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Messages - DocWurly

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The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« on: May 06, 2019, 12:18:30 PM »
One thing that was not mentioned - tube codes.

I recently acquired a pristine example of a 720a. I disassembled it to clean out the 5+ decades of dust and to check the condition of the mechanicals. As I cleaned the dust off the tubes, I noticed they were all branded Wurlitzer, original equipment. All the silk screened print was clear and complete.

As I am a tube aficionado, I easily found the date codes on the tubes. The preamp tube 6K11 was built by GE during the 22nd week of 1965. The rectifier tube, the 6CA4 is an RCA produced during the 17th week of 1964. The power tubes, 7868, were twins, manufactured by RCA during the 9th week of 1965. (Date codes can be deciphered here -

The 8 digit stamp on the keys had the first numeral smeared, both on the bass side of the keyboard and the treble side. The stamp reads X0421370.

The speaker only had a part number and manufacturer code stamped on it, the manufacturer being Carbonneau. I suppose I could pull the pots to see their date codes but that will be for a later time.

With the preamp tube being the youngest of the bunch, I think I can confidently say that this is a 1965.

That's a nice catch, the tube codes!  If the 8-digit key stamp is smeared, the other one you want to check is the 8-digit stamp on the back of the action rail.  What does that one read?

While we are at it, what is the serial number of that 720A?  This would be helpful data for my research.  Feel free to PM me.  The 720A is a very interesting and uncommon model, usually in gorgeous shape.  It's really _two_ models in one, as they kept making them into the "145B" era; the later (1965) ones have the damper arm upgrades of the 145B's, and the fixed reed screws.  Basically, they kept making 145B's and 720A's until the stock of tube amps ran out, sometime in the fall of 1965.  At that point they seemingly introduced the 720B, which was a console that had the 140B amp (which had already been in use for a year or so in the portable 140B instrument), and a smaller speaker (which seemed to work just fine, basswise, perhaps because of the furniture body resonance).  The 720A's usually used leftover stock of the 12" speakers that had gone into the earlier 700 consoles, so a 1964 instrument might well have a 1960 speaker in it.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« on: May 06, 2019, 12:15:33 PM »

My carbonneau speaker reads 651109-1, 719, 417 which probaly 1965 also.

Not quite.

651109-1 is the speaker part number.  Most part numbers from 1962-1964 Wurlitzers read something like "65xxxx".  At some point in 1965 they switched to a part system where everything began with "11", a dash, and 4 more digits (11-xxxx).  This was retained with the 200 series, until they switched to a system where everything began with "20xxxx".

"719" is the EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance) speaker manufacturer code for the Carbonneau company.

This leaves "417" as the date stamp.  So it means "the 17th week of 1964."  April 20th to 26th.

It so happens that Mark and I have discussed this instrument of his, and it is indeed from 1965.  :).  But we know this because the action rail stamp is 50304055-- that means March 04, 1965.  The key stamp on that instrument is from a full 11 months earlier, and most of the electronic parts are from 1964.  So that goes to show that it's important to consult multiple date stamps on an instrument.

Because of the difference in the blocks, it is easier to put the second hole on the right side of the piano.  In fact..... I think.... there is usually already a pre-drilled spot.

The thing about those is that they are SO big.  Functionally, there is NO reason for them to take up so much space--it's just a nice piece of furniture.  (I guess maybe the huge speakers?)  I live in New York City where floor space is everything, and people live in shoe box sized apartments, so they'd be a liability around here.  Your mileage may well vary.

Personally, if I were gonna try to find a non-portable that "looked really nice", and maybe had some of the bass response of a 270, I'd try to find a post-recall 720A, a 720B, or a 726(B). 

If I wasn't obsessed with having a wood-bodied Wurly, I'd get one of the 4-speaker consoles: a 214A, maybe, or a 203W.

I guess my point is... I wonder if the size is enough of a liability that it would make these worth less than a smaller and/or more portable model. On the other hand, there's the rarity. 

It's pretty much whatever the market will bear.

My general response to your questions is:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Damper grommets intact?  Leave them.  (It's great to have some on hand in case old ones break, and that does happen.)

