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Messages - Alan Lenhoff

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1
The OP posted this (upper) picture...

For those that might have missed it, sadly, Annie Glenn passed away last week from Covid 19 at the age of 100.

Thanks for pointing that out. I didn't know she was musical, but just read some biographical info that said she turned down an organ scholarship at Julliard at stay with John as WWII was breaking out, and ended up getting a degree from an Ohio college, with a music major.  There is a lot to like about her and her life.

Alan

2
>>200's and 200A's were designed for increased portability.  And indeed, most of us can pick up either of those and walk with them, at least from a car trunk to a nearby destination room, maybe taking one break along the way. They achieved this with the plastic top, getting rid of the leg-carrying lid, and by reducing the vertical and depth dimensions.>>

Definitely a step forward in portability -- and durability -- for a gigging musician.  But one suspects it would never have happened if it didn't also represent a significant production cost savings to Wurlitzer.  If you take a close look at the 140B's case, lid, music stand and removable key cover, you could make a long list of materials and labor processes that went away when they went to a molded plastic top. But whatever the motivation, it certainly met players' needs, as sales really took off during the 200-series era.

I don't mean to pick on Wurlitzer here.  Other keyboard manufacturers of the era were heavily focused on reducing production costs, too. It was a way to prolong the production and sales of these aging instruments as new competitors were emerging.

>>That said, if I was buying a Wurly that I intended to tour with, I would take a 200 or 200A over a 140B in a heartbeat.  If not, I would probably enjoy a 140B more.... and even more than that, a console 720A (later, 1965 design) or a 720B. But.... I am enjoying having both.>>

Steve, isn't "having both" usually the best solution to "I'm not sure which to own?"  ;-)

Alan


3
The playing is lovely -- and the Rhodes sounds fantastic, too. Nicely done!

Alan

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Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Parts of Clavinet E7
« on: May 05, 2020, 07:29:25 PM »
VintageVibe.com is now listing an original E7 preamp and an original E7 mute assembly for sale. https://www.vintagevibe.com/collections/clavinet-original-parts

They also sell modern replacement Clavinet pickups.

I've also had good experiences sourcing Clavinet parts from Peter Hayes at Electronic Edge in Ohio.  peter@elecedge.com

Alan

5
Really glad you're enjoying it!

Alan

6
I hope you'll enjoy it!

Alan

Hey Alan, I just got the book and it's amazing.  This must have been a massive effort!  Really impressive, I look forward to slowly working my way through it.  Thanks!

Thanks!  It was a 7-year labor of love for David Robertson and me. 

Alan

7
I hope you'll enjoy it!

Alan

8
Thanks to Marc Myers, music journalist, historian and author, for these kind words yesterday about Classic Keys on his award-winning jazz blog, JazzWax.com:

BOOK OF LOVE: If you love rock and electronic keyboards, Alan S. Lenhoff and David E. Robertson have just published Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music (University of North Texas Press). The 406-page coffee table book is beautifully written and features page after page of photos of electronic keyboards that gave rock its personality. There are in-depth chapters on the Hammond B-3, the Vox Continental, the Farfisa Compact, the Hohner Clavinet, the Minimoog, the Wurlitzer, the Hohner Pianet and many others. Each chapter is loaded with history about their development, the rock bands that used them and hits that featured them. Enormous fun reading through while listening to vintage vinyl.

ClassicKeysBook.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1574417762/

Alan

9
Congratulations!  You own a great EP!

>>i found out, that the external amp-out suddenly made some loud crackling noises when I plugged in a cable.>>

Are you trying to run the piano into an external amp? There is no aux out on a stock 140B.  The output on the back is for adding an external speaker. The one near the volume and vibrato controls is a headphone out.  With some electronic knowledge that's beyond my pay grade, you could convert the speaker out to an aux out.  My solution is to use the headphone jack, and use this handy little device to modify the signal before it goes to the amp:  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ProRMP  . This is likely a more expensive solution, but I didn't want to alter my stock piano. (And when you use the headphone jack, it is designed turn off the internal speaker. If you heard crackling noises, try cleaning the jack.) I don't recall whether the external speaker jack is switched to turn off the internal speaker when it is in use.

