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MMD > Archives > June 2001 > 2001.06.07 > 10Prev  Next

Accuracy of Recut Music Rolls
By Dave Saul

This is a response, from the standpoint of one who is currently
engaged in the manufacture and sale of high quality music rolls,
to Lee Brown's query regarding the accuracy of recuts.

For a start, recuts are far from being the same.  Since various
individuals and firms began recutting in the 1960s, quality of
available recuts has run the full gamut from excellent to borderline
trash.  Remember, too, that not all recuts are new.  The earliest
ones are now approaching forty years old.

Many kinds of paper have been tried with varying amounts of success.
Most roll makers are now using dry waxed paper, which experience has
shown to have the best overall combination of qualities needed for
piano rolls.

There was a time when the highest quality copies were those made using
perforators controlled by original factory masters.  Unfortunately,
masters have not survived for some of the most desirable musical
selections, and original masters that are still serviceable are growing
old and fragile.

The use of production music rolls as sources for copying has become
increasingly necessary, even for those who are fortunate enough to own
perforators that have survived from the heyday of music roll making.

At Precision Music Rolls, perforating operations make use of computer
files that are functionally equivalent to master rolls.  These
electronic masters are created via a sophisticated electro-optical
scanning process, and contain the exact coordinates of every punch
operation throughout each given roll.

Scanning technology perfected by Mr. Wayne Stahnke is able to identify
and record the position of every individual punch operation that
appears in an original roll.  Once the scanning process has been
completed, any desired number of copies can be produced that are
identical, punch-wise, with the scanned original.

Copies are made using the same paper advance step size found in the
scanned original, thereby placing every perforation exactly on time.
This can be verified by overlaying one of our music rolls with an
original factory issue of the same selection.

Factors not directly involved in the copy process also contribute to
roll quality.  These include skew, phase noise, and the condition of
punches, dies and paper trimmers.  At Precision Music Rolls, these
factors are monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure a quality product.

Printing of words on song rolls is a subject that also needs to be
addressed.  Many copies (including ours) do not have printed words.
One of our goals for future development is to achieve this capability,
but that still appears to be a long way in the future.  Owning an
original song roll with printed words would seem to be sufficient
justification to keep it, even if it is too fragile to play very often.

Hopefully other music roll makers, as well as music roll users, will
respond and express their respective points of view.  I would be
interested in learning what others have to say on this topic.


Dave Saul
Precision Music Rolls

(Message sent Fri 8 Jun 2001, 00:56:43 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Accuracy, Music, Recut, Rolls

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