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Messages - David Aubke

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I think we covered the original topic pretty well anyway...

Lately, I've been wondering, how it is that students of the acoustic piano don't drive all of their neighbors crazy? These days I'm well away from the next house but I grew up in a pretty densely packed neighborhood. I don't remember being self-conscious about practicing but I have to believe the neighbors were thinking something similar to "Oh god, not Bill Grogan's Goat again!"

Not at all. I've encountered BGG somewhere in a "Learn to Play..." book. It's my jam.

Come to think of it, it was Michael Aaron.

And here it is: the tune that almost ended my piano career before it started.

I remember distinctly staring with white hot rage at Page 23 of the Michael Aaron Grade 1 book. No matter what I did, I couldn't make the slurs sound the way my teacher wanted and it became a battle of wills - he making me start from the top over and over again, me making it sound worse and worse with each iteration. Soon after, I quit piano and didn't pick it up again for about three years.

Good times.


Seems to me that acoustic pianos are fetching negative selling prices these days. That is, you've got to pay people to take them away.

This is sad.

[Tangent]I still love mine. I grew up learning to play on a Baldwin Acrosonic that my grandparents bought new in the 50s. When my mom passed away, it moved to my uncle's house where it lived for twenty years. A couple of years ago, I retrieved it and have been playing it nearly daily ever since. It's pretty nostalgic to sit there and remember the hours - some of them good, some of them not so good - working through the John Thompson books.[/Tangent]

My Mark 1 has 73 hand wounded pickups, for a less bright sound but more harmonics. No gear or tools. It took me a complete week but I am glad I took the time for doing it!
You wound 226,300 wraps by hand? That's dedication.

I see the same phenomenon with used acoustic pianos.  People want silly money for absolute crapola, and then get offended if you make them a reasonable offer.

Seems to me that acoustic pianos are fetching negative selling prices these days. That is, you've got to pay people to take them away.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Zig zag pick up wiring
« on: May 15, 2017, 12:05:29 PM »
Does the fact that the terminals for the criss crossed pickups are facing the other way from all the other pickups mean anything?

Does this suggest the group of cross-wired pickups came from an earlier Sparkle Top?

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Mark 1 rewiring
« on: May 14, 2017, 08:13:05 AM »
There was a recent discussion where the subject of series/parallel wiring came up.

Here are some recordings comparing the sounds of a Fifty Four wired two different ways.
All series

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Mark 1 rewiring
« on: May 14, 2017, 08:10:02 AM »
If you wire a Seventy Three entirely in series, you'll end up with a 13K circuit. Pretty hot even by overwound humbucker standards.

I don't think your piano will sound very good wired entirely in series. Of course that's subjective but it will lose too much from the higher frequencies and sound muddy.

I think if you want to strengthen the signal, you should be looking at some Rhodes-specific preamps that are out there.

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: May 13, 2017, 08:33:42 AM »
Just got my harp assembled. Everything feels pretty good so far.

Except I didn't account for the way the tines push the damper arms down and relieve the bridle straps a little bit.


I expect to be able to drill out some lead to remedy this.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Zig zag pick up wiring
« on: May 12, 2017, 07:58:42 AM »
The KMC 1 I recently worked on had all its pickups wired to alternating poles.

I think it's for hum-cancellation but I can't explain why they stopped doing it or why it was only done to a subset of your pickups.

You gotta get some felt on those pedestals. Without it, that behavior is normal.

Well, my hypothesis was that electro-mechanical pianos were experiencing a resurgence.

Fewer listings could indicate either a boom or bust but higher prices suggests the former.

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.

I think you' re talking about a Rhodes pedal  :P
Doggone it. How did I end up in the Wurlitzer section?

I wondered how they could mistake that pedal for wood.

I've purchased a sustain pedal and legs from and I'm very happy with the result.

The sustain pedal is not wrapped in Tolex like the original, but it still looks very convincing and feels like I imagine my original one would have when it was new.

I don't believe the originals were Tolexed, but instead covered in a thick paint-spatter pattern. I've seen dings in them below the paint and they are just wood.

Cinnanon is right, they are wood with a textured paint finish.

They're aluminum. Some bare metal with a brushed finish, some with matte black paint and some with black crinkle paint.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Tines...
« on: April 30, 2017, 08:05:53 AM »
I think it's fair to say that RL produces tight grommets whereas VV produces loose grommets.  That is to say, the VV grommets slide easily over the screws, but the RL grommets are too tight to slide easily.  I don't know if this difference is significant, or if it has significance to the sound and bark of a Rhodes.  Please, RL and VV, chime in if I am misrepresenting your product in any way.

I agree with this characterization and similarly withhold judgment about which is the superior or most appropriate fit.

Facebook links are hit-or-miss for me but maybe this will work.

This is how I like to make dowels for filling holes.

The "specialist" they brought in to determine the value said they could sell it for around $2500, so the store offered the guy $1200.

Well, I'd say that sounds about right for a Mk V. Though I'm surprised a pawn shop would accept such a meager profit margin. I'd have thought they'd offer more like five or six hundred.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Tines...
« on: April 25, 2017, 02:43:59 PM »
Since that time, it seems that the community as a whole has come to agree that one size grommet does not fit all.

