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Identifying Music Rolls
Identifying Music Rolls
compiled by Robbie Rhodes
organ roll data courtesy Richard Z. Vance
residence organ roll data courtesy Phil Underwood and Jim Crank

americanStd.jpg (17 kb)

Measure the width of the paper, and then measure the distance between the punched holes.  It helps to make a scale with a strip of paper, which can be placed across the width of the roll and then moved to where new channels appear.  After enough channels have been marked on the strip the holes-per-inch can be determined.

The most common music rolls in North America are 11.25 inches wide and contain popular songs for the player piano.  The spool diameter is small, circa 3/4-inch (2 cm), and only one song per roll.  See "9-per-inch" table ("88-note"), or "6-per-inch" table ("65-note").

Music rolls made by the Tel-Electric Co., of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, were enclosed in a brass cylinder containing a brass note sheet (some later production was of stiff paper).  The "Tel-Electric" or "Telelectric" 65-note rolls were enclosed in a cylinder 5-1/8 inch long, and the "Telektra" 88-note rolls were in a cylinder 7 inches long.

Music rolls which play on orchestrions and nickelodeons usually are on larger diameter tubes, with five to ten or more songs in the roll.  (But sometimes one finds a single song removed from a 10-tune roll and mounted on a small spool for a Pianola!)

The spool is usually a tube of cardboard, occasionally with short wood plugs at the end.  Early flanges are wood turnings; by the 1920s flanges were stamped metal or molded Bakelite.  Most wooden flanges also have a metal pin inserted, circa  .188-inch (.5 cm) diameter.  Otherwise the flange has a concave cone to receive the supporting chucks.
 
 

Index of width, 
roll wrapped on spool with flanges
width,
inches (cm)
holes/inch
(cm/hole)
spool; flange remarks
15.35 (39.0) ~10 (.25) cardboard; flange 150-note Welte Philharmonie pipe organ
15.25 (38.7) 12 (.212) cardboard; flange 176-note Aeolian residence pipe organ
15.25 (38.7) 6 (.423) ;wood Apollo Concert Grand (sq. chuck)
12.9 (32.8) ~8 (.318) cardboard; flange Welte Mignon T-100 "Red"
12 (30.5) 9 (.282)   Wurlitzer Solo Violin
11.25 (28.6) 9 (.282) -- see "9-per-inch" table
11.25 (28.6) 6 (.423) ; wood + metal pin see "6-per-inch" table
11.25 (28.6) 5 (.508)   see "Typewriter" table
11.125 (28.26) 6 (.423) cardboard; fiber 65-note Aeolian 'Universal'
10.5 (26.67) 6 (.423)   58-note Story and Clark (sq. chuck)
10.125 (25.7) 6 (.423) wood or cardboard; pin 58-note standard organ
10.125 (25.7)  6 (.423) cardboard; flange 58-note standard organ
10.125 (25.7) 12 (.212) ; adj. nut on left flange  116-note residence pipe organ
10.125 (25.7) 12 (.212) cardboard; flange 120-note Hammond elect. organ
8.45 (21.46) 6 (.423) wood;  swaged-ear pin 44-note Orchestrone
6.75 (17) 3.5 (.75) one-piece plastic 23-note J. Chein Pianolodeon

 
Index of width, 
roll wrapped on hollow cardboard tube
width,
inches (cm)
holes/inch
(cm/hole)
tube inside diameter
inches (cm)
plays on instruments:
       
5.5 (13.97) 10 (.254)   Wurlitzer 44-note Pianino
6.00 (15.24) 8.15 (.312) 2.00 (5.08) Wurlitzer Style 125 band organ
7.0 (17.78) 8.15 (.312) 2.00 (5.08) Wurlitzer Style 150 band organ
6.63 (16.8) 8 (.317)   B.A.B. 49-hole tracker bar
7.13 (18.1) 8 (.317)   B.A.B. 49-hole tracker bar
7.32 (18.6) 10 (.254)   Wurlitzer Mandolin
  8 (.317)   B.A.B. 64-hole tracker bar
8.5 (21.6) 8 (.317)   Wurlitzer Automatic Harp
9.0 (22.9) 8 (.317)   B.A.B. 67-hole tracker bar
9.625 (24.45) 8.15 (.312) 2.00 (5.08) Wurlitzer 64-note APP, Caliola, Style 165 organ
10.43 (26.5) 10 (.254)   Wurlitzer 88-note APP, Style 155 band organ
11.13 (28.3) 8 (.317)   B.A.B. 87-hole tracker bar
11.25 (28.60) 9 (.282)   Reproduco piano-organ (style OS & NOS rolls)
11.25 (28.60) 9 (.282) 3.00 (7.62) All instruments that play Style 'O' rolls
11.25 (28.60) 6 (.423) 3.50 (8.89) All instruments that play Style 'A' & 'G' rolls
14.13 (35.9)     Wurlitzer Style 180 band organ
15.25 (38.74) 9 (.282) 2.50 (6.35) Unified Reproduco Organ

