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The Lăuter-Humănă Player Piano

Touted in the New York Times in the late 60's as "the best regular upright player piano made in America" (serial nos. 30,000-50,000), the Lăuter-Humănă player piano is somewhat unique in the world of player pianos because the Lăuter company was one of just a small handful of companies who made both the piano and the player mechanism in the same factory. As a result, much has been written about the company, and the player mechanism, and the intention of this webpage is to make that information more readily available to the general public.

During the short time Lăuter was in business (approx. 1903-1929), they made approximately 55,000 units. Unfortunately, no records have been found which tell how many of those units were player pianos. However, due to the design of the player mechanism and the materials used, many of their player pianos still exist today. Unfortunately (again), Lăuter never produced a Service Manual, so people with little or no experience with player pianos have nowhere to turn for information concerning the Lăuter-Humănă player system.

Lauter Co. Serial Numbers/Manufacture Dates
1895----9000
1900----14300
1901----15500
1902----16700
1903----17900
1904----19300
1905----20700
1906----22300
1907----23900
1908----25400
1909----26800
1910----28100
1911----29300
1912----30400
1913----31400
1914----32400
1915----33400
1916----34400
1917----35400
1918----36400
1919----37600
1920----39000
1921----40600
1922----42400
1923----44400
1924----46600
1925----49000
1926----51400
1927----53400
1928----55200
1929----56600
  

Below, you will find a number of hyper-links. Clicking on each link will take you to some bit of information about either the Lăuter company or their player mechanism. (To return here, simply CLOSE the new browser window that opens when you Click on the link.) As more information becomes available, this webpage will be updated. It is my sincere hope that you will find this information useful.

In March 2006, a fellow player technician wrote to me and said that he considered the Bush & Lane player piano to be superior to the Lăuter-Humănă. To find out why, read his email - click here.

Musically,

John A. Tuttle
Email To: John A Tuttle

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The articles listed below are located at the Mechanical Music Digest, the world's largest and best maintained Archive of information about mechanical musical instruments. Each of the articles was written by someone who has some information about the Lăuter company, or an interest in finding out more about the company. You may discover that in some instances there are differing opinions about various aspects of the company and it's player pianos. Please understand that no effort has been made to determine which information is correct and which is not.

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Keywords: Lăuter or Lăuter-Humănă

Digest NrSubject and Author
2001.08.13.04 Lăuter Built-In Tracker Bar Cleaning Device, from John A. Tuttle
2001.08.12.04 Lăuter Built-In Tracker Bar Cleaning Device, from Paul Manganaro
2001.08.10.08 Lăuter Tubing Diagram and Tracker Device, from John A. Tuttle
2001.08.09.09Seek Lăuter Player Piano Tubing Diagram, from Al Pebworth
2000.08.18.08Rebuilding Lăuter Humănă Player Action, from Paul Manganaro
2000.08.16.11 Lăuter Piano with Staib-Abendschein Piano Action, from Al Pebworth
2001.05.23.07 Lăuter-Humănă Manufacture Date, from John A. Tuttle
2001.05.22.04 Lăuter-Humănă Manufacture Date, from Tim Mattice
2000.08.16.12 Lăuter-Humănă Air Motor Pouch Rebuilding Tools, from John A. Tuttle
2000.08.16.10 Lăuter-Humănă Quality & Manufacture Dates, from John A. Tuttle
2000.08.15.08 Lăuter-Humănă Production Dates, from Paul Manganaro
1999.03.19.01Introduction & Lăuter 65-Note Upright Player Piano, from Jarl Nygaard
1998.10.05.20 Lăuter-Humănă/w MasterTouch Action, from John A. Tuttle
1997.07.01.02Thanks for Lăuter Humănă Assistance, from Pierre Vignacq
1997.06.23.07 Lăuter Humănă Tubing Drawings, from John A. Tuttle
1997.06.13.11Drawing of Lăuter Humănă, from John A. Tuttle
1997.06.12.10Tubing Diagram for Lăuter Humănă Needed, from Walter Tenten
1997.05.21.12 Lăuter Humănă Limonaire, from Pierre Vignacq
1997.05.08.07The Lăuter Air Motor, from John A. Tuttle
1997.05.08.06 Lăuter-Humănă, from Richard Vance
1997.05.07.04 Lăuter-Humănă Wind Motor, from Scott Currier
1997.05.06.02 Lăuter-Humănă Player Piano, from Peter Coggins
1997.05.06.01 Lăuter-Humănă Player Piano, from Ed Gloeggler
1997.05.05.11 Lăuter, from Philip Jamison
1997.05.05.06 Lăuter, from John A. Tuttle
1997.05.04.04 Lăuter-Humănă Piano, from Michael Waters
1996.09.17.08Janice and Denny Hess' Lăuter Piano (96.09.16), from Ed Gloeggler

