My 41 years experience with Player Pianos.
The first Player Pianos were made in the late 1800’s and were operated by generating air pressure. Pumping large brass pedals attached to huge bellows created pneumatic energy and set in motion hundreds of smaller bellows and valves. Families would gather at the end of the day and enjoy the instant party atmosphere created by this most natural form of musical reproduction. The only problem was that the critical parts making these pianos play so brilliantly were made from cork, experimental rubber and hide glues. It didn’t take long for these materials to break down and start leaking air, making it difficult to pump the pedals. Many piano owners would install supplemental pumps in the hopes of compensating for leaking seams in the bellows and tubing. It didn’t work because the extra force from the pump eventually intensified the leaks. Television at the time was just becoming popular and it couldn’t be soon enough. The old players became the forgotten instrument. In the 1970’s, the player returned and became popular again to a whole new generation. But this time they were operated electronically and controlled by a cassette player magnetic tape. This system was a hit and proved to be reliable and a great way to enjoy a fine piano that would otherwise sit idol. In the late 1980’s, a man named Mark Burgette visited my shop in Ardmore, Pa. He’s one of the principles at a California company called Pianosdisc. Mark and I worked together at my shop until I was trained to install these systems on any piano and have ever since. These new systems had the ability to reproduce polyphonic expression and simultaneously strike multiple keys with different velocities. This was an incredible breakthrough, because it reproduced the subtle changes in dynamic range and was as if someone was right there performing on your piano – live… Long story short and one innovation after another, Pianodisc became the standard in the Player Piano System business and are the most respected company in their field, worldwide! Now the Pianodisc system can reproduce 1,024 levels of individual note expression per key. It’s controlled by an Apple iPad Mini that comes with a matching stand and stays with the piano ready for an instant performance. They offer an impressive assortment of all kinds of music that will bring a lot of joy into your home. Musically yours, Michael Sweeney 2014