My recollection of removing the amp is a bit foggy, but you don't need to disassemble any other piano assembly to remove it. As I recall, there are 2-3 connectors that need to be removed from the amp, and a few screws that hold the amp to the bottom of the cabinet. At that point, you need to slightly slide the amp back toward the keys so that the fuse holder will clear the cutout where it sticks out of the back of the cabinet before you lift and remove the amp. You may have to tip the amp slightly to get it out, but you don't need to disassemble anything else.

Alan

10
Per the Vintage Vibe website, the replica 200-style sustain pedal they make will work on any Wurli except the model 112, which has a side-mounted sustain pedal.  So that should be fine.  The Wurli sustain pedal is connected to the sustain mechanism by a cable (rather than a rod) enclosed in a housing  (very similar to a bicycle brake or shifter cable and housing).  At the top, it has a knurled connector that hand screws into threads in a hole in the bottom of the case.  Pressing the pedal pulls on the damper mechanism, and the dampers lift off the reeds. 

You can see the damper mechanism in this photo:  https://www.tropicalfishvintage.com/blog/2019/6/3/popping-and-crackling-sounds-in-wurlitzer-electronic-pianos-is-it-the-amp-or-is-it-the-reeds . See the rod in the center of the piano (with the compressed spring). Just below the spring is the threaded fitting that the pedal attaches to.  I'm not sure what model this photo shows but the 140B's should be functionally similar.  You could take a look and see if you can find all the similar parts in the photo, make sure there is a threaded fitting in the hole in the underside of the case, and play with the rod to see if it lifts the dampers when the rod is pushed down.

But this mechanism is solidly built, and not something that people would have any reason to alter.  It's not something that would be likely to fail, in my opinion.  When you get your pedal, if the dampers don't lift properly, relax:  This video shows you how to make adjustments.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI5Gke6LzXA

And if you paint your piano red -- and you want to get really fancy -- you can buy red bike cable housing.  ;-)


Alan

11
Glad to help!

Regarding paint, one advantage of the original Zolatone paint was that it was textured, so it would help conceal scuffs and imperfections in the cabinet.  So, if I were re-painting one, I'd look for a textured spray paint, like this: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Rust-Oleum-Stops-Rust-Satin-Desert-Bisque-Textured-Spray-Paint-Actual-Net-Contents-12-oz/3728827  The satin finish of that paint would also help conceal small flaws from an "amateur" paint job.

>>I think I have to check if I can see a light underneath the little cap where it's located. I don't know if it is supposed to be flashing the whole time or only when the vibrato knob is turned up. >>

I would check mine, but the lid fits so tightly that every time I remove it, I seem to scratch the paint on the cabinet a little. I don't open it unless I have to.

>>I already looked up and found some reeds for the 140B on EP-Service. Are there other parts that are likely to break after a while? >>

That's a better question for someone who makes their living repairing Wurlis.  But I've had my 140B for maybe 7 years, and other than re-building the amp, I've not replaced any parts.  Since you have a source for reeds, I would not hesitate to buy the 140B over concerns about part replacement.  While 140B's are less common than 200-series Wurlis, they aren't rare. So, you might need to search a bit, but you ought to be able to find parts.  And, unlike on a Rhodes, where hammer tips, grommets and felts may need periodic replacement, I can't think of any similar "consummables" on the 140B.  Just hope that the previous owner didn't grossly abuse it!

Yes, please let us know how this works out for you.

Alan



12
Steve:

Just to be clear, are you talking about the 140 or the 140B?  (The original poster is looking at buying a 140B, which is a significantly different instrument than the 140.)

Alan

13
 >>I think that the slightly heavier action of the 140B would suit me better.>>

Place the emphasis on "slightly."  It's not a big difference, IMO.  Not at all like some early Rhodes pianos that can be desperately heavy. Unless there's something wrong with that 140B, you should find the action quite pleasant to play.

