I would add a couple of footnotes to John Rutosky's very good and
comprehensive note to Paul Ward titled "Building a Band Organ."
Paul informs me that Dave Miner won't sell parts for a roll frame, and
I do understand (from Paul Dyer and others) that nobody today is making
a good, reliable roll frame like George Cooper used to make. So Paul
says, "I'm one step closer to MIDI."
The Keller-Kern archive of Carl Frei book-music masters is available on
MIDI disk, according to the catalog I received from them, and they
offer a conversion service that will convert the music from one tracker/
keyframe layout to another. So using MIDI would open up that avenue
Last week while in California visiting my daughter I stopped for a
nice afternoon visit with Jeanne Malone ("Mrs. Play-Rite"), John's
mother. Got to see the new Italian-style castle (complete with moat
and drawbridge) which Jeanne and John had built after their old house
and shop were partly taken by eminent domain for the widening of North
Palm Street in Turlock. No time to play their Wurlitzer 165 (equipped
with auxiliary 125 and 150 tracker bars for testing/auditioning/playing
any size Wurlitzer roll), but it was there in the parlor adjoining
Jeanne's shop where all the rolls are cut.
I am convinced that we won't see any more Wurlitzer rolls coming from
Play-Rite for years to come, if ever. Jeanne is swamped with work on
Pan, Weber, Violano, and other more lucrative roll projects. She works
alone, except for a young person who comes in one day a week to help
with non-technical chores. An amazing woman, considering her age, the
work she does, and all -- including transporting her grandson to and
That leaves only Mike Grant currently copying Wurlitzer rolls, and he
seems very reluctant to tackle the larger 165 style roll. Dick Hack is
not near the point of running the perforator he recently bought for the
purpose of making Wurlitzer rolls. (Dick is an MMD subscriber, and may
want to speak for himself on that.)
I hear second-hand that Don Rand intends to cut Wurlitzer rolls, but
I have no idea of how or when. Perhaps someone can fill us in on that?
That leaves the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, which can cut
Wurlitzer rolls using its Wurlitzer perforator and the limited number
of 3-to-1 cardboard masters that survive from the old days. But it's
is a slow and frustrating process at best. And without an organ to
play a test run of whatever roll they attempt, they can't really
produce 165 rolls at all -- only the 125 and 150 rolls for which they
do have an organ to test on.
The idea is now being discussed of fitting the museum's perforator with
a MIDI-controlled interface. That would allow the museum to efficiently
copy any Wurlitzer roll using the .1227" hole spacing (Caliola, APP,
band organ), using a MIDI scan of the roll, and would not affect the
historical integrity of the original perforator.