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MMD > Archives > September 2011 > 2011.09.14 > 03Prev  Next

Electrified vs. Foot-Pumped Player Piano
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Some folks might find this posting contrary to my previous
posting about the MIDIfied players, but such is not really the case.

The question was posed, "Why electrify?"  One answer is quite simple
-- It's thousands of dollars less expensive than complete rebuilding.

Another answer is the customer might not be capable of pumping the
pedals.  (I'm electrifying a player for an 80+ year old woman later

But the most common reason is, "I don't feel like pumping."

For those who can't afford a complete rebuild, electrifying the system
can be a relatively inexpensive stop-gap measure that allows them to
continue enjoying the player while they save up their money.

For those who are getting too old to pump more than a roll or two
(and a fair number of my customers are in their 80s and even 90s),
electrifying can mean the difference between making the task a minor
chore or a walk-in-the-park.

These days, the most common electrification kits have a variable speed
control.  And, when set properly, the pump can compensate for virtually
all the leakage in the system.  When set up that way, the customer can
again enjoy pumping the pedals with very little effort to produce the
music.  Or, if they get tired, they can turn up the volume and let the
piano play by itself.  Or, they can set it to play at a low level and
add a few pumps now and then to give the music a little bit of 'life'.

For those who simply don't like to pump, I say that's okay too.  It's
just not what I enjoy.

You see, although it might have sounded to some people like I have
a problem with 'automated' or 'electrified' players, such is not the
case.  They are simply not what I prefer.  And truth be known, I do not
like being a passenger in a car!  If I want to enjoy the scenery, I'll
stop and take a look. :-)  It's actually much safer that way, too...

  All together now, one, two, three
  Keep you mind on your drivin'
  Keep you hands on the wheel
  Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead
  We're havin' fun sittin' in the back seat
  Kissin' and a'huggin with Fred.

From 'Seven Little Girls' (Sitting In The Back Seat) by Paul Evans
(1959).  (This is one of the first songs I learned to play when I got
my first guitar for Christmas at the age of ten -- a very happy memory.
A year later I bought my very first piano for $25.00 -- another great
memory. :-)

By the way, I strongly agree with all who advocate digitizing music
rolls!  While the paper rolls have lasted longer and maintained their
integrity (or content) better than any previous medium, they are
subject to the forces of nature just like anything that is organic.
Furthermore, I'm 100% certain that as the storage mediums change
over the coming decades (and perhaps centuries) a certain number of
dedicated individuals will make it their life's work to insure that
the data is preserved for future generations.  And while we won't be
around to witness it, I'm positive that those future generations will
thank them for their efforts.

In the same vein, I think it's equally important to preserve the
lyrics.  While the music is important, the difference between a song
and music is the words.  I don't think I've ever heard anyone sing
Moonlight Sonata.  Why?  No one knows the lyrics... ;-)

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Wed 14 Sep 2011, 12:52:46 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Electrified, Foot-Pumped, Piano, Player, vs

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