Regarding parts, Wurlitzer built roughly 10 times as many 200 series pianos as 140Bs.  So, techs tend to have more 200-series parts pianos in their shops from which to grab original parts. Also, if you were manufacturing replica parts for Wurlis, you'd probably want to focus on the bigger market for 200-series parts.  Two main sources for Wurli parts and information in the US would be Vintage Vibe and Retrolinear.  VV has a European distributor; I'm not sure how Retrolinear services European clients.

I believe Retrolinear's 200 replacement amp (the Warneck Research brand is named after Tim Warneck, who owns Retrolinear) is what they recommend for the 140B.  It has been described as a completely new, improved amp design. VV also sells new replacement amps.  At one point, I believe their amps were modern reproductions of the original Wurlitzer design. But this may have changed. If you become interested in a replacement amp, it would be best to directly contact those companies.

Regarding the bulb, first please don't assume that replacing the bulb will solve the vibrato problem. It is just one possibility.  The bulb is an incandescent, Wurlitzer part number 65229. I don't know the specs on the bulb.  Either of the above vendors might be able to give you advice on finding a replacement. VV now sells an LED replacement kit, and the description of it says the originals are no longer available. But I do seem to remember that sometime in the past year or so, they indicated online that they had a few originals available.  The use of an incandescent bulb, whose light has some gradual ramp-up and ramp-down, is part of what gives the 140B tremolo its beauty. I'm not sure how -- or whether -- the VV LED replacement kit mimics that characteristic.

>>Which parts on the 140B would be replaceable by parts of a 200A then? Are the reeds also the same?>>

Your first question is more general than i can answer, although I don't think they have many parts in common.  But while the 200A reeds are very slightly thicker than 200 and 140B reeds, I know that Vintage Vibe sells a replica reed they suggest for all three pianos.  I believe most other vintage keys shops do the same. It should be close enough to work on any of those pianos.

Regarding painting, if you do a careful job of prepping and painting, you can probably do a nice job with a spray can. Here's a thread in which people offer some tips: https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=6474.msg44453#msg44453

If you care, the original paint is a Zolatone-brand paint, with little balls of color suspended in it. It's beige with tiny white speckles. The company is still in business, zolatone.com. It's very hard to tell from color samples on a monitor, but if you search for color FLX-0008, it looks quite similar to the original 140B color. But maybe you just want to be creative: A bright red might be cool!

One more tip:  The lid of the 140B acts as a hum shield. On the underside, there is a special electrostatic paint.  When you are testing the piano, if you have the seller pull off the lid to let you see the inside (a good idea, just to check for obvious damage), make sure to replace the lid before you play the piano. It will have a very loud hum when the lid is removed.

Good luck!

Alan

14
Gab:

Some thoughts:  Many top vintage keys techs prefer the 140B. (I know this because I interviewed several of them about the 140B for a book I co-authored, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music.")  The reasons: The general build quality of the 140B; the beefier action, and what one tech called "its bright and spanky sound."  It also has a beautiful, round, optical vibrato (really it's tremolo), created with a light bulb and a photo cell. Many techs believe it was the best Wurli ever built.  Its downside was on the electronics side.  The amp is an early solid state design and tends to suffer from hiss problems.  You can reduce the hiss by rebuilding it with more modern, low-noise components, but it will still be a little noisy. Or you can solve the problem, at some significant expense, by replacing it with a modern replacement amp, such as one built by RetroLinear.com.

The 140B you're considering looks like its amp has been re-built, so you may find it acceptable as is.  The vibrato problem may simply be a burned out bulb. That bulb can be hard to find. Some techs want to replace them with LEDs, but that may change the character of the effect, which is really one of the highlights of the 140B.  The fact that this piano was re-painted may reflect that it's lived a hard life on the road, so you'll want to see whether it shows signs of extreme wear or abuse.

The 200A, if it's in reasonable shape, should have quieter electronics. Its reeds will impart a slightly more mellow tone.  Its tremolo will be slightly more choppy. Action is a matter of personal taste, but if both pianos were properly regulated, many players would prefer the slightly more substantial 140B feel. But the 200A action is acceptable, too.  And because so many 200A's (and student variations of that model) were sold, replacement parts might be easier to source.

