Author Topic: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)  (Read 607 times)

Offline SpiritsGroove

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New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« on: December 11, 2020, 10:37:35 AM »
Hello, I am the proud new owner of a 1978 Mark 1 Stage 73 but it has quite a few issues so I will be doing some restorations on it. New felt tips, Hammer tips, and grommets/screws are in order. The tines all seem to be in good condition free of rust. I went ahead and measured the key dip today and it's pretty even at 7/16" or 3 1/2 8th of an inch. When using the Tine butt to measure the key dip, the top lip of each key is exposed. It's my understanding that the back rail felt might be a little too thin. Should I do something about this or is that an acceptable difference from the optimal 3/8"?

The keys are slightly angled so I will be leveling them out and adjust the key bed with paper shims.

The next area of concern is the hammers themselves.



They are uneven all across the keyboard. Is there a way to correct this without having to buy a whole new set? Could this be caused by something other than the hammers being actually being bent? Considering the great condition of everything else, barely any dust inside, no rust or watermarks, etc. is it really likely that the hammers are the only thing that warped/damages so badly?

I'm not sure this issue is related but the hammers have a lot of bounce when coming down which in turn makes the keys bounce and is very noisy. Unless I have my speakers cranked up the noise from the key bed, even with the harp cover on, it overpowers the keyboard and sucks the enjoyment right out of this beautiful instrument. Although this is a 78 model the felts are installed on the hammer cams instead of the key pedestals. Would this simply be fixed by doing the miracle mod or at the very least removing the felts and installing new ones on the key pedestal? Here's a short video that demonstrates what is happening.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/q2t3mVGisiA

Other than that I think there's plenty of information out there not to mention Chi's restoration newbie thread to hold me down for the rest of the job. Thanks in advance for the help and I'm looking forward to being a part of this community!


« Last Edit: December 11, 2020, 03:31:29 PM by SpiritsGroove »

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2020, 05:10:02 PM »
7/16" key dip feels better to the touch than 3/8". It makes the touch seem a little lighter. It is not absolutely necessary to even out the hammer line at rest. The hammers are not bent. Replacing them will not change this. It could be uneven felt on the pedestals.(or hammer cams)

Not sure what you mean by using the tine butt to measure key dip. Key dip is a key/key bed issue.

The tines have no real correlation to key dip. (Unless they are waaay out of whack- IE escapement super low)
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Offline Chi

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2020, 06:44:35 PM »
I think he means that he was using the tine block to measure the key-dip instead of a ruler since it happens to be 3/8"  ;)

My hammers show some variance at rest too - I'm no expert but it seems to me that it's more important that the hammer tips are reasonably uniform in height at stop-lock position since that will directly affect escapement. Mine were all over the place until I cleaned all the old glue and felt residue from the underside of the hammer cams and re-installed the badly done miracle mod. They are not perfect - but much much more even and I'm sure I can get them even closer by adjusting the punchings on the balance rail. This I will do after finishing the miracle mod.

Have a look to see how the hammers rest in stop-lock - perhaps they are more even at this position?

Regarding key bounce - it appears that a little bounce is normal and so long as it is not causing double strikes of the tines it shouldn't be a major issue although you say the noise of this bouncing is louder than the sound of the tines which is a bit strange maybe? Is this without the piano being amplified?


Offline SpiritsGroove

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2020, 08:09:08 PM »
7/16" key dip feels better to the touch than 3/8". It makes the touch seem a little lighter. It is not absolutely necessary to even out the hammer line at rest. The hammers are not bent. Replacing them will not change this. It could be uneven felt on the pedestals.(or hammer cams)

Not sure what you mean by using the tine butt to measure key dip. Key dip is a key/key bed issue.

The tines have no real correlation to key dip. (Unless they are waaay out of whack- IE escapement super low)

I just got tired of using the ruler so I used the tine block as its 3/8" thick.

My hammers show some variance at rest too - I'm no expert but it seems to me that it's more important that the hammer tips are reasonably uniform in height at stop-lock position since that will directly affect escapement. Mine were all over the place until I cleaned all the old glue and felt residue from the underside of the hammer cams and re-installed the badly done miracle mod. They are not perfect - but much much more even and I'm sure I can get them even closer by adjusting the punchings on the balance rail. This I will do after finishing the miracle mod.

Have a look to see how the hammers rest in stop-lock - perhaps they are more even at this position?

Regarding key bounce - it appears that a little bounce is normal and so long as it is not causing double strikes of the tines it shouldn't be a major issue although you say the noise of this bouncing is louder than the sound of the tines which is a bit strange maybe? Is this without the piano being amplified?

They seem to be pretty even once in stop lock so that's good news! As for the key bounce, I'm aware that some bounce and noise is normal but unfortunately I never tried any other Rhodes so I don't really have any frame of reference.. Yes, it's louder when not being amplified but even when I run it through a DI into my studio monitors I need to set volume pretty loud in order to not get distracted. The key bounce along with the noise just feels really crappy.  Have you guys looked at the video?

