Author Topic: 1973 Fender Rhodes Stage 73... Can't get sound when I hook it up to an amp.  (Read 324 times)

Offline JB

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Hi, New to this forum and thanks in advance for helping me. I've acquired 1973 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 and can't get any sound to come out. Have cleaned the input jack as recommended by a local luthier but nothing, do not see any loose wires anywhere. If have my Rhodes right, there is no amp of any kind or pre amp on these so I'm up for suggestions as what to check next. Overall condition is very good, no rust, one missing tine rod on the first key and one down key at the other end. Any help greatly appreciated.

JB

Online rhodesworks

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First run something else through the cable and amp you're using to be sure they work. Then take a signal from the RCA jack  on the rear left of the harp to isolate if the problem is the harp or the control panel. That'll at least put you on the path so we can offer help.

Offline sean

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JB,

Your Rhodes almost certainly has a few dead pickups.  (I love the 1973 year for Rhodes Pianos - half-wood hammers, square hammer tips, tooth-root-like damper felts, full-skirt keys, very sharp edges and nose on the black keys, etc.)

The pickup rail is wired with pickups in groups of threes.  This is a series of 24 groups of [three pickups in parallel]  (one group of four at the low end).  Each group of three pickups in parallel looks like this:


If all three pickups in any [group of three] are dead, then the whole piano makes no sound.  The pickups die for one an only one reason:  the thin winding wire has broken (usually from corrosion at the spot where the wire leaves the winding and bends around the end of the bobbin before it reaches the solder terminal).

Here is some advice plagiarized from the links below:

Dead pickups are the most likely problem, but a super-dirty RCA jack is a possibility.  Obvious missing wires or broken solder joints should be found with a careful eye and a flashlight.  You need some simple tools:  a cheap volt-ohm meter, a bunch of alligator clips, a bright flashlight, an RCA-to-quarter-inch adapter, and your guitar amp.

I would start with the volt-ohm meter, and set it to read in the range up to 20K-Ohm.  Unplug the RCA cable from the back left corner of the harp, and touch your ohm-meter probes to the center terminal of the RCA jack, and the solder lug that is connected to the long black squiggly wire that runs behind the row of pickups.  If you get a reading of something between 1000Ω and 2000Ω, you would jump for joy!  (A perfect harp would read ~1425Ω.)  If you get a reading that indicates an open circuit (infinite ohms), then you have a few dead pickups.   In the rare case that you get a dead-short (zero ohms); then you have to find the mis-wired connection, or the debris or solder blob stuck in the RCA jack that is causing the short.

Buy a bag of six jumper wires with alligator clips on both ends.  (Search online for "clip leads" and spend five or ten bucks for a bunch.)

Use the alligator clips to short out large sections of the pickup rail, and you will quickly be able to narrow it down to which section has the dead pickups.  If you are really unlucky, you may have to short out nearly all of the piano, but probably not. 

If you try to short out an octave at a time, and play the other notes, you will probably get lucky and find the dead section pretty quick.  If not, then use your best and favorite curse words while you short out the bottom octave, and then also short out another octave while playing around hoping for sound.  If that doesn't work, short out the bottom TWO octaves, and then again the other spans here and there while you plink away. 

When you finally get sound, you know that the group of dead pickups is in the regions that you have shorted out. 

Then you can move the alligator clips closer together to short out fewer and fewer pickups until you identify the dead individuals.  Mark the dead pickups with a magic marker.  Then those are the only ones you have to keep shorted, and replace or repair.

Another way to search for suspected dead pickups is to get your brightest flashlight and a good magnifying lens, and look closely at the tiny wires on each pickup as they leave the soldered connection on either end of the winding.  Usually, you will see a tiny green speck of oxidation at the end of the broken wire, or sometimes you might even see that the wire is indeed broken.

Read some of these posts that discuss finding the dead pickups:
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9989.msg55589#msg55589
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=10079.msg56090#msg56090
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=7116.msg36655#msg36655
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=5620.msg27734#msg27734
(Some circular references.)

Basic method of replacing pickups:
http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/pickups.php

Sean

Offline JB

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Hi Sean,
   Wow, That is so cool and I am blown away by your response. Thank you very much! I had seen online that 3 dead pick ups in a row might/would disable the sound but hadn't gotten any further in to it. I hadn't seen how to determine which ones were dead but you nailed how to do it in layman terms and gave me 2 choices. I'm going to try the el magno method first with a Lumixfz300 camera that might work at the macro setting as my eyes otherwise probably won't do it. I've seen that green crud before, usually on old stuff, especially wiring and battery compartments. I notice a front left group of 10 or so vertical small springs up above the keyboard have some green on them though the rest of them do not. Need to fumigate the tolex lid. Still can't believe how heavy this thing is, holy moly, bout busted a gut getting it out of my car. The case looks like something Fender would come up with, not fancy, no frills, to the point, and heavy.
      Thanks again for your help Sean. My keyboard was made the same week I graduated high school and back then I was listening to several artists who played them and buying lps constantly as great music was everywhere. Some cool karma then and now.   JB

 

Offline JB

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Got lucky Sean and Rhodeswork... my Rhodes has come alive. Inspected closely all the pickup connections and they all looked clean so I checked the only other thing I hadn't, the grey cable rear connector coming from the front left panel and sure enough it was corroded, cleaned it, hooked an amp up to it yet again and shazzam, it works! One down ivory at one end and a missing tine rod at the other end. Thanks for the info and links, they will be very helpful.

JB