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Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Combination M&R piano and Lowrey organ

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My friend (in Canada) just obtained a Mason and Risch Piano (circa 1953 with sn 77441) that also contains an electronic Lowrey organ.  It does not appear to be a retrofit or customization - it looks like it was manufactured to be both.  A knee paddle controls the volume of the organ and the middle pedal completely dampens the piano, allowing the player to have anything from pure piano sound to pure organ sound.  There is a free-floating cabled set of bass pedals for the organ component.  There is a vacuum tube for each key.  

I am trying to find information about this instrument and not coming up with anything at all.  Can you help?

Answer
Hello Larry!  The Mason & Risch company was a Canadian piano manufacturer who built pianos from the 1870's to the late 1940's.  The Aeolian Corporation then took over the Mason & Risch line, so it is possible the reason you are having trouble finding information on your friend's piano is because possibly by 1953 there was no formal Mason & Risch company.  The company may have only existed in name at that point.  I understand one of Aeolian's divisions, the Winter Company, took over the manufacture of the Mason & Risch line as late as the 1980's.

Because piano manufactures are so fluid in their evolution, it sometimes becomes difficult to track them without doing some serious research. This fluidity has over the years resulted in nearly 14,000 names on pianos, all built by various companies at different times.

When the electronic organ first appeared on the scene in the 1950's (i.e., using vacuum tubes for oscillators), the electronics was exploited in every conceivable way.  This included installing electronic organs into pianos, which at the time seemed to be a reasonable way to sell more pianos. The problem was, pianos are percussion instruments and electronic organ technology was not.  This musically created compatibility issues which ultimately lead to the demise of the "piano/organ" combination.

Because Mason & Risch was located in Toronto, it is likely a local museum or library there holds a wealth of information on the specifics of the company.  

Piano, Organ, and Keyboard

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Thomas Britanyak

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics. If you need a piano's date of manufacture, please go to http://www.pianoexchange.com/howold.htm or http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/pianoage.html I am happy to answer musical or technical questions, however, I CANNOT offer appraisals on pianos or organs. Please do not ask what an instrument is worth. For this service please contact an experienced local appraiser or try the following links: https://mmm1100.verio-web.com/blueb1/appraisal.html or http://www.57piano.com/questions.htm

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

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