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MMD > Archives > April 1998 > 1998.04.01 > 24Prev  Next

By Douglas Henderson

Hello,  Read the postings about the pedal Ampico uprights in the
newsletter today, and decided to add a few lines of my own.

The Marque Ampico was _often_ made from leftover parts from other piano
manufacturers, such as the Melville Clark style spring motor for the
music roll transport system, and even from diaphragm pneumatic stacks
which came from the defunct Wilcox & White (Angelus) player action
company, which sold out to Theo. Brown's 'Simplex' firm in Mass. in
1921 (and later to become part of Kohler's enterprises a few years

It would not be surprising that pedal/electric models were made for
export, since Aeolian produced a 5-pneumatic 'accordion' design for
foreign Duo-Art pianos at one time, to be used with similarly-equipped
combination players.

The Musical Wonder House -- our museum around the corner from the
Artcraft Studio -- has an English Brinsmead 'Angelus' pedal player
grand that was made for Germany.  Many parts which would have been
wooden on the American models were bronze/brass on this instrument for
Germany, possibly modified to rival the quality of Hupfeld and other
metal-oriented players being built there in the early 'Teens.

One interesting part of this English/American/German piano is the fact
that the pedal box was too long for the legs, so the British merely
made skids for the casters.  If one tries to roll the piano "off" these
matching wooden holders, the wooden pedal rods break, and that was the
condition that existed when the piano was moved to the Maine museum a
number of years ago.  Of course, the question is: why have the casters
at all if the skids have to protect the pedal rods, or why not install
larger diameter casters to solve the problem once and for all?

I don't pretend to be an expert on the pedal Ampico, though I have
played many of them in the four decades (plus) I've been in this field.
It appears that many of the earlier models were similar to the electric
ones, but had large equalizers which made the human more of a "power
supply" since the huge vacuum reserve negated sensitive pedalling
effects (and required manipulation of the buttons/levers to modify the
rapid dynamic changes), much like some early Std. Pneumatic Action
designs.  (Perhaps these _were_ Standard Pneumatic players with the
Ampico; memory fails me here!)

The later Amphion models required more "interaction" between the
Pianolist and the roll's operation, much as the pedal Duo-Art did, but
the result was a pedal player which was more responsive and less "out
of the hands" of the interpreter.

By the way, I'm trying to make '98 the year I get another Ampico for my
roll business.  The loss of the Word Roll equipment at Play-Rite,
during the Turlock blaze last February, made me decide to return to
Ampico roll arranging, to offset the future demise of Artcraft 88-Note
rolls with words.  For the next couple of years, however, my inventory
will allow me to supply all the titles, including the finite Word Rolls
and also the Word/Dialogue variety, which have been one of our
specialties in the field.

Regards from Maine,

Douglas Henderson
Artcraft Music Rolls
PO Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578

(Message sent Thu 2 Apr 1998, 02:44:06 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Marque-Ampico

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