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Topics - David Aubke

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The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Plural of Rhodes
« on: July 21, 2017, 09:04:23 AM »
It's a real pain avoiding the plural form of "Rhodes" but I can't figure out how to do it.

Rhodeses? Or is it a self-pluralized word like "sheep"? (Apparently those are called plurale tantum words.)

I just had a conversation with a fellow on Facebook regarding the balance rail felts on his wooden-key Mark II.

He says he bought his piano new and that it never included balance pin felts. Further, if he was to add them, the keys would lift up enough to leave a visible gap in front between the keys and the cabinet. They would also likely bump against the name rail.

1. Anybody else ever seen this? a felt-less balance rail?

2. Just what do those felts do anyway? Do they really affect the feel of the keyboard?

3. What are some of the ramifications of changing those felts? In the past, I've swapped in thicker felts when I needed to make up a gap between the keys and name rail. I tried conducting experiments with a simple mock-up of the mechanics in play. As best I can tell, raising the balance rail reduces key dip a little bit. What else happens?

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / How's the Rhodes market doing?
« on: May 05, 2017, 07:13:02 AM »
Until about six months ago, I could always see at least one decent deal listed in my local(ish) Craig's List. Lately, not so much. And I could be mistaken, but it seems like ebay hasn't been as forthcoming as it used to be. I only see a handful of pianos and all for high asking prices.

I've been playing pretty fast and loose with pianos, assuming the next unit is always available somewhere in nearby classified listings. But I'm wondering if I need to adjust my values a little for a tightening market.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Grounding Pianet-T keys
« on: April 24, 2017, 11:52:51 AM »
Hi folks,

A Pianet-T owner wrote to me asking how I grounded the keyshafts on a unit that came through my shop a few years back. I don't think it was a complicated task but I have no memory of carrying it out.

I found a reference in an old post to a Youtube video that discusses this but I can't find the video.

Can anyone explain the best way to proceed?

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 18, 2017, 12:03:32 PM »
Has anyone ever concerned themselves with the key touchweight of a Rhodes? The first few hits on Google say standard acoustic piano touchweight is between 50 and 60 grams. I'm currently working on a late 70s with factory pedestal bumps and its action is about as light as any Rhodes. But the keys all require substantially more than 60 grams to depress.

I've begun adding weights to the fronts of the keys and sure enough, they feel very light. My main concern is I'm reducing the keys' ability to return quickly to upright. I think I'm going to have to wait until it's finished before I can decide whether this was a mistake.

Here's a rare recording taken right from the board before being cleaned up in post-production.

Sorry. But I found this to be hilarious and remarkably well done.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Pedestal felt thickness
« on: September 01, 2016, 08:33:39 AM »
This is kind of a nitpicky thing but I thought I'd throw the question out just to see if there are any opinions.

Along with some other work I'm doing on a 1974 will be the addition of some Miracle Mod bumps. The customer supplied some felt for the pedestals but I'm not sure I want to use it.

The original felt on these pedestals was 0.080" thick. The supplied replacement is 0.060". I have 0.080" felt that I could use. Think it makes any difference? Is it possible that in '74, they were careful enough to choose a felt thickness specifically to complement the relationship of the keys and hammers or do you think they just used what seemed appropriate or what was on-hand?

All things being equal, I always will opt to reproduce the original configuration and will likely use my 0.080" on this piano. Again, I'm just fishing for thoughts on the subject, if there are any.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / What's wrong with this note?
« on: August 26, 2016, 06:24:45 PM »
I just spent a very long time diagnosing a bum note. See if you can tell what's wrong.

It's the fourth and eighth notes. It's not a voicing issue.

I began referring to it as the "haunted note" because it defied explanation for so long. You might immediately identify the problem.

I've never dug into a Wurlitzer before and I'm just wondering if anyone could enlighten me about common issues or pitfalls.
I can see that the dampening material will need to be replaced.

Maybe the hammers? maybe just a 'voicing'?

As I disassemble, are there any areas where I should be extra-cautious? like, "if you take this assembly apart, you'll be all week getting it back together"?

Also, in an earlier thread, it was possibly suggested I could use standard preamp phantom power to get sound from this thing (which is missing its preamp). Is it simply a matter of connecting one of the xlr pins to the end of the reed bar?

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Are these Marcel pedestals?
« on: July 13, 2016, 06:27:06 PM »
If the pedestals on this KMC 1 have the Marcel curve, they'll be the first set I've seen in person. So I'm not certain whether they are.

It's a very subtle curve.

I'm trying to decide whether to proceed with a Miracle Mod but..
1. The consensus appears to say it may be unnecessary.
2. The action doesn't feel too bad as-is.
3. A quick check suggests I'd have to place the bump forward of the flat part. That is, the hammer cam sits right at the front edge when at stop-lock.

