Use and Care of Music Rolls

Automatic Musical Company music roll warning label.

(Original label photograph courtesy of Rusty King)

Facsimile of a warning label found on early Automatic Musical Company music rolls. Because of the location of the music roll storage bin below the keybed (as well as nearly touching the floor) on early keyboard styles there was a tendency for the music rolls to get wet when the floor was sloppily mopped. This was obviously enough of an ongoing issue to warrant putting a warning label on the Company's music rolls.

Instructions on how to put in a Link music roll.

(Photograph courtesy of Rusty King)

A simple instruction sheet on how "To Put In Music Roll" pasted into a Link Style 2B, #6418, late cabinet style coin piano. The instructions mention a "finger" that the roll is supposed to build up against. The Style 2B has 2 boards in place of the usual one on the bottom of the roll storage bin; the gap between the boards forms a groove that a sliding "finger" -- really more of a paddle -- fits into loosely. The instructions say that after some paper builds up against the finger it is supposed to slide down the boards of its own accord, but in reality this does not seem to happen, it being necessary to keep pushing it. Its use seems to be that of initiating the proper folding of the music roll paper loops. This sliding "finger" must have been a feature that was dropped quickly, as this is the only known example of a paper propelled sliding finger known. Early Link machines did have roll storage bins with chain powered "fingers" that actually pulled the paper loops along the bin.

Link instructional sheet about changing music rolls and regulating the instrument..

(Photograph courtesy of Rusty King)

Link instruction sheet of Important Things You Should Know! This particular aged example, replete with spots and blemishes, was pasted inside the case of an early Link Style R coin piano, Link #2203, Haddorff piano #55844. Being that the text is small and basically unreadable in this pane, here it is in an easily readable format:

Important Things You Should Know!

To Take Out Music Roll. Remove drag casting which lies on top of paper, lift out the metal guide plate. The top wood roller and metal gravity roller lift out. Lower wood roller is taken  out by loosening thumb screen and removing through large hole in front plate. Thread paper on rewind and place same in slots provided, and wind up paper. Turn rewind to left.

To Put in Music Roll. Hang roll on rod with numbers printed on the roll to back of piano, place rod through hole in bracket in bass end of top case, and into hole in back. Thread paper over  tracker bar, then place lower wood roller, upper wood roller, metal gravity roller, metal guide plate, and drag casting in order named. Be sure that the music is straight on rubber roller before starting, let music play until it has run off rod and remove rod before closing case.

To Clean Out Piano. Push leather friction wheel to extreme small end of cone so pump will run without driving music. Attach arm from clean-out bellows to pump. Remove rubber buttons in dust rail above pneumatics and insert nipple, which is in end of tube connecting with clean-out bellows. Clean out all brass dust screens four connecting with expression box on pump and four connecting with automatic shifter. Pianos should be cleaned at least twice a week.

Regulating Pneumatics. If pneumatics act sluggish, open vent by turning screw to left in pneumatic until pneumatic repeats freely. If pneumatic does not strike at all turn to right. Before turning screw in pneumatic be sure there is no dirt in tube; if piano plays too loud, loosen, or too soft, tighten tension spring on expression box, which is located on top of pump.

Tempo Regulator. Tempo regulator will be found in bottom of piano in the treble end, tempo can be changed by sliding leather wheel to speed desired, then tighten thumb screw on hub of leather wheel. DO NOT let any grease or oil get on cone or leather wheel.

The observance of these simple but important suggestions will aid materially in keeping the piano in good running order.

Early Link style R with pipes.

(Original poor condition poster picture replaced by identical picture from Vestal Press reprint,
courtesy of Dana Johnson)

Enlargement of the early Link Style R illustration in the Important Things You Should Know! instruction sheet. Notice the chaotic jumble of folds or loops in the fully unfurled music roll. Although this might look like a tangled mess, the Link endless roll system works smoothly and is quite reliable, perhaps more so than the industry standard roll rewind systems common in most American made coin pianos.

Taking out a Link music roll.

(Original poor condition poster picture replaced by identical picture from Vestal Press reprint, courtesy of Dana Johnson

Position of roll when putting it in. The music roll straight out of the box is hung on a wooden rod at the left side of the music cabinet. Next, it is unfurled enough to be threaded through the roll mechanism and draped over the chain driven movable "fingers," as per this illustration. Once the roll is fully unwound it must continue to be pulled up over the wooden rod, which causes the paper at the end of the looped wad to be lifted up and flow directly back to the roll mechanism, whereupon it is expelled and forms a continuum of folds and loops that gradually flow back to the left side of the instrument, where the paper is pulled up and into the roll mechanism continuously without end.

Putting in a link music roll.

(Original poor condition poster picture replaced by identical picture from Vestal Press reprint, courtesy of Dana Johnson

Position of music roll when taking it out. The crank on the rewind spool is to be turned to the left. The rewind spool consists of a flanged end piece with a small hand-crank. Extending outward from the flange are two closely spaced parallel rods, between which the paper is inserted and then rewound into a roll. Once rewound the neat roll of paper can be conveniently and safely stored for future use.