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Messages - DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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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.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« on: August 17, 2018, 10:22:30 PM »
You got it.  That's the ballpark, based on the action rail assembly or inspection date, though the final assembly date of the whole instrument would have been a little later.  You can also triangulate with the transformer and the 8-digit stamp on the keys, and get a more accurate reading.

What's the serial number?  I have a surprisingly scant amount of data on Wurlies from that year.  I'm gonna guess that the first three digits are 106 or 107.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Some DIY reflections
« on: August 13, 2018, 10:03:59 PM »
I was listening to some early Ray Charles versions of What'd I Say and I can hear some slightly out of tune notes as well as one or two that are a little dead-sounding.
He's playing a 1958 model 120.  Very different sorta beast there.

The action was massively redesigned for the 140/145/720 in 1962, with further revisions of the reeds (adding an "A" to those models) and then some further amp stuff, plus changes that mostly make servicing a lot easier, for the "B" series.  The changes at the 200 series were actually less conceptually major than the ones that happened at the start of the 1960's.  Main things were moving one capstan, an amp redesign, and a major cosmetic redesign that made for a much lighter instrument.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Some DIY reflections
« on: August 13, 2018, 11:09:48 AM »
Very grateful for the weighing in on this. So. overall the first two octaves on this estate 200A were dull. The upper keys were quite loud in comparison. Now, the first two octaves are coming to life, but a good number of notes have not very pleasing overtones. So I'll get a feeler gauge and try that, but wonder if I achieve exact center if I will end up going back to the dull sounding tines.

But it almost seems that loosening, repositioning and tightening alone has done something good. Is that possible?

And I agree that it would be great to have some video archives started here to demonstrate some of the art of this.

Ahh, I see.  I had misread you.  It's the BASS register that is more problematic.

To some degree the loud overtones are just a feature.  The strike points of the hammers can affect these, too.  You may want to see if removing the left reed bar screws and sliding the whole harp towards and away you affects the tone-- if so, the some of hammers might be misaligned. (You can't really realign the reedbar beyond shimming.)

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Some DIY reflections
« on: August 11, 2018, 01:43:50 PM »
Another 2 questions: As I remove, check, position and tighten these reeds down, I notice that one or two are now flatter than before the removal. Do you recommend a technique for repositioning the reed to bring the pitch back up again? Physically, what do you use to slide them slightly in the right direction?

It's a good idea to get very clear on how positioning a reed forward and back affects the pitch.  The effect can be quite different on a bassmost reed and a treblemost reed, too. You can visually perceive the difference in position:  When the reed is towards you, there is a lot more of the flat edge sticking out beyond the screw.  When it is towards you, with screw fully tightened, that's the highest pitch you can get out of that reed without filing.

If my hands aren't doing the job, I use a flat-head screwdriver applied to that front edge to push a semi-tightened reed away (making it lower in pitch), and needlenose pliers on the "tongue" to pull it towards me.  Before filing a reed, I get clear on how much range of scale I have in sliding--I also make sure that I can't just _fix_ the pitch by sliding.  It's easy-ish to push the reed to one of the ends of its range--it's a lot harder to trial-and-error the reed into any of the in-between range, since a 32nd of an inch can make a major difference.... and that nudge is beyond our natural fine-motor skill.  Sometimes you nudge a reed less than an amount you can SEE and it can make a difference.

It helps that I've done this enough, with the same fine file, that I can tell how much a given stroke of a file will adjust a pitch.  Again, a file stroke on a treble reed will have a much more dramatic effect than the same stroke on a bass reed.  And the shape of the reed tip will affect the effect of a given file stroke.

One dull sounding note has not improved like the others. It has a slight curve vertically. Is that part of the problem?

The 6 most treble reeds are especially prone to bending up, because they are very thin and the hammers wallop them over time.  This will affect their sustain and pitch.  You may need to replace them, but sometimes, yes, you can gently bend them back into place.  I wouldn't do this unless you have some backup blanks on hand. (Vintage Vibe makes good ones.)

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