The History of the Pianola

The Pianola is the name of a player piano patented by Edwin Votey in the early 1900s produced by the Aeolian Company. [1] Made in the Memphis, TN, factory, the Pianola became famous as one of the first player pianos marketed for the average American for in-home use. As a result, nearly all player pianos, even ones produced by different manufacturers, are often referred to as “pianolas” as a generic term.

Pianola player pianos were in production from 1960 to 1982. When Gibson Guitars acquired the Aeolian Corporation, they continued to produce player pianos under the Pianola name in 2001. 

Read more about Aeolian Corporation and the introduction of the Pianola. 

About Pianola Player Pianos

The Pianola was a 64-note player piano with the option to be played manually, pedal-powered and automatic. The Pianola came with an electric motor that allowed it to automatically play the songs programmed on the roll. [2]

Today, many player pianos are digitized, but the Pianola player piano was built on a pneumatic system. It had a roll of perforated paper or metal that would control the piano action, triggering hammers to strike the strings and play the pre-recorded music. [3]

Restoring a Pianola 

At Lindeblad, we see a lot of pianos with player options. While we do not restore player pianos, we work closely with a partner that does. If you have a Pianola player piano and are interested in restoring it, consider the increase in value that you would gain by having the work done. An unrestored pianola is worth $$$-$$$$ whereas a restored player piano can range in value between $$$-$$$$. 

Contact Lindeblad Restoration to learn more about restoring player pianos like the Pianola.


[1] Pierce, W. Robert. Pierce Piano Atlas: Anniversary Edition, 2017 Our 70th Year. Albuquerque: Ashley, 2017. Print.

[2] http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/agesp.htm#PIANOLA 

[3] http://www.pianotopics.nl/FT06v.htm