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Messages - swenz

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The thread that alenhoff linked to has all the good details.  I replaced all my corners and feet but I ended up polishing the hinges because no one seems to have a replacement with the same triangular shape that the later MK1's have.  I had good luck with polishing those pieces.  I used a drill-mount polishing tool with Mothers Aluminum polish.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Missing items?
« on: January 02, 2012, 05:40:21 PM »
Give VV a call.  I bought a large rear logo from them about 6 months ago, they didn't show it on their web site then either, but they did have one.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / BBE Sonic Stomp
« on: December 19, 2011, 04:51:45 PM »
I'm thinking of picking up one of these BBE pedals to use with my suitcase.  I know there are a few folks on the forum that use either the BBE pedal or the rack mount version.  I'm wondering if anyone uses it specifically on a suitcase and what you think of it in terms of its ability to clean up the slight muddiness in the lower midrange which seems to be pretty standard with the suitcase bottoms.  Any personal experiences would be appreciated.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: How to make your Wurli keys white
« on: November 17, 2011, 11:31:24 AM »
I've been assuming that it's finger nail wear.  I acquired my Rhodes from an older woman who was the original owner so I just kind of figured that over a 30+ year period she might have been able to damage the keys to that extent.  The curious thing is that I tried deliberately to duplicate that kind of damage on a spare Rhodes key, but even hitting it fairly hard with the tip of a screwdriver I couldn't gouge it to the depth that my keys are gouged.  So I'm not sure what to make of it, maybe long fingernails really can do that much damage if given a sufficient length of time?  At any rate, I'm sure glad that I'm going to be able to restore them without doing a full recap job. 

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: How to make your Wurli keys white
« on: November 17, 2011, 10:09:50 AM »
I know this is the Wurli forum so I apologize for talking about Rhodes here, but since this is where the topic started I just wanted to follow up and post my results.

Chris, thank you so much for your recommendation on removing scratches and pitting.  I have basically followed your instructions.  I started wet sanding with 220 grit on a RO power sander.  It literally takes just a few quick passes to remove fairly deep gouging.  The power sander might be overkill and you do need to be careful not to get too aggressive but I think it makes the job much easier if you're careful with it.   I then used 400 & 600 grit wet sanding by hand and finally polished with Mothers aluminum polish as recommended.  It works beautifully.

I have been really torn trying to decide how to approach the scratched keys on my Rhodes as I've fully restored the rest to like-new condition and the keys are the final task.  This will take some time to complete but it's really not too bad once you do a few keys and get the process down.

I've attached a before and after picture of my middle C. as well as a wider shot that shows the contrast of the refurbished key with the rest of the keyboard.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: How to make your Wurli keys white
« on: November 07, 2011, 10:20:03 AM »
Alan, have you ever tried this on Rhodes keys?
I'm in the same situation with my Rhodes that you were with your Wurli.  I have about 20 scratched keys that need to be dealt with.  I'd much rather recap only those 20 but I'm sure I'll end up with mismatched colors just like you did.

The two 1/4" jacks on the suitcase function as both input and output.  If you are using them as output into a mixer/recorder of some sort then the signal is post-preamp but pre-poweramp.  In other words you can take advantage of the preamp controls (including the vibrato) when recording.  I love the Rhodes vibrato so this is the approach I usually take.  You could also mic the speakers as steveo said, you'll get a different sound that way so it just depends which you prefer.  And as you already mentioned you can always take the signal straight off the harp if you don't want to use the built in vibrato or tone controls and want the cleanest signal possible.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: The Fender Rhodes Documentary
« on: October 16, 2011, 11:55:16 AM »
Got mine yesterday and had no problems with it.  Very well done Ben, I'm very impressed with the number of famous artists that you interviewed.  Must have been a lot of fun to do.  I really enjoyed watching it and my 14 year old daughter enjoyed it as well.  Not too many 14 year old girls really appreciate the Rhodes but she does!

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Miracle Mod
« on: September 12, 2011, 03:59:29 PM »
That looks pretty much the way that mine looks.  There's a Vintage Vibe video on youtube where they show the installation process and describe finding the correct placement for a few keys near the ends of the keyboard and then scribing a line across the rest using a straight edge.  That's the process I used and it worked well for me.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Roll your own
« on: September 09, 2011, 12:10:13 PM »
That is brilliant!  I'm saving a link to the instructions on your blog for future use.  Thanks for sharing the VB program too.  If I may ask, where did you get your wire from?

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Miracle Mod
« on: August 14, 2011, 12:04:01 PM »
I have a 1977 week 4 that had the felts on the hammers.  I did go to the trouble to remove all the original felts and installed the miracle mod with new felts on the pedestals.  I don't know for sure if it was worth the extra effort but I'm very happy with the resulting action.

Really impressive, very inspiring.  Oh, and that bass is smokin.

I'd also recommend trying the test that Cormac recommended before taking it to a tech.

