Last Updated: 10/7/2008


"Rebuilding The Player Piano," by Larry Givens. Published in 1963 by The Vestal Press, Vestal, NY. Hard cover with dust jacket, 164 pages with numerous diagrams. The book measures 8-1/4 inches (21 cm) high by 5-5/8 inches (14.4 cm) wide.

Text from the dustjacket is as follows:

"While attending an auction some years ago, Larry Givens saw his first player piano. It intrigued him to such an extent that he bought it (for $28.50!), and tinkering with its works stimulated his interest in the field of mechanical music-makers. His second piano was given to him by a lady who wanted to have it hauled out of her living room; and from that time on, the collecting "bug" had bitten. One instrument led to another, and today his collection is considered one of the best in the United States, including nickelodeons, reproducing pianos, band organs, musical boxes, phonographs, and every variety of music-maker. Since many of his instruments were in bad condition when acquired, he taught himself the intricacies of repairing their mechanisms, and now is considered an authority in their restoration as well as their history and development.

He was born in Pittsburgh in 1937; and, after attending public schools in the city, he studied at Carnegie Tech and the University of Pittsburgh. He earned a B.A. degree in English Literature from the latter institution, and as this book goes to press he is working there toward his M.A. degree in Musicology. His research field for the Masters Degree is, naturally enough, mechanical musical instruments!

History has a way of repeating itself. There is often also a rebirth of interest in technical matters which once were important to men's minds but which for many years have seemingly been forgotten. Such is the case with the player piano and all its cousins the nickelodeons, the orchestrions, the military and carousel band organs, and the reproducing pianos. Between 1900 and 1930 some 2 million of these machines were built in America (according to Roehl's Player Piano Treasury, the standard historical reference on the subject), yet of those remaining, few are in working order.

This book is the first significant attempt to provide the basic information whereby any person with a moderate amount of mechanical ability can bring a player piano back to life not just by patchwork and repairs, but by actual reconstruction of the basic mechanisms.

While some will say that the player piano is merely a gadget limited essentially to entertainment purposes, it can also be argued that the player represents a true art form, with musical possibilities not attainable by other means. But one thing is certain players are a lot of fun, and anything that can be done to keep the ones still in existence from being scrapped is a worthwhile effort. The authors and publishers of this book sincerely wish that it will serve this very purpose, and in so doing provide the readers with a lot of fun and, hopefully, a lot of real good music once again!"

Text from the publisher's catalog reads:

"This is a basic book for the person who has never before rebuilt player piano mechanisms. Between its covers are hundreds of facts and ideas, and everything you need to know to lean the elementary principles on how these pianos work so that you can rebuild them.

The author is a professional editor, and knows how to write so that everything is clear and understandable. Any person of average mechanical ability who is handy with tools can do this work, and bring one of these souvenirs of the Roaring Twenties back to life!"

How It Works
The Reproducing Piano
      The Ampico, Model A
      The Ampico, Model B
      The DUO-ART
      The Welte-Mignon (Licensee)
Reed Organs
Tracker Scales

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