The day I bought my 140B, I put up my 200A for sale, because I knew the 140B would be my Wurli of choice.  But both of my Wurlis were in excellent condition, which made that decision more straightforward.

My advice:  Play the 140B and see whether its feel and tone seem very special to you. If they do, you should consider putting up with its downsides: It will never look original (or fetch a high price if you ever re-sell it) with replacement legs, pedal and paint. It may have other road damage, and depending upon your tolerance for its noisy amp, it will likely cost you money for amp repair or replacement.  In the end, it may turn out to be the more expensive option, especially if you would want a professional paint job done.

But if you don't feel the 140B is a significantly better instrument for you, buying the 200A would likely save you a lot of hassle and expense after your purchase.  Despite all the love for the 140B, the 200A is a great-sounding instrument, and was used on so many classic songs.  It's a great Wurli, too.

I hope that helps.

Alan


15
My insurer told me that to add a rider to cover my vintage instruments, I would need an appraisal. I said I literally wrote the book on these instruments, and am as qualified as anyone to determine their value. But they want a "certified appraiser."  So, I would need to hire someone who is eminently qualified to appraise a 100-year-old Steinway concert grand, but would likely have no idea what a like-new Wurli 140B or Clavinet D6 is worth.  Maybe some day, I'll sort my way through this.

(And just to add to the fun, since my instruments are in a basement room, I told the insurer I was primarily concerned with flood damage.  Flood damage would not be covered unless I bought a special policy at great expense, and even then it would not cover a sewer backup. Oh...)

Alan


16
Buying / Re: Buying Gibson G101 G201 expression pedal
« on: March 08, 2020, 08:23:50 AM »
Your organ's volume was meant to be adjusted by using its expression pedal.  So yes, if you choose to play without a pedal, the only control you have over the volume is by using fewer tabs.  (Or adjusting your amp.) Solution: Use a pedal. And as I've described, with a small mod, you can use any cheap inline, passive pedal with your organ.

Alan

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Buying / Re: Buying Gibson G101 G201 expression pedal
« on: March 06, 2020, 09:42:20 PM »
It means that you can also use the instrument with no pedal too?

Yes, if you do the mod shown on Combo-organ.com, you can use a guitar cord without a pedal and it will operate at full volume.

Alan

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Buying / Re: Buying Gibson G101 G201 expression pedal
« on: March 03, 2020, 08:53:34 PM »
This also means no pedal right?

I don't understand your question.  Can you better explain what you are asking?

Alan

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Buying / Re: Buying Gibson G101 G201 expression pedal
« on: March 03, 2020, 02:55:05 PM »
To make a Gibson organ (or Lowrey T2) work with any inline passive volume pedal, look here: http://www.combo-organ.com/Gibson/index.htm

Scroll down to "volume pedal."  These instructions are to mod the organ to allow you to add a switch so you can go back and forth between using a Gibson pedal and a standard inline pedal.  If you only want to allow the organ to be used with an inline pedal until you get a Gibson pedal, skip the switch (and the drilling). Just solder a jumper wire between pins B and C.  When you get a Gibson pedal, remove the jumper.

To give a Gibson pedal a wider volume range:

There is a 10K resistor soldered between two of the lugs on the pedal's potentiometer.  Short the resistor by adding a jumper wire between those lugs. 

Alan



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Buying / Re: Buying Gibson G101 G201 expression pedal
« on: March 02, 2020, 07:32:57 PM »
Stop me if I'm telling you things you already know:

The Lowrey T2 pedal is identical, so one of those would work, too.

Until you find an original Lowrey/Gibson pedal, if you can solder, you can easily alter the Gibson organs to work with any passive, inline volume pedal.  (And this can easily be reversed when you find an original pedal.)

Finally, one of the annoying things about the original pedal is that it has relatively little dynamic range.  That can be solved by adding a single jumper wire to the pedal.

I can explain both those mods if you are interested.

