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Messages - David Ell

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The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Re-Tipping questions
« on: August 09, 2013, 11:33:26 PM »
Ok, thanks Stevo. I was hoping you could have provided some actual insight. You know, an interesting read, something to sink my teeth into. Perhaps something on tuning?

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Re-Tipping questions
« on: August 09, 2013, 06:30:54 PM »
I was looking for more of a procedure, not glue type. I was wondering if people realize there is more to it than mere replacement.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Re-Tipping questions
« on: August 08, 2013, 10:26:28 PM »
Piano tuner steveo....How do you install the tips?  I am interested in how others go about it.

 Always try food grade silicone in an eye dropper dribbled down the guide pin first. Make sure the felt comes into contact with the lube. If it works then there is no need to widen the bushings. You want those bushings as tight as possible without binding. If you need to widen them so be it.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / safe tip removal
« on: August 08, 2013, 06:01:35 PM »
 Special tools and jigs can be fashioned for working on a Rhodes. I use an isolation jig to keep the older style hammer from moving side to side. It's the  single links that tend to break, the hinge not so much.
 For safe removal with the later style you can hold up two hammers, with the other hammer up a little higher to be used as a fence. Grip with the thumb (on the hammer to be cut) and use the first finger to hold the next hammer by bracing it with the side of the finger. This other hammer is up a little higher for safety. Then using a number 2 exacto knife blade, work from one corner and slice under the tips. Remains can be dealt with using a mini dremel or file.
 Keep your tools in order. I keep one knife *only* to be used for tips and replace the blade often. When you struggle making a cut, that's when things get dangerous. Always use a sharp blade.
 The combs (later pianos) rarely break but the hinge can get contorted so a rubber block can be used between the hammer arms if needed. If a hinge gets distorted, inspect it. If it's white, replace. If it just doesn't swing well, use my silicone. Of course, try to remove the tips without a knife first. Many times they come right off just by pulling.
 When I stated that bringing a Rhodes to a tech is always the best solution for a Rhodes, I meant it. What happens with online help is people just get little bits of info here and there and then go to work. It's doesn't work like that, trust me. For example, are just going to replace the tips, as if it's a single and separate aspect of the piano? Probably. I don't look at it like that.
 Don't believe people that say working on a Rhodes is easy and simple. These people don't have a clue. In fact, a Rhodes is actually a *difficult* instrument to work on. Why? Because most every adjustment or repair has *another* related part of the piano that needs to be held in mind and then adjusted. You have to at once do one thing, while paying attention to another part of the piano. Since every piano is a little different, "seeing" this when you size up a piano is what I call the "eye of the tech". So much goes unnoticed to the untrained eye. There is no way around getting this eye other than experience. I tell people don't dare call yourself a tech until 50 pianos. I mean it. Much respect for real techs. 

Right, I knew about vintage vibe hammers. One of the main things about those older Rhodes was the hammer throw. It was all over the map.

I didn't know there were "new" replacements. I know the older ones work for replacing. I have them. You probably have Raymac tines and that's a good thing. Such a phat tone.

 There is nothing wrong with bringing it to a tech at some point other than thinking you will save money. Many times I have spent a entire day undoing what someone else has done, just to get to the point where I can start what I need to do. Getting advice on a forum can help but only a real Rhodes tech would know if your Rhodes is all it can be. Notice I used the word "real".

 Only Three hammers? Check each of the 73. Some knife edges might be rounded. 20 years ago we didn't see much of this. Now I am starting to see it. It has to do with how much it's been played. Double striking can sometimes be traced back to the cam, not just the felt and escapement etc.
 Check the ends of the tines for tell tale jagged edges that might indicate replacement tines. Who knows if all are of the correct vintage? If so, you scored big time. I know of a '74 about 10 hours from here and I am wanting it, but it's loaded with later replacement tines. A few I could stand, but lots of them no way. Good luck and have fun. You got a vintage Fender Rhodes!

