The Electric Piano Forum

Repairs, Maintenance & Upgrades => Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs => Topic started by: colibas on August 21, 2021, 09:13:09 PM

Title: Do hammer tips go bad?
Post by: colibas on August 21, 2021, 09:13:09 PM
Hi, All--

My 1977 Rhodes was in storage for decades, according to the first owner. Only 5 of the hammer tips show wear. He said he never had it worked on, so they may be original.
 
Will the tips have hardened or otherwise changed over time? Should I replace all of them?

Thanks.
Title: Re: Do hammer tips go bad?
Post by: Tines&Reeds on August 22, 2021, 04:06:02 PM
I'd guess so. These parts were made from a special type of rubber. Neoprene iirc. Every rubber is a mix of various minerals / materials. Some of those will dissipate into the air after years / decades. This you can also see on the grommets. They are hard after 50 years.
Title: Re: Do hammer tips go bad?
Post by: colibas on August 22, 2021, 04:59:08 PM
Right. When you compare them to the grommets, I understand immediately.

Thanks,
Sean
Title: Re: Do hammer tips go bad?
Post by: Tim W on August 23, 2021, 01:37:06 PM
In general, I would strongly advise that you DO NOT replace ORIGINAL hammer tips if they are not deeply grooved, split, or otherwise worn. 

The wood core tips certainly aren’t bad unless the rubber wrap is cracked/split or pretty severely indented from heavy use.  The original rubber tips are made from a different compound than the grommets (we’ve done the testing/research), and also are not under the constant stress/pressure that the grommets endure from the tonebar springs.  They generally age very well if not damaged.  If the bass tips are still squishy and soft, and the hardness increases as you move up through the various sections, you are good. Only replace them if they are completely dried out and crumbling apart or have obvious deep (1/16”+) grooves, cracks below/around the grooves, chunks missing, or other heavy wear from playing/use. Even deeply grooved tips can be trimmed back if they aren’t split or cracking, followed by an escapement and strike line readjustment. One can almost always hear a bad or problematic hammer tip when compared with neighboring good ones.  With experience, eventually one can hear it without needing to do comparisons.

Generally, only the very early rubber hammertips (‘70-‘71) that had colored dye mixed in them need to be replaced due to a chemical degradation that occurs from the dye. All hammertips made without the dye (late ‘71 onwards) have a colored stripe painted on one side for identification.

Too many times people throw out perfectly good tips and dampers due to marketing hype and groupthink, and then are not happy or struggle to get good results.  Many believe that replacing all the old parts will make their piano sound better, when it is more often issues with action setup, voicing, and tuning creating the problems.  Very, very few Rhodes came out of the factory actually set up properly.  Exceptions are far and few between.  Most need significant tweaks and adjustments to get into the sweet spot.

Getting a Rhodes setup properly requires really good ears, a deep understanding of the relationships and tradeoffs in the Rhodes design, how to manipulate and optimize such tradeoffs, excellent mechanical skills, and lots of patience.  If you have a suitcase, you also need electronics skills and knowledge. Experience also helps since one then has a background of what works and what doesn’t, and how to identify, isolate, and eliminate issues.  YouTube won’t, unfortunately, get you very far.

Please appreciate that I state this unequivocally as a manufacturer and supplier of new parts, including hammertips. Tread lightly.  Don’t make extra work for yourself and end up with less than good results.  If it really ain’t broke, DON’T attempt to fix it!

Tim
Title: Re: Do hammer tips go bad?
Post by: Alan Lenhoff on August 23, 2021, 04:26:20 PM

Too many times people throw out perfectly good tips and dampers due to marketing hype and groupthink, and then are not happy or struggle to get good results.  Many believe that replacing all the old parts will make their piano sound better, when it is more often issues with action setup, voicing, and tuning creating the problems.
 
Please appreciate that I state this unequivocally as a manufacturer and supplier of new parts, including hammertips. Tread lightly.  Don’t make extra work for yourself and end up with less than good results.  If it really ain’t broke, DON’T attempt to fix it!


Bravo Tim!

This post ought to be required reading for every new Rhodes owner -- BEFORE they run out and replace every part they can find. 

Alan
Title: Re: Do hammer tips go bad?
Post by: Tines&Reeds on August 26, 2021, 01:05:24 AM
What a great post, Tim! Thanks for sharing!

Although I have never seen a (Fender) Rhodes, that matches the hardness mentioned by Steve Woodyard on fenderrhodes.com. I'm not sure if these informations are even valid. This leads to my consumption that there must be something in the hammertips that will dissolve over time.

Anyway I totally support the approach: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. :-)