Duo Art Player Piano

An exciting innovation in piano design and engineering has led to the creation of the Hardman DUO, the amazing new player-piano developed and manufactured exclusively by Hardman, Peck & Co. Unveiled in the Spring of 1957, the DUO is actually two pianos in one. At once an incomparable Hardman Console famed for acoustical richness is changed from manual to a player-piano, ready to play any of the hundreds of melodies on music rolls-everything from classics to rock 'n roll.

A flick of the lever and the dropping of a panel are all it takes to release the pedals and finger-tip controls of the new DUO. Expression is extremely sensitive to the individual touch. Rhythm and nuances are even attainable through subtle practice on the pedals themselves. But other expression devices enable you to have complete shading control over any melody played. A tempo gauge, calibrated to any extra wide sweep can be set or changed during play by a flick of the finger. Soft bass and soft treble buttons may be depressed independently or together for muting melody or bass chords. In addition a volume lever sustains tones like the manual sustaining foot pedal. When manual play is again desired, raising the panel and another flick of the lever places all controls completely away from view, and at once you again have a manual Console with standard toe pedals.

The DUO is an ideal family piano, one that every member can play even those who have never had a lesson. Lyrics are printed right on the music rolls, so everyone can sing along as well. This adds greatly to the fun of family gatherings and parties. The young student in the family will find he learns faster on the DUO. He can play it manually for practice lessons, and as a player-piano to observe the technique of more advanced arrangements.

One of the oldest and most respected of all player-piano names, DuoArt is the newest of all present-day player makes. DuoArt features such special refinements as automatic expression control, a device activated by music roll perforations, and which engages sustaining pedal; a sensitive volume control and a transposer bar to permit playing in any of five different keys.

Other expression devices include soft bass and treble buttons, which may be employed separately or together for muting melody or bass chords. In addition, a loud pedal lever may be used to sustain tones. Finally, tempo can be set or changed during play by a flick of the finger. DuoArt comes equipped with authentic foot pedals that enable adding rhythm, and subtle expression variatiors. An electric motor unit allow enjoying player-piano music without effort. DuoArt uses performance-proven Standard Pneumatic Action Co. player mechanism. As a regular manual console piano, DuoArt is perfect for beginners or the accomplished. When all player controls are hidden from sight, DuoArt is a fine direct blow console, with responsive action and rich tone. DuoArt is available in a choice of two styles.


Behr Bros & Co Pianos

Manufactured by a veteran organization which has been actively engaged in making pianos since the year 1851. Behr upright and grand pianos are distinguished far their beautiful tone, their handsome and distinctive designs, their exquisite craftsmanship and great durability. Behr player-pianos are famed for their exclusive and distinctive expression devices, which make possible the most artistic effects. Highest awards have been granted the well-known Behr Bros. instruments at leading worlds' fairs and centennial expositions, such as New Orleans, 1885; Melbourne. 1888, and Chicago. 1893.

Xavier Scharwenka. Moritz Moszkowski, S. B. Mills, Edottard Remenyi and a host of other world famous artists and composers. Etc., have unqualifiedly endorsed the instruments bearing the Behr Bros. & Co.

The Behr Reproducing Piano (licensed under Welte-Mignon patents) is a notable addition to. This artistic line, and is three complete and distinctive instruments in one A piano, a player-piano. A reproducing piano. The Behr Reproducing Piano actually reproduces or creates the world's greatest compositions, played by pianists of international fame. There are hundreds of artists' hand-played music rolls available for this remarkable instrument.



Piano making has a long tradition in the German province of Saxony, especially in Leipzig, where the citizens have always cared about musical culture. The St. Thomas choir has existed since the 12th century, the Gewandhaus orchestra was founded in the 17th century, as well as the Leipzig Opera, and Mendelssohn initiated a conservatory that soon became famous.