Damper felts damping the reeds OK?  Leave them.    If they aren't lined up nicely, it MAY be because someone found that a couple of reeds damped better if they moved the damper felts.  Also, make sure you keep the damper arms (and hammer arms) in order.  The damper felts have probably worn into their current location, and that's _good_.  Relocating them may make them work less well.

You're much more likely to have a problem with the felt on some hammers if they've worn out or hardened.  (The 1950's model damper felts are pretty much always going to be rotted out, though.  That's the 110, 111, 112, 112A 120, 700.)

I've never replaced the jack springs unless they were actively broken, and then I just replaced the whole action part.

I've never polished the reed bar, and I wouldn't, even on a rusty one, unless you've spent an intensive time understanding how every tightened screw of the instrument affects everything else.  If you polish where the reeds/reed screws are attached, you run a very high risk of ruining the flat contact point and messing up the sustain of the whole instrument.  You could also throw off the shimming of the reed bar if you polish the contact points between it, the white plastic spacers, and the body.

etc etc.

Well, that's the earliest so far.  It would be great to know ALL keystamps in that one.  Transformer, 8-digit action rail and 8-digit keys, even speakers.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Wurlitzer 200 vs 200A
« on: January 17, 2019, 10:24:35 PM »
There are actually hybrid 200A's from late 1974 with the speakers mounted on the rail.  All of these are in the serial number range of 9xxxx.  It appears they were basically 200's that had the new amps put in at the last minute.

I'll let others weigh in on the relative merits of the two models. Apparently the reeds changed in character in the late 70's, but this probably doesn't apply to all 200's.  There are 3 or 4 amp variations in the 200 years; there are 2 amp variations in the 200A years.  Speakers changed over time.  Production quality changed over time, down and back up.

I just worked on a 200 from 1968, one of the first 100 made.  The reed pyramids were impeccable (and therefore the tone was fantastic, and the speakers were pretty nice.  However, the amp was a mess and needs to be either completely reworked or (I'm recommending) replaced with a new one.

These instruments can vary so much in their condition and character, that I'd simply make sure to check one out and play it before committing to buy.  And look around a bit, if possible.  There are fine and terrible ones from any era.

I may be wrong about 1972 being the last year of Forest Green Wurlies.  (someone claimed to have one from 1974.)

I started checking out serial number ranges, year by year, for the 200 and 200A series.  I need more data, but based on date stamps, it looks like they were manufacturing an average of 3000 Wurlies a year in 1968, '69, 70, and '71.  Then, starting in 1972, the number seems to jump to around 10,000 a year being produced (give or take 1000), until around 1980, when the numbers dropped again.

This may not be entirely accurate.  I have no sense of when Musitronic began producing licensed classroom Wurlies, and what that would have done to the numbers.  And there may be gaps in the serial numbers.

But, still, I think I'm on the right track here.  The Logan plant apparently allowed for greater production.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Some DIY reflections
« on: January 17, 2019, 01:10:33 AM »
I make house calls.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Some DIY reflections
« on: January 14, 2019, 08:38:15 PM »
The pickups in the middle range (21 to 42) are especially bendy.  Bass pickups...not bendy at all.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Replace Hammer Tips Wurlitzer 200
« on: January 13, 2019, 10:03:12 PM »
VV does make their own treble hammer tips.  If they are out of stock, I'm sure they will make more soon.  (err....I sure hope so!!)

And as for the NOS bass and midrange, I think they probably bought up the lot from Morelocks.  Hey, I just bought up a bunch of them.  They were unused.

Agreed with Steve-O, that any hammer _assemblies_ they are selling on their site are used, taken from a donor Wurli.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Replace Hammer Tips Wurlitzer 200
« on: January 10, 2019, 09:03:26 PM »
I agree with Steve-o.  If it IS broke, Vintage Vibe hammer tips are good.  They make their own treble tips.  The others, I think, are New Old Stock.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: First wurli, first post, first problem
« on: January 09, 2019, 10:49:07 PM »
Here is my video.

I don't see any possible way to eliminate this. You can see on the dampened hit that the reed is in fact starting its descent before it is struck, removing energy and dampening the note.

Whereza video?

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Wurlitzer 206a - To chop or not to chop?
« on: December 28, 2018, 11:13:06 AM »
I've got a 215v that I'm planning that above chop. I've done it with wooden dowels and plan next to do it with piano balance rail pins to keep it tight. Never seen the pedal and legs idea inside though, thats very clever.

