One player to rule them all...?

Posted by: Colin Dunn

One player to rule them all...? - 07/29/11 03:44 PM

Reading this forum has made me want to get a player piano somehow ... either by retrofitting an electronic system into my grand piano ($$$$), or adding a second piano (like a 1920s full-size upright or a 1960s-70s revival upright) that can play rolls ... or both. Though I grew up in the '70s, my parents had a Kimball console piano with a 64-note roll player, electric air pump. I spent hours and hours playing rolls on that piano, and even though I also played piano, I always dreamed of playing the way the pianists who cut the rolls did...

There are so many different and incompatible player piano systems, whether the old pneumatic systems or the modern solenoid-based / digital systems.

Has anyone managed to put together a player piano that can play most (if not all) formats - rolls, various competing discs, MIDI, etc.?

I'm surprised that QRS hasn't computerized / converted their decades-long library of piano rolls into newer digital formats. They quit making rolls last year but own everything they'd need - rights to distribute the music, as well as master copies of rolls that could be scanned into a computer and converted into Pianomation / MIDI data.

I'd think a Duo-Art / LX combination would get close to covering all bases for a player piano. Expression control for piano rolls that have it, and multi-format support for modern systems.

But is it even physically possible to put both systems in a single piano (either grand or upright)? I have doubts as there would be TWO player actions that have to control the keys / pedals. Or do player piano fans have to collect multiple instruments to listen to both rolls and electronic-based player piano libraries?

Was the Duo-Art system ever installed in uprights, or only grands? Everything I've seen on-line about Duo-Art showed the system on a grand piano. But I wouldn't have room (or $$$$) for TWO grand pianos, so if I got an upright that plays rolls, I'd want the best roll system for an upright that I could find.
Posted by: Worrigee73

Re: One player to rule them all...? - 07/29/11 06:56 PM

Hi Colin

I have a Duo Art upright in a 1920 Weber piano.Also yes its possible to get 2 types of systems into one piano.I currently have a roll playing Weber grand under restoration and the rebuilder even suggested adding pianomation (QRS) to it , if i wanted a larger selection of songs to play.

Below is a link to my Weber Duo Art playing.

Daniel smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y84s3ej2zn8
Posted by: Colin Dunn

Re: One player to rule them all...? - 07/30/11 01:30 PM

Daniel - Quite a nice player piano there. Saw a couple more videos on your YouTube channel ... didn't even realize that QRS was putting out rolls of relatively recent pop songs (such as that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves song).

Since my original post, I've seen that there are people scanning / converting piano rolls to MIDI, which is playable on the newer systems, preserving expression on the expression-capable rolls (such as Duo-Art).

I still dream of having a piano that can play rolls, discs, and MIDI. There's something mesmerizing about watching the notes / words pass by on a roll that the new systems can't duplicate.

But those roll systems are old and cantankerous machines that can require expensive restoration / repair work.

Guess I'll start keeping an eye out for a roll player that can later be retrofitted with PianoForce or PianoMation. (LX would be nice, but it's twice as expensive as PianoForce. And how much benefit is there to 1,024 velocity levels instead of 127? I'm not sure I could sit down at a piano and play a key with 127 discernable levels of dynamics, let alone 1,024.)