pinEnd.jpg (15 kb)

Aeolian 'UNIVERSAL' 65-note discount-line piano roll
"Aeolian 'UNIVERSAL' 65-note discount-line piano roll"
paper: 11.125 inches wide
holes: 65, 6 per inch (0.4233 cm/hole)
spool & 
flanges:
Cardboard tube; flanges are thin red fiber disks, secured to the core with a 3/4" I.D. brass eyelet, resulting in a roll much shorter than the usual pinned end 'Pianola' roll. Drive end chuck has a pin in the edge of the 3/4" boss that enters the hollow flange eyelet, which engages a notch cut in the eyelets rim.
produced 
by:
Aeolian Co. (ca. 1905)
label, 
1st line:
(Trade) UNIVERSAL (Mark), in 'Craft-movement gothic' type face.
label, 
2nd line:
[ROLL NUMBER]
label, bottom: UNIVERSAL MUSIC COMPANY / 157 East 32d St., New York, U. S. A. / Price 50 cents ... (Non-refundable)
box: Square, in 2 sizes; The box is folded craft-paper with dark gray outer surface, similar to late DuoArt or modern QRS boxes; perhaps the earliest use of this 'cheaper' box type. Pale yellow label with black text.
music source: Arranged by Aeolian NY, no artist listed.
appearance: Except for the slightly narrower width and compact spool, exactly the same as ordinary 65 note 'Pianola' rolls.
tracker bar: Six-per-inch with vertically narrow slots, in one row.
comments: These rolls play on the standard 65 note Pianola, using slip-on chuck adapters. Some late Pianolas come with these adapters installed as original equipment. Apparently it was an attempt by Aeolian to market a 'discount' line of Pianola rolls; the scheme must have had a short life: these rolls are uncommon.

 
Aeolian 46-note organ
"46-note Aeolian organ"
paper: 9.625 inches wide
holes: 46, 5 per inch (0.508 cm/hole)
spool & flanges: Wooden rod; Wooden pinned end. The left drive pin is ground flat, forming a 'D' shape, rather than the more usual swaged-ear engagement device on the pin.
produced by: Aeolian Co. (c1885-???) and its predecessors.
label, 1st line: The Aeolian Organ and Music Company, and address.
label, 2nd line: AEOLIAN ORGAN
label, bottom: "CAUTION..." Elaborate note about proper tracking
adjustment.
box: Square, in many sizes; wine-colored paper cover.  White label with plain black text, very small fonts.
music source: Arranged by Aeolian.
appearance: Large square holes; no chaining. Stenciled dotted 'swell' line. Leader cut round, rather than the usual 45-degree point. Label pasted to the leader is  oriented 90 deg. from the usual, so it can be read when holding the roll in the right hand.
tracker bar: Five-per-inch with vertically narrow slots, in one row.
comments: Plays 46 of the 61 reed organ notes; bass to treble: C, A, C, D, then chromatically G to C

 
McTammany 44-note 'Orchestrone'
"44-note 'Orchestrone'"
paper: 8.45 inches wide
holes: 48 (4 control, 44 music), 6 per inch (0.4233 cm/hole) 0.10" hole diameter
spool & 
flanges:
Wooden rod core, tips stained black; Brown finished turned wooden flanges; pinned ends, left drive pin has two swaged ears
produced by: Monroe Organ Reed Company (later absorbed by Aeolian Company), for McTammany/Cally "Orchestrone" player reed organs
label, 1st line: [Roll Number]
label, 2nd line: ORCHESTRONE
label, 3rd and 
following lines:
Title; Composer
label, last
line:
Price; amount varies
label pasted on
roll
Lozen shaped; light blue with black type.  Text oriented parallel to roll paper, so label can be read while holding roll in the hand.  Some rolls also have blue rubber stamp: "Patented Music"; list of patents; "M. Cally, Inventor & Proprietor, 76 Fifth Avenue, New York"
box: Unknown
music source: Unknown. Stilted and mechanical sounding drawing-board arrangements, with many repeats.  Many rolls are medleys.
appearance: Roll leader cut round, like 46-note rolls.  Perforations are round, and chained.  Rolls play 'upside down'; from bottom of spool, over tracker bar, to bottom of take-up spool
tracker bar: 48 horizontally narrow ports, 6 per inch, in one row
scale: swell control 1; swell control 2; 44 music holes, A, D, G and chromatic G# to C; swell control 3; swell control 4