Information at Player-Care.com

For the past couple of years John Tuttle has been accumulating information about the Lăuter-Humănă. During that process he found that the company was in existence for almost ten years longer than was previously thought. Unfortunately, there is no way to actually verify the information other than one flier he found in the Howe Collection at the University of Maryland which was dated 1926. Recently (12-24-01), more information has come to light which verifies that the serial numbers/dates in the atlas are most likely incorrect. Based on a date that was written in pencil on the underside of a bass key, serial number 29342 was made in mid-1914, not 1906 as listed in the book. Also, it was discovered that the foundry where the plates were made embossed a date in the plate. Referring to the article (above) that was written by Paul Manganaro concerning Manufacturing Dates, John took some pictures of the 'date' on his Lauter plate (see "Plate Date" below). Below are links to all of the webpages and graphics at Player-Care that relate to the Lăuter-Humănă.

Webpage about "Plate Date" of Lauter-Humana

Webpage showing "How to Access the Piano Action"

Webpage about the Lauter Roll Tracking System

Diagram of the Inside of a 1917 Lăuter-Humănă

Picture of the "Spindle Lock" used with the patented Lăuter Trackerbar Cleaner

Picture of the Two-Hole Four-Valve "Double-Tracker" tracking mechanism

Tubing Diagram for the "Double-Tracker" (front view)

Tubing Diagram for the "Double-Tracker" (back view)

Questions & Answers (from Lăuter-Humănă Owners)

Information about the Lauter Air Motor

Comments about rebuilding a Lauter (under construction)

Comments - Personal Observations

Having owned eight Lăuter-Humănă player pianos, it's safe to say they're my favorite circa 1920's upright player piano. The bass register is powerful, the tenor range is full-bodied, and the treble notes are relatively free of false beats. Truly a fine all-around instrument with 'power-to-spare'. The piano action (touch) is not too heavy, and it's as fast as any upright I've ever played (7000+). The construction is massive by comparison to most uprights, and the strung back employs patented frame bolts that cannot come loose and hold the plate firmly in place at the pin block. (picture and diagram to follow)

Cosmetically and structurally speaking, I can't say enough about the quality of materials in the Lăuter-Humănă players from serial number 30,000 to 50,000. It's said that 'Old Man' Lauter traveled the world buying the highest quality materials that were available. The evidence of this is everywhere you look. I still rave about the quality of the ivory everytime I talk about my piano. Over 80 years old, every single ivory is pearl-white and silky to the touch. Truly a joy to the finger tips. Having re-veneered one unit, I had to look far and wide to find replacement veneer that came very close to the quality of the original veneer. Of the more than one-hundred Lăuter-Humănă players I've seen, only two had any loose or lifting veneer, and in both cases there was severe water damage.

Regarding the player mechanism, the engineering is fantastic and some of the materials that were used have never been matched for longevity. The air-tight cloth used to cover the striker bellows is so superior that it normally does not need to be replaced when the unit is reconditioned. The unit block valves, if not infested with spiders or moths, typically work nearly as well as they did when they were brand new. (more to follow)

There are a few devices in the Lăuter-Humănă that are unique. The most obvious of these is the air motor. It is the only player to use circular pouches instead of the more common hinged rectangular bellows. In some models there are two-stage exhauster bellows that give new meaning to the term 'pedal technique'. Click Here to see the Patent for the Air Motor

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John A Tuttle

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