Monday, May 31, 2010

Player Pianos

I am occasionally asked to tune and/or repair player pianos, from the oldest, cheapest and most worn-out to the most-modern electronic units. Generally, players are more-difficult to tune because of the mechanism in front of the strings and tuning-pins. Aside from that, most older players are very leaky. It is rare to find one that is air-tight and in good condition. I often replace the larger vacuum hoses and do carry a supply of the tiny rubber tubing, but I do not rebuild players. To do so properly requires removing the player mechanism to a shop and stripping it before rebuilding, and I simply do not have the space at this time. Players that have been rebuilt in the past are already deteriorating. In many instances, the tubing installed when the piano was rebuilt is now older than it was when it was rebuilt the first time.
In some pianos, an electric vacuum pump may be installed, so that the owner does not have to foot-pump the piano. This costs hundreds of dollars and may be worth the cost if the rest of the player mehanism is in working condition.
A good player piano can be a joy to have, but a worn-out one can be frustrating.

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