Wurlitzer 88-Note Player-Piano

Wurlitzer 88-Note Player-Piano roll label for roll #150.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson.)

An example of a typical 88-Note Wurlitzer Player-Piano Roll, circa 1910. Notice that the stylized WurliTzer logo that became famous in later years had not yet been implemented, and so here we see the Wurlitzer name set out in a common decorative font. This roll label, #150, like all Wurlitzer 88-Note Player-Piano rolls, is in the standard or regular 5-tune rewind format.

5-tune roll frame in a Wurlitzer 88-Note Player-Piano.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson.)

Early belt driven de Kleist built rewind roll mechanism in a Wurlitzer 88-Note Style A Player-Piano. This roll mechanism is typical of what might have been found in any contemporary Wurlitzer Pianino, Mandolin Quartette, or 65-note piano, with the only significant difference being the width of the roll frame and the type of tracker bar scale installed. Introduced circa 1906, the Wurlitzer 88-Note Player-Piano was obsolete by 1912, with many units converted to play 65-note rolls, which afforded a comparatively vast repertoire of music.

Catalogue illustration of an early Wurlitzer 88-Note Style A Player-Piano.

(Illustration from a circa 1911 Wurlitzer Catalogue.)

Wurlitzer 88-Note Style A Player-Piano, circa 1910. Coin operated and plays the full keyboard of 88 notes. From a 1911 catalogue: "It is constructed of the very best materials, assembled by expert mechanics, besides containing the important improvements found in our 65-Note Player Piano, it plays the entire keyboard of 88 notes with real musical expression, the same as a skilled human performer playing by hand. ... It is operated by our new Direct Drive Gear, which transmits the motive power directly, without the use of troublesome belts and pulleys. It has our patented Speed Regulator, by which the tempo of the music is adjusted to any desired speed; our Magazine Coin Detector Slot; our Automatic Music Roll Rewinding Device, by means of which the paper music rolls are kept in shape; a metal tracker bar and metal tracker frame, and our new patent tracker bar adjusting screw."

It can be played either by electricity or by hand in the usual way. Any number of nickel-in-the-slot boxes can be used in connection with the 88-Note Player Piano. For home use it can be arranged to be started by a small push button placed at the left-hand side of the keyboard. The roll frame holds a single music roll of 5-tune length, although certain rolls for dance or that feature classical selections may be less than five turns, but that are still the approximate length of a standard 5-tune roll. The instrument was produced in two styles. The style A was introduced circa 1906, and the style B circa 1909, whereupon both styles were then manufactured concurrently until production came to an end, which, according to the Wurlitzer Disposition of Instruments Manufactured ledger, was toward the latter part of 1912.

(Photograph courtesy of Mike Kitner.)

Interior view of a Wurlitzer Style B 88-Note Player-Piano. It features the typical belt driven de Kleist built 5-tune rewind roil frame of the era. Below the keybed is an open gear Direct Drive Gear Standard that powers the vacuum pump and the roll frame by means of an approximately 5-inch diameter round belt pulley attached to the far end of the geared crankshaft. The general arrangement is reminiscent of the design used for all 65-note instruments that did not contain any pipe voices. When violin or flute pipes were included in the instrumentation a pressure pump was installed underneath and attached to the keybed. This particular instrument appears to not be fitted with a coin mechanism, and so it may have been intended for home use and operated by means of a push button.

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