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Messages - Chi

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What Tim suggested is the way to go, if you can line that up.    There is a product called evap-o-rust that I used on the hardware that worked great but I was out of it so i just used steel wool, simichrome, and elbow grease.  Came out great but you will have sore fingertips for a few days  :o

Excellent - thanks for the info :)

Might be worth seeing if you have a metal plater near you, it costs very little to get the original zinc plating with a yellow passivate finish. Platers will usually dip it in an acid bath beforehand so saves you a lot of time in cleaning.

This is a set I had done recently:

Nice - I will make some inquiries ;)

That stuff is cosmetic.  I went ahead and de rusted, cleaned, and polished all of the tines and tone bars, it had zero effect on tone, I just wanted to do it because Im not into corrosion.  It was a huge pain and time consuming job so unless you are OCD skip that.

Hehe, good to know it's nothing to worry about however, like you, I don't think I will be able to stop myself from trying to remove it. I have just ordered the bushing kit, back rail felt and two cheek blocks from the UK so I have some time to spare before I can continue sorting the keys out now.

I know the cheek blocks are just cosmetic but the tech glued a bright green sticker into one of them like a calling card that says "Reborn 2020" and it irks me when I see it  :D

How did you approach the de-rusting and polishing?

After making the action rail adjustments, as per Tim's wonderful tip, I turned my attention to setting key dip and so removed the top tine to use as a 3/8" measure.

Unscrewing it revealed a completely destroyed grommet that disintegrated in my fingers. It was covered in rust as was the tonebar where the screw had been.

How serious does this look? Can this just be cleaned up or am I looking at having to replace bars in this kind of condition?

Some tools should be retired from the piano technicians arsenal, I cite the key bushing tightener because it is a destructive tool which only achieves its intended result by a brute-force, severely inelegant method.  You make inconsistent work for yourself, and you make future key-bushing replacement more frustrating for the next tech who deals with the board. You can replace felts until the cows come home, but it's really hard to achieve consistency on key mortises that have been bashed in by this tool, splintering and deforming the wood in the process.

VS Pro-felt (by PianoTek) can revive keyushings if they're not too far gone (read: threadbare). But getting into bushing work requires specialized tools and experience and you may be better off having a piano tech do the bushings for you, or better yet, replace the lot and give your piano a guaranteed few more decades of bushing-worry-free operation. A piano tech will have a good set of sized bushing cauls (not the spring loaded type) and heat-treating cauls to make each bushing extremely consistent one to the next.

Also, you showed a photo of a key with an out-sized balance hole. This takes some finesse to fix properly. The old style phenolic inserts are not available anymore, although you may be lucky to find a tech with some left overs plus the special installation drill-bit. However, this isn't the best approach as they can add noise to your keyboard. Ideally you outsize the hole, plug it with hardwood and re-drill. Locating the new hole needs to be very precise.  If you're lucky the original holes can be salvaged (I can't tell from the photo), I like to use Chair-Doctor glue to tighten and then a key-bushing reaming tool to widen to the correct size.  Again, you may want to consult a piano tech to help you with this process or give you guidance.

BAH. Not fun work. Good luck!

Yikes - I do not possess the tools needed for this kind of repair let alone the knowledge or craftsmanship. Since it's not many keys I will try to live with it and only tend to the few bushing felts that have broken away and come loose. Getting a pro busher to do a proper job will have to go on the backlog for now I think. Great info though - thanks ;)


In fact this is actually quite easy to adjust.

First you need to remove the harp and remove the damper bar.

Next using a long screwdriver inbetween the damper comb arms  loosen the big machine screws which hold the aluminium action rail down to the keybed.

Next loosen the 2 big black nuts on each harp support.

Move the action rail and harp supports left or right and line  up the action rail with the majority of the pedestals until you are happy with each key then re-tighten.

Thanks again Tim - this worked like a charm  :)

The side to side key wobble is most likely from worn key bushings (the red felts that sandwich the pin). You definitely dont want them too tight as the keys will stick with humidity changes as the wood swells. There is a key bush tightening tool that compresses the wood back to size. If you have a lot of keys that are crazy sloppy you may want to consider rebushing.

