What is a Tension Resonator System? Mason & Hamlin Pianos

Piano Lessons / piano brands / What is a Tension Resonator System? Mason & Hamlin Pianos

If you are familiar with one of the great American piano companies Mason & Hamlin you have may have heard about the Tension Resonator System, sometimes referred to as “The Spider” or “Crown Retention System”. This technology is unique to Mason & Hamlin pianos. What is this all about?

We have covered unique piano technologies in the past such as Baldwin Accu-Just Hitch Pins, Steinway Pianos and Teflon Parts and what makes Chickering Pianos Unique, but today we are going to discuss a technology we haven’t covered previously.

Some people refer to Mason & Hamlin pianos as being “overbuilt”. Mason & Hamlin prides themselves on building their pianos to last for generations and one of the ways they have done this is by incorporating the Tension Resonator System.

A thin membrane of wood called the soundboard is what produces most of the sound on a piano. Without a soundboard even the largest piano would barely be audible from across a large room. How could a simple piece of wood produce so much sound? There is a tremendous amount of tension that creates potential energy. The soundboard is built into the rim of a piano under tension which causes a slight upward arch referred to as “crown”. The soundboard is arguably the most important part of a piano and it’s something that varies from piano to piano – even on new pianos. Without crown, a soundboard produces a dead, lifeless sound.

There is a big challenge keeping the soundboard crown intact. After all,the soundboard is made of wood which is an organic substance that contracts and expands with changes in the temperature and humidity. Over time, the rim of a piano can expand and contract and cause the soundboard on a piano to lose its tension and therefore lose its crown. This is where the tension resonator technology comes into play.

If you look underneath a Mason & Hamlin piano you will notice the Tension Resonator System that sits below the soundboard and expands out to the rim of the piano. This technology allows the pianos to maintain their crown better because the metal device supports the rim of the piano and keeps it from expanding and contracting in different weather conditions; creating much more stability for the piano. Furthermore, Mason & Hamlin pianos have massively built inner and outer rims that further enhance the longevity of soundboard crown. This is why many older Mason & Hamlin pianos still produce vibrant sound when other pianos lose their energy of tone.

Thanks again for joining us here at Living Pianos. If you have any questions or comments about this topic or any topic at all please contact us directly: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729