One of the best known piano makers of that time was Breitkopf & Hartel, still known today as a prominent music publisher. These were strong reasons for Julius Blüthner to start his piano making in Leipzig after having spent several years wandering from one piano maker to another to improve on his knowledge of the craft. In November 1853 he began with three men, and his instruments found immediate acclaim among the musical bourgeoisie.
Production grew quickly. Soon his premises had to be enlarged and in articles printed in newspapers and journals of these days Julius Blüthner talks with pride about new machines that were added to his production facilities or the fact that production was changed to steam-driven machinery.
Marketing in those days consisted of exhibiting instruments at fairs and exhibitions and to participate in competitions for highest quality. Blüthner's first fair was in Merseburg, a town in the neighborhood of Leipzig, but soon he participated in many foreign competitions, where his instruments won the highest praise.
It was also essential to furnish instruments to the royal courts and Blüthner took great pride in being appointed as official supplier to the royal court of many European countries, among which were the German Kaiser, Queen Victoria, the Russian Tsar, the Danish King, the Turkish Sultan and of course the King of Saxony.

Export was an early goal of Blüthner. Considering the fact that Germany and many other European counties were still young political structures, concentrated mainly on their home market, protected by customs barriers, it speaks for the foresight of Julius Blüthner to have created a distribution network spanning the whole world.
Many distributors are still flourishing, as for example the agency in Great Britain, founded in 1876 with which very strong ties still exist. Conforming with the wisdom that only thorough knowledge of the product assures excellence it was considered a necessity for the sons of Julius Blüthner to learn the trade from scratch. So one of his sons, Bruno Blüthner, was sent to the USA to work with Chickering to gather information about modern production techniques. His brother, Robert Blüthner, was to study jurisprudence, and Hans Blüthner worked with his father in the Leipzig factory. The first World War did only slight harm to Blüthner, as also did the great economic crisis in 1929.
In 1936 Blüthner scored tremendous public interest when the famous airship Hindenberg crossed the Atlantic for the first time with a Blüthner grand on board. For reasons of weight this instrument was made of aluminum, the outside covered with parchment and it served for the first broadcast of a piano recital from the air.
In 1932 Dr. Rudolf Blüthner-Haessler, the son-in-law, joined the firm and it was his difficult task to maneuver the firm through the turmoil of the Second World War.

In 1943 the factory was hit by an air raid and burned down and it was not until 1948 that production could be recommenced. However the limited possibilities under East Germany's socialistic system made it difficult to catch up with conditions on the world market. Sparse investments in production facilities and the utter lack of marketing made it difficult to line up with the rest of the world.

In 1972 the firm was finally nationalized but remained under the direction of Ingbert Blüthner, who succeeded his father in 1966. He served his years of apprenticeship in England and became a master piano maker in 1958. In 1990 the firm was given back to the family.
Today Ingbert Blüthner-Haessler manages the firm together with his two sons Christian and Knut. By their work they ensure that the tonal character of the instruments and the excellence of their hand-crafted manufacturing, numbers Blüthner instruments with the best on the market.


W. W. Kimball & Company

Established 1857. An old and distinguished house of international standing and reputation. Since its inception, the firm has been under the continuous ownership and control of the Kimball family. One of the world's quality manufacturers of pianos, grand pianos, consoles, consolettes, spinets and studio models.
The Kimball plant, occupies approximately 200,000 square feet of floor space. The building is equipped with modern machinery and appliances for an ideal mixture of fine craftsmanship and modern methods. In the manufacture of these instruments the best and most reliable materials are used and an exceptionally high class of labor is employed. Completion of the plant in May, 1956, revealed completely new dry kiln and lumber handling equipment, extensive conveyor systems, and the air-conditioned office facilities. The program included acquisition of the newest modern machinery, including many special machines developed by Kimball engineers and employees.

The Kimball line of grands includes several sizes Vertical type pianos included a special school and studio model. Artist Console, Consolete, and Spinet models were available in a wide range of modern and period designs. The Kimball Consolette has four exclusive Tone-Touch features: The Kimball Pipe-Organ Tone Chamber, produced through the combined skill of the Company's pipe organ and piano technicians; the Kimball Unilocked Scale; the Kimball patented Direct Blow Action; and the new Kimball Life-crowned Tone board, which will not split or crack open and permanently holds the crown developed through years of research and experiment. The Kimball technical staff draws all scales, designs' actions and cases and various other parts; thus insuring the precision and uniforra quality that are so important to the performance of a fine piano. The company even operates a completely equipped machine shop where have been built many ingenious special machines found only in this plant.