Yes, you are right, there a a couple of keys that have some side wobble because the bushing felts have come apart but the ones with the bigger holes drilled have side to side and front to back wobble. I may need to investigate this bush tightener and a few keys will need rebushing.

This evening I finished cleaning all the glue and felt residue that was left on the underside of the hammers - thank you to Tim Hodges for the red spirit tip - worked a charm ;)

Now I have removed all the old punchings and felts from the front & balance rail and replaced them with new ones. This time the balance rail has the proper white felts. I will begin leveling and setting the dip tomorrow.

A couple of things I have noticed. Firstly there are a couple of keys that felt a bit loose compared to the rest. Sure enough when I checked the balance pin holes they were bigger than the others.

Also, I see that not all of the hammers are sitting square on the pedestals - some are off to one side such that they hang a bit over the edge. This is not something I can imagine is easy to adjust since it would likely mean adjusting the position of the action rail and since the adjustment would be quite small it would cause problems with the existing screw holes.

Some positive news is that adding paper punchings on the balance rail helps to remedy the hammers being so uneven when keys are depressed :)

Let me give you a hint:

You'll need 3/8" a lot... key dip, escapement, etc.

Did you know that the tine-body is 3/8" thick? You can take a tine for reference in many many cases! :-)

Aha! Thanks for the tip. It might be a good idea to unscrew a tine to use as a measure then - much easier than trying to squint out 9.5250mm on my ruler  ;D

I had escapement issues which is why I had to make thinner shims for the harp.  On my board I initially thought my key dip was a bit shallow at just under 3/8 and was going to shim the aluminum rails but once I screwed it back in and measured my keydip ended up somewhere over 3/8 and under 13/32 which feels nice to me.

I see - that sounds great! I have 8 wooden shims from ElectricKeys (4 x 1/32" & 4 x 1/16") so they may come in handy when I approach escapement.

Cheers JWC ;)

Oh dear

 :D luckily I have the full balance and action sets for felts and punchings - I take it they are there for a good reason.


So underneath the keys on the balance rail pins there are no white felts with those paper punchings?

With an aluminium action rail you can still shim it. Just need find a suitable shim made of something like wood from a modellers shop which won’t easily compress or some thick gauge card.

That's right - there was not a single felt washer on any pin along the balance rail - only paper punchings.

Brilliant - that's good news about the aluminium action rail - I may cut up some of the old damper arms for this.

Are you looking to increase or decrease?  I ended up taking off the particle board shims on the top of the rails and making new ones to get it where I wanted.  If you are looking to decrease the keydip you can use a thicker back felt, Avion has a green thicker felt strip.

Looking to increase the dip a little bit. Did you re-shim the harp supports to set the key dip or was that more for escapement? I think I've read that quite a few people remove the factory particle board ones - something about them being generic and not really the right thickness for each individual instrument.

....i'm wondering how to adjust the key-dip on a 75 model with the aluminium frame. I watched the VV vids but they are treating an earlier model with the wooden frame and action rail - on the metal one the action rail doesn't look to be shimmable in the same way.

Chi can you post some photos of the mod?

The best stuff to remove glue from the hammer cams is methylated spirits. Over here in the U.K. it’s purple and has an absolutely terrible smell but is perfectly safe for the plastic hammers, in Norway you will know it as rødsprit. With the hammer combs out or the entire action rail off you can easily get to them in one go. They need to be completely free of residue before re-installing.

Sorry Tim - I finished removing the mod last night. I would have described it more as a lump than a bump in this case since the felt placed over the bump was not pressed tight around the bump. There was so much glue underneath that it was more like a big felt lump. The hammer cam was always sitting on top of it - even at stoplock - such that the cam never lay flat.

Will get hold of some rødsprit to clean up the hammers - I was using nail varnish remover to get the glue of the pedestals.

