Review: Extra gear for score printing

For those who like or need to self print here’s a review of some gear I’ve been using the last year or two, as I’ve figured out how to get good hardcopy from Dorico.

HP 5225dn

This is a very large and expensive printer (~ $1.8k USD), AFAIK it’s the only one you can get, without spending megabucks, that will do scores and full sized parts. It will do up to 12"x18" Imperial which printed two to a page landscape is a US Concert size of 9x12 which is exactly the typical piano score size. There are two trays, one of which is manual which is the only that can be used by the 12x18, the tray will do up to a Tabloid size (basically a large legal of 11"x17"). You can buy a third tray, but it’s the same as the internal tray and is expensive at around $500. Useful for printing letter I think.

I print using Hammermill paper (easily available from Amazon) for the following

  • Scores Tabloid size. This is a bit large for use at the piano (the top is neck-stretch) but fits a lot of music without having to squint. If piano work was the main usage I’d print legal. I bind using Comb binding (see below)

  • Parts Concert size. Two ways to bind, if it’s a couple pages then tape binding, but anything more than that you need a comb binder and paper cutter. Just drop a bunch of 12x18 in the hopper and off it goes.

If you get one it’s important to get the HP driver and set up all the presets properly - I have Letter, Score and Part set up to pull from the right trays with the right settings.

Tamerica DURABIND Legal Comb bind machine

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About $300 USD for the machine and supplies. You’ll want 24 ring legal for the scores and parts, also recommend getting a bunch of (cheaper) 19 ring letter size. I use this for all sorts of stuff, just printed out the latest Dorico popover shortcut PDF and bound it which is super handy.

I’m looking for a good sheet cutter for splitting Concert pages, tape binding is only good for a few pages and so most of the time I’m using comb, which was the standard for printed or copied music at the symphonies I played with.

If you have the space and spare cash I’d recommend printing, it’s deeply satisfying to have a printed music after all your work and a fun addition to your Dorico work.

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When I bought a comb-binder, I also bought some 32lb (as opposed to standard 20lb) paper to help make sure the punched paper did not start tearing out. I’ve been happy with that combination.

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Yeah paper is a big topic. I use the Hammermill Premium Color Copy which is 32lb acid free

A tape bound set of exercises I warm up on has withstood a couple years of daily abuse at the piano bench and is aging perfectly.

For tearing you can also set a greater punch depth (from edge) and use a upsized comb.

I have an ageing HP 5000 Laserjet, which is now chewing paper.

Can you get a 3rd Tray for the 5225, that sits underneath?

Yeah check above I talked about that. It’s expensive - around $500, and is otherwise identical to the built in tray, so it doesn’t do 12x18 and maxes out at Tabloid. One of these days I might get it.

Also know that this is a heavy and big printer, you’ll probably want help getting it into location. But while a professional office level printer (you can also find used sometimes) it’s the biggest/best before going to the floor standing monsters.

I had an HP 5000 around 20 years ago, but when the fuser died on it I bought a Ricoh SP 6330N and that’s been my workhorse for the past dozen years or so. At some point I added the duplexer for it cheaply off eBay. I have it paired with an ancient Apple Airport Express so I can print wirelessly.

For jazz parts, I mostly use 9.5"x12.5" parts accordion-bound with acid-free artists tape. There are about 20 or so of us in the NYC area that go in and have the paper custom made. Here’s what we’re currently using:

It’s essentially the same paper weight and color as the manuscript paper that was sold for years at Associated Music in NYC under the Aztec brand. The acid-free tape is just off Amazon, but any local art shop should sell it too.

For booklets, sometimes I’ll use 12x18 paper as well, printed duplex 2-up, folded and stapled in the middle. My current ring binder is metal and heavy duty, but unfortunately is capped on the ends. It’s great for 11x14 landscape jazz scores, but I just outsource binding on 11x17 portrait stuff. I probably should upgrade my binding machine at some point. 11x14 photography mats make for great covers for the 11x14 scores.

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Anybody have a recommendation for a paper cutter? The guillotine tends to spread the sheets if too many are done at once, but I don’t know what the best approach is.

I might have said it before but let me know if you ever do it again and if you don’t mind sending some to the left coast.

Well I just happened to come across the old fashioned way of doing it

At the beginning of the video he has a neat way of just folding the paper using a guide, and then running a thin knife edge through the fold.

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It’s really cost-prohibitive as the shipping would be a lot. I can ask the guy who places the order if he’d mind shipping a box, but you’d probably be better off just contacting a local paper supplier and asking their price.

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You must do a lot of printing to justify the cost of that printer. My inkjet goes up to 13x19 at a fraction of that cost

Well the point with this thread obviously isn’t to be cost effective. If that’s a concern then Kinko’s (I think it’s FedEx now) would probably be best, but forget special sizes.

Anyhow 9x12 is an typical artist size, but starts at 52 lbs which is too heavy for a printer. I assume that’s writing weight

Another option would be a metric that is close, A4 is 8.27x11.69 - almost a 9x12. Hammermill has it in 20lb - anybody try it? What do they use in metric countries for parts and scores?

So 28 lb Writing paper is the same weight as 70 lb Text paper, and as 39 lb Cover paper…? :thinking:

Yeah it’s crazy, this is a table I made up to try and figure it out, with paper weights you have to know what reference system it’s in - ‘writing’, ‘cover’ or ‘grammage’. Writing=bond=ledger, all equivalent terms, writing is the most common system used but you have to be careful.

Yeah, paper weights are not intuitive at all.

The 100 lb Text weight paper we use is equivalent to 39-40 lb bond, so a bit heavier than the 32 lb Hammermill mentioned earlier.

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Inkjet ink though is way more expensive, so any cost savings with the printer can rapidly be eaten up by ink. Laser prints much faster too so a lot more reliable on a deadline. There have been lots of improvements with inkjet ink, but they still aren’t as water-safe as laser. I’m a saxophone player. If I’m sitting in front of a trombonist with a leaky spit valve I don’t want my notes running down the page, LOL! Or if the charts get wet on the way to a gig, etc.

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Ya exactly, and they expire, so if you go awhile without printing you’ll find the cart is dead or dried out. At least I did, got fed up and always go laser. JMHO I’d only use ink for photography, if mine ever improves enough I’ll start printing out.

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Is this the acid-free tape you mention?

No, I use this stuff in 3/4":

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This 3M stuff works great

Medical tape works well too. Pro tip; leave a small gap between the pages so there’s room for the ‘hinge’. It says rubber but it’s a thin material with some very light glue on it. That daily sheet I’ve been using for years as warmup is going strong, with just the paper edges showing some nice usage.

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