I was glad to see that someone posted something nice for a change about
solenoid pianos. As a dealer of these pianos, I have found them to be
very impressive. I think they cost too much, but then so does gasoline,
steak, and most other items.
The Yamaha Disklavier is available in the U.S. only when you buy the
Yamaha piano with the Disklavier already installed. I understand there
were kits available at one time overseas, but not in the U.S.
The Disklavier comes in several variations. The Disklavier technology
in the vertical pianos is totally different from the systems installed
in the grand pianos. Actually, there are two different units used in
the vertical pianos in the U.S., depending on model. The grand pianos
also use several different units, depending on size of piano and if it
is a Disklavier Pro model. The larger grands use larger solenoids.
The grand models measure the hammer velocity during the playback and
compare that information to the information on the disc. If one of the
keys and action in a piano takes more power to play the note at the
proper velocity, then the computer in the Disklavier grand piano can
compensate for that key and give more or less power to the solenoid for
that key -- something no reproducing piano can duplicate.
When a solenoid piano is played continuously for long periods and the
solenoids start to build up heat, then they react differently than when
they are cool. The Disklavier can compensate for this also. There are
devices on the solenoid banks that constantly measure the temperature.
These solenoid pianos are truly remarkable -- but, then again, I sell
them for a living. I have only heard a few of the Spencer E-Rolls for
these pianos, but the ones I have heard are super.
The debate goes on the same today as was going on before the solenoid.
"Can a player piano sound like a human playing the piano?"
Music rolls are often edited to the point that no human can play like
the music roll. The solenoid piano, on the other hand, can play like
a human but not necessarily like the reproducing piano of yesterday.
I had a piano roll cut for a nickelodeon from MIDI files created on the
Disklavier. A few people did not like the roll, but then the roll was
not edited with a lot of extra notes. It was a simple hand-played
Are we so used to hearing these edited piano rolls that we no longer
know how the human pianist actually sounds?
Shreveport Music Co.
1815 E. 70th Street
Shreveport, LA 71105