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Messages - sean

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1
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Measurement between pedal and legs
« on: October 04, 2020, 02:43:17 PM »


That front to back measurement is center to center....  So you only have 23 inches of clearance between the legs if you want your pedal board to stick out that side.

My measurements were taken with the legs in the normal position (adjusted to their shortest length).  If you are a circus freak, and play your Rhodes with the legs extended, then you will have a little bit more space.  BTW, the measurements were taken on a 1979 73-key Rhodes Mark I stage piano with the cross braces installed, so it should match your Rhodes.

Sean




Oooh, 900 posts.

2
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Measurement between pedal and legs
« on: October 04, 2020, 02:33:23 PM »


You have 22 inches of clearance from the left side of the sustain pedal to the inside edge of the bottom of the back left leg.

Distance from bottom of front leg to bottom of back leg is 24 inches.

Sean

3
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Rhodes M2 Clacking keys problem
« on: September 30, 2020, 03:13:56 PM »


Hmmm... wear ear plugs.  Install a six-inch layer of fiberglass insulation on top of the piano.  Layer the lid with Dynamat.  None of these ideas are any good.

There is no practical way to eliminate the percussive whack that the wrapped-wooden hammer tips make against the stubby tines.  The best recommendation is that you learn to live with it. 

The percussive whack is not heard in the audio output of the Rhodes - prove it to yourself my making a recording:  you won't hear it in the playback.

If the top notes of your piano are too loud, simply move the pickups a bit further away from the tips of the tines.
If your hammer tips have worn through the shrink-wrap layer around the wood, you can replace or repair the hammer tips.


Sean



4

Here are my thoughts.  Hopefully they will inspire one of the repair shops to chime in.
The service manual has a section on key dip, and it doesn't say how to change the key dip!
http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-1

It is my understanding that most folks hope that the key dip can be adjusted by paper punchings on the balance rail.  I don't know how much this works.  It doesn't.

I might suspect that the keybed is not dead flat.  Is the keybed solidly screwed down?  Are there any gaps underneath the keybed - between the keybed and the case?

Also, you just replaced all the hammer flanges - are they mounted perfectly evenly?  Maybe one strip of hammer comb is drooping near the ends of the keyboard.

What is the chance that your piano has been in use for decades, and that over that time, the felt under the back end of the keysticks has become heavily worn in the areas most played... so the felt is thinner in the middle of the piano, but still relatively fresh and thick near the ends of the keyboard.   Hmmm... that's my bet.

You should have enough felt and paper punchings on the balance rail to keep the keys from bottoming out on the front rail felt strips or felts around the guide rail pins.

Then the key travel is limited by the key pedestal travel between the rest position and the stop-lock position.
Then the key travel is limited by the key pedestal travel between the rest position and the stop-lock position.
................................................................................between the rest position and the stop-lock position.

To change the travel between the rest position and the stop-lock position, you can:
1.  Make the key pedestals shorter, or simply shave off a bit of wood from the bottom back end of the key.  Thinner pedestal felts give only a tiny bit of extra travel.
2.  Replace the felt underneath the back end of the keys with thinner felt.  Again, this will only give you the difference in felt thickness, so not a huge change in travel.
3.  Raise the hammer cam stop-lock position by raising the whole action rail.  Shims under the action rail are not illegal.  This could give you a huge change in key dip.  You should probably expect to have to raise the position of the tines, probably best by putting shims on top of the harp supports.  And you will want to check the strike line.

Sean

5
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Restoring '82 MkII Suitcase
« on: September 02, 2020, 11:04:28 AM »
Hey Tom,

1.  The plastic-key Rhodes has plastic pins in the balance rail and guide rail.  These plastic pins are much larger in diameter than the little metal pins in the other Rhodes pianos, so the standard round paper punchings and felt donuts do not fit the plastic-key Rhodes.

The felt at the guide rail serves no purpose.  The downward travel of the key will stop when the pedestal jams against the hammer cam in the "stop-lock" position. 

There are some folks who believe that it is helpful or good to have front rail felts impede or stop this travel, and they try to build up the guide rail felts until they hit the bottom of the key. 

2.  I personally love the look of the black name rail (I have a 1983 plastic-key Rhodes downstairs).  If you are energetic enough to change the tolex color AND paint the flat-top harp cover, then you should also be inspired enough to buy a new name rail.  This may would give you the look you want.   Hmmm... maybe I should run downstairs and make sure that the black rail's aluminum extrusion profile is similar to the other Mark II namerails.  (See next post.)


