Custom Instruments

From approximately 1900 into the early '30s, coin operated instruments - nickelodeons or orchestrions - were the entertainment of choice in all kinds of business settings. The patrons even got to pay for their own music. What separates orchestrions from nickelodeons is the presence of additional instruments or percussion devices to add extra sounds to the piano performances.

Roger begins the building of these custom instruments by working with the client to choose which additions will be made to an antique player piano, or antique nickelodeon. After restoration of the player unit, the instrument is built up by adding the additional musical instruments to the cabinet and tubing all the components up to the roll payer, Depending on the need for additional space, Roger will commission a master cabinet maker to build the additional cabinet and provision for leaded glass panels to be made to complete an authentic vintage look.

Nickelodeons utilize rolls of multiple songs, usually 10, which rewind automatically and restart. Interiors are lighted to show off the instruments inside. If coin operation is desired, a quarter will play a tune on the piano, accompanying the melody played on orchestra bells, an accordion, a xylophone, organ pipes, with tambourine, bass drum, snare drum, wood block, or castanets. These instruments are equally appealing in a home setting as in a business - where a unique nickelodeon can be a show-piece and provide enjoyable music for decades.


For more information about building or restoring a nickelodeon or orchestrion, contact us »