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MMD > Archives > January 2008 > 2008.01.31 > 11Prev  Next

Duo-Art vs. Ampico vs. Welte-Mignon
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  One thing that no one touched on is maintenance, which is
the most important aspect of any superior machine.  Without any doubt
all reproducing systems have their 'trouble spots'.  In the Duo-Art,
it's the 'tubing through the action'.  In the Ampico, it's the mass of
note tubing around the stack.  In the Welte, it's none of the above.
But, Welte rolls are harder to find, and they're primarily limited to
classical music.

Other trouble spots in the Ampico are the tubing between the drawer
mechanism and the stack.  In the Duo-Art, it's the tubing that runs
through the frame of the piano.  Also, the accordion pneumatics in
the Duo-Art (which are still a point of controversy, i.e., leather or
pneumatic cloth) and how they should be correctly adjusted is a matter
which has never been resolved in this forum.

My point is that the list of pluses and minuses for the two major
systems (Duo-Art and Ampico) is as long as your shirt sleeve.  Add to
that the fact that even the best rebuilders do not agree on the finer
points of adjustment and regulation, and you're left wondering if it
makes any difference at all.  The fact is, the devil is in the details.

I've worked on units that were superbly rebuilt by top notch pros, and
then spent hours re-adjusting almost everything until the music sounded
like it was being played by a human being.  The patience required to
spend hours listening to various performances is one thing that most
rebuilders fail to do.  Subtle changes in a single adjustment will
interact with virtually every other adjustment.  And, the thought of
going back and changing all those other adjustments seems to be beyond
the patience of even the most competent technician.  Why? I don't
know...  Call it professional pride.  Call it stubbornness.  Call it
cost-effectiveness.  Whatever the reason, they seem to lack the one
trait which is required to produce superb music, and that is "Living
with the Instrument" until it's done.

Unless the technician (and the owner) are willing to allow this
marriage and pay for it, the final results will be lacking in some
area.  So, in my opinion, the quality of the rebuild is not nearly
as important as the time spent marrying the reproducing system to the
piano into which it is installed.  And that, my friends, takes untold
patience and deep pockets.  I've taken what sounded like a sow's ear
and turned it into miraculous music in fifteen hours, just by making
the right adjustments.

(I'd be happy to provide the references of the people who have seen
and watched me transform their instruments from deplorable to most
enjoyable without doing any rebuilding.)

By the way, I seldom use a Test Roll.  They are generally misleading.
But, to do what I do, you must understand exactly how the system works
and be able to pin-point the parts that aren't working correctly.  And
that knowledge is only gained by years and years of experience.

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Thu 31 Jan 2008, 19:45:07 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ampico, Duo-Art, vs, Welte-Mignon

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