It's a fascinating concept - CD's, Compact Flash drives,
SD cards, even iDevices and clouds containing data (and sometimes
additional audio accompaniment for your stereo) somehow get
miraculously turned into beautiful music by the piano in your living
room. Paper rolls laced with holes accomplished this feat for decades,
but digital media has now taken their place. In the same fashion CD's
replaced vinyl, digital data has turned the paper piano rolls of
yesteryear into musical nostalgia. Computer-based player pianos are
entertaining, educational and they are very popular. In many areas,
player pianos represent more than 50% of all new grands sold to
residential customers. And their popularity has just begun!
HOW DO THEY WORK?
solenoids (piston-like devices) tucked behind each key receive
information from an on-board computer telling each key solenoid when to
fire, how hard to fire and when to let go. Pedal information and even
the speed of the key release on some player systems is also transferred
in this same manner. The key solenoids are capable of reproducing up to
1024 volume levels, delivering authentic performances from Herbie
Hancock to Horowitz... and we do mean literally "from" Herbie Hancock
to Horowitz, as there is software available of their original
performances captured digitally - not just someone else performing
their works or imitating their styles.
All the buzz
lately from the manufacturers seems to be about wireless connectivity
to iPads and iPhones to control the player system. They all have
mobile apps that you can download without owning the product so you can
see what they’re like. It’s a giant step from the
3.5” floppy diskettes and CDs that have been the primary means of
controlling player pianos for the past 20 years.
Some systems have built-in thumb drives, hard drives and smart home
pianos allow for the option to record a pianist's performance.
How wonderful would it be to chart your child's progress or archive the
beautiful music of an elderly relative? Is there any greater
keepsake than such musical performances?
between systems are visibly obvious -- like the functionality of the
various iPad/iPhone apps… or how one manufacturer’s song
library might best suits your tastes… or how downloads from the
internet are sometimes not compatible with certain systems.
Please consult a Cordogan's representative to hear about the important,
distinctive features between the different player piano systems.
The biggest hurdle that you'll likely face is that most piano stores
(more specifically the salespeople in them) really don't understand the
technology, what these systems are capable of doing and where the
technology is headed. You may find yourself amazed that your knowledge
of technology will produce simple questions that piano salespeople
cannot answer. Hopefully the salesperson will defer to a company
colleague who can answer them. If such a person does not exist at
within that company, you haven't found the right piano store and you
may wish to contact us!
Consumers in some markets are also faced with the challenge that not
all products are represented by their local dealers so you'll never get
to see the premier models from the two major retrofittable
manufacturers -- let alone Yamaha's Disklavier.
prices, the biggest reason Cordogan’s sells to consumers all over
the country is because we offer a GIANT,
FREE MUSIC LIBRARY with purchase! Cordogan's is proud to
be the only dealer in the world who offers a private and
ever-growing library of thousands of songs for you to download to your
player piano! We began this service in the nineties and have been
regularly adding to the library every month since. Customers
receive a password to our Downloadable Player Piano Song
Library containing music that Cordogan's has either purchased the
rights to redistribute, acquired the rights to redistribute or music
that is public domain but had been reformatted for player piano
systems. At the average manufacturer’s price of $2 per song,
purchasing this much music could cost up to $10,000 -- if it were even
available for purchase. Cordogan's offers hundreds of titles that
aren't available through ANY manufacturer's library. We have
regular contributors from all over the world, offering high-quality
performances that money literally can’t buy!
While it is true that current player piano systems are designed to
function with virtually any piano, some pianos don't function well
enough to allow the technology to shine. These systems will "play"
almost any piano, but they can't improve the tone or touch of your
piano. Only a fraction of pianos available (new or used) is of a
quality level that can reproduce the artistry of these digital
performances. So before you decide on purchasing a piano to be
outfitted with a player piano system, consider the quality level of the
piano itself. Reading this website is a good place to learn about the
various quality levels of pianos. By purchasing a player piano system,
you are purchasing a concert pianist who will now reside in your home -
on cue at your command. The piano you own...or are considering owning,
should be of a quality that would allow a fine player to perform well.
This doesn't mean it needs to be a 9' concert grand, but it should be a
well-made piano with a strong reputation for performance.
The piano quality level needed for a player piano's performance debunks
the oft-heard "Well, nobody in our home plays, so I don't need a good
quality piano". The fact is that if you want a player piano system --
whether it's factory-installed or retrofitted -- you DO need a good
GEEK ALERT! HUMAN VS. COMPUTER -- WHY PLAYER SYSTEMS CRY FOR A GOOD
Consider this: when a human sits down at a piano on
any given day, they can instantly and instinctively make adjustments in
their playing technique to accommodate the playability of the piano's
action. In regions like Chicago where there are distinct seasonal
changes, the pianist may have to press those keys a little harder in
the summer...and a little lighter in the winter. A computer can't
make on-the-spot adjustments in its playing technique. These systems
don't know if it's humid, dry, hot, cold, but your piano sure
does! Better brands adjust to the seasonal changes better and
maintain great consistency season to season, year after year.
Shortcomings on player piano performances due to environmental issues
include notes that don't make sound ("note dropout"), uneven sound
(some notes are too loud or too soft), clicks, buzzes, rattles and
tuning instability. In other words, buy as good of a piano as you
possibly can, especially if a player piano system is involved. The
player system can only perform as well as the piano is capable of
allowing it to perform.
USED ONES AVAILABLE?
Yes, but they
come and go pretty quickly, so
it's certainly worth checking with us. To put everything in
Finding a good
used piano you want is
Finding a good
used piano in the brand you
want is more difficult.
Finding a good
used piano in the brand and
size you want is even more difficult.
Finding a good
used piano in the brand,
size, finish, age, condition and price range you want involves a
Finding a good
used piano in the brand,
size, finish, age, condition and price range you want, WITH a player
system already installed, configured the way you want, with current
technology, well...how much time do you have? :)
grands often sell before they
arrive in our showrooms, to customers who have been entered in our
database. If you'd like us to begin the hunt for you, please contact us
with your wish list. We'll let you know when one becomes available. The
other option, and one with a much greater degree of flexibility is to
find the perfect used piano and have us install the player system
configured to your needs. Cordogan's has a huge selection of used grand
and vertical pianos, all reconditioned or rebuilt with thorough
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
best player piano for your
money requires nothing short of an expert to help you. The technology
in these systems is rapidly evolving, and the dealer you choose needs
to be on top of it all. If you would like to see and hear all these
features, stop by Cordogan's,
or if you're from another area, please feel free to call 630-584-5000.
Cordogan's ships player pianos all over the country!
a virtual look at our new, state-of-the-art player piano
showroom, complete with a a multi-media demonstration with a plasma TV,
5.1 surround sound. There's nothing like it in Chicagoland!