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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.04 > 12Prev  Next

Solenoid Players
By Larry Kellogg

John, I have some questions about your comments.

> Yamaha has told me that they only plan to support Disklavier for twenty
> years. I'll be in my late 60's by then but I'm certain, God willing,
> that I'll still be working on player pianos.

Could you please tell me who at Yamaha made this statement? I'll have to bring this one up on the Disklavier forum. When does this twenty years start? The Disklavier has been out for ten years or so. I think Yamaha will be support the piano as long as it continues to be a good seller for them. Anyway, they probably want to preserve their reputation and that would involve supporting their products.

> Every single customer that has an electronic player mechanism is dis-
> satisfied. They were happy for a few years until the system started
> developing 'minor' problems that were, in some cases, virtually
> impossible to repair.

I have to dispute this point. Where did you get your data? I've talked to people who have owned Disklaviers for over eight years and they're happy with them. Are you saying that the old player systems do not develop any minor problems? It seems to be that I read about adjusting "minor" problems all the time on this list.

> The basic problem is parts availability. In so many cases, I was able
> to troubleshoot the problem to the component but when I got there, there
> was no part number or marking on the part that matched the schematic.
> What's a tech to do? Punt and hope? Yamaha admits that they are still
> going through technical changes and that the schematics are not
> necessarily correct since creating the schematic is always a year or two
> behind production.

Did Yamaha refuse to provide any other help to fix the piano? I realize that they're always evolving the system but are you saying that they're un-fixable once they break? Did the manufacturer walk away from the problem.

> It's been my professional experience that people will live with the
> problems rather than have them fixed once they know how much it will
> cost. That's why I say again, every owner I know is dissatisfied to
> one degree or another.

Could you elaborate a little more on the problems that you've seen? How severe were they, etc. I'm specifically interested in the Yamaha Disklavier, since I own one. I'm not interested in any other system.

> Personally, I like the idea of electronic piano playing mechanisms
> because they utilize current technology and I'm kind of a techno-nut.
> However, placing such a unit in the home of a 'techno-know-nothing'
> is inviting trouble beyond words.

Do you expect every Disklavier owner to be schooled in electronics in order to verify the schematics used in his piano? I want to listen to the thing, I don't want to troubleshoot it. I can easily handle all of the software issues with Midi, etc. Heck, I could write all the conver- sion programs, but they cost only $50 and I have other code to write in order to earn my living.

> Try to remember that the first electronic players used an 8-track
> player. Do you know anybody that can fix an 8-track player? Or even
> wants to try? And how long will it be before the cassette will be
> obsolete? Ten years? I have a drawer full of basically useless 5-1/4
> inch floppies and they've been around for a relatively very short time.

Well, there are millions of 3-1/2 inch floppies out there. I'll just have to keep a few thousand around for my own needs plus a spare disk drive when the one I have fails. I could always put the music from the floppies on a hard disk and play them through the Midi ports on the back of the piano.

> I apologize for belaboring my point but I insist that all the advances
> in electronic piano playing mechanisms fall short of the 1920-style
> mechanisms for one very simple reason: rebuildability in the year 2020.
> As long as there are cows, trees and metal, the 1920-style units will
> be able to be rebuilt.

I have a lot of respect for all the people who restore old technology. Personally speaking, I don't have the time or inclination to get into restoring old players. I bought my piano to listen to the music, not to spend all of my time rebuilding it. There have been a lot of Disklaviers produced, I'm sure there will be some around to scavenge parts from in the years ahead. If not, I'll go buy a new one piano after twenty years. I don't expect the thing to last forever.

> I also apologize for using your inquiry as a soap-box for my general
> disdain for electro-mechanical devices used to play a piano. Personally
> and professionally, I've yet to hear ONE that even came close to a
> properly regulated Duo-Art, Ampico or Welte-Mignon. (Just my opinion)

Well, this may be true, but I don't have access to a Duo-Art, Ampico, or Welte-Mignon. I do have access to my Yamaha Disklavier and it makes me happy every time I play it. That's enough for me.

How much would I have to spend to acquire a fully restored old player? How many hours would I have to invest to restore an old player?

Also, the old players don't support Midi so I'm completely shut out from the whole world of Midi music that is available on the Internet and other places. Instead, I have to scavenge around old antique shops and auctions to get my music. I'm not interested in doing that.

I'm sure that there were junk player pianos produced just as there are junk solenoid piano systems. I think the Yamaha Disklavier is a well engineered product with a good following, and a strong company behind it. That's why I picked it over the competition. Who produces a better system today?

These are just my own opinions. Flame away...

Regards, Larry Kellogg

(Message sent Tue 4 Mar 1997, 12:29:31 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Players, Solenoid

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