My father passed away early this year. We were lucky enough to have a funeral before the COVID19 lockdown, but because all of us are sheltered at home we cannot go to his house and sort through the family belongings.
In his house there’s an AB Chase baby grand piano that I learned to play on. It’s out of tune and needs a total overhall, and we fear that it will end up in the junk heap as not many pianos from the Golden Age are being restored unless they have Steinway written on them.
I didn’t realize that I had a connection to that instrument until last year after I bought a restored 1928 Mason & Hamlin Model A. Last year visiting my dad, my kids were playing his piano and told me that it sounds similar to our M&H. I guess I gravitated toward this sound character as many pianos of this era (made in America) have the “American” sound.
So, to practice sampling and mastering the Kontakt workflow, I decided to sample my Mason & Hamlin Model A. When the lockdown opens, I’ll sample my Dad’s AB Chase for posterity.
Stereo recording was done using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and two Audio Technica AT2035’s. A brighter sounding Samson GoMic was used a bit further from the piano – it’s what I had. Add some reverb to the SFZ files.
Reviews for Mason & Hamlin Model A
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A gold standard for a simple, clean, piano
Really lovely sound. Very well recorded, and with a lovely versatile sound. Can suit all sorts of different pieces of music, and is just a great all-rounder.
It's not fair to ask for more!
This instrument has a lot to offer - with the only negative point being that the samples have a little white noise that becomes very apparent when you use the sustain pedal with some chords or arpeggios. I'm sure you won't really notice it though! Other than that, it has so many options. The sequencer included are not worth it for me, as it won't sync up to your actual playing, it might create a huge mess if you don't play perfectly, but that's just an option that you can live without, so be sure to try it!
One of my Pianobook Favourites
Pianos are such personal instruments but I have a couple in my favourite folder and this is one of them.
A little bright for me
Im more a fan on dark, muted cinematic felt pianos so i ant imagine myself using this that often. Sometimes i like regular pianos as well but i find this one to be pretty thin and un interesting personally. Id also agree with sam, he's more knowledgable than me to identify the issue as being a phase issue but it definitely agree that the sound seems kind of weak as opposed to clear and punchy. The piano still sounds pretty good, i think it well suits classical music. Again im not a fan of these kind of pianos in general so alot of my critique comes from my personal taste. Objectively, apart from some issues mentioned, its pretty nice and has a bright and wistful sound
This piano sample is well recorded and highly playable. It works great in a mix with no problems. The only thing I notice about this piano is that there appears to be a sort of hole in the center of the stereo image. I looked at the phase correlation with various metering tools, and it appears that for many of the notes, the mics were out of phase with each other. I'm a fan of AT2035's and own one, but one of my earliest recording mistakes was coincidentally attempting to record a Mason and Hamlin A with two large diaphragm condensers. In my case it was two Neumann TLM103s. I learned then that small diaphragm mics are far less susceptible to these kinds of phase problems. All of this aside, If you use a plugin to flip the phase of one side of the samples, this library gets 50% better. In logic, you can use the gain plugin, and then tick one -- and only one -- of the phase invert buttons. It doesn't matter which one.