Cheers ;)

The hammers should not be uneven like this. The things contributing to this amount of even-ness can be a poorly installed miracle mod (prob the cause in this case)- so the bumps are in the wrong places and as you have already mentioned, glue left on underside of cams (these need to be super clean and polished up), unevenly installed pedestal felt and possibly uneven back rail felt that's worn, bunched up or full of gunk. Personally speaking, I would remove this miracle mod and start again if it's this uneven up and down the keyboard. BUT first, get the key heights and dip to factory specs, and go from there.

Unfortunately - this is after removing the mod :( 

I'm not sure but I think the balance felts, or rather lack of them, might be contributing. There are only various paper washers on the balance rail pins. Still seems a bit too big of a difference for it to be down to these parts though hmm.

The key pedestals are uniform heights and the hammers too are all the same - there isn't that much more to the mechanism - I will check again later when I am home.

Thanks for the tips JD ;)

A word of warning don’t use pliers. I typically use one of those screw drivers which has an empty shaft for using removable bits. Put the key pin in the shaft of the screwdriver and gently lever the key pin (only if required) and in as few steps as possible as you don’t want to damage the hole.

To echo what Tim said, definitely DO NOT USE PLIERS.  The previous tech on mine did and the pins have the scars to prove it.  I ended up using a pencil cut in half ( a wooden dowel would have been a better choice) and gently tapped that against the pin with a rubber mallet until the key was squared up.  Shimming and leveling is a piece of cake its just kind of boring, grab a beverage and something flat and level and get to it.

Thank you both! Pliers it is then hehe :P

I just finished removing the last of the bumps - hooray! I've noticed there was lots of gunk left on the underside of the hammer cams where the previous felts has been. I will clean that off so that they are smooth.

When depressing the keys (before aftertouch) should the hammer tips all reach the same height give or take a couple mm's?

I see that some are much higher/lower in no obvious pattern - sometimes by 10/20mm. This can be within the same grouping/section. The keys themselves are pretty much the same height when taken out and laid side by side - both the key front and the pedestal height. The hammer cams seem to be equal too so it's a bit odd that they can rest at such varying heights when depressed.

A few of the balance pin bushings fell apart as I lifted the keys. Are they tricky to replace? I see that there are special tools and jigs for this - I suppose I will need the correct tools to to it?

Just in case if you need to know how to go through it here's the standard method. During a service changing the grommets, screws and damper felts is a good start and will definitely help with the alignment, you can also adjust the pickup as well.

This is fantastic - thank you so much for taking the time to post this, invaluable information :)

I ordered most of the parts I need from Christian at Electrickeys so I have new damper combs, damper felts, balance and front rail felts and shims, new hammer tips and pedestal felt. I didn't order a new miracle mod set and so far it seems I am able to remove the bumps so that I can re-use them again after sorting out the keys. I did get 4x 1/32" and 4x 1/16" wooden harp shims too - I wasn't sure if the fiberboard shims would need replacing but I read quite a few posts here that suggested that it was sometimes necessary to remove them and make new ones.

Is there a special tool needed to adjust the balance rail key pins for squaring the keys?

Thanks again! 

I can sympathize, I had what is probably the worlds most infamous tech go through my rhodes and it was a complete and total disaster, so bad in fact is sat in storage for about 15 years.

So we've known Doug for years and in our experience he's a great guy and a quality seller. No idea what went down on his end but suffice to say sorry it didn't work out.
More importantly I wanted to let you know you can email us anytime. Just like with JWC there - happy to chat about your Rhodes.

Quick advice: I wouldn't pull the bump mod just yet, bring those keys up and level with some balance shims. Then maybe check the overall alignment of the harp to see about that double striking. You can gently bend some of the tines a bit, but also check the tonebar screws, sometimes if a screw is bent it will tilt the whole assembly.

There's a few things to remedy but also a nice clean original board. So a better starting point that JWC anyway.
Plus we can't very well have a board with a RetroFlyer not singing!  ;)  Shoot us an email anytime.

Wow - thank you so much for your response. It's very kind of you to offer some advice! It may well be the case that I have been very unlucky and that Doug is usually capable of great work - I hope for his future customers that it is so.

