The Model AA is an exceptional instrument, the result of old world craftsmanship, time-honored Mason & Hamlin features and modern design elements.
At 6'4", the Model AA is impressive in every way a piano can be judged: tonal clarity, pitch consistency, touch responsiveness, aesthetics and craftsmanship. It is capable of large sonorities and the softest, most delicate whisperings. Its superior and highly sensitive action makes it ideal for pianists at every level, and its beauty and classic lines make it perfect for any decor from traditional to modern.
Available in elegant mahogany, pyramid mahogany, walnut, exotic Brazilian Rosewood, macassar ebony, bubinga and classic satin and high polish ebony. And, as always, Mason & Hamlin pianos are Made in America.
Model AA Specifications:
Width:57.67in (146.5cm) (measured at keyboard of piano)
Rim:Hard Rock Maple
Rim Thickness:Inner 2.125in (54mm)
Outer 1.125in (29mm)
Total 3.25in (83mm)
Plate:Sand Cast Gray Iron, Full Perimeter
Soundboard:White Spruce Perimeter Taper (customized for each model)
Soundboard Size:2272.4 Square Inches
Mason & Hamlin is proud to use Wessell, Nickel and Gross actions in its pianos.
“This action, like no other, gives you the sensation that your fingers are playing directly on the strings. An amazing feeling. The tone that it produces is extremely clear and beautiful. With this action the responsiveness is extraordinary; it feels as if you could do anything that your imagination would allow.”
- Viktor Valkov, MM, Concert Pianist
Wessell, Nickel and Gross is at the forefront of piano action technology, bringing innovation, modern materials, and a breath of fresh air to an industry that has been stale for over 100 years.
Wood was hi-tech. 100 years ago. Wood expands, contracts, distorts, and is highly inconsistent. This means more maintenance and tuning to compensate for these changes.
To avoid the shortfalls of wood, WNG uses a composite material in its actions. This material is a combination of a Nylon base resin and long fibers to create a material that both remarkably strong and rigid--an ideal material to make piano actions out of.
“I rebuilt two pianos simultaneously. One with wooden parts, and the other with WNG composite parts. The difference is enormous. The one rebuilt with WNG turned out with a much lighter action and the piano gained in power and sustain.”
- Gaetan Perrin, RPT, Trois-Rivieres Conservatory, Quebec, Canada
Carbon Tube Flanges
WNG combines a composite Shank Butt and a Carbon Tube Shank for its hammer shanks. The Shank Butt is made from the standard WNG black composite and the Carbon Tube Shank is a pultrusion made from Carbon Fiber and Epoxy. The resulting part is extraordinarily stiff and does not suffer from the tendency of a wooden shank to bend and whip.
The video on the right was filmed using a high-speed camera and shows what happens when a wooden shank and a WNG Carbon Tube Shank are played.
A WNG Carbon Tube Shank’s strength is as strong as the strongest wooden shank, but doesn’t have the variability in quality that wood does. You can be sure that every WNG Carbon Tube Shank is as strong as the one next to it, and that any piano action equipped with WNG’s Carbon Tube Shanks will see a notable increase in power, consistency, and longevity.
“...The over cautious and half informed inevitably hastened to warn us that the stiffer carbon fiber shanks would degrade the “feel” and performance of the action. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whiplash in wooden shanks results in lack of precision of the strike point in traditional actions; with that comes the well known sound ceiling and loss of quality of sound energy...The extra stiffness of carbon fiber almost eliminates this syndrome and brings with it enhanced feed back to the artists of the hammer string interaction especially with quiet playing...”
- Richard Dain
Crown, or the slight bowing of a soundboard, is an essential principal behind a piano’s ability to have power and tone.