You should definitely move the balance rail to the front position!  (There are two grooves in the bottom of the case, the factory installed the balance rail in the back slot, but moving the balance rail to the front slot will make your action much better.  It will still bounce and clickety-clack, but it will feel lighter and faster.)

Is that the Rhodes amplifier and base at the bottom left in your photo?  Do you need a power supply for the preamp?  See  https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9706.msg53682#msg53682 and https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9657.0

Sean

6

Has anyone tried the MXR MX-81 Bass Preamp with a Rhodes stage piano?

On paper and in the movies, this unit looks pretty good:  2.2MΩ input impedance, *sweepable* midrange EQ, treble EQ at 4KHz instead of 12KHz, a little bit of gain, convenient power options (9V battery, wall-wart, or phantom), 1/4" and XLR DI output.

https://www.jimdunlop.com/mxr-bass-preamp/

The only two bad things about it are the blue LED and the pricetag.

Has anybody seen one in person and played with it?

Sean

7

WurliTzer made organs.  To some people, a WurliTzer is an organ.  To other people, a WurliTzer is a juke box.  To less than 1% of people, a WurliTzer is an electric piano.

But really, c'mon, a piano tech that doesn't know the WurliTzer 200A Electric Piano?  You don't want that guy to touch your instrument.

Sean

8

Yaniv,

This is awesome, and a great reference.  I wish you did the finish on a scrap piece of wood so you could test the final buffing technique.

I wonder what other things around the house we can paint metallic purple... the refrigerator might look good.

Sean

9

If you have an early Mark I piano with wooden harp supports, the harp is held down with screws similar to modern sheet metal screws.  I would buy Round Head Phillips #12 sheet metal screws, 1" long.

Zinc plated https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-12-x-1-in-Phillips-Pan-Head-Zinc-Plated-Sheet-Metal-Screw-6-Pack-806601/204275210

Stainless https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-12-x-1-in-Phillips-Pan-Head-Stainless-Steel-Sheet-Metal-Screw-2-Pack-801191/204275403

or here is your box of fifty:  https://www.mcmaster.com/92470A296/

===========================

If you have a Mark I piano with aluminum harp supports, the screw used is a plain steel pan-head phillips screw with #12-24 threads, length 0.850" - a 3/4" or 1" length will work fine, but 1.250" screw will bottom out on the aluminum extrusion.  The original screws were self-tapping, but you don't need to cut new threads, so just get a plain screw.  The original screws are not stainless steel.

https://www.mcmaster.com/91772A397/

Sean

10

The back corners should already be supported by the wooden block on the inside of the corners.  You shouldn't need a metal bracket in there, but if you have already broken the joint enough to notice the separation, you will have to put a metal bracket in there and hope for the best.

If it falls apart, you get to repair and retolex.

You might be able to get a metal bracket inside that corner just above the wooden block.  Looks to me (on my 1979 Mark I) that a little 2" corner bracket will sit in there without protruding up above the sloped sides.  I would try a 3" bracket too, but you might have to grind down the top edge of the bracket to keep it out of sight.



https://www.mcmaster.com/1556A54/
https://www.mcmaster.com/1556A36/
Stainless Steel!  - https://www.mcmaster.com/19155A38/
No.  Get this:  https://www.mcmaster.com/15655A71/

Who knew that they make something like this?  https://www.mcmaster.com/15655A31/



Sean

11

It really looks beautiful.  How soon until we can see it on the piano?

Sean

12
The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Need Help Diagnosing a 200A
« on: August 12, 2020, 01:13:27 AM »

Ethan,

I cannot stop giggling about this.  What part of "remove the death cap" would lead one to believe that I meant "replace the death cap with a piece of wire"?  I must therefore assume you were joking.  Well played.   And wait a second, that cap doesn't qualify as a death cap, because it doesn't have one leg touching ground.  Right?  It could fail to a short circuit, and that would blow the fuse, but not expose the chassis to the AC mains.   Hmmm... does that cap protect the neon bulb from kickback when power is turned off? I dunno.  Maybe I should not have recommended removing it.

You should absolutely positively buy the vintage vibe kit.  They have selected capacitors that meet the capacitance value, voltage rating, temperature rating, ESR, physical size, and sexual orientation (axial or radial leads).  What's it cost?  14 capacitors for 42 dollars?  Three bucks a component.  That's fair and resonable.