Alan

21
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: music stands for rhodes?
« on: February 27, 2020, 08:01:16 AM »
 I can see how you might have this issue, especially if you are using a heavy book.

You just need to add something that will grip -- rather than slide -- on the slick Rhodes lid.  Suggestions:  Maybe place a grippy rubber mat between the Rhodes lid and the stand. Or replace the felt pads on the underside of the stand with something like these: https://www.lowes.com/pd/SoftTouch-Gripper-Anti-Skid-6-Pack-1-in-x-4-in-Black-Plastic-Pads/1000372607 . Fitting one of these pads on the bottom of the vinyl tip that covers the tube might help, too.

Alan


22
For Sale / Re: "Classic Keys" book, a celebration of vintage keyboards
« on: February 06, 2020, 08:40:20 AM »
After "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music" quickly sold out at many retailers following its December release, a second printing has arrived! Now available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Target.com, booksamillion.com, and many others. To learn more about this big, beautifully photographed celebration of vintage rock keyboards, go to https://www.classickeysbook.com/.

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Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: My Brand New Vox Continental V-301E
« on: February 05, 2020, 09:29:18 AM »
That amp ought to do the job nicely for you.

There's always another instrument, isn't there?

Alan




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The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Wurlitzer replacement amplifiers
« on: January 20, 2020, 01:13:45 PM »
You take Tim Warneck's two electrical engineering degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, his great ears, and his determination to pursue perfection on behalf of his customers, and the results are as spectacular as you'd think.  Great staff, too. (I'm talking about you Mike Norton and Amanda Fitser, and probably others I don't know.)  Nice to see them getting some well-deserved praise here.

Alan

25
Looks like that was it!

I soldered the broken wire (the board says C7 Out) and reassembled things and everything's working great! Output is working again and I'm not getting anymore strange grounding issues.


Excellent!  My "Classic Keys" co-author David Robertson ("Ozdoc") deserves to take a bow for first suggesting that a loose wire leading to the amp might be the culprit. And he seems to have figured out your headphone issues, too.

These Aussies can be very clever people!  ;-)

Alan


26
Okay, so both of us now think it's the signal out wire from the preamp, but neither of us is an electronics  tech.  It would be nice if someone would pop the top of their 200A and confirm this.

If it were my piano, I would just go ahead and solder the dangling wire to the output. But I'm trying to be extra careful when someone else's gear is involved.

Alan

27
That is the ground wire for the preamp, I'm pretty sure...

Hi Steve. I'm not saying you're wrong, but that's not what I'm seeing when I compare imnickb's photo with the one I found on the Web.

Is your 200A accessible for you to take a look and verify where those two clear-colored wires are soldered on the Ground side of the preamp board?

Alan

28
Scroll down to the "before" photo of the preamp on this page:  https://illdigger.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/wurlitzer-200a-piano-repair-and-low-noise-mod/

If the preamp in that photo is wired correctly, it appears that your dangling wire should be soldered to the point just below where it says "out" on the board. I have no 200A to compare that to, so maybe someone else can confirm that.

And if that's the output from the preamp to the amp, yeah, that would silence your piano!

Alan

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The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Extending my sustain pedal chord
« on: January 17, 2020, 02:48:55 PM »

If you go to the local bicycle shop, you can get a gear-shift cable with the housing.  Fancy folks will call this a derailleur cable.  The cables come in ridiculously long lengths, and they take a few tries to cut cleanly.


Sean


If you don't have a proper cable and housing cutting tool, cutting it can be frustrating.  (You can crimp the housing or fray the cable.)  Figure out the length you want and ask the bike shop to cut it with their professional-quality Park cutter.)

And if you want to have a little fun, Shimano offers cable housings in eight different colors.

Alan

30
Thanks so much for the very kind review. The way The Real MC responded to the book is exactly how we hoped and dreamed readers would:  Classic Keys was meant to echo the beauty and high quality of the many keepsake books about guitars, and to drill deeper in telling the story about these great instruments than what's generally been done before.  This was a seven-year labor of love for David and me, and the enthusiastic reaction we're getting from readers makes that long journey feel quite worthwhile.

Alan

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