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How is a Pianola designed?

To familiarise yourself a little with the structure of the instrument, here is a brief description of the main elements. A more detailed description of the individual elements can be found in the other sections on this page.

In addition to the elements of a piano, there are roughly two further components in a pianola, the upper assembly (elements above the keyboard) and the lower assembly (elements below the keyboard). The range of functions differs in pianolas and therefore also the structure in detail. For an initial categorisation, here is a brief overview of the structure of a pianola: 

Tracker bar (Skala)

Wind motor

Wind chest

Pedals (to produce suction air)

Pump box (reproducing pianos)

Dynamic and Accentuation control

Electric motor

Control levers

Track control

Time and again, instruments are found in which the pianola components are partially or completely missing. After the heyday of the pianola, many instruments were destroyed or removed due to malfunctions so that they could be used as normal hand-playing pianos.

The first step should therefore be to check whether the entire player mechanism is still present. It is not uncommon for only the upper assembly to have been removed in a hurry - or even just the lower assembly. As it is almost impossible to find a replacement for this and a reproduction would be very expensive, it is not advisable to buy such pianolas. 

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