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#1927537 - 07/16/12 01:08 PM How to convert existing piano to play piano rolls?
Kujiraya Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/16/12
Posts: 8
How to convert existing piano to play piano rolls?

#1929484 - 07/20/12 05:27 AM Re: How to convert existing piano to play piano rolls? [Re: Kujiraya]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23203
Loc: Oakland
There used to be vorsetzer players that could be pushed up to a piano's keyboard. Mechanical fingers would press on the keys. This is the only way which is practical for most pianos. Nothing like that is made today, and the old players are quite rare. Many of them would not play 88 key rolls.

I believe that there have been adapters that could read a roll and convert it to a signal that could activate a modern player. Again, they were not common and they are not made today.

For most people, it is far easier and cheaper just to get an old player piano and repair it so it can play rolls again. While it might be possible to make a new player mechanism from available parts, it will be much more difficult and expensive than rehabilitating an old player.
Semipro Tech

#1947618 - 08/23/12 02:02 AM Re: How to convert existing piano to play piano rolls? [Re: Kujiraya]
Colin Dunn Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 541
Loc: Arvada, CO
BDB is right, the most economical way to play rolls is to find a used player piano, buy it, and then fix up whetever is needed. I have seen working player pianos for $250-$2,500 in my local market, but you may have to take some time to find one in good working order.

The old upright player pianos of the '20s were made about 4-6" deeper than non-player uprights. This was to accommodate the roll player mechanism. As such, it's often not possible to retrofit a roll player stack into an upright that wasn't designed to be a player piano.

Do you specifically want to play piano rolls? You can convert most upright and grand pianos to a player piano with a modern solenoid-based player kit, such as PianoDisc, Pianomation, LX, etc. Prices range from $5,000 to $10,000 installed. A hefty chunk of change, but the modern systems are fully "reproducing" player systems with expression. The LX is regarded as the best of these systems.

Most player pianos are not capable of dynamic expression except that which is controlled by the pianolist. There were some expression systems (DuoArt, Welte-Mignon, AMPICO), but these are rare today and very expensive to restore. For what it costs to restore one of these, you could likely acquire a 5'-6' grand piano and put an LX in it.
Colin Dunn

#2036233 - 02/20/13 05:29 AM Re: How to convert existing piano to play piano rolls? [Re: Colin Dunn]
rocklandpiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/26/13
Posts: 19
For a full explanation of this process check out the above video.

Piano players in Monsey, New York have relied on Charles Flaum since before 1990 for piano tuning, piano repairs and sage piano advice. Monsey, a family oriented village in Rockland County, is full of piano lovers with cherished pianos in their homes..


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