There is repair, restoration and then tech if you know what I mean. On one hand, simple repair is possible by almost anyone. Getting the best out of it takes much time. Anyone one who thinks otherwise is wrong. Each Rhodes is firing differently, yet all have the same basic parts. Solving problems is another level. 
 Imagine if you worked on around 400 Rhodes, most of these more than once, so around 700 give or take. You would see that what works on one Rhodes won't work on another. It's not as straight forward as one might think. A Rhodes is only as good as the tech that worked on it. This is law. I myself still have a lot to learn.
 I am not saying he can't do a good job, not at all. He should do well. But let's not get carried away and think that not taking it to a tech would be the best for the Rhodes. My first advice would be take it to a real Rhodes piano tech. Now, not getting ripped off, don't get me started.

For Sale / Half Wood / Half plastic hammers for pre - '75 Fender Rhodes.
« on: August 06, 2013, 03:54:47 PM »
I have a few spares if needed. 10$ per hammer. Fits '69 to mid '75 pianos. Excellent condition.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: A Trio of Steely Dan Rhodes 88's
« on: August 05, 2013, 11:24:15 PM »
This is what I am hearing: The grommet to screw shank/tone bar fit, both inside and outside dia, (screw shank and tone bar contact) are even their float vs. isolation in regards to fork movement (blow response and recovery) after a hammer blow. In other words, not only is the fit good, but the rebound properties of the rubber is right. The response is optimal. The tone bars are jumping well to players touch, yet there is balance/smoothness. It seems that the grommets have just the right memory and make up. The forks have good velocity response (movement) and sustain. It's not just about voicing the tines and pick ups.
 What we are hearing are harps (and hammer tips) that have good voicing quality/float properties. The player is taking advantage with what is available. It's fun to play a Rhodes when it's responding well.
 It has always been the bane of a tech to have access to the right grommet. (springs as well)
 Tighter you get more smoothness, looser you get more to the funky side. You want just the right amount of float/balance. These Rhodes have it. It's something to always be aware about when working on a Rhodes. A lot of guys miss it. 
 After awhile you can tell what any Rhodes is doing, even from a recording. Those tone bars (harps) are floating well, I like it.
 I imagine those are the new grommet/screws. I have a set. I can't wait to use them.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Diamond in the rough
« on: August 05, 2013, 01:21:48 PM »
As time goes by, I am liking the late '75 to very early '77 Rhodes more and more. They aren't as 3D sounding or have the highs as the later models but to me that's a good thing. I like the click of the later models but it wears on me in no time at all. As a tech, there is more work to be done on the mid '70's Rhodes but that's what I like about them. I can get a great sound out of them with the right treatment. Too bad I can't find one to save my life.
 I have found that most of them will take the standard key pedestal mod well (I have a roll of original felt on paper backing) but not all of them. Some you need to really get in there and try different things. On my high School Rhodes I had to rebuild the action three times before it felt right. They also take the harder (down five) tip mod well. The upper range with new tips and all the harmonics backed way off, sounds sweet. I got to get me a stage 73 from  late '75.

 That's a good point bjammerz. The market for vintage Rhodes isn't where it should be at all. I fully dyno'ed a mint '78 stage including my pre amp and only made 200$ for 40 hour work week. Good Rhodes are not selling well. There is one on ebay that has been fully restored and it just sits there for months. We techs are putting our lives into the craft, we should be doing better. As the world falls into this left wing game of musical chairs, everybody suffers.
 It got to the point where all I was getting was calls for free help so I took my site down. I would gladly help, but people wanted me to rebuild their piano over the phone. Some would even *demand* I bend over backwards. People these days want everything for free. They should open their own business and see what's it's like to really work. It's time for a right wing come back. I don't see it happening.
 On another note, good Rhodes are becoming harder to find. I have not seen a mid 70's Rhodes for sale in my state for a long time. A '72? forget about it. I know I live where the nearest Rhodes is 8 hours away, but the economy is putting a "damper" on everything. The gas costs to travel are outrageous. 

I have seen an older Rhodes like yours with retro fitted modular dampers (later style like mine) but have never done it myself. If memory serves, it was only done to the lower half of the keyboard. You sure could try it. Nothing worse than damper problems.

Not only low in output, but muddy sounding. Enter my pre amp.

Demos in the near future of my pre amp. It costs 195$ but anyone here gets it for 185$. You have not fully heard your Stage Rhodes until the mud is removed. It's wonderful. The original sound can still be had if needed.