The Kimball instruments have won recognition at many of the world's expositions, among these the Chicago Columbian Exposition, 1893, gave the Kimball Co. "an award of superlative merit" for having attained the highest standard of excellence in its particular manufacture. The international Jury of Awards of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at Seattle, 1909, conferred the highest award upon Kimball grands and uprights and pipe organs, stating, "Their upright and grand pianos typify the highest perfection in tone, scale, action and design, in American piano making." At the Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha, Nebr., in 1898, Kimball pianos received the diploma and only gold medal awarded any piano. Highest awards from the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco were announced in the summer of 1916, Grand piano medal. Hundreds of world famous musicians and singers have used Kimball pianos, 100th in public and for their private use, and have given them unqualified endorsements. The Kimball is heard on the concert stage today as it has been continuously for over half a century. Several thousand churches, schools, colleges and public institutions have purchased Kimball pianos. Among the colleges, universities and conservatories which have purchased Kimball pianos: Cosmopolitan School of Music, American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, Barry College, Miami, Fla., Birmingham Conservatory of Music, Ward Belmont College, Detroit Conservatory of Music, U. S. Military Academy (West Point), Stephens College, Christian College, Oregon State College, Universities of Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Delaware, Southern California, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Washington. Public schools in Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; Cleveland, Ohio; Providence, R. I.; St. Paul, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; Washington, D. C.; Los Angeles, California; West Palm Beach, Florida; Wilmington, Delaware; Youngstown, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; and over a thousand other schools. Several thousand Kimball pianos are used in churches and in associated schools. A large number of radio stations, hotels and other public institutions have also purchased and are using Kimball pianos.

Kimball was the first to perfect a laminated spruce sounding board ... one of the most important piano improvements in generations . . . as described above; first to develop electronic gluing, which permits using waterproof glues in piano case construction; first to pioneer lacquer to supplant varnish, producing a perfect finish, a better product . . . for less money; first to perfect a keybed leveling device which eliminates wedges and shims, produces a perfect key level; first to pioneer the type of white and black keys now used by the entire industry; first to make a piano in genuine fruitwood; first to design authentic French Provincial and Early American pianos; first to develop a grand scale for a 5' size grand piano.


A.B. Chase


We have a current Inventory, Finally. If you own one and want to sell it, please contact us by email or if you are looking for one let us help with your quest. Below is some information on this Fabulous Piano maker.

Established in 1885. This is an honored name in the annals of music in America, being closely associated with the love and development of music in the American home. A.B. Chase pianos have always been known for splendid workmanship. The A.B. Chase baby grand in fair condition is worth rebuilding at a considerable cost.

The A. B. Chase piano factory was established in 1875 and produces the highest grade pianos both in upright's and grand's. The A. B. Chase pianos are also equipped with the Cello Reproducing Medium. The policy of this factory' has long been that no material is too good a piano no skilled labor too expensive if it will improve the A. B. Chase piano.

All pianos manufactured from 1875 to 1930 were completely hand made from the finest materials available during that era. An A.B. Chase piano took as long as two years to complete. All A.B. Chase pianos are worthy of rebuilding. Pianos from the time 1875 to 1930 are exceptional. Mr. Chase and his associates developed the tri-bridge scale and incorporated it into their design making this Piano one of greatest toned pianos of its time.

The company sold this design in 1900 to such manufacturers as: STEINWAY, BALDWIN, MASON/HAMLIN AND SOHMER this design greatly improved their pianos.

This is why A. B. Chase in our opinion (OCP) was one of the greatest manufacturer of them all. Quality first and production second. If you have and A. B. Chase be very proud of your ownership. You have one of finest pianos ever made.


Collard & Collard

Collard & Collard
Circa 1854

Probably the most popular subject for inquiries I have received over the years is the firm whose history began way back in 1760 with Longman & Broderip, then the various Clementi names, (which at their peak squeezed “Clementi, Banger, Hyde, Collard & Davis” onto the name board!) then Collard & Collard, taken over by Chappell, and now with Kemble. Over 200,000 Collards were manufactured from 1760 through 1960 over 300 years of Pianoforte Manufacturing.


