Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Model 10 made in 1893.
Anyone who has tuned a screw-stringer Mason & Hamlin piano may have wondered why they abandoned the system. After all, it seems to be an extremely stable and well-designed one. In looking over the system, one may form the opinion that it is a decided improvement over the ancient tuning-pin-in-wood system. Well, the answer you will usually get is that it was just too expensive to continue, and in essence that is a true statement. Some may respond that it was too bad that they had to give in to the economics of it and discontinue its production. Others may say that they should have continued it anyway, because it was such a superior tuning system. I have wondered about it also, but there was a little more to the story as to why they discontinued the system.
If we take a look at it from the historical perspective, we find that in 1903 Mason & Hamlin was in real danger of going out of business because of its pursuit and continued production of the screw-stringer system. In other words, they gave it their all in pushing it onto the piano marketplace, endeavoring to make it popular, but it just didn't take. So it wasn't just the economics of it, it was a matter of life and death to the Mason & Hamlin Piano Co.
What did the tuners of the time think of the screw-stringer system? For the most part, they hated it First and foremost, it was a sight more difficult to replace a string, and restring the whole piano? Forget about it Less frustrating was the different technique the tuner had to use when tuning the screw-stringer, but nevertheless, was another reason they opposed the system.