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Just an update for those curious and/or those who come across a similar issue...

I did as pnoboy suggested and cut little pedestal extensions for the keys that needed them.  Luckily, I have a skilled woodworker where I work who has an extensive wood shop with all the tools needed. 

He cut the pieces (Pic 1) which I then attached to the keys (Pic 2), and then proceeded with the miracle mod as usual.  Worked like a charm!

Thanks to everyone who helped out!  :)

Hello all,

I am in the process of a refurb of my '77/'78 Mk I Stage which includes, among other things, installing new hammer tips.  In an attempt to get the sound I'm looking for, I switched from the graduated tips that it came with to square tips from Vintage Vibe.  I figured this would change the escapement, and of course, it has.

I predicted that the escapement would be too tight in the bass, and probably no change in the treble (as the square tip kit has wrapped wood core tips in the top octave or so, like the graduated tip set).  After measuring, the bass was indeed too tight, but the treble was actually too wide.  I've put some shims on the bass side (a 1/32" and a 1/16"), but I want to lower the harp on the treble side.  As many of you probably already know, my era of Rhodes has aluminum harp supports; these supports have about an 1/8" of what looks like MDF glued on top.  I assume this exists to do what I want to do to it:  shave it in order to lower the harp.

My question is: what's the best way to remove this MDF material evenly and accurately?  I think of sanding, but I'm worried about not getting a level, consistent surface.  Should I use a hand plane?  I'm less experienced with that, but it seems like it would produce a more level surface.  Should I try a different method?
Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Miracle Mod Issue
February 14, 2018, 08:19:14 PM
Thanks pnoboy and Ben Bove for your replies!  Ben, yours was particuarly informative (shame about the QC at the Rhodes factory at the time...).  I see how your suggestion to re-align the action rail would work, but that fix is waaaay above my comfort level. 

I think I'll try pnoboy's suggestion (I do have regular access to many woodworking tools), but I have a few questions:

1. (This one's a concern, really.)  While my knowledge of piano mechanics (and physics!) are admittedly limited, it strikes me that each key is a fulcrum, pivoting on the center rail (or balance rail).  If I add some wood to the pedestal, will that mess with the balance of the key?  I mean, I guess it will be a pretty small piece of wood I'll be attaching, so maybe it won't make a difference??

2.  What type of wood should I use? (Thanks for the tip about the grain orientation!)
Ok, yeah, I can see how sean's idea could work, and although my electrical savvy isn't sophisticated enough to know how (or rather, why) pnoboy's idea would work, I still have one question:

Part (but only part) of the reason for disconnecting the RCA and going direct from the pickups to the 1/4" jack is to eliminate the RCA which is based on my vague sense that the RCA connection degrades the sound somehow--is that true?  Or is there no difference between the fidelity of an RCA and a 1/4"?  And if there is a difference, how big of a difference?  Am I splitting atoms by insisting there be no RCA?
Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Miracle Mod Issue
February 10, 2018, 10:21:11 PM
Well, it's worse than I thought  :(

As you can see in the third photo of my original post, I didn't have a good view of the bump/pedestal on the low end of the keyboard.  I suspected the bump might be impeding the hammer cam even on the Eb, and after checking indeed it was.  I kept moving up the keyboard temporarily gluing bumps and checking as I went and I would now (more confidently than last time!) say that the lowest key pedestal a bump can fit on is key # 24--the second Ab. 

The question remains: is it better to have a bump and felt if the pedestal is sitting on the bump (when the key is fully depressed without aftertouch), OR no bump at all (only felts)?
Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Miracle Mod Issue
February 10, 2018, 06:06:59 PM
Hey EPers,

I am refurbishing my Rhodes Stage 73 Mk I (ca. late '77/early '78) and as part of the process I am installing the Miracle Mod.  I have the parts (thank you Vintage Vibe!), but have run into a problem that I couldn't resolve by looking online. 

I've watched many videos online many times regarding the install of the mod, and I started as instructed: I marked where I thought the bump should go on the high E.  This ended up being about an 1/8" back from the front of the pedestal. (See Pic 1; after looking at the photo, it seems that I could probably put the bump a little bit further back...) (Incidentally, there are no felts on the pedestals as my Rhodes had hammer cam felts, which I removed.) 

