Return to this page frequently for new pictures and information about the rebuilding of our pedal Ampico 'reproducing' player.
Date of the following illustrated text: February 7, 1999
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The pedal assembly for the Studio's Brewster Marque Ampico — with the Amphion 'Accessible' player action — has just been completed, but is not, at this time, ready for our camera. We visited Bob Hunt (email@example.com), the talented player action technician in Kennebunk, Maine to see the progress being made ... and in the process we took the following pictures of his unusual early-'Twenties Franklin Marque Ampico player, considered by some to be a prototype or experimental model with features that differ from the usual interpretations of the foot-impelled 'reproducing' instrument.
While the pictures above, to the average viewer, might appear to be a standard
pedal player (or foot-powered Ampico 'reproducing' piano) note the absence of an
wind motor for the roll transport — to the right of the spoolbox! The lower
action features an adaptation of the Standard Pneumatic Action, installed in over
a hundred makes of Player-Pianos. Kohler's Standard/Auto-Deluxe style of player action
is very, very "tight" ... so much in fact that the Ampico, when adjusted
correctly, can accent single notes, but the instrument as an 88-Note player will
emphasize 2-3 single perforations (each about a 32nd note) due to the large exhausters-equalizers
and the efficient upper stack which lacks the conventional wind motor. In Mr. Henderson's
opinion, this rare 'reproducing' player is more of an Ampico and less of
a pedal player for VIRTUOSO music rolls, such as ARTCRAFT Interpretive
Arrangements — which benefit from responsive pedaling effects.
(Naturally, when playing the formula, commercial 88-Note rolls of the original period — which lacked a true staccato most of the time and had "clusters" of equal-length perforations robbing the listener of a "keyboard attack" simulation — ordinary rolls of the 'Twenties merely seemed "easy-to-pedal" ... a characteristic which offsets the responsiveness required for 'concert hall level' Pianola performances.)
The next photograph will be a larger one, in order for you to examine the Melville Clark 'Metronome'™ spring motor, which powers the roll ... and is controlled by a LONG sweep of a combination PLAY-REWIND-TEMPO lever in the keyslip.
Bob Hunt's Franklin Marque Ampico upright is certainly an interesting instrument,
We will be showing you, within the next few weeks, views of our 1926 Brewster Marque Ampico with its Amphion 'Accessible' player action ... installed in fewer standard pedal players than the Kohler product, but which was the MAINSTAY of the A-model electric Ampico, for which MOST of the future ARTCRAFT Music Rolls will be created.
(Note: our expression rolls will operate with equal facility on the earlier Stoddard-Ampico and the later B-model grand pianos, due to the fact that intensities NOT crescendo will be the primary method of dynamic control with ARTCRAFT arrangements. The 3 crescendo designs for the Ampico differed in the "speed" and only 1 [instead of 2] was installed in the later B grand. ARTCRAFT Ampico rolls feature "B-speed" crescendo in the treble and "A-speed crescendo" — a "dead hole" on the B tracker bar!! — relying on the 2+4+6 intensities and the pedal shadings for the bulk of the expression. When combined with Interpretive Arrangement striking, there is NO COMPARISON between our releases and the pedestrian Ampico rolls of the past! If you don't believe this claim, play CLEOPATRA RAG on a Stoddard, A or B instrument -- and you'll discover the performance excitement you have been missing with the Delcamp-Susskind school of roll making!)
The Amphion interpretation of the Ampico player features 2 'crash' valves (each with a different spring torque) on a smaller, highly responsive pedal action. (You'll be able to see the design contrast when we post some photographs of the Brewster, as the components are rebuilt one-by-one.) It has the standard air motor for the roll as well as the familiar and reliable Amphion unit valves which were the hallmark of Ampico during the heyday of the expression player.
The Brewster will be more of a pedal Pianola and less of an Ampico by the very nature of the responsiveness and efficiency of the late-design Amphion action. This is the primary reason for ARTCRAFT selecting the instrument: Master Rolls which "challenge the piano" will be arranged and performed with the Brewster as a standard player -- and then the Ampico will be scored to approximate (but never quite equal) the snappy, sparkling use of the player an an 88-Note model.
Again, the Franklin pictured here performs Ampico rolls with the same panache as the Brewster will ... but ... its 88-Note roll mode, when considered from the virtuoso performance standpoint, is too spongy for pyrotechnical music. (It's fine for "Don't Bring Lulu," "Sparklets" and just about anything QRS has published in the last 70 years, however. For Gershwin, Liszt and Gottschalk, the Brewster action will reign supreme when playing their music in the 88-Note alternative format.)
Thanks for visiting this page. Come back again in a couple of weeks to see new pictures and texts about the Brewster Marque Ampico project.
Bob Hunt, like many Ampico collectors, is enthusiastic about the prospect of NEW Ampico rolls which will do justice to a Knabe, Chickering, Mason & Hamlin and the other fine instruments which were equipped with the famous 'reproducing' player action. When these pictures were taken, Bob commented, "The old Ampico rolls are o.k., but after hearing a few you want something more exciting." Mr. Henderson replied, "There are many Ampico owners out there who are 'fed up' with dreamy popular music and 'hammy' classical arrangements..." "— Like me!" injected the animated Ampico technician.
Yes, there's "life" AFTER Adam Carroll ... and it's all starting in the Coast of Maine in 1999!
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ARTCRAFT Music Rolls, PO Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578 USA Telephone: (207) 882-7420