Sohmer & Company

Pianos of this make are distinguished by their artistic character, and have for many years held their place among the best specimens of the piano-maker's art. They are manufactured in both grand and upright styles. Fine pianos in every respect, and the product of a house of highest responsibility.



Manufactured by the Straube Piano Company in its modern, complete factory at Hammond, Ind., 19 miles from Chicago. The Artronome Player Action which is installed only in Straube made pianos, was invented, developed and is now manufactured exclusively by the Straube Company in its own factory. The feature of this player action, which has attracted extraordinary attention, is its dependability the fact that it has reduced service calls to an absolute minimum. This dependability is the result of the many distinctive and exclusive features, both in design and construction, of the player action. Chief of these is the patented Pendulum Valve, by which troubles due to friction and corrosion in the valve mechanism are avoided. Straube Grands and Reproducing Grands are also made complete in the Straube factories.



Owned and controlled by the Everett Piano Company, South Haven, Michigan, (listed in this section). Cable-Nelson is the low-priced companion line to the Everett. Since 1905, over a quarter of a million Cable-Nelson pianos, bearing one of the most respected names in American piano manufacturing have been produced in the large Everett factory on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Historically, the story of the origin of Cable-Nelson begins in Chicago in 1903 when Fayette S. Cable, a distinguished leader in the piano industry at the turn of the century, purchased two well established Chicago piano companies: the Lakeside Piano Company and the Sweetland Piano Company. These were merged into the Fayette S. Cable Company.

Cable joined forces with H. P. Nelson in 1905 to form the Cable-Nelson Piano Company. Messrs. Cable and Nelson, widely planning for the future of the company, sought to locate it in a fine, smaller community where the tradition of building outstanding pianos could be generated among the local working force and the standards of quality and perfection in their concept of manufacture could be insured. After surveying numerous mid-western localities, they chose South Haven which had ideal industrial facilities. From the very inception of the Cable-Nelson Company, Fayette S. Cable set the course of the company's operation in the direction of producing exceptionally fine pianos made of carefully selected materials and crafted with superior workmanship. And, starting out in a new manufacturing plant designed and built for the express purpose of making pianos, Cable rapidly proved his theory that the musical public would quickly recognize the design, tone and durability of Cable-Nelson pianos.

Historically, the story of the origin of Cable-Nelson begins in Chicago in 1903 when Fayette S. Cable, a distinguished leader in the piano industry at the turn of the century, purchased two well established Chicago piano companies: the Lakeside Piano Company and the Sweetland Piano Company. These were merged into the Fayette S. Cable Company.

Cable joined forces with H. P. Nelson in 1905 to form the Cable-Nelson Piano Company. Messrs. Cable and Nelson, widely planning for the future of the company, sought to locate it in a fine, smaller community where the tradition of building outstanding pianos could be generated among the local working force and the standards of quality and perfection in their concept of manufacture could be insured. After surveying numerous mid-western localities, they chose South Haven which had ideal industrial facilities. From the very inception of the Cable-Nelson Company, Fayette S. Cable set the course of the company's operation in the direction of producing exceptionally fine pianos made of carefully selected materials and crafted with superior workmanship. And, starting out in a new manufacturing plant designed and built for the express purpose of making pianos, Cable rapidly proved his theory that the musical public would quickly recognize the design, tone and durability of Cable-Nelson pianos.

For the next two decades, the company prospered and produced fine grand and upright pianos that became proud possessions in homes all over the nation. In 1926, the Cable-Nelson Piano Company merged its plant, facilities and piano making with one of the greatest names in the American music industry, the Everett Piano Company, founded in Boston in 1883. When the two companies joined forces, the principle of product dependability at low cost was preserved in the Cable-Nelson line of pianos. And, through all of its history, the Cable-Nelson has represented one of this country's highest grades of pianos designed and built to be sold at a modest price to bring an excellent musical instrument to American families. Cable-Nelson cases are designed by William H. Cliagman of Grand Rapids, one of America 5 most noted furniture designers. From his drawing board in the center of the greatest furniture producing area of the country, Cliagman works in close association with the production engineering specialists at the South Haven plant. His objective always is freshness of design, together with lasting good taste and dignity. The Cable-Nelson is available in a variety of contemporary styles and light-to-dark finishes.

