Author Topic: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?  (Read 349 times)

Offline obZen

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Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« on: September 10, 2019, 12:26:03 AM »
A Rhodes recently came into my possession and it is unfortunately in a sorry state.  It clearly needs a lot of love.  The guy who I got it from disassembled it with the intention of fixing and cleaning it but he never got around to it.  He asserts that nothing is missing but I can't say that for sure.

Here are the pictures https://imgur.com/a/xhFWGQZ

I know it may be difficult to assess from pictures alone but I'm curious as to the state of disrepair it's in.  I am handy with a soldering iron and am capable of building simple EQ, compressor, and preamp kits as well as guitar kits, but this may be out of my wheelhouse.  I would love to give it a try, but I'm thinking it may be wise to take it to a professional.  What do you think the ballpark figure would be for a refurbishment?  Or is it worth giving it a try myself?  I was think of purchasing the Vintage Vibe Rhodes refurb kit if I decide to dive in:

https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/fender-rhodes-73-key-refurb-kit

But it may be for naught if it's something only a professional could accomplish.  Any advice regarding my situation?  Thank you!

I think the world becomes a better place for every additional functional Rhodes that exists, so I would love to get this thing in working order if I can afford it!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 04:15:48 PM by obZen »

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2019, 06:40:05 AM »
Couple of things I've noticed:

It's easily saveable, looks like he's only removed the keys and the sustain bar mechanism. As the preamp looks to be missing a pot you can connect a 1/4" jack to RCA adaptor to the harp on the top left hand corner and you can test the pickups and make sure each note is working.


Here's the list of things I'd start with:

Clean out the piano case
Using paper shims from a piano shop re-level the keys
Replace the screws and the rubber grommets (you can see many of them are squashed) purchase them from either Vintage Vibe or Retrolinear.
Re-wire or replace the preamp on the name rail

Looking at the sustain bar it looks like you might be missing the damper pins which connect the bar to the supports See here, it says out of stock so you may need to contact them directly.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 06:42:04 AM by Tim Hodges »
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Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2019, 06:45:16 AM »
There is also another longer screw which goes through the middle of the bar and goes into the wood. It has another metal rod it goes through to apply pressure on the sustain bar. Worth checking to see if you have that.

Looks like you have a late 1974 piano if you're interested.
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Offline obZen

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2019, 12:47:36 PM »
Yes, I do believe I have that but I'll double check.  I'm not sure if I pictured everything in the photos.  But I appreciate the advice!  Looks like I'll have quite a project this weekend.

To clarify, how do i go about testing the pickups?  I actually have a few pots laying around but I'm not sure if they're the correct resistance.

Offline sean

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2019, 02:51:22 PM »

This is a very dangerous job - you are likely to become addicted to Rhodes piano repair.  You will wind up buying three of them, and become a life-long gear addict.  But you will be happy.

See the Rhodes service manual on the SuperSite: http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/manual.html
Some good stuff in the technotes:  http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/technotes.html
Lots of good stuff on Vintage Vibe's website, and their youtube channel.
Lots of good stuff on RetroLinear's website, and their youtube channel.

You can test the pickups with an ohm-meter and alligator clips.  Method is described in the linked posts here:
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9989.msg55589#msg55589

You can easily rebuild the controls on the name rail.  See https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=4650.msg22605#msg22605

Sean



Offline obZen

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 04:44:29 PM »
Excellent, great information!  I could use a positive addiction, but hopefully it's not a gateway drug... what's next... Mellotrons?!  :P   Looks like I have quite a bit of reading to do though.  I wonder if there's a complete parts list somewhere so I can take inventory.  I appreciate the clue in on what model it may be, thanks Tim.

The felt grommet pads closest to the front are pretty nasty and I can't even see for sure if all the washer/grommet things (don't know what to call them) behind on the longer poles (for the keys) are actually there, or where they should be.  Time to read the manual... I won't keep asking to have my hand held throughout this whole ordeal  ;D :P

Are there any cleaning products I should use for each particular part of this beast?  The case interior/exterior is dirty, a few tines have a tiny bit of corrosion, a few screws are really corroded, and the keys could be touched up a bit as well.

I know I'm acting like the Mayor of Simpleton here but I'm in totally uncharted waters!

Offline sean

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2019, 06:17:36 PM »


Real shame that the previous owner reduced it to kit form.

Don't vacuum up any of the tiny white felts and paper shims around the balance rail pins.  Yes, you will probably have to buy at least some new felts and shims.  See https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/balance-rail-felts and https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/key-shims or
https://www.vandaking.com/s-332a-balance-rail-punchings.html

I usually scrub the wood with a toothbrush while I vacuum, and hold the felts and shims down with my fingers when I get close to them.  You have to really concentrate to avoid accidentally sucking them up.  I have had to fish them out of the vacuum canister on occasion.

