Angelus Player Rescued from Piano Smash Event
By Greg Filardo
Back about 100 years ago they had big bonfires of square grand pianos
to get these off the market. Most technicians hated servicing the
piano actions since they had a nasty habit of chopping hammers off
when coming out or going back into the piano. Another factor was how
do you ever remove the pin block from one of those beasts?
The piano smash was a big thing on college campus events in the later
1960s. I remember seeing the victim as it was an old practice piano
in a line of uprights in the music department building. I had seen
a number of player pianos before but never one with a glass "window"
that slid back. It was an old Emerson and lifting the lid revealed
that the player was gone... or was it?
The lead tubes were severed but slithered deep below the keyboard on
either side. Removing the fall board revealed the stack and pumper
mechanism crammed in the lower compartment. It was given to our dorm
and had a date with the sledge hammer for the ever-popular Piano
Smash event. I realized that it should not be a become a pile of
toothpicks and stepped forward and rescued it! How do you tell your
parents that you are returning home for winter break with something
more than textbooks?
The piano is an Angelus 65-note model with the Themodist type
expression coding on the red label Wilcox & White pinned end rolls.
A technician friend gutted the same model out, converting his to play
88-note rolls, and I ended up with the upper portion consisting of the
tracker bar, spool box and wind motor. I still have the piano.
How many of you have ever seen one of these types? It would be
interesting to know how many survive. "Haste makes waste," and a very
interesting link in the evolution of the reproducing piano could have
been reduced to splinters...
(Message sent Sun 6 Jan 2008, 04:05:18 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)