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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.05 > 15Prev  Next

Solenoid Players
By John A. Tuttle

Good Day All,  To begin with, in my article I was relating *my*
experiences and comments from *my* customers in answer to a question
asking for *my* recommendations.  Sorry if I ruffled any feathers.

Larry said, "I think Yamaha will be support the piano as long as it
continues to be a good seller for them."  That's one of my strongest
points against electronic player mechanisms.  When it's no longer
profitable, they (being the manufacturers of any of the electronic piano
playing mechanisms) quietly close shop.

I would enjoy hearing more supportive information concerning the repair-
ability and longevity of electronic players from other technicians who are
directly involved in the repair trade.

In Larry's retort, I was quoted as having said:

>> 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.

To wit he responded:

> 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.

Clearly, this was taken out of context.  First off, the MMD editors
changed the paragraph structure of my article.  In the copy I presented
to them, the paragraph read:

> As an ex-electronics technician trained in the calibration and repair of
> electronic testing equipment, I realized early on how futile it would be
> to invest in technology that has no clear cut direction.  Even the format
> keeps changing.  Seeing the picture from the customers point of view, I
> can tell you this for certain.  Every single customer that has an
> electronic player mechanism is dissatisfied.  They were happy for a
> few years until the system started developing 'minor' problems that were,
> in some cases, virtually impossible to repair.

The dissatisfaction and the data comes from my customers.

As for Yamaha, the information came from the Freehold Music Co., in
Freehold, New Jersey.  When I asked to see the guarantee/warrantee,
I was not surprised to see that it was good for two years.  When
questioned about that, I was told that Yamaha had told them they would
support the system for twenty years.  So I stand corrected for having
said the information came from Yamaha.  Maybe the folks at Freehold were
just making it up.  And as for Yamaha's willingness to cooperate in
making repairs, I've never had a problem getting any electronic unit
repaired as long as the company was in business.  Specific repairs have
included overheated parts and malfunctioning switch contacts.

It's very interesting to note that the responses to my article were
primarily in defense of Yamaha.  No one came to the defense of Marantz,
Wurlitzer, Pianomation or Pianocorder.  I think this very clearly
demonstrates the point of my article which was that nobody can say for
sure that any electronics company will be in business twenty years from

Further, as the technology improves, the older mechanisms will become
harder and harder to support.  That has been the track record for
electronic players ever since I've been in the player repair business.
I don't like having to tell people, "Sorry, it can't be repaired, no one
has the parts."

I suppose I could go out and buy up all the old broken electronic units I
can lay my hands on in the hopes that I'll be capable of fixing any
problem that I encounter, but in my business electronic players account
for less than 2% of my customer base so it's economically unreasonable.

Also, it is my impression from dealers I've spoken to over the years that
the 'player' industry accounts for less than 5% of the piano industry and
that the piano industry, in general, is in decline.

As a side note, I have spoken to a few of the owners of electronic repair
shops in my local area armed with schematics and questions.  They're
attitude is always the same. "Electronic Player Pianos?  We won't touch
them!  Don't want to get involved!"

By the way, I love MIDI music and utilize it in many of my web pages. I
also do most of my composing using a MIDI capable keyboard. However, just
keeping fairly close to edge of MIDI technology cost me about $1000 in
computer upgrades and programs last year.

Also, my prices have been fairly well explained in previous articles to
the MMD.

Musically, John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Wed 5 Mar 1997, 20:03:48 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Players, Solenoid

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