If you were experienced in selecting electrical components, you would not have asked the question.  It takes a long time to shop online for components (there are a TON of options, and a TON of specs to verify).  You can theoretically save a small bit of money buying all the components from Digikey or Mouser, but you have to get lucky and make all of the component selections correctly - so that you don't have to re-order any items that you got wrong (and pay for shipping again).  But whenever I am searching for components, I always stumble across an amusing option:  see https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/avx-corporation/SXP37C334KAA/478-6179-ND/2346149 (Prices like diamonds).  I see that the VV kit does not include the rectifier diodes.  Let's hope they are fine, and the lightning just blew the fuse.  Let's also hope that the transformer isn't damaged.

You also bring up a very good point - shame on me for not suggesting this first:  Yes, you should be careful while testing with the power turned on!  My advice is, uhm DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!  There is a high voltage section coming off the transformer (blue wire).   See the schematic area just below the transformer.  The little ladder of capacitors and high-value resistors smooth out the high voltage and feed the high voltage to the reed bar (black wire).  Look closely at the circuitry in your piano and locate these components, and do not touch them. 

Now look at the upper left corner of the schematic where the connection labeled "18" comes from the little ladder and goes through the 1Meg resistor, then makes a turn through the 22K resistor over to the screw that connects to the reed bar.  Do not touch anything to the left of the .022uF capacitor.  These components are on the little circuit board mounted up on the reed bar.  Find them, and do not touch them.  Oh yeah, don't touch the reed bar either.

Also, while you are poking around with the probes from the multimeter, be careful.  It is very easy to slip and touch the wrong thing, because you set the probes in the desired position and then you turn your head to look at the meter readout.  Put the meter close, and on a secure surface, and don't tug on the probe wires or the meter falls over.

Oh yeah, and before you get into this, watch these videos:
1.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fmpepn5e0c
2.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQtgS7C03ck
3.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLLme1Temmk  Oh my, they look so young.  It's a wurly, but not a 200A!
4.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI7Y5Whjfe8  not any wurly, but....

Sean

Whoa!   VV has a much clearer 200A schematic as the install directions for their rebuild and hiss-killer kits. 
See https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0666/2821/files/Wurlitzer_200A_-_Rebuild_Kit.jpg
and https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0666/2821/files/200A_Hiss_Killer.jpg

13
The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Need Help Diagnosing a 200A
« on: August 11, 2020, 03:06:02 PM »

Ethan,

Rudimentary knowledge will get you pretty far if you have patience and common sense.  You should study the schematic in the service manual (or find a friend to show you how to read the schematic), and identify the parts on the circuit boards.

This is the 200A manual from Vintage Vibe's manuals page (https://www.vintagevibe.com/pages/service-manuals):
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0666/2821/files/Wurlitzer_200_and_200A_Service_Manual.pdf?8872610067384662061

Note that the manual has many different piano versions all crammed into one document, so you have to keep your eyes peeled for the "200A" content.  Keep hitting page down, and don't lose hope.  Eventually you will get to page 62...   Then you have to decide if the schematic on page 66 matches your piano, and then wonder why there is no similar schematic for the early production models like the table of contents on page 62 leads you to expect. 


Well, you will realize that there is nothing to do until you get your hands dirty.  Check the slow-blow fuse on the AC input, it may look fine, but test for continuity with your multimeter.(*1)  Look for smoked or burnt sections on the circuit board.  If you are lucky enough to find a burnt spot, that is a pretty obvious indicator that the components in that area need to be replaced.   You can test the rectifier diodes, but it is easy enough to just swap them out with new ones.  Test all the voltages around the voltage regulator (IC-1).  You should also expect to replace each and every one of the large electrolytic capacitors.  Remove the "death cap" - the .01uF capacitor right next to the neon bulb on the schematic.

Sean


(*1) Do not admit that you don't own a multimeter.  How embarrassing.  What have you been doing with your life?  Everyone should have a multimeter, and they are practically free:  six bucks will get you one that works very well for low-voltage work.  See  https://www.harborfreight.com/7-Function-Digital-Multimeter-63759.html

14
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Rhodes Help
« on: August 03, 2020, 11:58:02 PM »

When you say "feedback," do you actually mean buzzing noise? 

[Or do you mean "feedback" - an oscillating howl created by the amplified resonance between the speaker and a microphone?]

Look for obvious problems first (is there a short or broken wire at the RCA connector, does any wire look out of place or broken), but you should expect that it could be dead pickups. 

