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MMD > Archives > October 2007 > 2007.10.16 > 03Prev  Next

Value of Old Player Pianos
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I have a little to say on this matter that I haven't said in
the past.  If you're new to the forum, or missed my previous comments
on this topic, just scan some of my 'more than 1000' postings in the
MMDigest Archives (keyword "value") at

Now I'll get on with it.  As with anything that's successful, a high
degree of dedication is required.  As one other technician noted, he's
busier than ever.  Another technician recently wrote to me and asked
that I remove his home phone number from his free Technicians Listing
at Player-Care because he was getting 'too many calls'.

In the past few years, I can't recall removing more than one or two
names from the Technicians Listing, and the ones I did remove were
either retiring or they had sadly passed away.  On the other side of
the coin, I know I've added at least five others.  Sure, they may have
been there all the time, but that's not the case in at least two
circumstances.  These two individuals decided to add player pianos
to their listing.  They got 'involved'.

My glue pot gets turned on around 7:00 a.m. almost everyday.  The
exception is when I have road calls that day, and then I'm preparing
for the call.  In my travels, I've inspired numerous individuals by
explaining that player pianos aren't really all that complicated if
you approach them from the correct perspective.  And, I've lost count
of the number of people who have successfully repaired or restored
their own player piano to working condition since I opened Player-Care.
Furthermore, business is still brisk, and more and more women are
getting involved in repair work.

So, to me, the notion that the trade is dying or that no one wants old
player pianos, just doesn't ring true.  Yes, there are a lot of players
finding their way to the landfill, but that's a necessary part of the
whole cycle of "increasing values".

How old are the people who are picking up the torch?  Most of them are
in their 30's and 40's.  Will they find so much enjoyment and
satisfaction in the work that they will change occupations?  I suppose
that depends in great measure on how much help they can find when help
is needed.

How clearly I remember the early days when I would search out an
individual just to ask what they thought was a simple question.  Had
those people been unavailable, I might have given up and gone back to
working in electronics.  However, I was tenacious, and the idea of
giving up wasn't in my vocabulary, and people were willing to help.

I'm currently in the process of turning Craig Brougher's book, "The
Orchestrion Builder's and Pneumatics Handbook" into a searchable and
fully linked (indexed) CD, in .pdf, .doc, and .txt formats.  Hopefully,
it will be available within the next month or so.

For those of you who don't have a copy of the book, you would be
amazed at how Craig Brougher takes the otherwise 'mysterious' and turns
it into 'common sense'.  Then he tells you and shows you how to build
the devices.  The book covers virtually every aspect of building (or
rebuilding) virtually every type of vacuum-operated device.  And, as
I have mentioned before, it not only explains what you need to do, it
also explains what you should not do and why you shouldn't do it.

It's my sincere hope that making the information available in such an
easy to use format will encourage those who are somewhat intimidated by
these 'strange looking' devices, with their seemingly endless number of
rubber tubes, gears, pulleys, and controls, to spend a modest sum of
money and get educated from their laptop computer.

Also, at least one of the three formats can be put into any of the
"Reader" programs so that the user can have their computer read the
text to them instead of having to read it themselves.  This will allow
people to listen to the information while they're on their way to work,
or just lounging around on the weekend by the pool.  (Some people
assimilate information better if they hear it instead of just reading
it.  Some do better if they read along while they listen.  By the way,
for those who learn more from a visual standpoint, there are literally
hundreds of excellent diagrams and pictures to view.)

Here's my point: I'm attempting to "take the mountain to Mohammed
instead of having Mohammed come to the mountain".  As with anything,
success begins with leadership.  Take the lead and others _will_
follow -- it's human nature.  Make the learning process easier and
people will learn faster.  Let's all make an attempt to "take the
mystery out of the machinery".

Lastly, I think it's fair to ask; What does this have to do with
the value of player pianos?  The answer is 'everything'.  Although the
numbers may vary, it's been said that success is 10% inspiration and
90% perspiration.  But, if the 10% is missing, the 90% will never
happen.  Therefore, it only stands to reason that the value of player
pianos has to do with our ability to inspire people.  It's also logical
to presume that player pianos won't become more valuable until they
become a little more rare.

So, and I will be redundant at this point, please stop worrying about
all the player pianos that find their way to the landfills.  It's all
part of the cycle that will lead to higher retail values.  Hang in
there!  Most of these machines are less than 100 years old.  And, if
what I've been told is true, the vast majority of them aren't yet even
classified as "antiques".

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Tue 16 Oct 2007, 16:18:51 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Old, Pianos, Player, Value

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