 I make a 4 knob pre amp with bass and treble plus eq and volume boost. I don't hype it much but it makes a Rhodes sound great. It takes about 10 minuets to install and there is no soldering or wire cutting. Just remove the old volume and bass boost knobs a pop in the new pre amp. Boom, no more muddy sounding Rhodes. It will work in any 73 or 88 key model.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Manzarek's "Riders" iso track
« on: July 28, 2013, 09:58:43 AM »
A '70 sounds out of this world with my pre amp. I recently did one and could not stop playing it. Remove the mud with the pre amp and it's sounds like a hopped up Wurly, only better.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Earliest Torrington date???
« on: July 26, 2013, 04:11:08 AM »
Wait a minute, no marcel? Flat pedestals?  Yeah, I bet that Rhodes sounds awesome with it's cab. I had two 25 '72's and a 12 and a 7. One of the 25's I set up with harder tips. People loved it.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Earliest Torrington date???
« on: July 25, 2013, 10:34:36 PM »
 You might want to try the regular key pedestal mod with just the right thickness felt and bump size. Then get escapement close ( I am sure you have) in all ranges. That combined with the right action rail location makes for a great '72. It might take several tries but it can be made to be the best action. If done right, the key bounce is minimized and the key dip feels just right. You can feel it when the key/cam cradle is on lock and sliding well. When you hit the spot, then you can get any '72 to feel the same way. It stays with you.
 Mod dampers are a must for those early Rhodes when you play that hard and fast.
Overall it sounds a little clicky but I guess that's the room sound. When you play like that tips get hard fast. Nice chops by the way.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Earliest Torrington date???
« on: July 25, 2013, 08:59:10 AM »
Put an effects loop in, it's easy. That is if you play with a wah, phaser etc. I would love to hear that Rhodes with a crybaby classic.

Take a picture of the key pedestal felts from overhead and or at a slight angle.

Spray the key pedestals outside of the piano. Install them and then lube the pins. Let the lube slide down the pins into the felt. It's also more important to lube the guide pins than the balance pins. I would just do the pedestal felts myself. You must use the right lube. You know what type by now.

If done right, no lube will touch the papers. Also, the thickest cardboard washer should be on top of the papers, not under. It's not that big of deal to lube the balance pins. It's the key pedestal felts that need the spray lube. It will lighten the action and protect the hammer cam.
 The block of wood provides tension.

You know what my answer is going to be. It will make it less noisy as well. Just use an eye dropper.

Sure Raymacs were paired up with neopream. The very first in fact. But you are probably right about them being Torringtons. The first neopream tips were multi colored. I noticed the pic up wiring is like a '71 or '72. The bass dampers are shorter like a late '72 early '73. But the range is different.
 What is now needed is a pic of the key dip using a ruler. That's what always interests me the most about these early Rhodes. 

It's hard to tell by the color of the springs on the tines. Raymacs are coated with paint, but not always. They sounded like Raymacs but look like Torrington. Who knows? You have the older 1 inch magnet pic ups. Boy are they in need of adjustment!   
 You want to lube the key pedestal felts. Saturate them good, let dry overnight. If the action is not faster in the morning, no lube will help. It would be time to replace them. Use an eye dropper for the pins. I could go on and on about that Rhodes but it's a full moon and there are deer to track.

I have been toying with the idea of teaching/coaching people on how to overhaul/blueprint their Rhodes online. I have been through it 100's of times and would know just what one would encounter during each step of the process. I know each of the 88 notes like the back of my hand. I could save someone a lot of time. I have done this a couple of times already and it worked well. Just a heads up for anyone who wants to get their Rhodes in top shape with the help of a tech.
 As far as what someone would be getting is not just problem solving, but procedure. This is key. The manual or online videos don't connect the dots. It's how each aspect works in conjunction with each other and how to get each part to function better than it did before, or better than factory. Each model year or so has it's pattern problems. Each Rhodes has it own unique issues. The key lies in the level of experience one has with each model year. It can be fun when you know you are working correctly.

There is only one way to do it right. Take it apart and put it back together better than before. A Rhodes is only as good as the tech that worked on it. This is law. If you work on it yourself, you are the tech.

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