Then I went to the low E to do the same, which is when I ran into trouble.  Pretty quickly I saw that I'd have to put the bump right at the edge of the pedestal based on where the hammer was resting.  Once I got in there to do it, I realized the hammer is actually resting on the bump itself when the key is depressed (See Pic 2.) (I was always careful to make sure I was never going into aftertouch throughout this process).  This is problematic, no?  My understanding is that the bump should not be touching (or at most only barely touching) the hammer when the key is depressed.  As you can (hopefully) see in the photo, the cam is not only touching the bump, but it's SITTING on the bump, consequently raising it above the pedestal, as evidenced by the light coming from behind. 

I decided to check another key to see if there was a difference, and it seemed like the hammer cams were getting further and further away from the edge of the pedestal as I went up the keyboard.  After some trial and error, I found that the low Eb--nearly an octave up from the lowest key--was the lowest key I could install the bump and not have it interfere with the hammer cam when the key is depressed.  (See Pic 3; sorry it's not the greatest shot, but it was hard to get at.)

To confirm this discrepancy, you can compare the position of the BACK of the hammer cams to the back of the pedestals between Pics 1 & 2: you should be able to see that the cam and pedestal are flush in Pic 1, but offset by about an inch or so in Pic 2.  (I'm not sure what could cause this issue--a manufacturing quirk??)

So herein lies my problem: do I make my straight edge line between the low Eb and the high E, install the bumps accordingly, and cover all the pedestals with felt?  This will leave the bottom octave with felts but no bumps.  This seems like it will create an escapement issue.  Should I instead install the bumps on the bottom octave anyway, ignoring the interference with the hammer cam?  This seems like it will also cause escapement problems.

I just want to make sure I do it right the first time (and I'm pretty anxious to get back to playing my Rhodes), so any and all feedback/thoughts are appreciated!
Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Rhodes Preamp Bypass
February 10, 2018, 05:30:09 PM
Hey EPers,

I have a Rhodes Mk I Stage 73 (ca. late '77/early '78) and I have to say that the passive electronics are...not great.  I've always preferred the sound I get coming directly from the harp via the RCA and as such usually use an RCA-to-1/4" cable from the harp to my amp or pedals.  This makes the lid a bit crooked, and not really usable to stack other keyboards on.  It also kind of looks shitty. 

I'd like to just bypass the electronics, and while I'm at it, the RCA altogether--if possible.  The RCA has two wires connected to it; the 1/4" input has two wires connected to it--can I resolder the wires from the pickup rail and connect them directly to the 1/4" input?

Of course, this would mean I can't use the volume and bass boost knobs, which is fine--I can EQ elsewhere in my setup, and I go directly into a volume pedal.  I also realize that I won't be able to easily get back to the "origianl tone"--I'm also ok with this.  I've thought about it and I cannot imagine a situation where I would want/need the tone of the passive electronics.  Directly from the pickup rail is superior in all ways in my opinion.

Would it work?  Should I do it?
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Tuning
April 13, 2011, 06:53:35 PM
Well, I have a tuner coming in on Monday who said he'll look at the Rhodes.  Hopefully he'll 1) tune it and 2) show me how he's doing it as he goes.  In the meantime, I've been re-voicing the keys and really digging the sounds I can get out of this thing...

I was also thinking about the tuning section in the Rhodes manual which suggests tuning only in octaves.  Has anyone had success with this method?

Incidentally, I got a book out of the library on piano maintenance by Reblitz--fascinating stuff.  Among many other things, he shows you what metronome markings to use when discerning the amount of beating for different intervals.  Very cool!

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Tuning
April 07, 2011, 03:53:55 PM
Ok, this tuning thing is driving me CRAZY! 

I tried tuning by ear, using the method laid out in "Piano Tuning" by Fischer, and I've realized that my ears aren't as good as I thought they were  :-[  I kind of gave up and contacted a local Rhodes maintenance guy to come in and tune the thing, but in talking to him on the phone, I found out that all he does is tune each tine to a guitar tuner, which is what I tried in the beginning!!  I then asked a friend who has a Rhodes what he did, and he said he did the same thing (with a guitar tuner).  Maybe I'm crazy, but just using a guitar tuner doesn't sound quite right to me...

I have an acoustic piano that needs tuning, so I'm just going to ask the tuner to do the Rhodes as well, and hope that he can do it.

