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Mar 4 12 10:11 PM

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Hello all, I'm new to the forum and I am completely obsessed with player pianos. I was thinking of building a player piano into an Eavestaff minipiano and I just wanted the experts to guide me with this one. My first question is what reproducing method would work best? I was thinking of using the traditional vacuum method but as a minipiano is so small it will be extremely difficult without doing extensive work on the cabinet. I was thinking of using an electromagnet method instead as this would be much more convenient for such a small cabinet and it will be much more simple, but I am having trouble of thinking how I can make an electronic tracker bar.
Any advice will be gratefully appreciated,
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#1 [url]

Mar 5 12 12:25 AM

If you go electronic, don't use a tracker bar but rig the player up to a computer! If you want some form of automated expression (a reproducing system) using a roll, use a traditional pneumatic expression box - although I suspect you'd be hard-pressed to fit one into such a tiny piano.

You could always try the approach of the Ampico 'spinet' version where the roll and player action were on the top of the piano, instead of the front as with a traditional upright.


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#2 [url]

Mar 5 12 4:36 PM

Hi, thanks for the help! I have noticed that on some player mechanisms they have felted 'fingers' from the main mechanism which activate each key by pressing them down. I thought of an electro-mechanical method where I could find a scrap system like this and put sprung switches under them which will activate an electromagnet for the corresponding key. This will save much more room as I could have this on top of the piano and all the electromagnets inside the piano, it's just that it will need to be taken apart when tuning is required but that's the next hurdle I need to jump!

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#3 [url]

Mar 5 12 4:52 PM

Hi Pianola_1234,

This would be an extremely ambitious project, particularly if you have no prior experience with player pianos. I would definitely advise against it, for now at least.

If getting a player into your house is a problem (as mentioned in your Vintage Radio Forum posting), why not consider a 65-note push-up player instead? I've got one of these myself and it can be used with any piano, or with an electronic keyboard. Un-restored ones can still be had for less than £100.

Take a look at this YouTube video:


Ian McLaughlin

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#5 [url]

Mar 5 12 9:06 PM

Hi Pianola_1234.

There was a Kimball Electramatic on ebay recently - go to youtube and search for "Kimball Electramatic player piano" and you'll see a few examples of them. If you can find one of those it might save you the trouble of making one...


1924 Kastner Autopiano, Richard Lipp and Sohn

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#6 [url]

Mar 5 12 10:34 PM

Hi, thanks for all of the replies so far! I was thinking of a push up player a while ago but as they are not available in 88 note it won't do me much good I'm afraid. I have had some experience with circuits (although solenoids and transistors are completely different to the valve radio's and tv's I also restore!) so I will be more than willing to try it, I'm pretty sure that if I pace myself and slowly build it with as much attention as possible, it should just be about possible with such a small piano (although by the time I'm finished I bet it'll look more like a standard upright!).

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#7 [url]

Mar 5 12 11:11 PM

Pianola_1234 wrote:
they are not available in 88 note

Actually, they are, although these tend to be expensive on the odd occasion that they do turn up.

What's wrong with a 65-note model (like the one in the YouTube video)?


Ian McLaughlin

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#8 [url]

Mar 6 12 4:27 PM

Hi, I didn't know that they were available in 88 note! I thought that they had vanished by the time 88 note became the norm! I will probably look for one of those then! As for the 65 note, there aren't rolls commercially available is there? I would rather have an 88 note as rolls are more easily available and most of my music taste is available on 88 note and not 65
I might post a wanted thread,

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#9 [url]

Sep 12 13 1:43 AM

here's an idea...

I am new to this site too, but I am a designer/ engineer. The old pnuematic systems were bulky mostly due to the limitations of the materails and manufacturing processes. Modern materials and hand crafting can result in smaller but effective systems. If you are crafty enough, you could miniturize all the parts and still get the air volume you need for the hammers.


go with an electronic system that is connected to a "bar' pick up for piano rolls. This you will have to make. Instead of a vacuum based bar, the bar is an electical pick-up with a conecctor bar on the outside of the roll. The standard piano rolls would have to feed between the two bars but when the perforation comes up an electrical conenction is made between the bars. One side might have roller conectors that are lightly sprung. From this, an electrical signal is then amplified via micro relays for driving the hammers.

i do not know if this already exists, but if you are doing something not yet done, then why not do something not yet done!

just thinking out loud.


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