piano that did not “take” and were unsuccessful for one reason or another.   Some did not stay in tune for long periods of time, some were too awkward to be moved while others simply did not function correctly.

Over the next few posts I will attempt to put the most popular stringed keyboard  instruments in a logical order so you can easily follow the information and pass it along to others.

Please enjoy.

Visit our new affiliate program at http://coolstuffformusicians.com and our gear shop at http://pianosd.spreadshirt.com and of course http://pianosd.com

Ric Overton

Chance Meetings – Kindred Spirits

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

I don’t do this very often because it’s too weird when it happens but, occasionally, you meet someone for the very first time and you feel as if you have known them your entire life.  When this happens to me I get caught up in the moment and don’t realize what is unfolding right before  my very eyes.

Yesterday was one of those days.  The first lady that I met was one of those very kind customers that come in from time to time to simply ask a question about digital pianos and perhaps see a model or two to decide if its time to upgrade or not.  After she described the instrument that she presently owns and inquire about some models that she had seen online we both came to the conclusion that I most likely was not going to be able to help her with anything more than personal opinions.  I gave her some suggestions and we had the chance to talk and get to know each other a little and just before she left I asked her if she would play something for me.

PLEASANT SURPRISE

In my mind I had prepared for some simple arrangements of Misty, Ode to Joy or some 1st or 2nd year student recital pieces.  ( Yes, BTW, I know how arrogant that sounded.  It was not intended that way but, that is the norm when you work in a piano store.)  When she sat down and played the very first note I was so taken back by what I heard that I stopped what I was doing and sat down.  By the third measure of the Chopin piece she was playing I realized that this was not your average digital piano customer.

When I complimented her on her playing and how surprised I was I don’t think she realized just how serious I was being with her.  I mentioned that Rachmaninoff was my favorite composer and as you might guess she turned and played (from memory) his Prelude in C sharp minor.  I was absolutely blown away.  I could have listened all day even though we both had work to get back to.

As we were saying goodbye and exchanging business cards I told her that she MUST share her music with the people around her and she told me to visit YouTube and there I would find a few of her songs.  I took her advise and now I am going to share that link with you so you can be as blessed as I was yesterday.  Her name is Jane Fleming and here is her YouTube page.  I know you will enjoy.  Click the image below for Jane’s Music.

Jane Fleming YouTube page

Click here for Janes Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOUBLE BLESSING

As I said that this exact same thing happened to me twice yesterday.  The second lady I met was a piano teacher from Orange County.  We had such a delightful conversation and I immediately realized that she was as equally passionate about the piano as I am.    It makes me so happy to meet people from all walks of life that love pianos.

As Piano Social Directory continues to grow I hope some of you will take the time to email me about your experiences and stories that I can use in my blogs and things we can talk about that will be of benefit to others that share our passion.

Take a look at Cool Stuff for Musicians and the PianoSD Gear Shop when you have a chance.  Pull out your credit card and spend some money.  HaHa.

See you soon.

Ric Overton

PianoSocialDirectory

Wolfgang Forster of August Forster Pianos 5/6/33 – 6/30/12

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Today, I want to celebrate the company and heritage of one of the most famous names in the world of fine pianos.  Wolfgang Forster.  Wolfgang passed away on June 30, 2012.

May 6, 1933 Wolfgang Forster was born into a very famous and important family inLobau,Germany which is located in East Germany moments away from Poland to the East and Czech Republic to the South.  The piano company that he owned and operated with his daughter Annekatrin, this fourth generation piano company is among the most prestigious names in the piano industry today.

Before you read the story below you might find interesting:

August Forster Story

History of August Forster Pianos

 

Friedrich August Forster  was Continue reading “Wolfgang Forster of August Forster Pianos 5/6/33 — 6/30/12” »

Interview with Ann Marie Kurrasch

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

NEW INTERVIEW

I had the nicest interview with Ann Marie Kurrasch this week that I wanted to share with you.  Ann Marie is such a nice lady and also quite talented.  The interview only tells you a small portion of her talents and what she has accomplished.

Ann Marie Kurrasch

I took a look at some of her             Continue reading “Interview with Ann Marie Kurrasch” »

Piano Recital Time

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

I am sitting in the piano Store that I manage in Nipomo, Ca., The Piano Outlet,  right now listening to a piano recital of about 15 kids who have worked very hard to get here.  Words can not express how happy I am to take part in or provide for kids recitals.  It is exciting to see these young guys and girls start out their musical journey here.

Years ago when I first started learning there wasnt much of an opportunity to for me go to recitals and such.  I was usually playing piano in church and things like that so, on some levels I guess its close to being the same.

The kids have on their nice little outfits and Mom and Dad are nervous, in fact maybe more nervous than the kids themselves.  They go to the piano, take their little bow and then sit down to play their well rehearsed (hopefully) songs.  When its over, the kid and parents both breathe a sigh of relief and are simply glad its over.

I’ve seen some really great musicians come out of piano recitals and I am always happy when they realize a dream of being able to play or in some cases “just trying to make Mom and Dad happy” .  Whatever the reason, I’m glad they are here.

Hope you are having a great day and something musical has made you smile.

Ric Overton

http://PianoSD.com

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