Cable-Nelson was a name so well established that it was to become the first rank of the piano industry on the strength of the excellence of its product and the high standard of its business policy. There was a wide and constant growing demand on the part of the average piano buyer for a thoroughly high-grade and player-piano of real musical excellence. This demand to which the Cable-Nelson Piano Co. had addressed itself from the very beginning of its career, both to supply it and to foster it. Its motto is "A real piano and a fair price." The remarkable growth of the company bears witnesses to the soundness of its policy and its success in carrying it out. Its instruments were distinguished by their fine tone quality, excellent work of case design and finish. Cable-Nelson pianos embodied the characteristics of best standards in the art of player construction. A piano-player mechanism is most responsive and musically adequate, and the tone quality just right for the best player results. The Cable-Nelson factory is one of the most attractively located in the trade, and the wonderful efficiency of its organization and equipment is the cause of general comment. The high financial and commercial standing of the company and the reputation and experiences



The ordinary player-piano has only one basic function, that of striking the notes. The reproducing piano added the ability to recreate the touch of the Artist, the shadings, the nuances, of the original recording - all the expression characteristics, and making the difference between purely mechanical sounds and true artistry. The paper roll was obliged, therefore, to include extra perforations which carried the "_expression information" in coded form. These codes, which bear a resemblance to the language of modern computers, were either captured at the time of the initial recording or added later in an editing process. The reproducing piano was equipped with apparatus to "read" these _expression holes and to reconstruct the exact _expression of a piece while other holes played the notes. Today, when we hear the words "digitally enhanced," we think of a highly-sophisticated disc electronic sound system replete with elaborate and costly loudspeakers, a magnificent cabinetry tailored to fit properly into one's home and all backed up by extensive marketing and advertising by numerous manufacturers.

One wonders how anything could possibly sound finer. Yet to many, the true ultimate in "digital piano" occurred when the reproducing piano reigned supreme in its ability to re-create "live" the performances of great keyboard artists right in the home.

The American Piano Company introduced its device to the market and called it the Ampico. It was based on the designs of an eccentric mechanical genius, one Charles Fuller Stoddard. Stoddard, whose home was a maze of newfangled contraptions of his own design, spent the last few years of his life entertaining the world's greatest piano virtuosos who would record on his unique Ampico recording piano. Ampico reproducing systems were eventually installed in such fine pianos as the Mason & Hamlin, the Knabe, the Chickering, the Beale in Australia, and the Willis in Canada.

In the mid-twenties, the Ampico Corporation engaged a scientist, Dr. Clarence Hickman, to completely re-engineer the Ampico reproducing system and roll making process. His work resulted in the so-called "Model B" Ampico pianos which represented the highest possible standards of technology available at the time. Hickman developed the famous "spark chronograph" method of capturing _expression characteristics of individual pianists and today, the "Model B" Ampico pianos are in great demand by collectors, and at prices that go right through the roof, $100,000 to $200,000 in mint condition. Hickman recognized that the best way to measure _expression is in terms of the energy imparted directly to the piano strings by the piano's hammers. He devised a scheme by which the velocity, and hence the energy, of each hammer could be measured just prior to hitting the string. This information was then directed to a recording device and the coded _expression holes were adapted directly to the master production roll. Hickman was also a renowned expert on explosives, and he is responsible for the development of the tank-busting recoilless rifle, the "bazooka," which helped the United States secure victory in World War II. The bazooka is named after still another musical instrument, but that's another story.

The Ampico received the highest endorsement of artists and musical critics throughout the world and demonstrated its ability to reenact perfectly the artists playing in comparison concerts in which it demonstrated side by side with the actual playing of the living pianist, Godowsky, Rubinstein, Dobitaityi, firovitch, Ornstein, Levitzki, Moisciwitsch and many other great pianists have submitted their playing to this supreme test with triumphant results for the Ampico. In addition to playing the artists' record music rolls the Ampico may be operated with any standard 88-note music roll to which the operator imparts his own interpretation and the instrument may be played manually the same as any upright or grand. in using the artists' record music rolls the Ampico is operated with an electric motor which obviates the necessity of pumping or effort of any kind on the part of the operator. The Ampico may be had in the world-famous Chickering, Haines Bros., Marshall & Wendell, Franklin, Fischer and the celebrated Knabe pianos and for Canadian distribution also in the Willis pianos.



