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Who else knows about Pianolins?

Mark Cohen 19 Mar 01 - 07:16 PM
wysiwyg 19 Mar 01 - 07:19 PM
Allan C. 19 Mar 01 - 07:32 PM
Dave Swan 19 Mar 01 - 07:54 PM
Willie-O 19 Mar 01 - 08:04 PM
Mark Cohen 19 Mar 01 - 10:27 PM
katlaughing 19 Mar 01 - 10:45 PM
Mark Cohen 20 Mar 01 - 10:58 PM
GUEST,Meadow Muskrat 20 Mar 01 - 11:53 PM
katlaughing 21 Mar 01 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,richardw 21 Mar 01 - 12:51 AM
GUEST,Danyale 22 Sep 10 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 07:16 PM

Yesterday (more or less, depending on time zone) on Paltalk, I mentioned that the lovely sound of katlaughing's bowed mountain dulcimer sounded a bit like a Pianolin. My only experience with that instrument is from the playing of Claudia Schmidt; I once saw her play it at a concert, and she uses it on some of her recordings.

I'd describe it as a sort of a cross between a bowed psaltery and an autoharp. It is played while resting on a table (no, no, the instrument, not the player!). There is a set of melody strings that are played with a bow, and several courses of strings for strumming that are arranged in clusters, each one of which is a different chord. Claudia said that the Pianolin was invented by a man who sold them door-to-door across the Midwest in the early part of the [last] century. She also said he made different sizes, corresponding to the different instruments in the viol family. I think it has a beautful otherworldly sound.

Does anyone have any more information on this unusual instrument? (Note: despite comments to the contrary, this is NOT to be confused with a pangolin, palanquin, panjandrum, or other unrelated critters!)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 07:19 PM

I think I saw one at the music store we go to an hour from home. I do not recall that it was for sale-- I think it was just for display. May have been damaged and unplayable.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: Allan C.
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 07:32 PM

Do a search on the word, [ukelin]. This sounds like the instrument you describe. I own one. It is a beauty; but even though I can pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time, I can't seem to master the business of bowing and strumming.

Mine has sixteen melody strings (bowed) and four sets of four strings that are arranged as the I, IV, V and minor chords.


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: Dave Swan
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 07:54 PM

Just a tip of the hat here, Mark. It's a rare man who can work a pangolin into conversation.

Cheers,

Dave


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: Willie-O
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 08:04 PM

Elegant little instrument, really. You can't play it fast so you have to think about the notes. I still remember seeing Claudia play it at Winnipeg over twenty years ago.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 10:27 PM

Aha! Three cheers for Google! Here is a wonderful History of the Ukelin and Pianolin. There was also a guitarolin! Now I remember the name Claudia said: the Marxophone company. I believe that was the brand name on her instrument. Nice to know that its pedigree included the ukulele! Now I gotta see if I can find one...

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 10:45 PM

Very kewl, Mark! Now I am looking at a nice, shorter bow, to use with my dulcimer...found one at Elderly!

Here are a couple of previous threads on the pianolin: Strange Instruments and,

Pianolin

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 10:58 PM

If anybody hears of one for sale, I'd appreciate knowing about it. There was one on the Australian eBay last month, but it's apparently gone. There are several Ukelins on eBay, but I think the Pianolin would be much more versatile, as it's chromatic and has more than 4 chords.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: GUEST,Meadow Muskrat
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 11:53 PM

A lot of these hybred instruments were made in or around Jersey City, nj by a variety of companies, I believe Oscar Schmidt, now in the Midwest, is the only one left.A former band member in the late 60's who was skilled on a variety of instruments had a terribile time with the ukelin.I saw a mandolin guitaraphone years ago in a 2nd hand store, but by the time I went home to get money and return it was sold. It was a zither like instrument with chord groupings and mallets which vibrated on the strings when pushed.Over the years there have been a few exhibits of these types of instruments at librairies in Northern n.j., at least one in clifton, and another I believe in North Bergen.If I see anything like this I"ll post it


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 12:23 AM

Mark! I found one for $249 at THIS SITE! Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: GUEST,richardw
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 12:51 AM

The pianolin for $249 is actually at Pianoette which originally sold for $45, and now sells on eBay for about $75 US, or less. $249 is outrageous. I'll sell you mine for $200. (I only paid about $50).

We hane a pianoette and two ukelins, which have a similar but more hauting sound and sustain than the Pianoette. However, the later has the advantage of 26 strings, being chromatic not diatonic. The Ukelins play in C, though I am retuning one to be a D. One Ukelin has a ukelele shaped body and the other is basically retangular. The latter has a deeper sound and the former a brighter sound. Both have incredible sustain. By wife, Cathryn plays both. The sound is similar to a psaltery.

They can be played very quickly if you forget the chording strings. They are not the feature of the instrument anyway. The trick is to find the right bow. A violin bow is too wide. As string psaltery bow does not have enough briction. So, you need a narrow violin bow, or a ribbon psaltery bow. We got one from Dusty STrings in Seattle.

You can use two bows. This can speed up the bowing by not having to reach across to the strings on the other side, or to play a harmony.

The site listed earlier on this thread at geocities is the best around.

We just used a ukelin in a recording of Red River Valley. Opened with a Ukelin & autoharp and then went to fiddle and autoharp.

Ukelins sell for about $50 to $75 on Ebay. Finding strings can be a challenge and many are cracked with loose pegs and so on.

Richard Wright


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Subject: RE: Who else knows about Pianolins?
From: GUEST,Danyale
Date: 22 Sep 10 - 01:11 PM

Hello, I have a Pianolin, I would like to sell if anyone is still looking. It's original price tag says $85 if you want to research which one it is. It also has the label saying it's an original Marx instrument. I don't know really anything about it accept my parents had it in their home for a lot of years, given to them from my grandfather. I know it doesn't stay tuned very well because of the design and it kind of difficult to play well. It has all the strings and is in somewhat rough shape aesthetically, but not broken accept for the wooded piece that is screwed onto the bottom.
Please make an offer if you are interested, I can also send a picture.
Thanks! Danyale
jdbressler1@msn.com


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