Those ugly green felts around the front guide pins are particularly useless.  I would just vacuum them up while cleaning it.  Later model pianos just had a long strip of felt glued along the row of guide pins.  The keys themselves never touch these felts anyway (unless you raise the hammer with your finger during maintenance and cleaning).  You can buy replacement felts https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/front-rail-felts or https://www.vandaking.com/s-331-front-rail-punchings.html.

Oh wow!  It has half-wood hammers and square hammer tips!!!  What year is it?  1973 maybe?  What do the date stamps on the far right of the harp look like (on the wood near the serial number plate)?  Wait!  The keys don't look like they are from a 1973 piano.   It has wooden harp supports, and the fender logo on the name rail, so maybe it is 1974.  The case has the old-style small hinges.  Hmmm...  what date?

Why is the key frame loose?  It should be screwed down tight to the case.  Ugh.  I hope you can figure out which screws go where.

Anyway, after you do a minor cleanup, I would put the piano together as best you can before you buy any parts.  Then you can start deep-cleaning and working on it section by section. 

You might not want to buy the VV refurb kit if you decide to keep the square hammer tips.  (I personally love half-wood hammers with square hammer tips.)

When you get the piano looking like a Rhodes again, you can certainly discuss with Chris or Fred at Vintage Vibe what parts and hammer tips you should get.

Sean


Offline obZen

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2019, 10:49:18 PM »
Thanks for the detailed reply.  I think I'll do exactly as you said, plus the green felts are pretty gross at this point so I'll probably just replace them.

There's quite a lot that baffles me about this poor, poor neglected Rhodes.  I was trying to put the keys in order by lining them up with the corresponding tone bar by number, but this didn't work at all!  Plus the numbers on the keys go all the way up to 79 (if not further, can't remember off the top of my head, maybe above 80).  HOWEVER!  Whoever took it apart, or maybe the original owner, drew an arcing red line on the back side of the keys to reveal the order.  He didn't do a great job but I finally have figured out the correct order of keys.

Also now that I'm wrapping my head around the anatomy of a Rhodes I can use the correct terminology! Tine for example.  In one of the pictures, the end of the tine is a bit bent and far from the pickup.  How close to the pickup should it be?  Should it be touching the pickup?  Is there an optimal distance?  I see on Vintage Vibes website that they sell a Rhodes tine cutter...

Also as far as the shims go, is their sole purpose to level the keys for playing?  Sort of like the action of a guitar?  Or are they more important than that?  I was thinking of taking them all off so I can go all out in my cleaning and not have to worry, but want to make sure that's not a bad idea.

https://imgur.com/a/PVNN2FG  I tried to pinpoint the datestamp, but I'm not sure if i photographed the correct place.  You'll see in the new photos.  Also there's a bonus shot of the guitar I'm building  8)

Offline sean

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2019, 12:53:04 AM »

The paper shims are 100% only for the purpose of levelling the keys - make them all line up perfectly at the same height.  (Oh, and to set the key dip.)
It is not much fun to start from zero, so don't remove all the paper shims and felts from the balance rail.  They are a pain to handle, and easy to rip.  But if you remove them all, it isn't impossible to recover, it is just more work.  And right now, you don't need more work. 

I can't find a good online tutorial that shows you how to do this, but you basically add paper punchings under the felt until all the keys are exactly the same level.
There should be directions in the service manual, but there ain't.  http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-1

Don't cut any tines!!  Cutting the tine will change its pitch.  You only cut tines when you are replacing a tine.

The tines should line up straight in front of the pickup.  If one is off-angle, you need to make sure that it lines up straight with the tonebar that it is attached to.  If you have old squished rubber grommets, the tines can get out of alignment.  New grommets will work wonders for this piano.  The closer the tine is to the pickup, the louder it will be.  You will adjust all the pickups to make the notes play with generally uniform loudness.

See http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/tine-settings.html and http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-7

Your tonebars are stamped 1 to 73 (instead of 8-80) and your tonebars don't have the note names on them like later pianos.  The stamp that you show in your photo is a quality control stamp from TurboJet, the company that built the harps.  The date stamp that I had hoped to find is usually on the top surface of the harp - usually four digits.  If the date appears on the pickup rail, it is the date that it was completed by TurboJet (two digits for week and two digits for year).  The final assembly datestamp could be on the the pickup rail, or it could be on the front part of the harp.  First two digits are for the week, next digit is year, and last digit is day of week.

