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Fenland pianos specialise in the repair and rebuilding of player piano(pianolas)

Player pianos, or pianolas, which became their generic name, were popular from around 1890 to the late 1930's. These instruments were powered by suction, being created by 2 foot pedals at the lower front of the instrument, and the music controlled by a perforated paper roll.

The forerunner to the player piano was the piano player or push-up player as it became colloquially known. This was due to the fact that the automatic player mechanism was housed in a cabinet which was "pushed up" to a regular piano, and felt covered wooden keys, protruding from the back of the cabinet played the pianos keys, just like a pianist would.

Later years saw the developement of the reproducing piano. This was a step up from the player piano. Most reproducers were electrically driven, and contained vacuum regulators which altered the volume of the music produced. These regulators were controlled by extra perforations in the music roll, providing automatic operation. The rolls themselves were specially made by famous pianists of the day, playing their music on a special marking piano. This marked their playing onto a revolving roll as they played, providing in effect, a recording of their performance. When this was punched out and played back on an appropriate reproducing piano, their playing was faithfully re-enacted.

Most pianolas in original condition are virtually unplayable today. However, most of them were extremely well designed, and built from good quality materials. If they are rebuilt, replacing all perishable materials with new, including of course, the piano mechanism and strings, they will play superbly well. For those wishing to hear a good selection of mechanical musical instruments being played, The British Piano Museum in Brentford, Middlesex is a good place to start. For details of this and other musems, please see  the links page.



Page Last Updated - 13/07/2017
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