Compatibility of instruments and rolls

All of the rolls offered for sale here are for use either on 88-note standard player pianos or Duo-Art reproducing pianos. This page describes the differences so you know which ones are suitable for your player piano.

Choose the right type of roll for your player piano …

The 88-note standard was used by all instruments made after 1910. 88-note rolls are truly standard, so rolls from any maker worldwide will work on any instrument.

88-note rolls use paper 11 inches width, with the holes spaced across the roll at 9 to the inch. The spool ends have recesses to connect with the chucks in the instrument's spoolbox.

Earlier players commonly used the '65-note' standard that has 6 holes per inch, or one-off designs such as Hupfeld's 73-note system. Almost all of these types have projecting pins in the roll ends. The rolls for sale here will not physically match up with the roll-supports in these instruments, and the holes perforated in the rolls will not align with the tracker bars.

Many of the 88-note rolls offered here contain accenting perforations.

Some 88-note players have additional mechanisms that make use of accenting perforations: they can be identified by a double-width hole in the tracker bar at either end of the playing notes. Most Pianola, Angelus and Hupfeld players have them (known respectively as the Themodist, Melodant and Solodant systems), and occasionally they are seen on other instruments. The purpose of these systems is to allow certain notes to play more loudly than the surrounding notes, which greatly improves the musical effect.

Any 88-note player without an accenting device will simply ignore these perforations, so all 88-note rolls can be used on any 88-note instrument.

Rolls for the Duo-Art system are specially designed to operate Duo-Art instruments.

Duo-Art instruments require rolls with special perforations to control the Duo-Art automatic expression system. The rolls are based on the accented 88-note design, but use the top and bottom four playing note positions to control playback dynamics. These rolls are always labelled "Duo-Art".

The Duo-Art system remained almost unchanged throughout its production, so all Duo-Art rolls are suitable for any Duo-Art instrument. The vast majority of Duo-Art rolls were recorded in America, and issued worldwide. A fairly small number were recorded and issued only in the UK. As might be expected, minor variations do exist in Duo-Art coding over the years and between the USA and UK, but these are issues for specialists and are generally ignored.

Compatibility of 88-note and Duo-Art rolls.

All Duo-Art instruments can play 88-note rolls, because the spool design and layout of perforations is the same as the 88-note system. However, when operated electrically, 88-note rolls do not operate the Duo-Art dynamic-control system, so the music plays with no expression and is not particularly satisfactory. Some electric Duo-Art machines have additional controls to give operators the ability to adjust dynamics manually when playing 88-note rolls, although very few owners bother using them. Some Duo-Art instruments are fitted with foot pedals to play 88-note rolls properly.

Likewise, 88-note instruments can play Duo-Art rolls. However, the Duo-Art dynamic perforations will cause the top and bottom four notes to play constantly. This can be stopped by taping over these holes on the tracker bar. This is only eally sensible if there is a very special reason for doing so - it is not recommended for everyday use.

Do not buy these rolls for other types of instrument!

The rolls sold here will not work on other player pianos. 

The rolls will not physicaly fit into some player pianos that predate the 'standard 88 note' roll format. This includes the '65-note' standard that has 6 holes per inch, or one-off designs such as Hupfeld's 73-note system. Almost all of these types have projecting pins in the roll ends. The rolls for sale here will not physically match up with the roll-supports in these instruments, and the holes perforated in the rolls will not align with the tracker bars.

Duo-Art rolls will fit into many spool boxes, but have the wrong pattern of perforations to operate their mechanisms. Commonly-found systems this applies to include Ampico, Welte-Mignon (Licensee and 'Green'), Artrio-Angelus and Recordo systems, although there were many others. Generally, the notes will operate, but not the automated dynamic control, and Duo-Art perforations may trigger unwanted behaviour such as rewind. 

Standard 88-note rolls can be used on most automated systems, but will not operate the automatic dynamic mechanisms.