What is this instrument?

There’s an instrument that was used in the days of silent films that looked a bit like an organ, but had all sorts of other sound effects devices built into it. I’m thinking Spike Jones may have used one. It had an odd name, but for the life of me I can’t remember it right now.

Anyone know what it is?

Never mind. It’s a Photoplayer.

Spike probably didn’t have one of those. I’m guessing the Photoplayer isn’t very portable, and Spike and crew were a traveling road show.

Willie Spicer was Spike’s right-hand man for sound effects, and has been credited (or blamed!) for coming up with nonsensical “instruments” like the Birdaphone, Sneezaphone, Latrinophone and Collidophone.

And it’s more player piano than organ. I was just going on what I remembered.

Hey, that was neat! :slight_smile:

That’s a great clip, and I wish they had included more of whatever show that was, because I’d like to know more about it. I’ve seen instruments like that, but never with all the extra manual controls of that one.

This site says that some 8,000 - 10,000 Photoplayers were made in the U.S. during the silent era, and that more Photoplayers were made than other forms of theater organ.

But big theater organs included special sound effects like gun shots, sirens, etc. So if you were thinking of something that looked more like an organ than that Photoplayer, it probably was an organ.

The show is California’s Gold, hosted by Huell Howser on PBS. I used to watch it occasionally, and I wish we got it up here. Howser is hilarious. ‘That’s amazing!

Wurlitzer built several massive theater organs, replete with train whistles, mechanical drums, horn sections, sirens, and bells. I believe that’s where we get the phrase “with all the bells and whistles.”