About us

Our logo - actually a Pedal-Electric Duo-Art Pianola

Who We Are

We are a group of around 70 enthusiasts dedicated to the preservation of player pianos, reproducing pianos and similar instruments. The NWPPA was founded in 1972 when a small group of around 15 people interested in 'Pianolas' met to share their interest at a private house near Manchester. Several of this first group are still members, although unfortunately the original driving power behind these early meetings, our Founder Walter Williams, 'stopped pedalling' in 1995 and is missed by us all.

You can download a flyer for the Association here.

What are player pianos?

They are self-playing pianos, normally operated from a perforated paper roll and based on pneumatic (not electronic) technology. Some, such as the “Pianola”, are operated by foot power; others are electrically operated, some of which reproduce specially-coded performances, typically recorded by famous pianists. Most player pianos from the years 1900-1930. Click here for more background about the pianos and their music, and here for an animated description of how they work.

Why are we interested in them?

Mainly because they are tremendous fun! People have various reasons for their interest – for some the interest is musical, for others the interest lies in the amazingly ingenious mechanisms upon which they are based, and for many it both these reasons. Quite a number of members are also interested in related instruments such as organettes, roll-playing accordions (Tanzbars), fairground/street organs etc.

Do they still work after all these years?

Sometimes they do, but more often they need at least some painstaking restoration. However, while this needs care and appropriate techniques and materials, such work is not especially difficult. Many of our members have built up the skills required to keep these interesting instruments playing as they were intended – in many cases sounding virtually indistinguishable from a live performance.

So all these pianos are museum pieces?

Not all – some of our members have both original instruments from the early 20th century and modern computer-controlled instruments such as the Yamaha Disklavier. Both kinds of instrument give very musical performances provided they are in good condition.

I’ve got a pianola – what can the NWPPA offer me?

Membership of the NWPPA involves:

  • Two issues per year of the Association’s Journal (ISSN 0950 2904) with articles on technical and musical topics relating to player pianos, as well as reports on meetings. Some of these musical articles have been compiled into books;

  • Social meetings (typically four or five a year, currently reduced as we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions) which take the form of an informal concert followed by a buffet tea; these tend to be centred on the North and Midlands of England. A variety of music gets played, a buffet tea is consumed and a lot of fun is had;

  • Occasional technical workshops where training in restoration and other technical matters is given.

  • Access to technical support via our Technical Adviser;

  • A library of books, records and technical information.

How do I join?

Fill in the Application Form from this link or via "Contact us" in the menu, fill it in and post it off, or ring our membership secretary for more details on 0161 9280188.