Don't you wish it were this simple:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO0oggmKR9g
That is a pretty awesome video!


Sean
« Last Edit: September 19, 2019, 12:55:22 AM by sean »

Offline obZen

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2019, 04:33:13 PM »
That video was actually really helpful.  It's basically a crash course on how a Rhodes is assembled.

Most of the paper shims are in their original position (unless someone messed with them) but unfortunately quite a few are flying around the hammers and inside the case.  I've collected them all so I might just see which key needs an extra or 2.  Ok, question time!

There is an adhesive on the metal bar that holds the felt damper (this is called the damper arm correct?) that you will see as well as along the bottom of damper arms.  Is that normal?  I noticed in the assembly video, the guy didn't have any of that brown adhesive stuff on his.  Aside from that the hammer arms and damper arms are quite crooked but I have all the keys out, which I just finished cleaning, and want to give this thing a test pretty soon.  I'd like to do a deeper cleaning in there and make a few adjustments but don't want to mess anything up.  I originally thought this was one structure you remove this by taking the screws from the bottom out.  But after watching the video, it seems like it's not and now that I realize I have this weird brown adhesive on my damper arms I'm a bit confused.

EDIT: just did some more research and there are definitely other Rhodes with that glue stuff.
 
Another I have is where the springs on the tines should be?  Closest to the pickup?  Furthest from the pickup?  Where the hammer makes contact?

Lastly, if I haven't exhausted you with questions yet  :o , part of the wiring is a bit sketchy.  I'm not electrical engineer, or tech, but I've wired guitar pickups and built some outboard gear before so I know my way around a soldering iron.  The wire that goes from the volume pot to the RCA looking cable (it says APC?) that connects to the harp, is gnarled up.  And then there's one wire (or maybe it's just the sheath) about 3/4" long that's just dangling.  So... I might just redo the wiring.  Ok maybe that was more me thinking aloud than a question  :P

By the way, I looked at a few other pictures of Rhodes and found the spot where date stamp lives.  Mine doesn't have one!  I sort of wonder if it's a bit of a Fraken-Rhodes, that has been pieced together a bit.  Maybe, maybe not!

https://imgur.com/a/AzmQAqz
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 10:09:21 PM by obZen »

Offline sean

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2019, 11:13:14 PM »



I don't see any wonky dampers or hammers in your photos.  If you have a hammer that is not seated correctly, you might have a broken hammer comb (the part that holds the hammers where they pivot).  The hammers have little tabs on them that hold them into the hammer comb.  You don't normally have any reason to remove a hammer, but they can be removed -- very gently.  Don't remove them.

Here is a photo of the hammer comb (photo from Vintage Vibe's shopify site)



That loose wire needs to get soldered to the first tab on the Bass Boost pot.  Strip it back, solder a little extension wire onto it, and drag that over to the bass boost pot.
 
See https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=4650.msg22605#msg22605

Specifically, see



The springs on the tines are tuning springs.  You move them closer to the tip of the tine to lower the pitch, and you push them away from the tip to raise the pitch.  Leave them where they are for now.  When you get the piano making sound, then you can worry about tuning the Rhodes.  See http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch5.html



Sean

Offline obZen

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2019, 03:43:56 PM »
Cool, exactly the diagrams I and info I needed.  I have two final questions for you before I take my training wheels off.

I plan on re-wiring it tonight and putting it together to to see if it's even slightly functional.  On the female RCA on the harp, there is a wire with a ring that I haven't found on any diagrams.  You'll see it pictured in the photos I posted.  Where the hell does this thing go?

Also on the back of the key-bed (?), there is a spring that connects to seemingly nothing.  Does this attach to that strange bung thing with the crossbeam on the back of the interior of the case?  Or am I completely off in that assumption?   

https://imgur.com/a/KlwKLUw

Offline sean

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Re: Is my Rhodes beyond repair?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2019, 05:58:17 PM »
I think that the ground wire with the terminal ring on it is probably meant to ground the damper release bar (since your piano has wooden harp supports).  The harp frame should be grounded as well, and the foil tape should extend around the ends of the pickup rail and tonebar rail to contact the harp frame.  If the tape does not, then I guess the ground wire could have been connected to the closest mounting screw on that side of the harp.  However, I think that grounding the damper release bar is more important than grounding the harp frame.


That spring gets hooked around the back edge of the damper release bar, as shown in chapter 10:  http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch10.html




And again, when you get it ready to play, this is the method to find all the dead pickups:
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9989.msg55589#msg55589

Keep the pictures coming!!

Sean

« Last Edit: September 21, 2019, 06:01:39 PM by sean »