I know very little about the arranging or editing of rolls. I have
seen rolls "recorded" electronically, watched them being perforated,
and have been mesmerized by several hundred thousand feet of perforated
paper passing over a tracker bar, but when I comes to actually putting
it all together on paper, I know very little.
We used to buy used rolls in bulk. Someone would come by the shop with
a large box of rolls. I usually made them an offer of so many cents
per roll, and I bought the whole lot without looking through each box.
It would have taken far too much time, and that was time I did not
have. I also sold rolls that way: take them all at one price, or pick
and choose and pay a lot more. You all know why.
I bought a large lot of rolls once -- hardly looked at them -- but I
could see some Ampico labels in the lot. Months later, I went through
and picked out all the reproducing rolls and sent the others to the
warehouse. One of the Ampico rolls was different. I knew it before I
took it out of the box, because the title of the selection was written
in pencil on a standard Ampico label. It said simply, "Inspiration
Waltz Third trial."
When I took the roll out I was very surprised. I had never seen a roll
quite like it. There were little pieces of paper pasted all over; it
looked like they were covering up holes that had been perforated by
mistake, and a lot of the chain perforations were "evened" up by
pasting strips of tape across the ends of chords. Blue marks were
everywhere, and the notations, "add three squares", "add four squares",
appeared everywhere. You could tell the lines had been drawn while the
roll was on a tracker bar because the markings frequently had
impressions of the regularly spaced tracker bar holes.
I studied the roll and assumed that it was some sort of pre-production
roll made at the factory. It was not until I joined AMICA in the early
seventies that I learned what I had: a factory trial roll. I showed it
to Dick Howe on one of his frequent visits to San Antonio, and he
Many years later, in another batch of used rolls, was the final
production roll of "Inspiration Waltz" written by J. Milton Delcamp and
also played by him. Now I could compare the two, for as you know,
those trial rolls were playable. I can tell you that there were many
not-so-subtle differences between the third trial and the production
roll. I have often wondered how many trials there were before the
final roll was released as 66221G.