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MMD > Archives > May 1999 > 1999.05.05 > 05Prev  Next

Seeburg G Violin Pipes
By Craig Brougher

Art Reblitz corrected me about the two sets of flutes, and he is
right about the history of the particular machine I speak of, because
I told him about it and sent him a recording, as I recall.  Then I
promptly forgot the details, myself -- but he didn't!

That original "Seeburg G" I mentioned began life as a "stencil"
orchestrion built by Seeburg as a Harwood.  Everything was the same
inside.  The glass panels were a bit different in shape at the top,
but easily adjusted so I could replace the plain glass panels with the
original torch glass from Seeburg, which the new owner bought to have

However Seeburg, supposedly, also built "G" stencil instruments with
combination sets of pipes, like one rank of metal flutes and one rank
of wooden flutes (as well as different styles of glass panels), and
I also suspect that was so that the stencil orchestrions would have
their own distinctive sound and not compete with the Seeburg G
fallboard decal.

For some reason however the flute combination is the best overall,
in my opinion.  Violin pipes really need vibrato to sound violin-ish,
and Seeburg wasn't interested in trying to make those pipes sound
authentic.  That was really my point.  I didn't mean to criticize the
overall tone of any "G."   I was just comparing a "violin" pipe tone of
the Seeburg to a violin pipe tone in European instruments (just so
there is no misunderstanding).  (The one is approximate, in name only;
the other is precise, and serious.)

The rolls for a Seeburg would not allow for the same violin pipe
tone as needed in the European instruments, anyway.  It has to be more
pronounced, louder, abrupt, and "flutey" than a true European violin
pipe is, in order to play the pop tunes of the teens and 20's in a
reminiscent, authentic style.  Art agrees with this, I'm sure, since
he already wrote about how those kinds of pipes fooled knowledgeable

What this really comes down to, from my vantage point, is that pipe
combinations in a Seeburg G are secondary to the G arrangements, and
as Art pointed out, the expression and percussion.  Without the
adjustments on the percussion, this instrument would get a little
tiring.  But with everything "tweeked" just right, it's got a "bread-
and-butter, meat-and-potatos" performance that you never get tired of.

I hope no one took my earlier comments about violin pipes to be a
criticism of the G, but just an observation (however clumsily written)
that -- were you somehow able to replace a violin rank in a European
orchestrion with Seeburg violin pipes, regulation and vibrato notwith-
standing -- they would still sound different than its originally
conceived sound.  I don't think that comment is unfairly put.

And, I don't recommend a Seeburg G-type buildup which tries to use
the European style violin pipes which actually mimic a violin.  In the
first place, they won't sound authentic at all, and in the second
place, they belong in an orchestrion that requires them.

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Tue 4 May 1999, 20:54:48 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  G, Pipes, Seeburg, Violin

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