Hacked Gadgets Forum

January 13, 2009

End of QRS Player Piano Roll Production

at 8:19 am. Filed under Insane Equipment


QRS will no longer be making their piano player rolls. I am quite surprised that they were still making them! I love the old technology and watching how these are created and mass produced was very enjoyable. The picture above is an example of what you might have ordered from the factory back in 1917. Click on the link below to listen to the roll converted to a midi file. It is interesting that a machine which was ahead of its time when created would look like a Rube Goldberg device many years later. I am sure the same will be said of the DVD one day.


"The halt in production comes 108 years after the company was founded in Chicago, and 42 years since it moved to Buffalo. Rolls used in player pianos reached their peak in popularity in the early 20th century, when a roll of paper was able to reproduce music through perforations signifying notes played on the piano."

Via: Make


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12 Responses to “End of QRS Player Piano Roll Production”

  1. Pouncer Says:

    Wow, I didn’t think they made play piano rolls still either. Very interesting video on how it’s done. It’s a shame they won’t be making them anymore. 🙁

  2. Berni Says:

    Wow they still made that? These punch cards did amazing things even before computers ware invented.

  3. therian Says:

    but what about pressure and speed, each key sound different if press differently

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  6. Matt Mclaughlin Says:

    Great article, I’m really enjoying your blog.

  7. James Gessling Says:

    Nice use of the Apple ][ for the editing and another one controlling the punches.

  8. Laufeyjarson Says:

    Pouncer, Berni: Yes, they still made some, and have a large stock of inventory. They’re moving the equipment and hope they can get it running again before they run out of backstock. We ordered some Christmas rolls for our restored player last year.

    Therian: The player piano rolls ORS had no sense of pressure and hit all the keys at the same velocity, which was quite high. There were other competing technologies which could control how hard the hammer struck, but they were more expensive and are not as common now.

  9. margie Says:

    We moved into a house recently and found MANY boxes of these player piano rolls. Do you know if we would be able to sell them? They are in their original boxes and seem to be in good condition. i noticed there is an Elvis Presley, among many others…

  10. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi Margie,

    I would think Ebay would be your best bet.

  11. Jacques Clairoux Says:

    Do you have pianos rolls with the name of Roméo Beaudry on them.
    He translate 200 americans songs in french
    Thank you.

  12. Polytech Says:

    @margie: these piano rolls usually go for $5 at your nearest antique shop/flea market/show, so I’m sure they’ll take your rolls as long as they can sell them for $5 later.

    Regarding the end of production though: this is rather strange. You would think that in the whole big world they could find enough customers among just the antique collectors to justify production of at least some limited repertoire. It’s not like they needed to retool any time soon 🙂

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