Although retired, I am happy to answer any questions regarding player pianos. Remember, there is no such thing as a silly question... and you do not need to know the technical names of player and piano parts and components.


David McAlister, please include your email address, or I cannot reply. Thank  you.

 Don't forget to include your email address.  Your information is kept strictly private and is not stored.  

Anne asked an interesting question, that I will attempt to answer here:

 Good evening. Is there a technique to playing these instruments? To me they always sound so awful - just monotonous and unmusical. Thanks. Anne

Hi Anne, Thanks for your question:

 Yes there are many different techniques to achieve a more lifelike performance, such as: varying the speed at which the pedals are pumped to provide accents at appropriate points in the music roll. There are controls to subdue the bass when a melody occurs and the treble may be subdued if the bass requires accenting. The speed of the music can be varied as well. When all controls are used together, with practice, an acceptable and life-like performance can be achieved. 

Some players, notably Standard and Amphion, were built with an accenting pneumatic in the pump bellows to provide a short accent with full pump suction to a note or notes, simply by providing sudden extra pressure on the treadle. This system works beautifully, provided the accent pneumatic has not been removed in a previous restore. If it has been removed, it is worth the effort to locate one and replace it.

Just pumping flat-out with no varience or accents,  will certainly produce a wooden and boring performance for both pumper and listener.


Douglas Henderson of ARTCRAFT Piano Rolls Adds:

ARTCRAFT arrangements a) build to a climax with variations and/or new material; b) fade into the ether as some music requires; c) on repeating material, the pedal and the striking effects change, as they would with a keyboard pianist, so nothing repeats 100%. So far, ARTCRAFT is alone in this attitude toward roll arranging.

If you are considering performing your own player repair or restoration, secure a copy of:

P layer Piano

Servicing and Rebuilding

by Arthur Reblitz

Easy to follow instruction,  descriptions of many player systems, what tools to use, techniques,  material requirements, comprehensive text and illustrations

Available from and occasionally eBay

This website has no affiliation with Mr. Arthur Reblitz or his publisher. 

 'From the classics to ragtime, player piano music rolls to this day, continue to be readily available new or second hand, from many sources, in every country of the world. Such was, and is, the popularity of the medium'

Once restored, your player piano is an asset unlikely to ever be replaced, (they stopped making them, awhile back). So no matter whom you may insult, be careful with who you allow to operate it . As much as I am in favour of young people being exposed to these instruments, little kids just don't understand the age and fragility and should always be supervised by an adult.

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