Is there an online Rhodes community I'm unaware of? I frequent this one and a couple of Facebook groups.
I don't recall anyone ever claiming one size grommet fits all but this is clearly an issue you feel strongly about.


What'd it go for? I don't get that channel so, spoilers be damned.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Grounding Pianet-T keys
« on: April 25, 2017, 06:51:11 AM »
Thanks Alan.

If I remember correctly, most of the noise coming from the Pianet T I had was remedied by replacing the defective output jack.

The recording I made is still a little noisy but it doesn't sound like a grounding issue.

Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Grounding Pianet-T keys
« on: April 24, 2017, 12:25:15 PM »
I think this is what you're looking for.

Holy moly. I don't think I went through all that. I thought there was some single point that provided continuity to the entire set of keys. I'll have to dig through my pictures to see if anything jogs my memory.

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 / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 22, 2017, 12:57:53 PM »
Here's a detail loaded piece on this subject.

Thanks Peter. I think I skimmed that one as part of my research.

"Lead weights will indeed counterbalance a heavy hammer, but will also add inertia: actions with a large quantity of lead in the keys feel sluggish, especially when trying to play fast repeated notes, trills or in any other situation where the key has to move quickly."

This may be where I'm headed. We'll see. I've got another late 70s here (albeit with bump-modded flat pedestals) so I should be able to do A/B testing. If I can't tell immediately, I may try to find some local pianists to provide an opinion.

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 20, 2017, 02:41:44 PM »
A few observations so far.

I started at middle C and headed upward. I worried that I was doing nothing but lightening the action and that's not really what I set out to do. When I got up to the lighter damper arms, things changed and I've even found myself adding weight to the rear of a few keys making them feel heavier. By the same mechanics, the bass keys are going to require quite a bit of weight (relatively speaking) at their fronts. The upshot is, I'm now more hopeful that I'm balancing the touchweight across the keyboard and not just lightening everything.

What I said earlier about helping the key past its starting point before taking a real measurement isn't really true. Once I got a better feel for what I was doing, it became more straightforward and I chose and located weights until my reference weight simply caused the key to sink from start to finish at a slow, consistent rate.

I hope I'm doing it right. I have drill bits in 1/64" increments (checked again, not true) but nothing that matches the diameter of the weights perfectly. Also, the weights are irregular. Some fit tightly while others leave all kinds of gaps I'm basically backfilling with wood glue. I bought weights in three sizes but I'm afraid to use the largest as I'd have to compromise the structural integrity of the key to install them.

It'll be a while before I can really test this. The harp is still in hundreds of pieces.

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 18, 2017, 06:30:46 PM »
It may have taken me twenty minutes but I got there!

I forgot to mention that there is a slight increase in tension as you push a key down - the damper arm is tied directly to the hammer, and the damper is basically spring-loaded to recoil on release.  How much of that you could feel or is measurable, not sure.

This, of course, explains why I stopped needing so much weight. The change occurred right at the breakpoint between the mid-range damper arms and the treble arms. These arms have the largest cutouts near their bases.

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 18, 2017, 06:02:53 PM »
Just started the third octave. About halfway through the second, several of the keys needed no weight at all, which was a comfort to me. I'm not especially interested in lightening the action, I only wanted to know what it would feel like "in spec".

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 18, 2017, 03:01:46 PM »
However, is the weight a player feels based off of that initial felt-dragging on the attack?  I can't say for sure and might not matter as much.

This concerns me a little bit. I think, with an angled cam, almost all of the force occurs right at the beginning. The first few millimeters flings the hammer upwards and the rest of the distance is just about getting the pedestal in position to catch the hammer. So, what I'm doing is kind of missing the point.

Basically, I'm just making the action feel very light. We'll see if that's a good thing.

Preamps, Modifications & Upgrades / Re: Adjusting touchweight
« on: April 18, 2017, 02:16:39 PM »
On early pianos with no bump, I do not believe the tipping point would be linear while the hammer rolls over the pedestal, and more weight may need to be applied to get the key all the way down.  Perhaps on other pianos with a factory bump mod, the most force is required at initial key strike to get the hammer moving, and then it's very light after that.  I could imagine an aftermarket bump mod kit would have some real adjustments needed.

I'm afraid I don't completely understand this paragraph. Seems like you're saying early pianos require non-linear force but also late pianos require non-linear force.

To me, the curved cam and no bump means early pianos do require linear force. And this is primarily why I dislike playing them. Even after a bump mod, they still feel slow to me. I much prefer the angled cam of later models where there's an initial push followed by much lighter resistance.

When I'm testing the touchweight, I help the key past that initial movement and only test the remaining 80% of travel. If I insisted on moving the key entirely by 60 grams, I think I'd have to add too much weight.

If this works OK, I'll be very interested in what I could do with an early Rhodes. I really don't like playing them that much as they are. On the other hand, if this ruins my piano, I'll have a whole bunch of holes to fill.

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