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Feasibility of Wurlitzer 200A Self-Repair

Started by Sumoru Maunten, May 30, 2021, 09:22:48 AM

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Sumoru Maunten

This is my Wurlitzer 200A Piano:

As you can see from the video, my 200A has a number of serious problems and is only marginally playable.

I am a lawyer, which is to say I have no background in electronics or piano repair.  Are the problems as shown in the video I recorded problems that a person like me could learn to fix on his own, or would you recommend hiring a professional to fix them? 

If I were to go about trying to fix those problems on my own, where would I start?  I am not even sure what tools I would need to buy.

My goal would try to get the piano to a state of playability for under $1,000, if possible.  My YouTube channel has publicly listed recordings of the type of music that I play.  I suppose I'd be willing to go up to $1,500 if need be, but I certainly don't want to spend more than $2,000 for the whole project. 

Alan Lenhoff

Here's a good first step that doesn't require any electronic skills or tools: The crackling sound is often the result of dust or dirt between the reeds and the pickups.  Sometimes you can dislodge little particles by simply banging gently on the keys. But you should also very carefully and completely vacuum the interior of the piano, especially around the reeds. You can also use a powerful flashlight to try to find particles between the reeds and the pickups, but it's likely some will be too small to see.

See if this makes a difference.

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Another thing to try for the crackling - locate the headphone jack under the left hand side of the piano. The speakers are connected through this jack and the connection is broken when headphones are plugged in. The switched contacts can get dirty and/or corroded because that hole is open to the elements.

My 200A intermittently made a similar sound when I bought it. I could play a single note but chords were distorted. Cleaning the headphone jack fixed it. I didn't want to get switch cleaner in the piano (the pressure of the spray can be very unpredictable), so I desoldered the jack and soaked it in isopropyl then switch cleaner. I also used a strip of very fine abrasive paper to clean the switch contacts. If you don't feel comfortable disassembling and desoldering, you could just spray the jack in-place or apply switch cleaner with a q-tip then exercise it with a headphone connector.

Use something like this: Don't use wd-40 because it will leave an oily residue on the switch that will attract dirt and you'll end up having to clean it again soon.
Worse case scenario the jack needs replacing - that's a $5 part and 1 hour labor.

Not sure about the dead notes but it looks like either a dead/loose/dirty reed or an action adjustment is needed. I would (carefully) wedge a pencil or similar under the dampers in that area to move them out of the way and watch the hammer as you hit the key to get a feel for what's going on. Compare to the neighboring keys. I don't think that's a $1000 problem - even if you have to replace a couple of reeds that's $50 in parts plus an hour or two to install and tune them.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.