This crowning, or slight bowing of the soundboard, increases the amount of energy transferred from the piano strings through the bridge of the soundboard. Without the right amount of crown, a piano will lose volume, sound lifeless and flat, and the value of that piano diminishes greatly. Restoring crown typically means replacing the soundboard, which is costly and time consuming. In 1900, Richard Gertz developed a system, exclusively for Mason & Hamlin, that would permanently preserve the original power and tone of all Mason & Hamlin pianos throughout the life of the piano. The system is called the Mason & Hamlin Crown Retention System.
Outward Forces are exerted as a result of downbearing
Soundboards are made to be slightly bowed in the center. As piano strings are tightened to pitch, they push down on the bridge and soundboard, creating a downward force or downbearing which forces the soundboard outward at the rim. By the laws of physics, the outward force at the rim can be up to 8 times greater than the downbearing on the soundboard. In the drawing below, the downbearing is 800 lbs. This means that the outward forces, Force A and Force B, add up to 6400 lbs. pushing against the rim.
The Compressibility of High Quality Spruce
The strength of wood is related to the orientation of the wood grain. The side grain of wood is easily compressed, whereas the end grain of wood is not easily compressed. Mason & Hamlin uses these properties of wood as the basis for the Crown Retention System. Where the soundboard meets the rim, contact is made against the side grain. When downbearing is applied to the soundboard, the higher outward force pushes the soundboard against the rim, compressing that side grain. That compression causes the soundboard to lose crown.
The soundboard is supported underneath by spruce ribs, which are crowned the same degree as the soundboard and then glued to the soundboard. These ribs are typically cut so the durable end grain can make contact with the rim. The end grain resists compression so the rib is able to retain its original dimension and crown. The rib is then butted against the rim to support the soundboard.
Structural Strength of the Grand Piano
In a grand piano frame, posts, also called struts, are glued to the rim. Because the glue joint is a butt joint, it is strongest when the forces are pushing inward against the joint. However, the outward forces of the soundboard work against the joint. The rim has a tendency to spread very slightly.
Loss of Crown
A slight spreading of only 1/64” at the rim and/or compression of the soundboard will cause significant or total loss of crown in the soundboard. The only way to correct this condition would be to replace the esoundboard. This is a costly and time consuming task.
The Mason & Hamlin Crown Retention System Prevents These Problems From Occurring
Heavier and Stronger Rims
Because of its strenth and density, hard rock maple is the preferred wood to use in making the rims of a grand piano. Mason & Hamlin uses maple for its inner and outer rims. The inner rims are built to be 50% thicker than industry standards. This extra thickness gives the rims increased resistance to spreading and helps to preserve the crown of the soundboard, as well as giving the piano powerful tone and increased sound projection.
Mason & Hamlin inner rims are up to 50% thicker
Mason & Hamlin Rim
Other Companies' Rims:
The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator
The Mason & Hamlin Tension Resonator is a steel truss rod spider that is attached to the inner rim at precisely calculated points, adding strength and rigidity to the rim. The Tension Resonator locks the rim into its permanent shape, resisting the spreading forces of downbearing on the soundboard.
Stronger Soundboard and Ribs
Mason & Hamlin uses white spruce for its soundboards. White spruce provides a higher strength per weight ratio than the more widely used sitka spruce. This gives the white spruce soundboard better resistance to compression.
The inner rim is notched and the ribs are butted against the back of the notch in the rim. The ribs are positioned so the end grain is perpendicular, or square, to the grain of the rim. This grain orientation makes the resulting butt joint as strong as possible. Since butt joints are strongest when force is pushing against the joint, and since the spreading force of downbearing pushes the soundboard and ribs against the rim, the frame becomes extremely rigid. The ribs now support the soundboard and resist compression.
The spreading forces that result from downbearing are now controlled with thicker solid maple rims and the Tension Resonator. The compressing forces that result from downbearing are now controlled with strong white spruce soundboard supported by spruce ribs with the end grain butted square against a notched inner rim. The result is a piano that maintains its original power and tone, holds its resale value, and lasts for generations: a Mason & Hamlin piano.
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