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Scanner for sheet music

OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
I'm looking to scan a pile of sheet music to PDF, any hardware recommendations appreciated. Color unnecessary but it doesn't look like B/W is a thing. If it's a tray loader then duplex scanning would be a plus, since a lot of the music is double sided.

Mostly I posted this to ask about the $50-60 wand scanners I see on Amazon. Are these easy to use? Do you just roll them over the target and get a clean scan, or are they super finicky and you have to move really slowly or else end up with terrible scans? If they're junk then I could spend $100-150 on a desktop scanner instead.


  • T-boltT-bolt Registered User regular
    Is this a one-time only thing? If so, you might call a few print shops and ask if one of their machines has a tray loader and they'd be willing to scan for you. We have a Konica machine with a tray loader that would make quick work of a pile of sheets, plus it would almost certainly be cheaper than purchasing hardware to do it yourself.

  • djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    I would get a cheap flatbed one if at all possible, because you don't want to have skips or stuff in music scores, and it's time-consuming enough just putting things on and off a flatbed scanner without having to worry about actually moving the scanner itself a bunch of times.

    the wirecutter's top pick is $80 on amazon now, which is not enough more than $50-60 to be worth worrying about. Kinkos (which is now fedex office?) has scanning services, so depending on how much that costs you could try there; depends on how big a pile of music it is, and if you think you'll have anything else to scan in the future. (do you have physical photographs you want to upload, for instance)

  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    Are skips a thing with the handheld scanners? I have an old USB flatbed scanner, but it's like 10 years old and so slow that I consider it a last resort -- like 20 seconds for a page in B/W at reasonable resolution. Moving a handheld sounds faster and easier, as long as it doesn't spit out bad scans if you're not using it just right. The double-sided automatic document feeder (as part of the multifunction copier/printer/scanner/fax) I had at my last job would be ideal, but those don't seem to be in a reasonable price range.

    This isn't a one-time thing. Probably two or three times a year I would have a stack of 50-60 pages to scan. Nothing else I want to scan.

  • djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Honestly, I don't know how good the newer models are; a quick look through reviews on amazon seem to vary between people who have no problems at all, and people who can't get it to work properly (or who aren't happy with the quality of the scan for other reasons). One big win I hadn't thought of is that you can use the handheld ones in a library on reference materials.

    I don't see how the handheld one can be significantly faster than a flatbed one, because either way the image sensor has to move past the thing it's scanning, and it can only read data at a given speed so if it's a motor or your hand moving the sensor, there'll still be a max speed.

    That said, if you already have one that works, and it takes 20 seconds per page, then 60 pages is going to take 20 minutes, so you may as well stick with what you have; music won't need colour (right? unless there's coloured annotations or something on the page that you care about).

    Yet another option would be if you have any other sort of digital imaging device already -- phone/camera/etc? You may be able to get away with just photographing the pages; getting the light setup to be even might be a bit fiddly, but for sheet music it won't matter too much if the left side is a bit darker than the right; that's probably going to be about as fast as you'll find, even quicker if you set up a stand or something so you just have to turn the page and press "take photo" each time.

    (for what it's worth, I've heard good things about the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 for bulk scanning, but that's much more expensive and for 60 sheets at a time almost certainly overkill).

    djmitchella on
  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    For me, 2 or 3 times a year of 50-60 pages I'd probably just have Kinko's or another place do it. I haven't used hand held models in a few years, but the ones I've used were always pretty sketchy in terms of getting a good, consistent scan, and I wouldn't want to do 50-60 double-sided pages on a flatbed.

    If it were a lot more than 2 or 3 times a year at that volume, I'd probably look for a good condition used all-in-on with a tray feeder. Or honestly, at this level I'd at least look. A quick craigslist check in my area shows a half dozen or so scanners with trays or all-in-ones with tray feed in the $40-150 range.

    Daenris on
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