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MMD > Archives > July 2006 > 2006.07.14 > 04Prev  Next

Elepian Player Piano
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Yesterday I received a response from Bob Berkman concerning
the Elepian player piano.  His exact words were, "We (QRS) made those
Elepians in the mid-80's, I think.  Sorry to report there are no parts
or literature on hand.  The player action is a pretty straight-forward
pneumatic action, I think, so it shouldn't present any unusual problems."

Based on D.L. Bullock's comments, I expect to find some sort of linkage
between the keys and the striker pneumatics.  If that's the case,
I will be very happy.  My main concern was that the pneumatic valves
operated electric switches, which could be a wiring nightmare --
somewhat akin to the electric Wurlitzer players, i.e., tiny gold-plated
switches inside the trackerbar.

In the case of the Elepian, my first vision was that the switches might
be inside the stack -- Yuk!  But, since D.L. says the keys move and the
strikers often fall off, that leads me to believe that the operation is
mechanical, not electrical.  That's a blessing...

Hopefully, there will be some markings on the keys or inside of the
instrument which indicate when it was manufactured.  If I do find any
such evidence, I will write to Larry E. Ashley, the publisher and
exclusive distributor of the Pierce Piano Atlas, and have the Elepian
added to that reference.  My thinking is that while the Elepian might
not qualify as a real piano, it certainly qualifies as a player piano.

Also, having just checked, I find that Rhodes Keyboard Instruments is
listed in the Atlas.  Of course, like the Wurlitzer electric piano, the
Rhodes has hammers, which by all accounts so far is the criteria that
separates electric keyboards that produce a piano sound from those
which have a mechanism that strikes a tone generating element.

Lastly, although I didn't take a close look, I did notice what appeared
to be a couple of RCA jacks and a phone jack (or two) under the
keyboard.  My guess is that they are analog outputs, but wouldn't it be
something if one of them is digital?  Imagine -- instant roll-scanning
in a MIDI format!  I'll write again after I work on this interesting

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Fri 14 Jul 2006, 11:32:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Elepian, Piano, Player

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