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Over the past decade or so, there has been an increase in the number of complaints about roll tracking. After eliminating the automatic tracking mechanism as the cause of the problem, it became obvious that the source of the problem was the right roll flange. Upon investigation, I was able to prove beyond any doubt that the hole in the end of the right roll flange was cut too small. Below is a copy of an email exchange that explains the problem and the solution. For more Information, click here.

I want to ask a question. I ordered rolls 2 weeks ago from QRS Music Rolls online, 2 of the 7 I ordered worked beautifully but 5 had to be returned as they were off key and would not line up with the holes on the bar. (I am guessing) I did what was recommended but still did not work. I would very much like to order more rolls from your website to add to what we have already but am afraid of having the same problem. We have many rolls that play fine. They are all QRS rolls that have been around for a number of years. Any Advice?? Thank you for your time & input.


Have you pumped out the trackerbar recently?

See: https://www.player-care.com/trackerbar-pump-inst.html

The rolls I sell come directly from the QRS roll factory, just like the ones you purchased. For 5 out of 7 to be cut improperly is very odd indeed. Typically, 1 out of 1000 (0.1%) will have tracking problems.

Also, it could be that the flange on the right end of the roll is not seating all the way onto to right roll chuck. That is a relatively new and fairly common problem with a number of the newer QRS rolls. The problem is that the hole in the end of the flange is a tiny bit too small. Therefore, it doesn't seat onto the roll chuck all the way. That effectively moves the paper to the right a small amount. However, the tracking mechanism can't compensate for the problem because the mechanism is designed to move the entire roll, not just the paper. So, what ends up happening is that the roll tracks to the right of center, and the notes don't play (or articulate) correctly.

Unfortunately, since you have returned the rolls already, it's not possible to test them to find out if the rolls have the problem I just described. What I do when a customer experiences the problem is to fix the right roll flange by enlarging the hole slightly with a forstner drill bit. The problem can also be resolved by decreasing the diameter of the right roll cluck a few thousandths of an inch. This can be easily accomplished with a regular metal file. As a player piano technician by trade, I have done this more times than I can recall because it's not an uncommon problem. More specifically, the problem seems to be limited to player pianos that were made after 1960. I've never encountered the problem with 1920's type player pianos. And, I've gone so far as to measure the diameter of the right roll chuck and did indeed find that the post-1960's chucks are always bigger in diameter than the pre-1960's chucks.

So, the bottom line is that it's actually a two-fold problem. One, the player manufacturers made the chucks a little tiny bit larger in diameter, and two, the roll flange manufacturers made the hole in the right roll flange a little bit smaller in diameter. Add the two together and you have a problem..

Hope this answers your questions.


John A Tuttle

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John Tuttle "Player Piano Repair Service"
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This page was last revised on March 5, 2013 by John A. Tuttle (John A Tuttle).

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