Get a cheap volt-ohm "multimeter" and check the harp for continuity. 
This cheapie multimeter will work fine:  https://www.harborfreight.com/7-Function-Digital-Multimeter-63759.html

See https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=10307.msg57408#msg57408
and the links at the bottom of that post.

Come back at us with any new information or developments.

Is it a stage piano or a suitcase?

Sean

15


Unless your existing washers are offensively nasty and rusted, you should just re-use the existing washers.

16

The tonebar washers I have are:
0.432" in diameter (just under 7/16", very close to 11mm)
0.187" center hole (3/16", well under 5mm)
0.045" thick (3/64", 1 and 1/7 mm?  HA)


Let's see what we can find online:  Bingo!   https://www.mcmaster.com/91950A046/

SAE #8.  (General Purpose washers won't be the right size or thickness, you want SAE.)

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-8-Stainless-Steel-Flat-Washer-50-Pack-800022/204276447


Sean

17

Looks pretty sweet!

I also like the paints booth!  Great idea.

Sean

18
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Fender Rhodes Mark 2
« on: July 28, 2020, 12:40:52 PM »


Ja! Bitte poste Fotos!

...Ich hoffe, die Tonabnehmer haben kein weißes Klebeband.

(Leider spreche ich kein Deutsch.  Ich kann nur ein paar Sätze in Google Übersetzer machen.)


Sean


[Yes, please post photos.
...I hope the pickups don't have white tape.]

19
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Fender Rhodes Mark 2
« on: July 28, 2020, 12:33:40 PM »

Dies wird eine Herausforderung sein...  Kann einer unserer Techniker hier Deutsch?


[This will be a challenge... Do any techs here speak German?]

20
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Fender Rhodes Mark 2
« on: July 28, 2020, 12:22:20 PM »

Google Translate thinks he said:

Hello everyone,
I got a Fender Rhodes Mark II from my basement a few weeks ago from my father.
I immediately organized an amplifier and connected the piano to my system.
Then I noticed that the lower half is quiet to no sounds.
Since I am only 15 I am familiar with it and do not know exactly what to do now.
I appreciate every tip.
I can also send photos if necessary
LG

21

JB,

Get a vise.  If you want sustain, get a vise.

Sean

22

JB,

When you tap a screwdriver against those pickups, you hear a loud POP through the amp, correct?  (that means the coil is intact)
Can you feel the pull of the magnet on these pickups?  (To confirm that the magnet is still inside the pickup bobbin.)

If you just said "yes" twice, then...

If you can make the tines vibrate, but do not get any sound from the pickups, then the tine is NOT close enough to the pickup.  It may be too far back, it may be too far above, or it may be too far below.  (Remember, a short tine without a tuning spring will make almost no sound or sustain at all, so test on a tine that has a tuning spring installed.)
__________

You can easily test the swing of the hammers and see exactly where they contact the tines: 
1.  Remove the screws at each end of the name rail, unplug the grey cable that goes to the back left corner of the harp, and set the name rail aside.
2.  Reach your hand in from the front, and lift the hammers manually with your fingers.

Then you will see where the hammer is going to hit the tine, or where it bangs against the tine block, or the end of the damper arm.

Sean

23


JB,

You cannot adjust the position of the hammers.  You can only move the tines or the pickups. 

You have five ways of moving the tines:
1 - fiddle with the "timbre" tone-bar mounting screw
2 - fiddle with the "escapement" tone-bar mounting screw
3 - add or remove shims from the harp supports
4 - slide one or both ends of the harp forward or backward (this adjusts the "strike line")
5 - if the tine is mounted off-center, loosen the tine-block mounting screw, and align the tine so that it is straight

You have two ways of moving the pickups:
1 - loosen the screw, and slide the pickup a tiny bit forward or a tiny bit backward
2 - if the pickups seem abnormally high or low, you can very delicately bend the aluminum tang to get the pickups to sit right (straight is best, but... you gotta do what you gotta do.  Be careful not to break the pickup bobbin off the tang.)

In the situation that a tonebar is leaning down so much to get the tine facing the pickup, bend the pickup to sit higher, and the tonebar won't be leaning down so much that the tine block is pinned against the rail.

Are these new tonebar grommets or old tonebar grommets?  New grommets will fix (or change) lots of positioning issues.

To re-install the tuning spring, you should remove the tonebar and tine from the harp, and hold it steady in a bench vise.

