The Electric Piano Forum

Repairs, Maintenance & Upgrades => Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs => Topic started by: danhera on March 07, 2008, 02:25:28 PM

Title: Rhodes 54 Pick-Up Modification
Post by: danhera on March 07, 2008, 02:25:28 PM
              I have a 54 with a few bad pick-ups.  Does anyone know of a way to make the connect the pick-ups in parallel instead of series.  My goal is to have the good keys working if a bad one goes out.


Title: Alligator clips can help find dead pickups...
Post by: sean on March 08, 2008, 04:14:21 PM
Dear Jarrod,

It would be a simple task to re-wire the pickups to all be in parallel.  Simple to say, and simple to describe.   Ugly and hateful to actually do.

If you actually attempted this, you would regret it.  Doing any soldering work on the pickups is a pain in the... uhm... neck.  (I get super cranky after replacing one single pickup.)

The way the pickup rail is wired, you have to lose all three adjacent pickups in a group for the whole piano to go dead.  But if you are in the situation where the piano is dead because of a lot of dead pickups, you can find the dead pickups somewhat easily with a few alligator clips.  (The wikipedia claims that some folks also call them crocodile clips, but I cannot believe this could be true.)  Anyway this is what alligator clips look like:

Buy a bag of six jumper wires with alligator clips on both ends.  (Or better yet, buy something like Radio Shack #278-016 clip leads.)

Use the alligator clips to short out large sections of the pickup rail, and you will quickly be able to narrow it down to which section has the dead pickups.  If you are really unlucky, you may have to short out nearly all of the piano, but probably not.  

If you try to short out an octave at a time, and play the other notes, you will probably get lucky and find the dead section pretty quick.  If not, then use your best and favorite curse words while you short out the bottom octave, and then also short out another octave while playing around hoping for sound.  If that doesn't work, short out the bottom TWO octaves, and then again the other spans here and there while you plink away.  

When you finally get sound, you know that the group of dead pickups is in the regions that you have shorted out.  

Then you can move the alligator clips closer together to short out fewer and fewer pickups until you identify the dead individuals.  Mark the dead pickups with a magic marker.  Then those are the only ones you have to keep shorted, and replace or repair.

Another way to search for suspected dead pickups is to get your brightest flashlight and a good magnifying lens, and look closely at the tiny wires on each pickup as they leave the soldered connection on either end of the winding.  Usually, you will see a tiny green speck of oxidation at the end of the broken wire, or sometimes you might even see that the wire is indeed broken.

Good luck,

Title: Rhodes 54 Pick-Up Modification
Post by: Mark II on March 08, 2008, 04:34:27 PM
Sean, why dont you use the "tapping a metalic tools against the pickup tip"-method to find the dead ones ?

just curious

Mark II
Title: tapping works fine, but the tines work too.
Post by: sean on March 09, 2008, 10:06:27 AM
You certainly can use a screwdriver to tap against the pickup to get sound out of it.  You get a loud "thwok" as the magnet pulls the scredriver in for a little concussion.  You will probably never 'enjoy' this sound.

With the harp in the normal position the screwdriver is a little less convenient than simply playing the tines from the keyboard.  If you have the harp propped up vertically, then the screwdriver tap is fine.

Still, you need a functional pickup rail to get sound.   Or you could simply attach your alligator clips to either end of a single pickup under test, and run that to your amplifier for the test.  If you get sound, yay!  If not, mark it with a Sharpie, and move the alligator clips to the next pickup.  The bad part of this method is that you would have to repeat it 54 times.  

Before I repeat the individual search 54 times, I would try to search octave by octave using my method in the previous post.

But each method works.  Go for it.
Title: Rhodes 54 Pick-Up Modification
Post by: danhera on March 09, 2008, 03:16:31 PM
thanks for the info,  I do not think I have the time to replace the pick-ups and therefore am going to sell it.  

Thanks again

Title: I wouldn't sell it yet....
Post by: sean on March 10, 2008, 11:13:31 AM
Ouch.  I am stunned.

I agree that *IF* you have a lot of dead pickups to replace, it will take a few hours to replace them.  However, it should take less than an hour to find out exactly how many pickups are dead.

Once you find out how many are dead, you can look around for a Rhodes Tech in Germany that can do the repair for you.  Then decide if you want to spend that money or not, do the work yourself, or sell.

You have a Rhodes 54.  Almost none of us have that.  It is a rare animal indeed.

Even if you decide to sell it, you will get a much higher price if all the pickups are working.  In the states, the difference in price would be huge, and it would easily cover the cost of repair.

And one last "I told you so"...  If you sell the Rhodes 54, there is a huge probability that in a year or so, you will be sitting at a pub with beer in hand regretting ever letting that 54 slip though your fingers.

(Of course, this POV is written by one of us that has unreasonable affection for the Rhodes piano.  Normal folks might not agree with me.)
Title: OOPS! not Germany...
Post by: sean on March 10, 2008, 11:16:22 AM
Oops!  I think I got your location wrong.  It is Mark II that is in Germany.

Anyway, my previous post is otherwise correct.