Pianola, Division of Aeolian Corp. Memphis, Tenn., was the producer of the compact well known "Pianola" player-piano. As a manual spinet, the Pianola is a marvel of tonal engineering, as fine a piano as it is unique. The sound can be described as being "vibrantly alive." Sonorous, vividly clear and deep, its tonal quality is astonishing.

To beginners, as to everyone who wants to learn to play manually, the Pianola was a genuinely inspiring source. Teachers attest it actually speeds the learning process as students "pick-up" dexterity by closely observing professional arrangements.

The choice of music rolls is practically limited with new titles constantly being added-from favorites of yesteryear to the very newest hits and show tunes. Even the song word. have been incorporated, printed conveniently on the rolls, encouraging listeners and spectators to join in and sing along.

With the Pianola evolves a new trend in designing compactness. The Pianola measures a little over 3% feet in width, yet has a greater playing range than Mozart's pianoforte. But the compactness is just part of the Pianola history. Well evident Is a wholly new sense of design freedom and artistry.

The tapering lines are clean, unspoiled; the styling crisp and distinctly modern. And through the grace of warm, superbly finished woods and delicately drawn trim-work along the sides, the Pianola is compatible to almost every decor. The Pianola came with an electric motor for automatic play (with no distortion of tone) making It three fine pianos in one: manual, pedal-powered and electrically operated.

H. B. Tremaine was a business genius who brought about the commercial exploitation of the piano player on a big scale. Tremaine's father had built a successful small business making and cranked table-top-sized mechanical organs, a very popular item in homes in the late 1800's. He founded the "Aeolian Organ and Music Company" around 1888; the firm achieved considerable success with larger instruments and organs. His son took over in 1899 and immediately set about to apply his own business acumen to the company's affairs.

With the newly perfected "Pianola,' he launched an aggressive advertising campaign which was entirely new to the stodgy piano business. With four page color advertisements (almost unheard of in that day) published in the popular magazines, he literally stunned the piano industry with the message that here, indeed, was the answer to everyone's prayer for music in the home!

Tremaine and Pianola built an enormous business empire over the next thirty years. It wasn't long after the turn of the century that it was deemed desirable to "miniaturize" the clumsy Pianola and other similar, instruments so that they could be built directly inside the pianos. Within a few short years, the push up"players disappeared from the scene. By this time everyone got into the act, and every piano maker so manufactured a player of some sort.

This name is known the world over in connection with musical instruments, It is applied to some of the various products of the Aeolian Company of New York which instruments of renown included the Duo Art Pianola, Weber Pianola, Steck Pianola, Wheelock Pianola, Stuyvesant Pianola, Steinway Duo Art Pianola, Stroud Pianola the Aeolian Orchestrelle and the Aeolian Pipe Organ; it also controlled the Melodee Music Co., Inc., and the Universal Music Co.



Some Peerless History

from THE MUSIC TRADES - November 6, 1914


Connorized Music Co. Produce Wonderful Instrument to Replace Dance Palace Orchestras Invention of James O'Connor......

The Banjorchestra is the product of the Connorized Music Co. and is the brain child of James O'Connor, the president of this concern. The case design on the first instrument shown, and which is pictured herewith, is by Arthur Conrow, Mr. Connor's able assistant. The Banjorchestra is a composite instrument of the banjo, piano, snare drum, bass drum, triangle, tambourine and castanets.

The Banjorchestra is 6 feet 9 inches high, 3 feet 5 inches wide and 2 feet 7 inches deep. The first example shown is finished in Mission oak, and this style of finish will prevail unless otherwise specified.

