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MMD > Archives > March 2000 > 2000.03.07 > 13Prev  Next

Player Piano Rebuilding Instruction Manuals
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  There was a time in my life when I thought I could do just
about anything.  In my early 20's I got my first copy of 'Rebuilding
the Player Piano' by Larry Givens.  I'll never forget the words I read
on page 19, "Some ingenuity may be required, as manufacturers practices
varied to such an extent that it is impossible to give any general
procedure for this operation."

Feeling I was somewhat of an ingenious fellow, I continued on with the
understanding that it was up to me to learn how the player piano worked
before attempting to rebuild one.  I knew I would encounter many
unknowns, and I also realized that if I felt I had the guts and the
ability to tear into such a complex mechanism, I had no one to blame
for my failures but myself! I had been warned.

Instructions are merely a guide line.  Some are really pretty good,
others are really poor, but they all are nothing more than someone
elses impression of an experience and therefore can never be trusted
implicitly.  If rebuilding a player piano, an automobile or a house
were as simple as picking up an instruction manual and following a
series of steps page by page, life would be pretty boring and anyone
who can read would be just as capable as the next guy.  Having
successfully rebuilt all three of the above, I can say without
hesitation that the player piano was, and still is, the most difficult.

Most of the instruction manuals and books I've read about player piano
rebuilding don't, in my mind, qualify as completed works and I, for
one, have never expected them to be accurate in every detail.  I
question everything because of the warning I got from Larry Givens
before I ever started my first job.  (Thank you Larry Givens.  As a
result of your words of wisdom, I've experienced very few failures.)

It's so easy to point a finger at someone else when you experience a
failure but I remember a phrase I heard many years ago: When you point
a finger at someone else, there are at least three other fingers
pointing back at you.

In closing, I quote from the Introduction found in 'Rebuilding the
Player Piano', which was published by Harvey N. Roehl in April 1963:
"This book is the first significant attempt to provide the necessary
information to bring these fascinating instruments back to life."

And also a quote from the preface, written by Larry Givens: "If my
experience has been somewhat one-sided in any aspects of the field, I
have no doubt that it will show up in this book.  However, one has to
begin somewhere; and the need for a technical treatise on rebuilding
the player piano is presently so great that this book, adequate or not,
will, I hope, perform its intended service."

Mr. Givens also goes on to thank in particular, "Durrell Armstrong,
Roy Haning and Harvey Roehl for their contributions of needed
information and advice."


John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Tue 7 Mar 2000, 17:35:27 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Instruction, Manuals, Piano, Player, Rebuilding

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