The design of the switching mechanism on the #1 jack is really very simple.  If you take the harp cover off and inspect the inner part of the jack you'll see that as you plug a cable into the jack the tip of the plug will push a small metal plate out of contact with a second metal piece causing the disconnect to the #2 jack (if it's working properly).  I suspect that it may be as simple as a bent piece inside that #1 jack which may not be allowing that separation to occur when you plug a cable in.

I actually had the opposite problem on my 77'.  When I unplugged a cable from the #1 jack that small metal plate was not returning back into contact and reestablishing the connection to the other jack and I was getting no signal to the preamp.  Being as old as these things are it was just an issue of that moving metal piece needing to be forced back into it's original shape.  I just bent it a bit in order to reestablish enough tension to allow it to return fully into contact and send the harp signal through to the preamp.

I finally got around to finishing the grill cloth on my 1977, here are before and after pictures.  This is the silver-blue cloth from parts-is-parts.  I also replaced the screws/washers in the front (Ace hardware) the corners and feet (mojotone) and polished the hinges, handles, latches.

My 1977 works exactly as Cormac described.  When a cable is plugged into #1 (top jack) only, the sound should cut out completely on the suitcase.  That's the test I would run on your piano.  The fact that you are only getting a small amount of effect when using a pedal in the FX loop seems like maybe the #1 jack is not completely bypassing when you plug into it and you are getting the harp signal bleeding through to the preamp along with a little bit of effect coming back into jack #2?  I'm not sure how that would happen but if you pull the harp cover the back side of those jacks are completely visible so it should be fairly easy to see if there's some kind of short or bad connection.

I should clarify that I haven't actually tried using jack #2 on it's own without a cable plugged into #1 so I'm not sure if it will cause the harp signal to completely cut out to the suitcase amp.  I'll try that.


I don't mean to pile on but I might be interested in buying some caps from you too.  I have a '77 suitcase and have a fairly large number of scratched keys.  Originally I was thinking I'd do a full re-cap but am now wondering if I might be better off trying to replace just the damaged ones even though that amounts to about 20 keys.  Of course my main concern is the color match so I'd probably want to get just 1-2 keys from you initially and see how well they match.  Please let me know if you're interested, I can PM you with details.


Excellent, thanks Rob.

I hadn't really thought much about replacing the screws/washers but after seeing your pictures there's no doubt it's worth doing.  I've got an Ace nearby so I'll check them out.

I know that has a grill cloth that appears to be very similar to the one you used, they refer to it as "Fender Silver with Blue" and it's about the same price.  It's really hard to tell if there's any difference from the pictures on the internet so I just need to decide which one of those to go with.  Thanks again for the detailed info on the screws/washers.

Very nice!  I'm in the process of restoring a '77 suitcase as well and have just recently been thinking about doing the grill cloth.  Mind if I ask who you sourced your grill cloth and the screws/washers from?

Classic & Modern Fender Rhodes Artists / Re: Colby Dobbs Band
« on: March 04, 2011, 10:19:50 AM »
Really nice stuff Colby.  I think your sound is a perfect throwback to the late 70's era that your Rhodes came from, I love that mellow sound.  Well done, I look forward to hearing more in the future.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: action problem with 1976
« on: March 01, 2011, 10:53:32 AM »
Thought I'd post an updated status here too.

I finally got around to replacing the felts on my 1977 Suitcase.  It was a time consuming process but it was a good opportunity to completely disassemble the thing right down to the bare case and clean it up really well.  I ended up removing the felts from the hammer cams and relocating them to the key pedestals.  I used the VV miracle mod kit so I added the bump mod in addition to the new felts.

The end result is a very, very smooth and fast action which I really like, although, I can understand how some might find it a bit too light if they're used to the original feel of the older Rhodes.  The action is so smooth with the bump and the new felts that I don't see any need to lube the new felts at all.  My next project will be to recap all my keys and possibly re-felt all the bushings.  I'm assuming there are past threads with information on those procedures so I'll be doing some searching.

GWTT, have you been able to make any progress in tracking down the rubbing sound you were getting?

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Vintage Vibe hammer tips: which way?
« on: February 18, 2011, 06:26:02 PM »
I know what you're talking about with the red tips.  There are two ways to potentially place them that will result in having a high point closest to you and sloping away.  One way results in the hammer tips being higher and not completely filling the platform on the hammer.  I believe the other way is the correct way, with the tip sitting lower but seated on the hammer so that none of the platform is bare.  I'm pretty sure that the hammer tips get shorter on the bass end in order to account for the larger escapement that is needed.

Major kudos to you, if you can bring that thing back to life, please keep us updated.  One less Rhodes finding it's way to the graveyard is a good thing!

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Nice song. Grace Potter on Rhodes
« on: February 13, 2011, 11:12:39 AM »
Thanks for the link, I really love that performance, that Rhodes really sounds nice.  It's always good to see current bands using vintage equipment.  She does some really good stuff on the B-3 as well.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: action problem with 1976
« on: February 02, 2011, 09:56:31 AM »
Fred, Swang,

Thanks for the info and recommendations.  When I do the felts on mine I'll definitely take your advice and do 3 or 4 keys in each configuration to see how they compare, that's a great idea.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: action problem with 1976
« on: February 01, 2011, 10:00:52 AM »
My felts look much like Rob's in terms of dirt/color but mine appear to be much more compressed, at least through the middle range of the keyboard.  Rob, have yours been replaced or are they original?

