Player Pianos

Why restore your old player piano?
Because it’s so much fun!

Your newly restored player piano can become the life of the party!

Click here for information on installation of a modern Digital Player Piano system.

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned player piano to bring any size get-together to life. Have a sing-along party with a group of friends. Entertain your guests with all the music they love. Kids love the “Magic Piano” playing their favorite tunes from animated movies. Your teenagers’ friends will want to hang out at your house, because you have a really cool player piano and a great collection of rolls. Restaurants and shops find having a player piano can increase traffic and boost sales.

See how much fun a player piano can be!

Accutone Piano Service specializes in complete Player piano restoration services, and in offering this service we are among the last of our kind. We can restore just the player mechanism on your piano, or we can include the player restoration as part of a complete restoration package. We restore player pianos from all over the continental United States, and can arrange for shipping of your piano to our restoration facilities and back to your home as part of the package.

In addition to restoring the existing system, we can offer you a number of options for electrification of the player mechanism for ease and convenience of operation.

Many of our customers who have old player pianos would like to have them restored, but may hesitate because their player rolls are old, or may have been misplaced years ago. The good news is that new player piano rolls are readily available from QRS Music Technologies, Inc. They offer a wide variety of music styles, from the old-fashioned — ragtime and classics — to the most modern music — pop songs and film scores, and their titles are being updated all the time.

Visit the player piano restoration portion of our Gallery and see how much fun your family will have with its newly restored player piano!

What If I Don’t Have A Player Piano Yet?

These days, it is possible to turn virtually any piano into a player piano with the installation of a digital player piano system by QRS. We are authorized dealers of the PNOMation3 Digital Player Piano system, the most advanced player technology available. Check out our PNOMation3 page for more details on how we can convert your piano into a player piano.

If you prefer the old style player piano, we can advise you on how to find a player piano that would make a good candidate for restoration, and we can tell you how much its restoration will cost. If you use our services for the restoration, we can even arrange to move the piano from its original location to our shop and then, once it is finished, to your home.

The History of the Player Piano

In the late 19th Century, music was one of the grandest and most popular forms of entertainment. People listened to local orchestras play music live at concerts; traveling vaudeville shows performed to audiences; many people enjoyed having a piano in their homes, and there were many gifted musicians who, through hours of practice, could play well. But the concept of live music being performed in the home on demand — even when there were no talented piano-players at hand — was quite a sweeping idea. At the time, there was no radio, television, movie, or even a victrola; none of these had been invented yet. But in that time period, the industrial revolution was also under way, and many mechanically oriented people were working to solve the ‘self-playing piano’ problem.

It was not until 1896 that the first complete self-playing pianos were introduced to the market. There were two competing types: the “Aeriol Piano,” by Theodore P. Brown, and the “Angelus” cabinet player. Early mechanisms were sold as add-ons to install on pre-existing pianos. Soon the demand for all-new pianos with integrated player systems within their case began to rise, and they were pioneered by developer Melville Clark. The new, fully integrated player mechanisms were released onto the market beginning in 1902.

In December of 1908, at the Buffalo Convention, two player piano roll formats were adopted as standard, both of the same size, with punchings for either 65 or 88 notes, but interchangeable among any automated player piano built according to the convention.

Player pianos continued to grow in popularity. The idea of having popular live music played in the home on demand was finally a reality — and a magical one at that. Word rolls — rolls of popular music where the words to the song were printed along the side of the page — encouraged group singalongs. Soon, everyone was jitterbugging and foxtrotting to the music of their own player pianos. Listening to all the fun helped to encourage children to want to learn how to play the pianos themselves. By 1916, 60% of all pianos sold were players, and their popularity continued to grow.

Above: A Gulbransen player installed in a Lester silent piano, June of 1916. ~ Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Above: A Gulbransen player installed in a Lester silent piano, June of 1916. ~ Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Through the 1920’s more technological advances continued to make the player piano more mechanically reliable and the catalog of available rolls continued to grow. However, competition was also shaping up in the form of the gramophone and the Victrola. Player piano production slowly declined as the decade progressed, but the pianos were still in demand. Then came the Great Depression, beginning with the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Most of the player piano companies either consolidated or they went out of business. The great era of the player piano had ended.

Fortunately, player pianos that had been produced before the Great Depression remained, and continued to operate. However, as they aged, their functionality began to wane as their parts wore out. Most player pianos from that era simply will not operate nowadays, but fortunately we are able to restore them to their original splendor for your listening enjoyment, so that you can relive the golden era of the great “self-playing piano.”


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