Seeburg Piano Company Survey

Seeburg Piano Company Study Project

Introductory Style Notes:

An Invitation to Send Accompanying Photographs

Pictures of the exterior of an instrument often allows us to identify case styles, control knobs, coin slots, art glass details, and other characteristics oftentimes not easily described through text alone. Moreover, snapshots of the interior mechanisms and any nameplates they may bear usually helps us greatly to identify mechanical characteristics that shed light on the mechanical evolution of an instrument, which helps us when developing dating guides. It is no stretch to say that photographs are an invaluable aid in detailing and understanding any instrument for which information has been submitted, and so please do consider sending photographs, albeit separately from the on-line form, but nonetheless augmenting the survey information.

Invitation to e-mail photographs corresponding to a survey submittal.
Please send photographs to:

Seeburg Survey Form

All survey submissions to the Mechanical Music Press are given with the provision that the Mechanical Music Press and/or its authors have non-exclusive use of the information, images, or other material submitted for use with this project or in any other part of this web site, and do so without limitation. All contributors of significant, previously unused information will be listed as contributors under general credits in the Registry section. Submission does not guarantee the acceptance of or the use of the whole or any part or segment of any information submitted. Please do not submit information if you cannot abide by the aforementioned stipulations.

Contact Information
  Show owner name in reports.
Piano Basic Information

Usually die-Stamped into the pinblock and visible in a small oval shaped opening located between the bass & tenor tuning pin sections of the piano plate.

Styles:A, B, C with keyboard, C keyboardless, D, E, E Special, F, FT, G, H, J, K, KT, KT Special, L Orchestra, L keyboardless, P-G-A, X, Z, Greyhound, Celesta DeLuxe, MO, HO, Photoplayer model, etc.

Many post-1920 Seeburg pianos have a rubber-stamped date (i.e. JUN 6, 1922) on the underside of the piano hammers, usually straddling two or three hammers in the tenor or mid-treble area. Finding this date may require very careful inspection due to a blurred original impression and/or fading of the ink.

Mandolin attachment.  Piano muffler.

Oak, Golden oak, Mission oak, Silver-grey oak, Mahogany, Walnut, etc.

Piano Manufacturer
Haddorff Piano, Rockford, Illinois.

If a Seeburg has a rubber-stamped serial number, the piano was made by Haddorff. The pinblock is open face, and the lower part of a keyboard-style piano plate was originally painted black. Haddorff numbers used in Seeburg instruments run from about 19,000 (1907) to 96,000 (1922).

Edmund Gram Piano, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

If a Seeburg piano has large cloverleaf-shaped holes in the lower portion of the plate, and a die-stamped serial number between about 5,600 (1910) and 12,400 (1917), the piano was made by Edmund Gram.

Seybold (E.P. Johnson) Piano, Elgin, Illinois.

If a Seeburg piano has each consecutive group of three tuning pins staggered up and down more than usual, the piano was made by Seybold. The plate completely covers the pinblock, and the serial number is die-stamped. A separate Seeburg overlay pate covers the Seybold name at the upper right corner of the plate. Seybold numbers used in Seeburg instruments run from about 16,000 (1912) to 20,000 (1913).

Seeburg Piano.

If a Seeburg has a die-stamped number between 50,000-55,xxx, or over 155,000, it was made in the Seeburg factory. Seeburg-made piano numbers run to 168,xxx (early 1929). For the first few years of production, Seeburg used keyboard-style piano plates with cloverleaf holes, resembling Edmund Gram piano plates but slightly smaller. Later Seeburgs have a simplified plate design.

Marshall Piano.

When Seeburg began making pianos around 1920, a few had the “Marshall” name cast into the plate, a trade name intended for home pianos and player pianos in the event that prohibition cut into coin piano sales. When few home instruments were sold, and speakeasies proved to be good customers for coin pianos, the Marshall name was dropped, and most 1920s vintage Seeburg machines have the Seeburg name cast into the plate without an overlay.

Piano Action Wippen Up-Stop Rail No wippen stop rail.  With wippen stop rail.

A piano action wippen is the main movable part of the action that is pushed upward by the pushrod attached to a pneumatic on the stack. A stop rail consists of a wooden rail fitted with little adjustable eyelet-screws with a felt padded button on the bottom end, which is used to limit the upward travel of the wippen. Most or all pre-1922 Seeburg piano actions do not have a stop rail because the travel of the pushrod, and in turn the wippen, is limited by the stack itself.

Pipework
Harmonic flutes (Long slender open flutes with nodal holes).
Melodias (long large scale open flutes without nodal holes).
Stopped flutes.
Narrow scale piccolos.
Wide scale piccolos.
Metal violin pipes.
Wood violins with spruce fronts.
Wood violins with maple fronts.

If some of the above descriptions do not exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Striking and/or Percussive Instrumentation
Xylophone (with 7/8 inch beaters).
Xylophone (with beaters larger than 1 inch).
Single stroke.  Reiterating, pallet valves.  Reiterating, slide valves.
Snare drum.  Bass drum.  Tympani effect.  Cymbal. 
Tambourine.  Triangle.  Castanets.  Wood block.

The following options apply only to tall keyboard style orchestrions.

Snare drum at left side of drum shelf.  Snare drum in middle of drum shelf.

These options only apply to tall keyboard orchestrions, such as a Seeburg Style G or Style H Orchestrion.

