Actually, Brian Smith has discovered what sounds like the same problem
one would have when playing the early Play-Rite recuts on many
reproducers, because the holes were smaller, when the pressure called
for was low, or when fast repeating notes were needed, those notes on
some instruments would skip.
I presently have an Ampico model B that plays these old Play-Rite rolls
just fine, with full expression. The reason is that this player has
been repouched, and the pouches sealed with Dow Corning 111 Silicone
Grease (thinned, of course, after the lifters have been glued) and then
But let's talk about the orchestrions and nickel pianos. The small
holes in the rolls are just bringing out the problems in the player.
A strong player will still play them without any trouble. The same
thing will happen, and for the same reasons. For instance,
1. Long note tubing runs with undersize tubing
2. Restrictions at a place in the tubing, like twill tape cinched
3. Stiff pouches, caused by oversealing, or layers of rubber cement,
or thick leather.
4. Oversize bleeds (this, combined with undersized tubing often
creates this problem)
5. Too much lost motion between pouch and valve.
6. Too much accumulated leakage overall (low pressure).
7. All of the above problems combined (very often also the case).
Yes, rolls with larger holes are always preferable in every case, and
I've never understood why perforator operators preferred small holes
if they could get away with it. I would think larger hole dies and
punches would be easier to maintain. But before this fact was
acknowledged, there were many recuts made with small holes in
So for all of you who are planning on buying a working coin op piano or
orchestrion sometime, take along one of these rolls and ask to play it
first. They make pretty good test rolls, all by themselves. And if
the player is sound throughout, you won't even know there's a problem.