So I'm likely to leave well enough alone.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Sound from an amp-less 700
« on: June 07, 2016, 02:08:56 PM »
Hi folks. I've never spent much time on the Wurlitzer side of this forum before but a 700 just arrived in my shop so it looks like I need to get up to speed.

My first question: The owner kept the amplifier to work on himself. He said I could take sound from the RCA cord dangling out the back. It worked but I had to crank everything way up to hear it. Should that be an instrument-level signal coming out of there? Do I need a special preamp to make it sound right? Or should I be able to plug that directly into an amplifier and the weak signal I'm getting is because something's wrong with the piano itself?

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Questions about the KMC 1
« on: June 06, 2016, 04:56:46 PM »
This is a KMC 1 I'm working on for a customer. It's the first one I've seen in person and I have some questions.

1. Does the serial number really include the letter I or did they just use the I stamp instead of getting a "1"?

2. Any ideas as to the year? I can't find the standard manufacture date stamp on the harp.

3. How does the keyframe attach to the cabinet? I haven't even had the keys out yet but I'm guessing it's screwed down from the inside.
  Answer: four screws of the same sort that go in the front of the cheek block, down through the front of the keyframe. Four 1-1/2" oval-head screws down through the balance rail. And two of the same sort that attach wood harp supports to the action rail up from below at an angle through the back.

4. What's the deal with this capacitor and resistor (obscured in this photo) wired into the circuit?

5. There is no pin and screw assembly at the center of the damper release rail - the one that keeps the rail from bowing upwards. By the rail's appearance, one should be there unless someone knows otherwise.

6. Does the damper mechanism normally include a galvanized carriage bolt where the pitman dowel would be on a Stage piano? It works pretty well and fits perfectly, just looks a little rigged. Is that the way Suitcase pianos work as well?

More pictures at

This relates to a question alenhoff asked recently.

I've been using black super glue to repair damage to both black key tops and cheek blocks with varying degrees of success. My most ambitious project so far has been the cheek blocks from a 1976.

After an initial sanding, this is where I was (they've swapped sides).

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / 0.135" front guide pin source
« on: June 04, 2016, 01:41:45 PM »
Does anyone know where I can find oval front guide pins that are 0.135" at their narrow dimension?

I found one place selling 0.129" but everything else is 0.146".

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / How long to voice a Rhodes
« on: June 03, 2016, 10:45:19 AM »
As I begin to take in customers' instruments, I've been wondering about this.

After reinstalling tone generators, I make a voicing pass across the instrument. This gets everything about 80% of the way there but the overall job is a bit of a Long-Tail situation. Over the course of weeks and even months, I'll continue to tweak notes as I play the piano. Even weeks later, sometimes a note will jump out at me in the middle of a tune.

I'm sure I could make a more concerted effort to get it set up faster but I'm curious about others' thoughts, both as customers and service providers.

Service providers: do you feel you're able to define a stopping point for tweaking voicing? I'm expecting to allot a reasonable amount of time to the job but it will be spread out over the course of at least days if not weeks.

Customers: What do you expect from your service providers? Do they claim to get it all set up and voiced in a matter of days? and do you think they succeed?

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Opening a KMC1
« on: June 03, 2016, 08:12:57 AM »
Hi folks,
Later today I'm expecting a KMC1 to show up at my shop. For me to provide a reasonably accurate service estimate, I feel I need to be able to pull some keys.

I've never seen a KMC1 in person. Will I run into any complications when I attempt to remove the name rail and pull out a few keys? I'd rather not make the guy stand there and wait while I figure out how those things are assembled.

For Sale / Mint EK-10
« on: June 02, 2016, 10:16:17 AM »
I know these aren't terribly desirable but certainly there's a collector out there who'd be interested in such a specimen.

This isn't my listing so I'm not sure it's really in mint condition but it sure looks good in the photos. Its listing has almost timed-out without a single bid and the seller says they'll consider offers.

Hi all,

Up until now, I've only worked on pianos that I've owned myself. Now that I've got a little experience and have performed most of the common repair and restoration procedures a few times, I've decided to begin accepting work from other owners.

I'm offering repairs and restorations for both Stage and Suitcase pianos. I've only worked on Stage up to this point but I've contacted a local amplifier tech who happens to have been tech for the local Rhodes dealer and he's agreed to pick up where he left off if I should find myself with any Suitcase pianos in need of amplifier work.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Gap under the name rail
« on: April 20, 2016, 05:09:14 PM »
Hi folks.