If you're planning the chop, make sure to put a 8ohm load on that speaker output when you disconnect the speakers. otherwise you'll learn the hard way like I did. I have a 206a that disconnects only for movement and you can't tell the difference when its together or apart that it comes into two pieces.

This this have a working Keynote visualizer???

So!  Since Paul opened this thread, I've collected a lot more data on 1972 Wurlies.

Some have "L's."  Some don't.  There is no strict cutoff or crossover point from one to the other.  And, using the parts date stamps inside, it would appear that there's a lot of atypical zigzagging of dates vs serial numbers going on.  I think they were allotting ranges of serial numbers for different instrument models, and maybe even different locations.


64206 (no L) 206 (Black, may not be original color) August 19, 1972
65880L  200 Black  (date unknown, lowest "L" serial number I've seen.  I would take a wild guess that it's from later 1971.)
66317L 200 Forest Green Jan 4, 1972
67089L 206 Beige April 5, 1972
67845 (no L) 214 (Avocado Green) (date unknown)
69327L 200 November 8, 1972
70362 (no L) 207V Beige May 4, 1972
71210 (no L) 203W Black (date unknown)  This is the latest "no L" number I know as of today.
74027 L 200 Black (date unknown) (earliest "L" number I know of after the no-L's completely stop for 7-8 years)
74224 L 206 Beige May 7, 1973 

see?  kinda random.

There is a similar randomness in 1980, where the "no L" serial numbers return, with certain weird models (200B's, 215V's), with a parallel lack of chronology.

I don't know if the plant changes were a factor in this, but it appears that 1972 was the last year of Red and Forest Green 200's.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: 700 disassembly questions
« on: December 10, 2018, 10:29:22 PM »
Where do you live, if I may ask?  You can PM, I couldn't send you a message for some reason.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« on: December 01, 2018, 11:01:46 AM »
Some other things to look for:

*The capacitors of mid-60's Wurlitzers, specifically with 140 or 140B amps, have pretty clear coding of YYWW.  So a capacitor reading 6650 would have been from late December 1966, and the keyboard is probably from early 1967.  Sometimes these dates are surprisingly close to the other dates you'll find in a Wurlitzer.

*Speakers can give you a hint.  In the 1950's Wurlitzers (specifically the 120 and 700), the speaker is sometimes the latest easy-to-locate source of a date on the thing. The first line will be a part number, and the second line will include the date. If you find the number "232 933" on the back bracket of a 700 speaker, "232" is the company code, and 933 means "33rd week of 1959."  In the later 720 and 720A series, however, they were using up the 12" speakers from the 700's, and you might easily find a 1960 speaker in a 1964 instrument.  So these are only very rough guides. (On the other hand, the speaker dates are sometimes the latest dates in a 1962 Model 140 and a 1968 Model 140B!)

*On a 120 and 700, the other best clue as to the date of the instrument is usually a piece of masking tape hidden on the back of the reedbar, with handwritten scribbles on it.  And the serial number will give you an idea of whether it is an earlier (circa 1957 for 120, circa 1958 for 700) or later (circa 1961) instrument.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Rusty Wurlitzer Reeds
« on: October 28, 2018, 12:46:56 AM »
Apologies if I was implicitly too harsh on anyone supplying suggestions.  Indeed, YMMV should be a given.

Can you supply photos of the reeds? I think the necessity of removing the rust may be overrated.  The place you most want to worry about is where the reed contacts the reed bar.  You certainly want full contact between the surfaces there.

Keep in mind that the hammer doesn't want any random chemicals on it, so reeds should be clear of any oils or chemicals before being reinstalled.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Rusty Wurlitzer Reeds
« on: October 25, 2018, 09:57:24 PM »
I think if anyone is going to recommend rust removing items for reeds without having TRIED the product on reeds, this should be clearly stated at the time of giving advice.  This sort of thing should be general practice.  You don't want to destroy someone's entire piano with some chemical that might have unintended effects.

And.... as one fixing your Wurly, I recommend collecting lots of advice from various sources before taking extreme actions.