I had already started removing the bump last night before I read this today - hopefully I won't make things worse. I'll take my time and get everything level with the balance felts first - I haven't come across any keys that had felts around the pins of the balance rail yet, only a few paper shims. I have new screws and grommets for the tonebars too - hoping this might remedy the misaligned tines a bit.

Again, thanks for letting me know I can shoot you a mail - it means a lot ;)

I can sympathize, I had what is probably the worlds most infamous tech go through my rhodes and it was a complete and total disaster, so bad in fact is sat in storage for about 15 years.  The good news you can totally handle it yourself.  I had zero experience and tore mine all the way down.  I rebushed both rails,  leveled and regulated all the keys, replaced all the bridal straps, damper felts, damper arms, hammer tips, did the the bump mod, grommets, made new shims, re-established strikeline and escapement, revoiced...the works and it came out great.  That isnt to say I didnt make a few mistakes but overall I really enjoyed it and learned a ton about the rhodes and am confident I can now tackle any problem that might arise.  The other good news is you have the Retro Flyer which I also installed, it's really nice.  The guys at Avion Studios were so helpful and great to deal with, also worked with Vintage Vibe and they are also helpful.  The best advice I can give you is just move on from the bad experience and move forward getting that Rhodes up and running.

Thank you - this gives me hope!  ;)  Moving on and getting it up and running is exactly my intention.

Your welcome to defend yourself but lets please stick to the truth. I kept all emails so we have a log of exactly what unfolded.

Customer insisted on the "mod". So, I took many more hours, stripping the felts from the cams (boring) and adding the bumps on all 73 pedestals (very boring). Personally, I did not want to do this...the "mod" has caused more grief trough the years than anything I know....

I never 'insisted' on the mod, I made an inquiry about it being recommended on the 75 model and whether it was something you normally did. Why are you saying that I insisted? Furthermore, you did not once raise any concerns about it - on the contrary you said that it was needed and that you were proficient in performing the mod. Here is what you told me....

"Now, lesser techs would 1) ignore improvements, and just re-sell "as is", explaining the muddy action as "thats just how it is...."...or (2) affix the bump mod (which is more or less a 2mm "plastic toothpick") on to the pedestal itself.. This will work fine for a few years, then it will rub away the felt on the hammer cam...and you are back to square one. This is why I am glad I have more time to focus on your do a proper "mod".

I can understand you taking offense with your work being publicly criticized - maybe you had other things going on that affected your abilities on this occasion - but please don't tell fibs.

I offered this chap his money back.....this seems to be overlooked. This entailed re-collecting an 85Kg pallet from Norway, back to the UK. I say again, re-collecting an 85Kg paller back from Norway to my expense.

This was not overlooked. I stated the alternatives you gave me in the first post.

Instead, this chap moves on and dissects the piano. I am sure that any 45-y-old piano will always have something not exactly right, including messy soldering......uh,uh........Here is a tip. Analogue...the "A" does not mean analogue.....the "A" means Approximate.......
In better days, I had loads of Rhodes pianos. That has all changed over the past six months. It used to be a weekly occurrence, selling a Rhodes. NOW, its an event selling any. This will become progressively worse; and all the pianos are getting older and rustier.....and the prices are getting silly......
In conclusion, this 1975 Rhodes was not my best effort. Still a good, clean one......with a $300 Retro Flyer fitted et al.....chap is too tight to consult a local pro, and elects to do it all himself....fair enough.....good luck to him.
End of episode. I did my best to sort the situation back etc.                Enough.

I am "too tight" - what a disgusting thing to say. This was a very significant amount of money for me to spend, it took a long time to save up and I simply cannot afford to sink more money into this right now so my only option is to try and do the work myself. Your attitude is awful.

I think you should name who the tech is, this is not acceptable work at all. I would never, ever, let any Rhodes out of my workshop in that state and then to call it a pro level service? WTF!! Without a properly regulated keyboard and action, you simply can't have a decent result. There are too many errors here it's embarrasing. I would ask for some money back and have the work re-done.

