The Electric Piano Forum

Repairs, Maintenance & Upgrades => Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs => Topic started by: Wesley on July 20, 2021, 05:36:50 PM

Title: New Rhodes Owner- Seeking advice on servicing
Post by: Wesley on July 20, 2021, 05:36:50 PM
First, thanks to everyone on this forum for the posts and information. It helped me know what I was getting and the value when I picked up my first Rhodes. I found a good deal on a 1978 Mk 1 73 and picked it up a couple days ago. It is in great cosmetic condition but it hasn't been servicing in a long time if ever. I can't find anyone locally who services these so I'm going to do what I can even though I have no experience. All the keys and pickups work, no broken tines, and it's in tune. That being said, the action could use some work and I'm sure it needs new grommets, hammer tips, damper felts, etc. The issue with the action is that it is not sensitive to light key presses. I'm guessing this is due to the key escapement but there could be other issues. Is key escapement a difficult thing to adjust for a beginner? I watched Vintage Vibe's video on it and it seems doable. One issue is that my model has metal harp brackets (if that's what they're called) where as the video's are wood. There is a thin piece of wood (1/8 inch) on top of the metal that I could trim down or totally remove but I don't know if that's okay to do. The distance from the hammer to tine when the lowest key is fully pressed down (but not to aftertouch) is about half an inch. Beyond the action, I am planning on getting Vintage Vibe's refurb kit to replace the grommets, hammer tips, and damper felts. After that I will voice and tune. Last question, I'm confused about what tonebar escapement is and how to do it. I've seen a couple vintage vibe videos where they put a measuring block under the tonebar and tighten the screw to that height. Is this necessary and if so what height is it? Any advice on these procedures would be greatly appreciated, especially figuring out the key escapement. I can attach pictures if anything wasn't explained well. I also might have been confusing because I don't know all of the parts and their names. Thanks for any advice!
Title: Re: New Rhodes Owner- Seeking advice on servicing
Post by: sean on July 21, 2021, 12:18:50 AM

Dear Dread Pirate Roberts,

You will be able to understand better if you read the service manual a few times:  (all the lingo is in there)
Vintage Vibe has a very complete version of the Service Manual that is all one PDF, so you don't have to jump around from link to link to follow the manual.  It is listed on their manuals page
The direct link to the PDF is

When you say "key escapement" do you mean "key dip" (the distance that the keytop travels when you push it down)?
See key dip in the manual at

On a Rhodes, the term "escapement" is taken to mean the distance from the top of the hammer tip to the bottom of the tine when the hammer is held in the stop-lock position by holding the key down.  The easiest way to adjust the escapement is to move the tine by turning the adjustment screws that hold the tine and tonebar in position. 

When making adjustments to escapement, you should start by setting the tonebar height at 3/8" (distance from bottom of the tonebar to the wood rail underneath).  The adjustment block you see in the videos is just a mounting block from an old broken tine - it just happens to be 3/8" square, and very convenient as a feeler gauge. 

See figure 4-3 and 4-4 at  When you play with the tone bar adjustment screws, notice that you need to adjust the back screw to keep the tine pointing at the tip of the pickup, and the front screw to set the tonebar height.  Once you get it to the 3/8" "factory setting" height, then fine-tune each screw to provide you with your preferred escapement and desired tone (see figure 4-8 for advice about tone/timbre setting).  If you have crushed or cracked grommets, you might not be able to get it set perfectly.  (When you install the new grommets, you will be very pleased with the new sound.)

If setting the tonebars to the 3/8" height still leaves you with huge escapement, then you might consider making course adjustments to escapement by removing shims from the harp supports.  Yes, you are allowed to remove the shim from the top of the aluminum harp support to reduce the escapement - even from just the left/bass side if needed.  Lots of folks find that they need to add more shims too.  Don't remove the shims until after you get the new grommets and hammer tips installed.

Make your final escapement adjustments after you get the new grommets (because you will be unscrewing the tonebars from the harp, cleaning away the wax, and re-installing the grommets, springs and tonebars), and until after you get the new hammer tips (because they may be different in height).

Take a good look at the service manual, and keep the questions coming. 

You have bested my giant,

Sean (who sadly looks like Vizzini)

Title: Re: New Rhodes Owner- Seeking advice on servicing
Post by: Wesley on July 22, 2021, 10:57:57 PM
Thanks for the reply Sean. I didn’t realize that key escapement could be adjust by both  the tone bars and the harp supports so thanks for clearing that up. The refurb kit comes tomorrow so I’ll be busy with that for a few days.

A few questions on rust: How much rust does it take to actually affect tone/longevity of the Rhodes? I’m not worried about how it looks but I do want the best tone possible. I attached a photo of the rust on the tines and tone bars (sorry about quality- had to heavily compress it). It just looks like surface rust to me. Should I try sanding it down with very light sandpaper soaked in kerosene? I’ve seen some posts about that.

Thanks for the help!
Title: Re: New Rhodes Owner- Seeking advice on servicing
Post by: sean on July 23, 2021, 09:26:46 AM


Light surface rust doesn't seem to affect the tine sound at all from what I can tell.

I personally wouldn't use kerosene.  I wouldn't use sandpaper either - I dont think you want or need to scratch the surface where there isn't rust.  I have used scotchbrite pads, and that is enough rust removal for me.  If I wanted something more aggressive, I might resort to sandpaper.  (I don't want to bring steel wool anywhere near my Rhodes; but if you totally removed the tines from the piano, you could use steel wool in the other room, and clean off the steel wool dust laboriously.)

I like Evapo-Rust for rust removal, but I have not tried it on the tines themselves.

After you scrape the rust off, you should wipe each tine down with oil to discourage the return of more rust.  I have used 3-in-One oil.  I simply wipe it on, and wipe it off until it appears dry.  Then I re-install the tuning spring, and mount it in the piano.   

I don't use WD40 for two reasons - the overspray gets everywhere, and the solvents might damage the keytops, grommets, and hammer tips.

I really don't think the return of more rust is a problem, because the Rhodes will never ever ever spend another day in an attic, garage, car trunk, or utility closet.  If the Rhodes is kept in an air-conditioned house, the humidity will be low, and the Rhodes will last for centuries to come (maybe).

What does everyone else do about rust on the tines?  Anyone still using kerosene?

Title: Re: New Rhodes Owner- Seeking advice on servicing
Post by: Wesley on July 24, 2021, 02:47:36 PM
Thanks for the advice. If I use evaporust on the tone bars, will I need to re-coat them with something for protection? I’ve seen your posts on using krylon acrylic paint. I don’t really mind how the tone bars look but if I’m already taking off the tines to clean them I might as well clean up the tone bars.