If anyone has added the bump (miracle mod) to a keyboard that didn't previously have it, regardless of the felt location, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on how significantly it changed the action.  It sounds like GetWithTheTines and I are both up in the air about adding it.

I'm planning to do a full key cap job on my piano in the next few months and I might re-felt the bushings while I'm at it.  It would obviously be a convenient time to redo the felts so I'd like to make a decision on where to put them soon.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: action problem with 1976
« on: January 31, 2011, 06:13:34 PM »
Mine are very smooth as well.  There may have been some friction when the piano was new but at this point they feel very smooth.  Which is why I'm up in the air about where to put the new felts when I replace them.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: action problem with 1976
« on: January 31, 2011, 03:15:17 PM »
I'm not sure whether silicone is any better (or worse) then teflon.  I went with silicone simply because I had it available and as far as I could tell, it was the original factory recommended approach.  My understanding is that if you thoroughly saturate the felt it will loosen the adhesive enough for the felt to be easily removed.  I sprayed my felts lightly, let them dry for 30 minutes then sprayed them lightly again.  I didn't have any problem with felts falling off, etc.

I don't think there is a significant concern with the silicone getting into the pedestal wood as long as you don't overdo it with the silicone and let it rest for 30 minutes or so before playing.  The factory service manual (in the section that details the pedestal modification procedure) says to use a Naphtha based solvent to wipe each key pedestal to remove any trace of lubrication that may have previously been applied.  So, in the event that silicone does get onto the pedestals I'm trusting that this will alleviate the concern.

I found the following statement by Steve Woodyard interesting in that it implies that felt-on-hammer may be more likely to wear out then felt-on-pedestal.  This is from his "Action Inspection" recommendations.

For a time the key pedestal felt was changed to a white felt and was installed on the hammer curve instead of the pedestal. The action modification listed in the service manual discusses the removal and pedestal re-installation. It does not address failure of the white felt due to wear. This wear can be accelerated due to the rough nature of the bare wood key pedestal. Replace the damaged felts or perform the modification.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: action problem with 1976
« on: January 31, 2011, 12:52:03 PM »
I had the same problem on my early 1977 suitcase.  It also has the white felt on the hammers and I was getting a pronounced rubbing noise and sluggish feel all through the middle of the keyboard.  I removed all the keys and cleaned out the case, I eased the bushings where they seemed a bit tight and I lubed the key posts.  None of this made any real difference.  I then physically removed the hammer combs and lubed the felts with a silicone spray.  You can probably lube them in place if you're careful with the spray but I wanted to avoid getting it all over everything.  Anyway, that seems to have almost entirely resolved the problem for me.  I suspect that the felts really should be replaced and I'll probably do that soon but the silicone made a world of difference for now.  I suspect that the middle of the keyboard feels more sluggish simply because it gets the most play and the felts probably wear down more because of that.

Regarding the replacement of the white felt, I have the same questions as you.  I don't know whether there's any issue with using the VV felt on the hammers and furthermore I'm wondering if I should go away from the felt on the hammers all together and put the new felt on the pedestal.  And if I do that, should I put the miracle mod in?  I'd really like to know what you end up doing and how you like it.

Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: Brand New Clavinet D6
« on: December 16, 2010, 10:13:25 AM »
Wow, no way I'd let that go, but that's just me.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / New hammer tips, better feel.
« on: December 14, 2010, 11:10:36 AM »
I'm starting some renovations on a 1977 suitcase 73 and just replaced the damper felts and hammer tips with the replacement kits from VV.  Now that the damper felts are all new and not compressed/misshaped I've got some damper adjustments to do but that's not unexpected.  The thing that surprised me however was the difference in feel that I'm getting with the new hammer tips.  I'm not sure if the old ones were original or not but they didn't look too bad visually.  I just figured I'd go ahead and replace them since I was definitely planning on doing the damper felts...and I'm sure glad I did.

So my question is my experience unusual or is it common for new tips to noticeably improve the feel and tone of the keyboard even when the old ones aren't showing any significant visual wear.  One of the issues I was having with my keyboard was a general muddiness in the midrange even after adjusting escapement, voicing, etc.  I wasn't expecting the new hammer tips to clear that problem up the way they have.  I was originally thinking I might install the miracle mod to improve and quicken the action but the new hammer tips (along with lubing the felts on the hammer cams) have resulted in a keyboard that feels very responsive and at this point I'm going to hold off on the miracle mod and re-evaluate after I've replaced the grommets and fully adjusted everything and take some time to play it for awhile.

I know there are a few VV'ers on this board and I want to add my thanks to the many others I've seen for the youtube videos you've taken the time to produce, they are invaluable to me.

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