Yes, you're right - I was hesitant to name names because I don't want to come off as moany or entitled but I would hate for anyone else to go through a similar ordeal. My colleagues and family also share your thoughts that this persons work and behavior should be made public -  The tech in question is Douglas McKendrick aka Klassik-Keys. His website looked legit with positive testimonials but sadly the whole thing went pear shaped.

After paying he let me know that it would take a week or two because he was going to give it the full works. I said no problem - take the time you need. A couple of days later he asked me if i'd like a Mk2 lid instead since he had a spare and they were very cool and you can have your lunch on it. I said thanks but i'll stick with the Mk1 lid. At first I thought it was a kind offer but 4 weeks later he said that he suddenly discovered that he had no more Mk1 lids  ::) He said he has ordered new ones from Vintage Vibe but they will not arrive for 3 weeks. I said no worries - it'll all work out in the end.

Another 3 weeks passed and I got another email in the middle of the night. There were photos of a Rhodes in pretty bad cosmetic condition - deep cigarette/joint burns in the cheeks, tolex in shreds etc.. He said would I be interested in it - it was a 74 model and sounded incredible and he could send it now. I was a bit shocked since I was expecting him to be done with the original 75 model but I know that 74's are a little more sought after so I was interested. I asked If he was intending to do any refurb work on it or would just send it as is. His response was "Nevermind - the original deal still stands".  ??? That was pretty strange - to make an offer and immediately retract it - oh well.

More weeks passed and I got another mail with some photos - the piano had the same case, lid and name rail as the 74 model he had showed before! I asked about it and he said that he had no more lids!! Eh, I thought we had been waiting for new ones? He said he had just ordered some from Vintage Vibe but that they would take three weeks to arrive. Deja vu - I thought this had already happened.

Another 3 weeks pass and he sends me a letter from the shipping company that there are delays from the US and that the shipment will not arrive for another 3/4 weeks. Fair enough I said - nothing we can do about that. He said good because it would give him time to work on the piano. I kind of thought that was odd since he had by now had ages to do the work but oh well. Meanwhile I was looking at the mod kits from VintageVibe and preparing to see what I might look to do myself - I asked him if he was going to do any of the recommended mods like the miracle mod, backchecks etc.. He said don't bother with most of those things - he will do the miracle mod and that he wasn't going to do that initially because he thought it might scare me but that since I was asking he would take care of it and that it would improve the action.

4 weeks passed and he said the delivery was arriving in a few days and that he would work the weekend to make sure he could send it as soon as the lids arrived. After a few days he said that his wife had surprised him with a weekend away for his Birthday so he wouldn't be able to send it until next week. I said no worries, enjoy the trip and happy birthday.

About a week later he sent some photos of the piano but none showed the lid which was a bit strange. I asked if he could send one with it all setup which he did and then I saw that the lid was not new at all  ??? I asked if it was new and he said "no, they are miles away in storage and it's too late now - I have already sent it". OMG what have we been waiting for all this time then? Anyway, he said that I should not be concerned about cosmetic parts that don't make sound - it's the playability that matters. Of course I agree that it's more important but when you make an agreement it's kind of bad not to keep it. After all that - when it turned up it was not even playable and I saw that he had not done many of the things he said. So depressing.

I don't think I have much chance getting any money back - he made that pretty clear. In his eyes I have gotten a great deal and will be able to get much more for it than I paid! Now that I have bought new damper combs, hammers, various felts, shims, grommets etc as well as tools I'm way past 40000NOK or about 3.3K Sterling - I really don't think I could get that much, not in this condition and I see them go for 20000/30000 NOK here quite often.

I can't really afford to have another tech look at it now so I'm determined to get it working myself. Tonight I took it apart and found that the miracle mod was badly done. The bump is too far back so that the hammer cams are resting on top of the bump in stop-lock position and the cams do not lie flat on the pedestal at this point. The back part of the cams do not contact the pedestal. The felt over the bumps are not placed carefully, not tight around the bump and there is so much glue everywhere. I have begun the long job of removing the mod so I can start fresh and get the keys level first. I realize this will take some time, lots of learning and patience but I'm not bad at repairing electronics, amps and synths and the like so I am reasonably confident that I can learn how to do this.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« on: October 17, 2020, 08:11:55 AM »
Hello fellow Rhodes lovers,

Firstly, i'd like to say how glad I am that forums like this exist - a wealth of knowledge and experience here which i'm hoping to draw from.