I guess my question now is, how many of you tune your Rhodes just using a guitar tuner for each key, versus how many of you tune it using a standard acoustic piano method?
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Tuning
March 07, 2011, 04:51:37 PM
Thanks for the reply, guys!  I've thought about the stretch tuning thing before, and I may try it someday, but for now I'd like to get a decent handle on equal temperament!  :P  I know I've read an interesting thread on here before with some good arguments for and against stretch tuning, but as I said, I'll need to get better at tuning of any kind on this instrument...
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Tuning
March 07, 2011, 12:50:00 PM
My question here is primarily for pianotuner_steveo, but anyone can answer (and even better, hopefully everyone can learn from the answer!).

I'm working on getting my '78 Mk I Stage in tip-top shape, and amongst the many things I'm doing to it right now, I'm tuning it in preparation for voicing.  Amongst other things, I'm a classically trained guitarist, so my ear for tuning isn't too bad, however, when I sat down to tune the Rhodes, I figured I'd go for the ultimate in accuracy and use a chromatic tuner (I even bought the Peterson Strobosoft app for my phone to do it!).  Afterwards, it sounded worse!  If anything, it wasn't perfect when I started, and I felt that I only increased the accuracy of the pitches, yet it still sounded worse. 

Then I found this thread where pianotuner_steveo suggested tuning by ear once A440 is established, which I have no trouble doing.  But before I get going on his instructions, I wanted to ask:

When I'm tuning by ear I notice that some notes are beating a little, so I obviously tune them to the point where the beating disappears, but isn't this essentially the same as using a tuner to get each note in tune independently of the others?  I mean, obviously not, or my Rhodes wouldn't sound so bad right now, but why/how is this happening?  I don't mind tuning by ear but using a tuner is faster, and with two kids under two, time is GOLD! ;)

Ok, it's been a while since I've updated this situation, but I was waiting for parts from Vintage Vibe which just arrived today :D

At the moment, my first concern is the non-sounding notes.  The middle C doesn't sound, but that's because the pickup has snapped from the metal rail.  I've got a replacement pickup and wire ready to go, so I'll replace it and hopefully I'll be good to go.  (The B beside it also doesn't really sound--it's pickup works fine, but I'm hoping that it will start functioning again once I get the C wired in.  I'll update once the work is complete.)

My real problem is the low A, which has me a little stumped at the moment.  Testing the pickup (by touching the front and the back of the pickup with a screwdriver) tells me that it's actually working, however the note just won't amplify.  It doesn't sound any different from any other tines when not plugged in, and I pushed the pickup as close to the tine as possible and it still won't work (I can hear the signal start to distort--as one would expect--when I move the pickup closer, but the volume doesn't come to anywhere near the correct volume).

I've got a replacement pickup ready to go for it, but I'd rather not install it if the one that's there now is working fine.  Any other thoughts on what could be wrong with this note?

Thanks for the replies :)

Does anyone know what kind of wire is used to connect the pickups?

F problem solved!  It was a bent tine, which I (very carefully and slowly) bent back as straight as I could get it.  (How do those things get bent like that?!)  Interestingly enough, the E next to it was bent just as much, but it didn't have the same effect on the sound...

All that's left is the B and the C which I need a pickup for.  As for the low A...I'm at a loss, which makes me think it's the pickup.  :( I should be able to get hold of a multimeter tomorrow.

Incidentally, this Rhodes was also missing the sustain pedal when I bought it (although it did come with the Rogers sustain rod), so I'm looking to buy one online.  Since these things seem like custom builds, is Vintage Vibe the place to get one from?  There are other places, but they're more expensive...

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Notes not working
December 13, 2010, 10:41:03 PM

I just purchased a late '77/early '78 Stage Mk1 73 that needs some work.  There are multiple issues, but I'm going to try to tackle them one at a time instead of dumping everything into one post.

I have a few notes that aren't sounding properly. 

1. Middle C: doesn't have a pickup, so I'll be ordering one from Vintage Vibe. 

2. B below middle C: makes a sound but only very quietly. I noticed that the pickup is only connected in the back--the front is not connected to a pickup on either side (primarily because the pickup to the right of it is missing), so maybe that's the issue?

3. F below middle C: volume's ok, but it makes a weird oscillating sound (like a shallow tremolo or something), which I notice even when the Rhodes isn't plugged into an amp.

4. Lowest A: makes a sound, but only very quietly.  There doesn't seem to be any issue with the pickup, so I'm totally stumped on this one.

As I said, there are some other issues, but I'd like to get these cleared up first.  Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!  ;D