 
58-note standard organ
"58-note standard organ"
paper: 10.125 inches wide
holes: 58, 6 per inch (0.4233 cm/hole)
spool & 
flanges:
Wooden rod (later cardboard tube); Wooden pinned end. Occasionally all-metal spool/flange assembly.
produced by: Aeolian Co. (?-1933), and many independent suppliers
label, 1st line: [Roll Number]
label, 2nd line: AEOLIAN GRAND
label, bottom: THE AEOLIAN COMPANY, NEW YORK and their various addresses in US.
box: Square, in 6 sizes; wine-colored pig-skin pattern paper cover; white or pastel (usually blue) label with plain black text. (Note: with many producers of these rolls, numerous variations of box and label exist)
music source: Arranged by Aeolian NY, Orchestrelle Co. London, and others.
appearance: Large holes; no chaining. Stenciled dotted 'swell'
line.
tracker bar: Six-per-inch with vertically narrow slots, in one row.
comments: Plays 58-note reed-organ type keyboard, arranged to match the division between bass and treble stops, First 12 notes coupled to pedal. Also will play on the lower (great) row of Aeolian 116- and 176-note tracker bars, using the "58 note music" switch and chuck adapter provided. No registration controls.

 
Aeolian 116-note residence pipe organ
"116-note residence pipe organ"
paper: 10.125 inches wide
holes: 116, 12 per inch (0.2117 cm/hole)
spool & 
flanges:
Cardboard tube; wooden pinned-end. Left flange has a metal knurled thumb-nut for adjustment
produced by: Aeolian Co. (?-1933)
label, 1st line: AEOLIAN PIPE ORGAN
label, 2nd line: [NONE; TITLE BLOCK]
label, bottom: THE AEOLIAN COMPANY, NEW YORK [Sometimes their various  addresses in US; later added: THE ORCHESTRELLE COMPANY, LONDON]
box: Square, in 6 sizes; olive fabric (later dark green paper) cover; orange label with gold trim, black text.
music source: recorded/arranged by Aeolian NY.
appearance: Swell manual notes begin with 'slots' of overlapping holes, Great manual notes begin with non-overlapping 'chained' holes.
tracker bar: two rows separated 0.25 inch vertically, holes in upper and lower rows are offset.
comments: Plays two 58-note manuals, First 12 pedal notes coupled to Great manual first octave, no registration controls. 

 
Aeolian 176-note residence pipe organ
"Aeolian 176-note residence pipe organ"
paper: 15.25 inches wide
holes: 176, 12 per inch (0.2117 cm/hole)
spool & flanges: Cardboard tube; Standard '88' plastic or metal, with elongated wooden plugs inside the core.
produced by: Aeolian Co. (1915-1933)
label, 1st line: Aeolian Pipe Organ
label, 2nd line: DUO-ART MUSIC
label, bottom: [Address]
box: Hi-Hat, in 3 widths, wine-colored or black 'fabric pattern' paper cover, V-shaped thumbholes. White label with dark red or black text, or wine-colored label with gold text.
music source: Aeolian NY, many rolls derived from "116-note" masters.
appearance: Swell manual notes begin with 'slots' of overlapping holes, Great manual notes begin with non-overlapping 'chained' holes.
Later produced by: Skinner Organ Co. (1933-?)
label, 1st line: DUO-ART MUSIC
label, 2nd line:
label: bottom: Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co.
comment: Many old Aeolian Co. labels continued to be used after Skinner took over production in 1933.
box: Same as above, but thinner and cheaper cardboard.
music source: both Aeolian and Skinner masters
appearance: Earlier rolls had elaborately printed fabric leaders.
tracker bar: two rows separated 0.25 inch vertically, holes in upper and lower rows are offset
comments: Middle section of 116 notes same as earlier 116-note arrangement (QV). 30 similar holes on each extended margin control the stops and swell automatically.