Sean

24

JB,

Tine 72 and 73 need tuning springs.
The tine block for tine 72 is pinned against the tonebar rail, so it will be damped.
Tine 71 is well above the pickup, and the pickup is extended too close to that tine.  Tine 73 may be too high as well.

Have you adjusted the tonebars so that they are about 3/8" above the surface of the rail?
Adjust the escapement screw so that the distance from the bottom of the tonebar to the top of the rail is 3/8. 
Look right here at the place where the #1 arrow is pointing:




Use a 3/8" block as a feeler gauge (we all use the mounting block from an old broken tine).  Then adjust the timbre screw so that the tine is pointed at the tip of the pickup (and re-check the 3/8" gap again), then adjust the pickup so that it is nice and close to the tine. 

Take a look at chapter 4 of the repair manual, and search this forum for "strike line."

Sean

25


Don't worry about your tines yet.  Yes, definitely replace the grommets, you will be surprised how much of a difference that makes.

Your damper felts look great.  The one that leans can be re-glued, or gently convinced with a little glue at the base to sit up straight and eat his peas.

I think you should go for new hammer tips, because you don't like the current dried-up and hardened ones.  Newer softer tips will sound different.  If nobody here has guidance, call Chris or Fred at VV and discuss it.  They will help you decide which style tips to get.

I would leave the pedestal felts as they are.  They don't seem to be any problem - you don't seem to be hating the action in the video. 

Sean

26

SteveO - hah!  I beat you by 77 seconds.

Wanna race on the next one?

 ;)

27

JB,

RTFM  http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/toc.html
Bookmark this site:  http://www.fenderrhodes.com/

Especially see:  http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-7
See also http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/tine-settings.html

Play around with the pickup position and the timbre adjustment screw.  You will find your sound.

The timbre adjustment screw is the leftmost screw/spring in this diagram:
http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#fig4-3
(That is the tonebar adjustment screw that is closest to the rear of the piano, closest to the pickups.)

To make the notes louder, you can slide the pickup closer to the tine tip - loosten the pickup mounting screw, gently nudge the pickup to get it unstuck from 47 years of living in one place, then slide the pickup forward so that it is closer to the tine, gently re-tighten the pickup mounting screw.

Have you confirmed that the hammers are indeed contacting the tines?  If the escapement is abnormally high, sometimes the hammer will hit the end of the damper arm before it gets to the tine.



Sean

28

... only about 460 miles away.  Nine or ten hours of driving each way, plus $70 of gas each way.  Hmmm....  Ouch.

29


TC,

I have exactly what you need. 

I have the remains of a c.1973 Rhodes action:  73 Pratt-Read full-skirt keys on a keybed, wooden action rail with half-wood hammers, bridle straps, individual damper arms, and tooth-root damper felts. 

It is missing the harp, missing case, missing balance rail felts and front rail felts, missing the name rail, and strangely missing the wooden support for the action rail (the strip of wood that goes between the keybed and the action rail).  I think I have the cheek blocks too. 

The action is now clean, but still needs some work.  The balance and front rail pins were rusted, and have been sanded down.  They are not as smooth as ideal.  About 22 of the keys stick (they don't return on their own volition), and need to have their sides sanded down until they no longer touch their neighbors.  (Two keys at the bottom, two keys in the middle, and then nearly every single key in the top two octaves.)  This means that the action was exposed to water, and the keys are warped (or maybe just swollen?).  However, every single key looks perfectly straight when removed from the action.  I think they all work when I remove the neighboring keys, but I should test that to verify.   Every key pedestal seems to mate with the key above just perfectly, so I don't think this action is too far gone.


Where on planet earth are you?  Toronto?  I am in USA, near Washington DC.  Send me a PM with your email and phone number.

Sean

30

JB,

You can tap the tip of the pickup with a screwdriver, and it will make a LOUD pop and clank as the magnet makes the screwdriver slam against the pickup tip - so turn the amp gain way down.  I have done this, but it is never an enjoyable method, and you don't really need to put your speakers through this torture.

However, it does help in the situation where you have one very quiet note, but you refuse to believe that the pickup is dead.  If one pickup is dead in a group-of-three, the neighboring pickups will still create some current in reaction to the moving tine.  The note with the dead pickup will sound quiet and ghostly, but audible.  If you tap the pickup on the quiet note, you will get no loud pop when the magnet grabs the screwdriver.  Then you can confidently declare the pickup dead.

Sean

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