Western Electric Piano Company Survey

Seeburg/Western Electric 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:

Western Electric Piano Company 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.

* 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.

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.

Keyboard style: A (piano and mandolin only); J (xylophone); S (with Selectra tune selector).

Cabinet style, small (about the size of a Seeburg L): C (“Mascot,” piano and mandolin only); Derby (with horse race mechanism, piano and mandolin only).

Cabinet style, medium (the size of Seeburg KT): B Selectra (xylophone and Selectra tune selector); X (xylophone, no Selectra); G (orchestrion with tom-tom, snare drum, and triangle).

Cabinet style, large (the size of Seeburg KT Special): O (orchestrion with extended top, bass drum, cymbal, snare drum, triangle, and wood block.

Many Western Electric pianos have a rubber-stamped date (i.e. DEC 4, 1927) 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 Plate Name
Western Electric.
Striking and/or Percussive Instrumentation
Snare drum.  Bass drum.  Tympani effect.  Cymbal.
Tom-tom.  Triangle.  Wood block.

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.

Pneumatic Stack S/N and Type

Simplex stacks found in early Western Electrics might have a number stamped somewhere on the front. By the time 2-tier Seeburg stacks were used, they rarely if ever had a stack number.

Simplex stack (unit pneumatics, 3-tiers of motor pneumatics).
Seeburg stack (late, 2-tiers of motor pneumatics).
Roll Frame / Spoolbox

The roll frame serial number is usually die-stamped on the top front edge of the right-hand side plate (the side with the forward/rewind transmission gears).

Metal plate sides, two floating rods over tracker bar.
Metal plate sides, two floating rods over tracker bar, with “Selectra” tune selector device.
Vacuum Pump Type
Horizontal bellows, fixed center board, floor mounted, cast aluminum flat belt pulley.
Motor Information (only if original motor)  Motor Model:  Motor S/N:  Motor RPM:
Coin Entry Slot
Stamped metal coin drop slot for nickels.
Coin Accumulator / Coin Magazine Mechanism
Ratchet wheel counter, flat copper wiper blade electrical contacts, cast iron box.
Ratchet wheel counter, carbon block electrical contacts, cast iron box.
Art Glass Description
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.