I must disagree with John Tuttle's assertion that interest in player
pianos is _not_ generated by private rebuilders.
I understand the point that John is trying to make about taking
instruments out of circulation when it might prove more productive
to leave them where they are. In general I would agree with this.
However, as an advertised rebuilder of players, I have had quite
a few enquiries via my web site (at present dormant due to an
incompetent host) from people who wish to acquire a working instrument.
I currently cannot satisfy the demand for fully operational players.
On the other hand, I have _never_ had an enquiry in the UK for a
Over the last few years I have been fortunate to gain recognition as
a reasonably competent restorer, and that has resulted in a number of
sales to folks who previously did not even know what a player was.
Of course, dragging one around the country to jazz festivals helps!
Seeing and hearing a player in full voice is the most potent incentive
to acquiring one.
Perhaps it depends upon the definition of "private rebuilder", but
some interest does arise from friends/relations/colleagues of owners of
restored instruments, even where they have been restored by the owner
himself. If he is not a private rebuilder, who is?
With the best of intentions, I bought up four wrecks with the long term
objective of restoring all of them. As soon as I had restored the
first one successfully I started to get private commissions to restore
other people's players. And so the wrecks remain just that. They take
up space and they deteriorate further.
In many ways this underlines John's argument, but the realism is that
if I had not taken them, they _would_ have been scrapped. If owners of
wrecks have no young family, or no musical interest, then their
instruments are almost bound to end up in that great pneumatic
graveyard in the sky. They might just be gutted and used as pianos,
but what good does that serve the mechanical music movement?
I now tend to think now that we should leave the unwanted wrecks out
there and concentrate upon the good instruments that have been
reasonably well looked after.
The Pianola Workshop