Long story short - I've had a pretty rough experience sourcing my first Rhodes.  The `professional` tech that I bought from in the UK ended up being a bit of a disaster. It took 4 months longer than he had said and when it turned up it was not in a playable condition  :'(

Despite having been (allegedly) rebuilt from the ground up with new grommets, a miracle mod, playing and sounding beautifully and looking superb with a brand new lid etc. in reality when it arrived the grommets were not replaced, nor was the lid and while I can see the miracle mod has been done there were a dozen or so stuck notes, several keys that double strike, some that cause muting, and a non functioning sustain...along with a buzzing ground hum.

There were many solder splashes and glue globs - in some places causing adjacent keys to rub or be stuck together. It all seemed a bit careless/rushed.  ::)

His response was that I could send it back and find another piano elsewhere or find a tech where I live (Norway) get them to fix it and then sell it for more than I paid (approx $4000) - he would not be paying for the fixes.  ???

I'm really sad that it all happened like this - I had hoped that paying a premium with a pro would go some way to ensuring that I got something in decent condition. At this point and after so long I just want to get this piano into a playable state and forget all about the experience. Sorry about the rant but I kind of needed to let it out a bit.

So, my mission now is to give this piano all the love it needs and deserves - If it's possible, I will do whatever it takes to make her playable. My research so far has led me to believe that the first thing to get right is the keys. Leveling the keys and then setting key-dip being the first steps respectively.

Looking at the keys they do appear to be slightly uneven here and there. The keys in the treble seem to sit slightly lower in the case than the rest.

It looks like the treble keys are about 4mm lower than the bass keys.

The same is true for the key dip with the treble keys being about 4mm more shallow.

I am thinking to shim the treble keys and see if that evens everything out.

More troubling I think will be the sustain. The behavior changes according to the position of the pedal and the length of the rod. When the rod is making good contact with the mechanism inside only some of the dampers are pushed away from the tines. Extending the rod so that the mechanism is floating quite high will let all notes sustain but this also prevents many notes from damping when they should (constant sustain). I have played with this to find a balance but sadly there is always some that will/won't sustain correctly. Looking at the damper combs themselves they appear to be quite uneven so I suspect that they will need fixing/replacing. The tension in each arm varies quite a lot too.

I notice in places that the tines seem quite out of line with the pickups and damper felts. I'm not sure if changing the grommets will help with this.

The double strike chirping and muting problems i'm also not sure about. My initial guess is that the miracle mod may have been done without proper care and might be contributing to this.

Should I begin by removing the miracle mod first and then leveling the keys and setting dip before trying to reinstall the mod again?

Any advice that can be offered would be greatly appreciated. I'm desperately hoping that this instrument can be rescued and made to sing again.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Rhodes M2 Clacking keys problem
« on: September 30, 2020, 06:30:00 PM »

Hmmm... wear ear plugs.  Install a six-inch layer of fiberglass insulation on top of the piano.  Layer the lid with Dynamat.  None of these ideas are any good.


 :P Hehe, point taken - I guess it's normal then - just strange that I don't hear it in any of the youtube videos out there - not music recordings but the videos where people are recording the the room sound. If I did this you would hear the whack a lot louder than the tones but I often can't hear the treble whack at all in most other videos.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Rhodes M2 Clacking keys problem
« on: September 29, 2020, 06:00:34 PM »
I have the same thing happening with my new Mk1 too. The treble section that have the wooden hammer tips are very very noisy when the tips contact the tines. I have listened to many videos online and have not yet come across another example where the metallic tapping noise is so pronounced. I would really like to find a way to reduce the noise if possible. There is also a jump in volume in this treble section which makes me wonder if using some softer tips might be a solution. From what I read, the wooden tips are needed because more force is required to get a sound from the short tines - but since mine are so loud already might it be OK to swap in some softer tips? I don't know - perhaps they are just old, hard and need replacing with new wooden ones.

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