On Monday of this week THE MUSIC TRADES representative was given a demonstration by James O'Connor and Arthur Conrow in the Connorized Music Co.'s factory, at East One Hundred and Forty-fourth street and Austin Place. The demonstration was arranged so as to give such dramatic value as was necessary in order to gain absolutely uninfluenced by visualization, and when THE MUSIC TRADES representative stepped from the elevator to the spacious roll-cutting and experimental rooms of the Connorized company's plant the instrument was in operation. The effect was absolutely bewildering in that heretofore in all his rounds of musical instrument factories (and it may be mentioned, tango parties) a more perfect dance orchestra had not been heard by him. Mr. O'Connor caused ten selections to be played, ranging from the lightest operettas to the heaviest orchestra music, and in every requirement exacted the instrument excelled itself.

The Banjorchestra will prove a handsome addition to the equipments of halls, assembly places and other locations where tangoing is indulged in and orchestra music is required, and a demonstration justifies the prediction that in the Banjorchestra the Connorized Music Co., or, more particularly, James O'Connor and Arthur Conrow, have created a "winner."

Where are they now?

With such a prediction for a bright future, what happened to the Banjorchestra? There are two original Banjorchestras known to exist, or at least remnants of. A complete extant example is yet to be found.

Two companies advertised their own style Banjorchestra, the Connorized Music Company and the Engelhard Piano Company. The Connorized Music Company was established in 1900 from a split of the American Automusic Company, the main manufacturer and sales agent of the "Encore" Automatic Banjo and sole producer of music rolls for it. The Connorized Music Company built the first Banjorchestra in 1914, as stated in the Music Trades article. A later advertisement from a 1915 Music Trade Review features three views of a differently styled mahogany cabinet. The Connorized Music Company was a music roll manufacturer and is not known to have ever manufactured pianos. It is suspected that O'Connor never went into production of the Banjorchestra. The manufacturing rights were given or sold to the Engelhard Piano Company.

The Engelhard Piano Company produced a variety of automatic musical instruments from about 1890 to the late 1920's under various names, Peerless being the best known. The two extant Banjorchestras were made by Engelhard. The most complete was discovered by Rick Crandall, an Encore Automatic Banjo enthusiast, at the California theme park, Knott's Berry Farm. D.C. Ramey Piano Company has restored this historic find. The instrument was serving as a "puppet show" nickelodeon. The banjo and traps had been removed and replaced with dancing puppets. The front soundboard remained where the banjo and traps were mounted and the placement of the banjo and traps could be seen by the shadows left by sun bleaching. The piano and banjo valve chests were left intact.

Although it is known what components comprised a Banjorchestra, since no original rolls or even a tracker bar have been found it is not known how the music was arranged, or how it actually sounded. Perhaps the major stumbling block for the Banjorchestra was the banjo head. Unlike the synthetic-skin heads that are used today, animal-skin heads are very sensitive to humidity, shrinking or expanding with the slightest change. This shrinking and expanding not only affects the tuning of a banjo, but it also affects the picker mechanism. The pickers will pick the strings lighter as the head expands, to the point where they might miss the string altogether. The earlier "Encore" Automatic Banjo constantly had problems like this. A lone banjo going a little flat is one thing, but if it is combined with a stable piano, the skin head banjo will rarely be in tune with the piano and the result could be a little hard to enjoy. Perhaps that is why not a single Banjorchestra has survived intact.

The New Banjo-Orchestra

Some 80 years later, the concept of a Banjorchestra was picked up by the D.C. Ramey Piano Company. Using the two ads, the extant machines and a combined 50 years' experience in pneumatic restoration, Dave Ramey and son, David, Jr., created a unique version of the Banjorchestra. Since it is more of a re-creation than a reproduction, it was named the Ramey Banjo-Orchestra. It is being produced in limited numbers, the first of which was unveiled to rave reviews at the 1994 Musical Box Society International Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas.

The Ramey Banjo-Orchestra has the outward appearance of the late model Connorized Banjorchestra. The cabinet was in fact custom built from the pictures in the 1915 Connorized ad. The cabinet was redesigned with a three-glass-paneled front that can be readily opened to access the banjo and traps as well as offer the option of listening to it with the front opened or closed. Decorative corner filigrees were added to allow the music to penetrate the front with the doors closed and to tie, aesthetically, this new instrument with its ancestor the "Encore" Automatic Banjo. As with the original Banjorchestras, the piano of the Ramey Banjo-Orchestra swings out for easy access and servicing.

