I have a particular passion for pneumatic player pianos and I am one of the very few in the
country to service these instruments. These fascinating machines from the 1910s and '20s are
now at the age where they often require major rebuilding work in order to function properly.
Few people have heard a player piano that plays like it did when it left the factory and are often
blown away by their first encounter.
Player pianos require a number of restoration tools, techniques and materials that differ from
regular piano restoration and require meticulous attention to detail to ensure that the instruments
remain reliable. Also, as the player action (mechanism) is only as good as the piano it plays,
the piano itself often requires major work.
I also specialise in the service and restoration of reproducing pianos. These were highly sophisticated
player pianos that could recreate the performance of the artist - dynamics (louds & softs), accents,
pedalling and all! Of all the player pianos built, fewer than 5% were reproducing pianos and they are
almost always worthy of restoration due to their rarity.
Below are some images and a video of a 1920 Marshall & Wendell Ampico reproducing piano that was
rebuilt in my shop in 2017. This piano had been unplayable for decades, suffering from insect and
rodent damage, severe rust, worn-out parts, and case and finish deterioration due to fire! The
restoration took over 600 hours.
"Were I a Bird" played by Rachmaninoff
The upper part of the piano
The lower half of the piano
The back of the restored pneumatic action
Gluing in new pouches - quite a delicate task! (Aeolian)