I'm reassembling a 1974 Stage right now and I find myself with a nearly 1/8" wide gap between the key tops and the name rail felt.

The only adjustment I can think to make would be to shim the hell out of the balance rail felts. It's true that after leveling the keys, as is always the case, I was left with many extra punchings I did not reuse. But there are certainly not enough left over to raise all of the keys the amount that would be necessary. I actually checked.

Can something be done? I don't think it affects the playability and it's not as though the keys are falling off their guide pins. But I do notice it while I'm playing. It just don't look right.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Alternate pickup winding
« on: February 23, 2016, 11:56:52 AM »
The recent thread about rewinding pickups reminds me of a question I've wondered about.

Has anyone ever tried different pickup winding techniques? Primarily, I'd be interested in trying thinner wire for more wraps and a hotter pickup. Or how about reverse-winding every other pickup or something like that?

I've always wondered why Rhodes generate such a weak signal - around 1.5K ohm compared to more like 5K to 8K for a typical electric guitar. I assume the engineers decided the weaker pickup generated a more pleasing tone.

Someday, I may get a batch of dead pickups and try winding them with thinner wire to see what it sounds like. There's a batch on ebay right now calling my bluff but I can't bring myself to spend $50 on dead pickups.

Gigs, Events, Music Releases and off topic stuff etc. / Talking piano
« on: February 16, 2016, 08:14:13 AM »
No, not Peter Frampton. This is pretty incredible.

For Sale / Cheap Farfisa Pianorgan
« on: February 11, 2016, 10:11:17 AM »
I have no idea how desirable this unit may or may not be but it looks to be in excellent shape with a nice spinet cabinet.

300 USD

Not my listing.

For Sale / Kustom 88
« on: December 08, 2015, 08:43:49 AM »
Someone in Cincinnati (about three hours from me) has been trying to sell a Kustom 88 for a while. The price just dropped from $500 to $400. I think if it wasn't for the 3-hour drive, I'd have already bought it just to check it out.

I'm not sure why I'm posting this. Maybe someone else would be interested but I'm kind of just thinking out loud about whether to go for it or not.

Look who topped the chart

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Tine block screw torque
« on: June 08, 2015, 07:46:55 PM »
The question of how much torque to apply to tine block screws arises with some regularity. The official service manual is silent on this topic but common sense and most advice I've heard suggest this screw should be installed as tightly as possible. Indeed it was recently said that the job can only be performed properly with an impact driver. But along with all of this, there have been reports of heads shearing off from overzealous tightening.

I decided to sacrifice a few screws for science. At first I thought I'd need to forfeit some tines as well but I was actually able to finagle the stumps back out with little trouble.

Hey folks,
Do you feel that you get similar results when installing the Miracle Mod on both hybrid (wood and plastic) and later all-plastic hammers? I don't.

I like the way the older pianos sound but I like the way the newer ones play. I've been using the same technique to install the Mod on all pianos, both old and 'new'. The plastic hammers feel awesome to me after the Mod. The hybrids feel much better but still have a little mush to them.

For Sale / Nice early Seventy Three Stage at estate sale
« on: January 30, 2015, 09:45:42 AM »
A friend notified me of a very clean Seventy Three Stage from around 1973 at an estate sale in Annapolis, Maryland.

Hurry. The sale started yesterday and ends after tomorrow.

Lots of other music and audio equipment there as well.

For Sale / Wurlitzer 630 free to a good home
« on: January 20, 2015, 02:30:20 PM »
Okay, so no takers on the free Hammond.

Can I interest anyone in a Wurlitzer 630?

A local fellow contacted me because he wants to give this away. He says one of the keyboards (I think he said the middle) does not work but otherwise it's in good mechanical and cosmetic condition. Includes the bench.

Shipping is not available.

For Sale / Hammond M 100 free to a good home
« on: January 12, 2015, 02:48:19 PM »
My friend Erick helps run United Lutherie down here in southeast Ohio. About six months ago, he wrote:
"Hey Dave,
A year ago I dumpstered an old Hammond M 100 organ. It worked when I got it and am assuming it still does but I pulled a bunch of tubes out of it with the intention of replacing them.
Other projects have me too busy to mess with this old thing, do you want it? It's a drawbar model, I guess kind of desirable.
It's yours if you want it."

If anyone is interested, it's up for grabs. Neither Erick or I are going to be willing to ship it though so you'll have to make your own arrangements.

One of Athens Ohio's oldest bars The Union burned up along with several other businesses in a big fire at the end of last weekend. It's pretty big news around here but I post to the forum because apparently one of the bands that lost equipment was "Speaking Suns" from Yellow Springs, Ohio. A Nord fell victim to the flames.

That wasn't yours was it Peter?

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