If some of the above descriptions do not exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Loud-Soft (Volume) Control
Manual lever at left end of music shelf (A-roll pianos only).
Two buttons (seen on G and L Orchestra only).
2-way knob (soft-loud).
3-way knob (soft-medium-loud); horizontal slide switch with 6 connections.
3-way knob (soft-medium-loud); rocking vertical flipper switch with 4 connections.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

KT Special Orchestrion Percussion Multiplex Shifter
Switches one instrument to another—3 tubing connections.
Switches 2 instruments to 2 others—6 tubing connections.

This option only applies to the Seeburg Style KT Special Orchestrions. The multiplex shifter type can be easily identified by counting the number of rubber tubes connected to it. The compact KT Special orchestrion has more percussion instruments than there are tracker bar holes allotted to play them, so it includes a slide valve that changes the function of certain tracker bar holes whenever the soft pedal operates. The early model, introduced in late 1923, has a multiplex switch with one “channel” and three tubing connections, and it changes one tracker bar hole from one instrument to a different one. By 1926, a new style multiplex switch was used, which has two channels, and changes the function of two tracker bar holes.

Pneumatic Stack S/N and Type

The stack serial number will be on the front, the top, or on the bleed rail or its cover.

Very early 4-tier, adjustable bleeds and double valves (rare).
Very early 4-tier, adjustable bleeds and single valves (rare).
Early 4-tier stack (common).
Late 2-tier stack (common).
Very late 1-tier Unitype stack (1928 only).

This following stack option applies only to Style H and Style J Orchestrions

Solo valve chest on stack.  Pushrod hold-down bar for solos.

There is a "solo" attachment on the pneumatic stack for Style H and Style J orchestrions that allows the treble part of the piano to be silenced, so that the pipework and/or xylophone can be played solo. In early instruments it consisted of a complicated and separate little valve chest mounted on top of the stack, while in later machines it was a no more than simple mechanical wooden bar that could physically be forced downward so as to block and prevent the upward motion of the pushrods that engaged the piano action.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Pipe Chest S/N and Type

The pipe chest serial number is stamped into the top or front of the chest.

Early pipe chest (valve stems with coil springs, not connected to pneumatic fingers).
Late pipe chest (valve stems inserted in pneumatic fingers).

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Color of Stack and Other Wooden Components Above the Keybed Green.  Red.  Black.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Color of Wooden Components Below the Keybed Green  Black.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Roll Frame / Spoolbox
Wood frame without any rods in front of roll.
Wood frame with rods in front of roll.
Cast iron sides without any rods in front of roll.
Cast iron sides with rods in front of roll.
Roll Frame / Rewind Control Box
Early (mechanical latch).
Late (pneumatic latch).

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Pump Type Scissors pump, very early with metal hinges; A-frame castings for crankshaft supports.
Scissors pump, conventional wooden hinge blocks; A-frame castings for crankshaft supports.
Scissors pump, conventional wooden hinge blocks; Vertical castings.for crankshaft supports.
Rotary pump with wooden connecting rods.
Rotary pump with rubberized canvas connecting straps.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Pump Pulley
Cast iron with 6 spokes.  Cast iron with 4 spokes.  Sheet metal.
Pump Pulley Drive Type
Flat belt.  Chain drive.  Round leather or V-belt.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Motor Information (only if original motor)  Motor Model:  Motor S/N:  Motor RPM:
Coin Entry Slot Push-pull slide.  Cast entry with hole in side.  Stamped entry with hole in side.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Coin Accumulator / Coin Magazine Mechanism

The coin switch (or magazine) number is located on a paper patent sticker pasted onto the coin magazine's metal enclosure.

Very early (vertical ratchet accumulator).
Early (semicircular “fencepost” accumulator).
Late (semicircular “ratchet wheel” accumulator) in a cast iron box.
Late (semicircular “ratchet wheel” accumulator) in a sheet metal box.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Coin Collector Box Wood housing with drawer.  Cast iron housing with drawer.  Sheet metal box.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Art Glass Description
Style L (The "Lilliputian") Cabinet Piano Case Variations
P-G-A (Victrola-shaped top).  3-door (flat top).  2-door.  4-door.

The first small 54-note keyboardless Seeburg model was the Phono-Grand, introduced in 1917. It was a combination expression piano and phonograph with a Victrola-shaped top. This evolved into the style P-G-A (Phono-Grand playing A rolls), advertised briefly in 1921. It also had a Victrola-shaped lid, but Instead of the grill for a phonograph horn it has one art glass panel. It was soon remodeled with a flat top, known today as the “3-door L.” The “2-door L,” with two tall doors was introduced later in 1921. In 1925 the “4-door L” was introduced, where the upper and lower doors could have two different locks.

If none of the above descriptions exactly correspond to what is being reported please describe the component in the comments field at the bottom of this form.

Date and Notations Written on Case or Mechanisms

Oftentimes dates and notations are written on the case and/or on various player components.

Comments, History, and Explanations

Please include any additional information about the piano that might be pertinent, such as its history, i.e., various locations and owners. If you find a date (or style number), such as on a paper sticker inside or on the backside of the case, or on a pneumatic component, notice an early tuning date written by hand on the piano plate, find an original sales invoice, etc., please describe any such items.

* Required form fields: Contact information will be kept private, with the exception of owner name if, and only if the "Show owner name on reports" box is checked.