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MMD > Archives > January 1998 > 1998.01.03 > 09Prev  Next

Beginner's Player Piano Tutorial
By John A. Tuttle

Hi Jo Ann, you wrote:

> Hi John,  I appreciate a couple of minutes of your time.
> I have a question or two.  I'll apologize in advance as I know these
> are probably simple questions but I want to study players and know
> what I'm getting into.  In other words, I don't want to put the cart
> before the horse.  I should mention (so this makes sense), that my
> grandmother owned a player piano (Wurlitzer) and a pump organ.  Since
> her death, my uncle has them.  I plan to study music and player
> pianos and attempt to purchase one or both from my uncle.  I'm hoping
> he can and will give me information on their origin.  So here goes...
> 1) Are rolls for player pianos "universal" when it comes to size? In
> other words regardless of the make/model of player will the "Educator
> Set" you mentioned work on all makes/models.

I know you're not writing a trick question but I like to be very
specific even when I get a general question.  If the unit is a
Wurlitzer Player Piano, it takes standard 11-1/4" rolls with the holes
spaced at 9 holes per inch.  Wurlitzer did make other types of mechanical
musical instruments, known as orchestrions and nickelodeons, which use
entirely different rolls.

> 2) I know where to find the brand (i.e. Wurlitzer) but what inform-
> ation do I need to attempt to find the value of a player (besides
> interior and exterior condition) or even determine how old the player
> is.  What kind of things should I look at to determine the value?

The value of any instrument is basically established by it's condition
both inside and out.  The only reliable way to determine the fair-
market value is to have the unit professionally evaluated by a well-
trained technician.  The age of the unit is determined by researching
the serial number.  I provide information about the location of the
serial number on my web page:

> 3) Is playing a player different from regular pianos?  I'm guessing,
> but on players is it just put in a roll of music and pump?  Correct?
> No musical expertise needed?

Yes: no musical ability is required.  Put the roll in and pump.

> 4) What are the rolls made of -- paper?


> 5) I would be interested in purchasing your book when it is finished.
> Are you creating a mailing list to notify people, if so, please put
> me on it.

No list is being compiled at this time since I am a long way from
finishing my book.  It's becoming very likely that all the information
which was designed to be in the book will eventually end up at the
web site.

> I appreciate the help -- no hurry with answers -- at your conveni-
> ence.  I work two jobs, one in a city I don't live in so most my
> studying is done every other weekend.  I hope you and your family
> have a Happy New Year.
> Jo Ann Schulte

I hope your studies go well.  I answer all mail within twelve hours.

John A. Tuttle

Key Words in Subject:  Beginner's, Piano, Player, Tutorial

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