Well, it happened again; As my brain was explaining to itself the
physics of time and space constraints around the shop, I listened in
disbelief as my mouth was making arrangements to move yet another
orphaned upright home. To be fair, the well-rehearsed speech about the
abundance of foot-pumped players and their lack of potential homes just
doesn't roll off the tongue that well when behind the foot-pedal door
there appears instead a rotary pump.
The following description is overly verbose, so if you're not a lover
of tedious minutia, read no further. The instrument in question is a
solidly built Strohber. I don't have much experience with this
particular brand, but it seems to be above the average economy-built
piano of the day, even if its case is a little plain.
My question for the list refers to the Recordo system itself, and how
this type of system may have come to be. The facts: The case is a
purpose-built foot operated player. The slide-up door has been
fastened shut, and the linkage removed. There is a cutout for a key
lock, which has also been removed. The Standard stack and head appears
to be original, although finished in gold, piano plate colored paint
rather than the traditional satin black. The stamped Recordo tracker
bar fits quite well. If it was retrofitted, it was done seamlessly.
There is a clean terminal block for the extra Recordo tubes and other
signal hose to transition from the stack to the case. The Recordo
specific electric controls (power on/off, etc.) appear to have been
added, but again very cleanly, with labeled celluloid tags. Most of
their means of control are through drilled holes, and they twist or
push/pull through these holes. No awkwardly routed or chiseled slots.
The lower unit is self contained, in that all expressions, etc. are
mounted to the neat, compact box pump/motor unit. The finishing and
labeling doesn't match the upper unit, however. The pump's tubes are
labeled, with cutouts and punchings from a negative printed blueprint
sheet. I just brought it home yesterday and haven't torn into it, but
the expression labels (pp, p, mf, f, ff) would suggest a typical 5-step
Was this piano built as a Standard/88 and very cleanly converted in the
field, or were these factory products? Would the 1915 mfg. date for
the piano suggest one or the other? Did Standard make a Recordo unit?
I've only ever run across about 10 Recordos in verticals and grands,
and of these I have seen about nine different configurations. The only
other one I have ever owned is a Baldwin 5'2" (Z/ZW scale?) grand, with
an Auto-Pneumatic Action Company "Auto-Deluxe" Recordo.
This one also had a Standard stack, but had a half-Welte like system,
nothing like the Strohber in question. That was of a configuration
described on this list several years ago, so here's another example to
be entered into the record. Its drawer contained all but the pump and
expression box, connected with a motor supply, stack supply, expression
and pedal signal tubes, and on/off wire only. The drawer is linked by
aluminum torsion poppets that work wherever the drawer is slid. Its
expression is a knife valve whose movement is controlled by a single
Welte Licensee "tunnel" pneumatic and punctuated by four overriding
expression level pneumatics.
Again, too much detail, but with the lack of Internet info I've found
on these, maybe it'll spark some feedback. It's rare I do any work on
a piano for me anymore!
David V. Anderson, RPT