The tension resonator for pianos was patented by Gertz but used by Mason and Hamlin in all grand pianos. Hamlin discovered the “voicing” of organ reeds. He joined Mason and together produced the “organ harmonium.” Their instruments are almost flawless. They produced the American Cabinet Organ which won highest honors at World’s Expositions. They built pianos of the highest quality.
Each Mason & Hamlin piano includes a Tension Resonator, which is a system of steel rods under moderate tension, anchored to the wooden structure on the opposite side of the sounding board from the strings and iron frame. In grand pianos these rods fan out from one or two central hubs and are attached at intervals around the rim and to the belly rail; the model 50 upright has a rod stretched between the case sides. The manufacturer claims that this adds strength and rigidity to the rim by locking the rim into its permanent shape and which in turn preserves the “crown” of the soundboard. In addition to preserving soundboard crown, it is likely that the added rigidity and strength imparted by the Tension Resonator to the rim has a more immediate effect of improving the rim’s ability to reflect sound back into the soundboard, increasing the power and sustain of the piano. Technicians have reported that even old Mason & Hamlin pianos retain their crown.
In 1924, Mason & Hamlin became part of the American Piano Company, and was later described as the “artists”‘ brand among the firm’s premier lines which included Chickering and Sons (“family use”) and Wm. Knabe & Co. (“Metropolitan Opera’s favorite”).
In 1989, Seattle businessman Bernard “Bud” Greer purchased the Sohmer company, which also held the George Steck, Knabe, and Mason & Hamlin names, technical specifications, and manufacturing equipment. He moved these to a piano factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which he had recently purchased from piano manufacturer Santi Falcone – from whom he also purchased the Falcone manufacturing specifications and naming rights. He named the new enterprise the Mason & Hamlin Companies.
In 1996, Mason & Hamlin was acquired by Burgett, Inc., which also owns PianoDisc, a maker of reproducing piano systems of the same name. Mason & Hamlin pianos are still manufactured in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and distributed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Mason & Hamlin is a member of NAMM, the International Music Products Association and PMAI (Piano Manufacturers Association International).