This Mills Violano-Virtuoso recording was over two years in the making, but only because the owner of the instrument wanted it to sound as perfect as was humanly possible. Several test recordings were made during this long period of development, but each one was ultimately rejected when the recording revealed a note that was slightly sour, an unwanted resonance, a disturbing mechanical noise or a flaw in the recording method. Between each test recording the Violano would again be adjusted and maybe a noisy motor rebuilt as thought necessary, the piano re-regulated and tuned and/or the recording apparatus fixed and the recording technique improved for audio performance and balance. The result, although not yet perfect, is the best sounding Mills "Double" Violano-Virtuoso recording that I have had the pleasure of hearing.
This Violano's electrically operated motors and other mechanical components were professionally restored by Terry Haughawout, of Bloomdale, Ohio. Mr. Haughawout is considered by many to be the Johnny Appleseed of the Violano, his remarkable skill and expertise being in demand by a legion of collectors scattered all across the United States and from around the world. He is a recognized name by anyone who continues to enjoy the music from this remarkable mechanical invention. The piano portion of the instrument was overhauled by Paul Manganaro, who made final adjustments to it after the machine had been returned to Ken Rubin, its owner.
The Violano-Virtuoso was invented by Henry K. Sandel, and manufactured exclusively by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois. It was one of the most successful coin-operated automatic music machines made during the 20th century, with over 5000 manufactured between 1906 and 1930, most of them containing only a single violin. This recording features a rare 1922 deluxe oak model with two violins, and is from the Ken Rubin collection, New York.
This Violano is equipped with a modern solid state direct current power supply and a special MIDI playback system that operates the complicated machine via floppy disks in lieu of the original and quite noisy mechanical AC to DC converter and paper music roll system. Thus, the machine is exceptionally quiet in operation, with none of the distracting whine normal for most Mills Violano-Virtuosos. It is important to mention here that the new substitute solid state power supply and MIDI playback electronics do not require the removal of any original Violano components, but rather they merely attach electrically in such a way as to make it possible to temporarily bypass the use of the original converter and music roll mechanisms. The special electronics were designed and manufactured by the "new" Mills Novelty Company of Solano Beach, California, and are easily retrofitting to any original Mills Violano, single or double violin model. The variety of MIDI music available ranges from popular hits to marches to old time classical and other favorites.
|Mills (Double) Violano-Virtuoso|
27 Tracks -- Total Time: 72:30
Inquire for full tune listing
|3.||Flight of the Bumble Bee -- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov|
|4.||Song of India|
|11.||The Wells Fargo Wagon|
|12.||The Easy Winner -- by Scott Joplin|
|15.||National Emblem March|
|16.||When Johnny Comes Marching Home|
|17.||Stars & Stripes Forever|
|21.||New York, New York|
|22.||I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter|
|25.||Orange Blossom Special|
|27.||Baby Elephant Walk|
Listen to a sample.....
"FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLE BEE"
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