What I need first are any patent numbers or manufacturer names on the expression device. There were about a dozen companies that made Recordo expression mechanisms. The largest companies were Auto De Luxe, Pratt-Read, Schulz, and Motor Player Co.
As most technicians usually discover early in their career, 'you can't have too much information about the Recordo'. The system was installed by dozens of companies, and it seems like they all had their own particular way of setting the system up to match the basic design of their existing player pianos. As such, parts are located in various places, a variety of air switches are employed to operate certain functions, and it's not uncommon to find that the various components in the system were made by more than one company.
There is only one thing standard about the Recordo system, and that is the trackerbar scale. And, the only reason it is the same in all systems is because of the coding of the Recordo rolls. Another thing that is relatively standard is the vacuum levels for the five degrees of volume, but they aren't 'cut in stone'.
Looking back on my career, I think I was very lucky to run into a Recordo during my first year in business. It forced me to consider 'function' as opposed to 'design'. In other words, I had to figure out how things worked on my own. It wasn't until years later that information started to surface concerning things like tubing diagrams and diagrams of the internal workings of the various makes of expression boxes.
As for references, I believe the best book for getting a handle on the system is 'Player Piano Servicing & Rebuilding':
I've also put together a Data DVD of all of the information I've collected about the Recordo system over the last 50 years. See:
Then, if you can find any patent numbers, I can research the system and find out who made it. From there we can pick the reference that is closest to the one in the piano.
Hope this helps get things moving.
John A Tuttle
From Dan Cox 10/6/2020
The next step was to look for a 'C': piano. So far no luck, but a few pieces have turned up. A system sold in Australia may prove to be a version of the elusive 'C', but verification is waiting a detailed check of the system. The Australian system is known as "The Amphion Natural Expression" system. The implied tie to Amphion is intriguing, since one of the pieces turned up here bears a striking resemblance to the Artecho regulator.
The Australian system uses four control pneumatics which operate a choker regulator. The arrangement is roughly like this:
How these pieces relate is still unclear, since I have only the P, MF and F section of the regulator, and a sketch of the Australian system, but I hope to tie this down when (if) we get a complete regulator from Australia. The size ratios of the part I have correlates nicely with the 'C' pressure ratios which seem to work. The Artecho-type regulator was removed from a piano with a Recordo tracker bar, and used no primary valves. Air was leaked directly from the tracker to the regulator. Surprisingly, this approach worked better than you'd think, though the regulation for varying note demand is poor. Pressure regulation is accomplished much as in the 'B' Ampico, though with moveable boards instead of a curtain valve.
Two more makes of rolls and possibly a third coded for the 'C' Recordo have turned up so far. The U. S. Auto Art series was Recordo, both 'B' and 'C'. The U.S. rolls are usually quite well coded. Several of our Auto Art 'C' rolls are as complex and sophisticated in their coding as any Recordo I've seen. QRS issued a 'C' series for Aria Divina, but these were identical to the equivalent Recordo rolls. Mastertouch of Australia issued 'A' and 'B' rolls , and perhaps a few 'C' rolls late in the game. These may have been cut from QRS masters.
There's the evidence so far. We have identified several varieties of 'C' rolls, we have some 'C' pieces, but we have not yet seen a complete 'C' piano. We have built a 'pseudo-C1' system that plays 'C' rolls just great. Does the 'C' really exist? The evidence is strong that it does, but that evidence is not conclusive. Until a complete 'C' Recordo is found, the 'C' must remain a plausible theory and a great sounding Recordo in the billings household.
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