Pianos made by: Lomence Modern Crystal Piano Co., Ltd., Foshan, Guangdong Province, China
The Lomence factory is located in Foshan, China, approximately one hour north of Guangzhou, in the southern region of China. A manufacturer of traditional pianos since 1998, Lomence discovered great success in its local market after experimenting with more modern-looking cabinet designs. The distinguishing feature of Lomence pianos is that many of the cabinet parts, including the top lid, front panel, fallboard, and side gables, are made of clear acrylic. The sharps on the tallest vertical are also of clear acrylic, creating an interesting effect in which they appear black from above but clear from the side.
Lomence pianos are available in three vertical sizes, 47.5", 48.5", and 50.5", and a 6' grand. Material specifications include German Röslau music wire, Siberian spruce soundboard, laminated Austrian spruce keys, nickel-plated hardware, and a slow-close fallboard.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to the original purchaser.
Mason & Hamlin Piano Company
35 Duncan Street
Haverhill, Massachusetts 01830
Pianos made by: Mason & Hamlin Piano Co., Haverhill, Massachusetts
Mason & Hamlin was founded in 1854 by Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin. Mason was a musician and businessman and Hamlin was an inventor working with reed organs. Within a few years, Mason & Hamlin was one of the largest makers of reed organs in the U.S. The company began making pianos in 1881 in Boston, and soon became, along with Chickering, among the most prestigious of the Boston piano makers. By 1910, Mason & Hamlin was considered Steinway's chief competitor. Over the next 85 years, Mason & Hamlin changed hands many times. (You can read the somewhat lengthy and interesting history in The Piano Book.) In 1996 the Burgett brothers, owners of PianoDisc, purchased Mason & Hamlin out of bankruptcy and set about reestablishing manufacturing at the six-story factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The company emphasizes limited-quantity, handbuilt production, and currently manufactures from 200 to 350 pianos per year. Daily tours are offered to visitors.
Since acquiring the company, the Burgetts have brought back most of the piano models from the company's golden Boston era (1881–1932) that originally made the company famous. Refinements have been made to the original scale designs and other core design features. First came the 5' 8" model A and 7' model BB, both of which had been manufactured by the previous owner. Then, in fairly rapid succession, came the 6' 4" model AA, the 9' 4" model CC concert grand, and the 5' 4" model B. The development of these three models was an especially interesting and costly project: in the process, the engineering staff resurrected the original design of each model, constructed new rim presses, standardized certain features, refined manufacturing processes, and modernized jigs, fixtures, templates, and machinery, improvements that afterward were applied to the company's other models. The 50" model 50 vertical piano has also been reintroduced and redesigned, with longer keys for a more grand-like touch, and improved pedal leverage. Internal parts for the verticals are made in Haverhill, then assembled in the company's Sacramento factory, where it also installs PianoDisc systems.
All Mason & Hamlin grands have certain features in common, including a wide-tail design; a full-perimeter plate; an extremely thick and heavy maple rim; a solid spruce soundboard; a seven-ply, quartersawn maple pinblock; and the patented tension-resonator Crown Retention System. The tension resonator (illustrated in The Piano Book), invented by Richard Gertz in 1900, consists of a series of turnbuckles that connect to specific points on the inner rim. This system of turnbuckles, sometimes called "the spider," is said to lock the rim in place so that it cannot expand with stress and age, thereby preserving the soundboard crown (curvature). (The soundboard is glued to the inner rim and would collapse if the rim expanded.) While there is no modern-day experimental evidence to confirm or deny this theory, anecdotal evidence and observations by piano technicians tend to validate it because, unlike most older pianos, the soundboards of old Mason & Hamlins almost always have plenty of crown.
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