The tracker bar of the new Banjo-Orchestra has 100 holes, which by means of a little multiplexing, allows full accompaniment to the banjo. This means that the piano can play the full range of its scale and is able to carry the melody with full treble capability. In contrast, it is believed that the Engelhard Banjorchestra piano could only play accompaniment. By multiplexing certain tracker bar holes, there are effectively enough holes to individually control each trap work device, as well as control the expression of the piano and traps separately from the banjo.

New "Old" Music

The music rolls for the Ramey Banjo-Orchestra, of course, have to be specially arranged. Art Reblitz, noted music-roll arranger, helped create a scale specifically for this new instrument. Original "Encore" Banjo rolls were used as a base for arranging some of the new music. Mr. Reblitz also adapted European orchestrion arrangements for the Banjo-Orchestra's 10-tune music rolls. These historic orchestrion arrangements were inspired by 78 r.p.m phonograph records of American dance band arrangements, played by some of the best 1920's jazz bands, and represents music that would have been available for the original Banjorchestra. This transcribing and adapting allows the Ramey Banjo-Orchestra to play some of the finest music ever arranged for automatic musical instruments.

Unlike most American coin pianos, the music rolls for the Banjo-Orchestra are arranged to be played exclusively by this instrument. The music roll layout perfectly fits the instrument, rather than having to accommodate several models, each being different in its musical capabilities. This singularity of use means that the music arranger does not have to compromise his composition in any way, as to make sure it sounds reasonably good on a differently equipped instrument. The end result is a quality of music unlike anything normally heard from a coin piano.

The obscure Banjorchestra has been re-born 80 years after its inception due to the remarkable interest, enthusiasm, and talents of Dave Ramey, Sr.. Perhaps, someday, a restored complete original Banjorchestra can be seen, heard, and enjoyed next to the instrument it inspired, the Ramey Banjo-Orchestra.


Buying a New Steinway

With completion of the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center within sight, several community members are busy focusing on the final details, and one committee in particular is focused on funding a grand piano.
The Fairfield Arts and Convention Center Grand Piano Committee has set out to raise $68,000 to purchase a used nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano for the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. A new Steinway costs $110,000.
"Steinway is the piano most favored by most concert artists," committee member Robert Glocke said. "It's an outstanding piano. It's the best we can buy." More

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Buying a used Yamaha piano



AAA MINT - R&R (Rebuilt and Refinished) A used Yamaha piano that has been disassembled, inspected, repaired as necessary with replacement of all worn or deteriorated parts, reassembled, tested and approved to at least the tolerances of a new piano of like manufacture is said to have been rebuilt and refinished. A grading of R&R is designated.

The labor-intensive work required to rebuild a Yamaha piano properly is not inexpensive. Therefore, a rebuilt piano should be purchased because of its merits, not purely as a money-saving measure compared to a new instrument.

AA LIKE NEW - REFURB (Refurbished) A Refurb instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, plays great is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass all inspections. Free of any blemishes, nicks or scratches; original condition throughout; very little sign of use.

A RECONDITIONED - RECON A used Yamaha piano that has been put back in good condition by cleaning, repairing and adjusting for maximum performance with replacement parts where specifically indicated is said to have been reconditioned." A grading of Reconditioned is designated.

A- EXCELLENT - EXCEL A excellent instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass all inspections. The string compartment should be clean. The finish is free of any wear or visible defects. There is no rust. Minute nicks or scratches; no dents or rust.

B+ VERY GOOD - VG A very good rating means that the Yamaha piano is free of any major defects. Many pianos owned by consumers fall into this category. The finish will have only minor blemishes (if any), and there are no major mechanical problems. Few scratches; exceptionally clean; no dents or rust.

B GOOD A good Yamaha piano may need some reconditioning to be sold at retail, but any major reconditioning should be deducted from the value. Scratches, small dents, dirty.

C FAIR A fair instrument rating means that the Yamaha piano probably has some mechanical defects, but is still in operating condition. The finish and/or interior usually need professional repair to make the instrument salable. Well-scratched, chipped, dented, rusted or warped condition.

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