People can say anything.  There are no police here to stop you ruining your instrument.  Caveat Emptor.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Vibrato problem on a 140 (Varistors)
« on: October 23, 2018, 12:07:24 PM »
Does anyone have a source for the GT-2477 transistors --or an equivalent-- in the 140 amps?  I think I blew one.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Rusty Wurlitzer Reeds
« on: October 22, 2018, 04:24:11 PM »
Electrickey, once you've removed the rust, what do you coat them with to prevent further rusting?  Or does the product do that?  Apologies if I missed something.

I find that pre-1963 reeds tend to be rusted or at least tarnished, whether or not they are in envelopes.  Especially those found in the 120 family and pre-A 140 family.  (Including the 20 bass register reeds of pre-A 140's etc, which otherwise are similarly-shaped to 200 reeds.)

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Just found a 140B. (new guy)
« on: October 11, 2018, 02:22:33 PM »
JB was kind enough to call me and give me a whole lot of date stamps from the inside.  The speaker date was from September 1, 1968!  The action rail stamp is from February 1968.  So this was from the period that the first 200 series Wurlies were being completed.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Just found a 140B. (new guy)
« on: September 10, 2018, 10:11:25 PM »
I just PM'd you.  Since this topic started, we now know how to date these.  And basically, YOU hold the key, jb.  If you still have your 140B, we will know how late these were produced.  Don't let us down!  (big pressure).

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: .01uF across mains?
« on: September 05, 2018, 02:02:46 PM »
I got my questions answered:

*Don't replace them unless they are obviously cracked.  But it's good for them to be there.  They are a safety measure AND they reduce line hum.

*Bumping them up to .047uF is good, given modern wall voltages.  Retrolinear carries a good, safe "X-rated" replacement, and it's affordable.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: .01uF across mains?
« on: September 05, 2018, 01:32:16 PM »
OK, now that we have established that:

*the .01uF capacitors in later 200's (and in all 200A series) are NOT death caps
*they should always be X1 or X2 or Y1 or Y2

My next question is, should they be replaced as a matter of course?  Do these tend to fail as capacitors do, or, as they are ceramic, should it be presumed that they are working even if there's a bit of hum in a Wurly?  (in other words, is the hum more likely to be from another source if that capacitor is present?)

Indeed, they are NOT in most 200 series Wurlitzers of 1970, but they are in full force by late 1971.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: 700 disassembly questions
« on: September 04, 2018, 03:34:40 PM »
It's missing sustain bolts?  Yes, you definitely want ALL of those.  Check w Vintage Vibe and Chicago E. Piano company, maybe they have extras.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: 700 disassembly questions
« on: August 28, 2018, 07:09:01 PM »
unless I find a 700 being parted out somewhere.
A parted 120 will do.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: 700 disassembly questions
« on: August 27, 2018, 10:18:38 AM »
Why Dremel a reed? I'm not certain what number it was, but the reed I needed was not available a Vintage Vibe. The next lower note was available. That reed was about 1/32 longer than the reed it was replacing and needed to be made shorter. The Dremel ground it beautifully and easily. The reed sounds fine.

Good reason!  As long as it isn't bridging one of the 3 transition points between the four reed shapes, that'll work fine.  On a 700 (as on a 120):

Can't use a 20-E3 (or lower) in a 21-F3 (or higher).
Can't use a 42-D5 (or lower) in a 43-D#5 (or higher).
Can't use a 50-A#5 (or lower) in a 51-B5 (or higher).

This is also true of the 1st year 140/145/720's (with no A or B at the end), with one addition:

Can't use a 14-A#2 (or lower) in a 15-B2 (or higher).

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: 700 disassembly questions
« on: August 25, 2018, 04:54:35 AM »
Why would you need to dremel a replacement reed?  Is it the wrong style reed?  120's and 700's use a different reed than earlier or later models.

Here's a little article I wrote about reed compatibility.  Make sure you aren't putting this reed into a pickup in which it can't fit.

Some retailers (I know of two that do this) might send you a bass reed designed for a 1962-3 model 140, assuming they are compatible with 120's and 700's.  They are NOT and they won't work.  They have an entirely different taper and they will hit the hammers wrong.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: 700 disassembly questions
« on: August 22, 2018, 02:03:18 PM »
That brass or copper strip is important.  It's supposed to go on top of the reed screw heads, under the sustain brick's lower bar.  It closes up any gaps and helps the sustain brick do its job.  You may even want to get some more material kinda like that.

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