I think I'll have a go at the miracle mod and hopefully, it improves it enough to at least feel decent. I only started playing the piano a few months ago on a Roland FP-10 digital piano and it's just night and day compared to the feel of my Rhodes. From reading comments online I wasn't expecting it to feel as good but I guess I'm just surprised at how bad it is compared to the FP-10.  ;D


Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2020, 05:43:08 AM »
The difference in hammer height when at rest is down to a combination of pedestal height differences and wear in the felt. The former plays more of a part.

Take a few keys out which seemingly have the hammers at varying heights and you’ll notice a difference in the measurements. I can only guess this is down to manufacturing tolerances when the keys were made. Vintage Vibe showed a video recently where they used a mini hand plane on the bottom of the key to match the heights. If I were to do it I would probably remove the felt and make a jig and use a router to remove the excess from the pedestal (though you have to ensure it is perfectly even)
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Offline SpiritsGroove

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2020, 06:34:17 AM »
The difference in hammer height when at rest is down to a combination of pedestal height differences and wear in the felt. The former plays more of a part.

Take a few keys out which seemingly have the hammers at varying heights and you’ll notice a difference in the measurements. I can only guess this is down to manufacturing tolerances when the keys were made. Vintage Vibe showed a video recently where they used a mini hand plane on the bottom of the key to match the heights. If I were to do it I would probably remove the felt and make a jig and use a router to remove the excess from the pedestal (though you have to ensure it is perfectly even)

That was my impression as well so I removed several keys in a section where 2 were level with each other, the next 3 were level with each other but atleast 1cm higher than the previous 2. The key pedestals had at most 1mm difference. The hammers at rest with no key pedestals under them were all over the place like in my previous picture with the removed keys. The level relationship between them was gone. Pop the keys back in and they are back to being level with each other... I have to admit that it's got me scratching my head...  ???

Since I'll be ordering parts anyway and felts aren't that expensive I'm just going to replace the back rail felt so it's even throughout. Remove the felts from the hammer cams and install the miracle mod onto the key pedestals. While doing that if I see any key pedestals that are grossly different in height I'll gently sand them down to roughly match the rest. I think that's as far as I'm willing to since the concensus seems to be that it doesn't really matter. I'm a lot more concerned with improving the feel and noise of the action at this point.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2020, 10:23:11 AM »
When gluing the rail felt, only glue 1/2 way. You do not want glue on the back half of the felt where the keys actually rest. This is to cut down on noise. Only glue the front half of the felt.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline Chi

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2020, 01:34:46 PM »
The hammers at rest with no key pedestals under them were all over the place like in my previous picture with the removed keys.

Yes, I have noticed that the hammers can rest at different positions even with nothing else in play - simply removing the bracket with all 12 hammers and holding it so the hammers fall down at rest and there is the odd one that hangs higher/lower than the others. The hammers all look identical to there must be something happening at the joint that can cause this limited/extra rotational distance. Again though - I can't see this being mechanically critical unless it affected the throw distance of the hammer such that it was unable to generate enough velocity to strike the tine.

Offline Chi

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2020, 01:35:12 PM »
When gluing the rail felt, only glue 1/2 way. You do not want glue on the back half of the felt where the keys actually rest. This is to cut down on noise. Only glue the front half of the felt.
\

Nice tip  :)

Offline SpiritsGroove

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2020, 02:36:07 PM »
When gluing the rail felt, only glue 1/2 way. You do not want glue on the back half of the felt where the keys actually rest. This is to cut down on noise. Only glue the front half of the felt.
\

Nice tip  :)

Indeed! Thanks a lot guys this has been really helpful. I'm going to be placing my order tonight and I can't wait to receive it so I can get started. Any suggestions on which Hammer tips would be best for a more mellow neo-soul type of sound? I'm thinking of going with the Angled colored hammer tips.

Probably a sample from a workstation and not an actual rhodes but still a good example of a sound I like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIKC2ggCed4&ab_channel=MusiqVEVO

https://soundcloud.com/vintagevibepiano/1974-fender-rhodes-88-key

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gt6NCRfGas&ab_channel=yurianoak


Offline sopranojam85

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2020, 08:32:57 PM »
If you want a really mellow sound, consider felt tips.

Offline SpiritsGroove

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Re: New rhodes owner looking to do some restorations (EDITED)
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2020, 08:16:53 PM »
Supplies came in on the 24th so I started getting to work. So far I've:

Squared up the keys as the whole keyboard was tilted to the left.
Shimmed all the keys to an even level (as good as I can without special tools)
Removed felts from hammer cams
Removed all the old hardware on the harp and replaced them with brand new screws and grommets. Previous owner had the tonebars set at about 1-2/8ths of an inch...
Removed back rail felts

A very productive day  :) but I'm burnt.
When gluing the rail felt, only glue 1/2 way. You do not want glue on the back half of the felt where the keys actually rest. This is to cut down on noise. Only glue the front half of the felt.

What kind of glue would you recommend for the back rail felt and the front name rail? Should I just use superglue?

« Last Edit: December 26, 2020, 09:41:59 PM by SpiritsGroove »