 
Hammond 120-note electric organ
"120-note Hammond electric organ"
paper: 10.125 inches wide
holes: 120 holes, 12 per inch (0.2117 cm/hole)
spool & flanges: same as American player piano roll
produced by: Skinner Organ Co. (1938)
label, 1st line: DUO-ART MUSIC
label, 2nd line: Semi-Automatic
label, bottom:
music source: from Skinner 116- & 176-note masters
tracker bar: single row tracker bar
comments: For Hammond model BA electronic organ.  Plays two 60-note manuals, no registration controls.  Music adapted from masters created by Skinner (not from Aeolian recordings).

(Note: I question the word 'recorded'. I have never come across any rolls that were not 'drawing-board' arranged, and the term 'played by' never  appears on the label, only 'arranged by...' or 'transcribed for...' above the artist's name, as far as I know.  Many rolls do not even give the arranger's name, and if they do, it is usually a staff person like Samuel P. Warren. The most famous 'Name' artist who appears, Engelbert Humperdinck, is credited: "Composed for the Aeolian Pipe Organ by...".  R.Z.V.)
 
 
Wurlitzer 8.15 holes/inch nickelodeon & band organ rolls
"Wurlitzer 8.15/inch" nickelodeon & band organ rolls [draft, verification needed]
paper: width varies with organ style
holes: 0.073 inch (1.85 mm), round
spool & flanges: 2.25 inches outside diam., no flanges
produced by: Wurlitzer
label, 1st line:  
label, 2nd line:  
label, bottom:  
music source: Early rolls mostly arranged by Wurlitzer; later rolls adapted from QRS piano roll arrangements or are contract arrangements by J. Lawrence Cook.  See also http://wurlitzer-rolls.com/
tracker bar: single row tracker bar; percussion holes often offset
comments: The channel spacing is 0.1227", or 8.15 holes per inch.  This spacing used for almost all 5-tune and 10-tune Wurlitzer band organ and orchestrion rolls.

 


Wurlitzer Residence Organ Rolls
data courtesy Phil Underwood and Jim Crank

Wurlitzer R residence organ
"Wurlitzer R residence organ"
paper: 16-7/8" wide
holes: 165 holes, 10(?) per inch
spool & flanges:  
produced by: Wurlitzer
label, 1st line: Wurlitzer Reproducing Organ
label, 2nd line:  
label, bottom: The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company
music source: Wurlitzer original arrangements
tracker bar: single row tracker bar, 165 holes
comments:  

 
Wurlitzer RJ residence organ
"Wurlitzer RJ residence organ"
paper:  
holes: 105 holes
spool & flanges:  
produced by: Wurlitzer
label, 1st line:  
label, 2nd line:  
label, bottom:  
music source: Wurlitzer original arrangements
tracker bar: single row tracker bar, 105 holes
comments:  

 
Wurlitzer RS & Concert Organ
"Wurlitzer RS & Concert Organ"
paper: 11.25 inches wide, green (waxed) paper
holes: 97 or 98 holes, 9 per inch (.282 cm/hole)
spool & flanges: Right flange same as American player piano roll, left end has a pin which the makes the overall length 12-5/8".  This signals the player action to tell the difference between standard piano rolls and "RS" rolls.  (The rolls were shipped without flanges.)
produced by: Wurlitzer
label, 1st line: Wurlitzer
label, 2nd line: Concert Organ
label, bottom: The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company
music source: Wurlitzer original arrangements
tracker bar: single row tracker bar, 98 holes
comments: Outside roll diameter is 3" to 4", wound on a cardboard core of 1-3/16" inside diameter that has a rectangle metal tab set into the right end.  RS roll numbers are in the 4000 number range, and hole #1, sforzando, is not used.  Otherwise the RS roll is the same as the 98-hole Concert Organ roll.

The tracker bar for the RS (Concert Organ) roll may have 97 or 98 holes.  The additional hole (#1, "sforzando") was apparently intended to augment the swell shutter controls.

Wurlitzer also provided players for their theater organs:  the Style B player used 88-note home player piano rolls, and the Style C player played both 88-note pianos rolls and the Concert Organ roll on the same player.  The Style B was usually a duplex roll player so the busy organist could switch from "Love Music" to "Chase Music" in a hurry.


12 February 2005, 31 July 2009

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