Author Topic: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)  (Read 203 times)

Offline qlyde1973stage

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Video -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeFOuHbUxuk

I'm Having some trouble with finishing this 1973 Fender Rhodes Restoration due to a few issues with excessive hum & noise. Problems and setup listed below.

The Passive Circuit and RetroFlyer Preamp are wired Separately. They both have their own RCA cables and are not wired together in any way. To use one or the other, I unplug one RCA cable and then plug in the other one. So these issues shouldn’t be related to wiring since the wiring is original on both circuits.

1. There is an issue with a loud electrical buzz coming through when recording or monitoring. (Using the Passive Circuit)

2. There is a loud hum when I’m running the passive circuit and have power simultaneously connected to the RetroFlyer preamp. Even though they are wired separately and not touching in any way…

3. There is also a issue with small zapping noises when using the RetroFlyer Preamp. Every 10-30 seconds I can hear a small zapping noise come through the speakers when I’m not playing. When playing, the zapping noise tends to sound like clipping and sort of ruins the recording.

If you guys think these issues could be caused by Dirty Power in my studio, let me know, but I don't think that is the case because I have the RetroFlyer running off the same power conditioner as my Apollo, Helix, Synths & Monitors and there's no issue with those. Sometimes the power isn't great or I'll have to turn away from my computer while tracking guitar and bass but nothing as extreme as this.

Any fixes or suggestions would be really appreciated!

Restoration so Far:

- Extreme Clean and Tolex Rejuvenation
- New Screws, Springs & Grommets
- Avion Studios Full Action Restoration Kit (Damper Felts, Hammer Tips, Name Rail Felt, Back Rail Felt, Front and Back Rail Bushings, Key Shims, Bump Mod, and Pedestal Felts)
- De-Oxidization of all Tines and Tone Bars
- Harp Supports Trimmed to set Escapement
- Strike Line Re-Set
- Key Dip Re-Set
- Back Check Mod (Test Fitted)
- Passive Circuit installed in a Cheek Block
- Avion Studios RetroFlyer Preamp installed
- Keys & Cheek Blocks Buffed and Polished

A huge thanks to Avion Studios who have been there every step of the way to help me with this project they are seriously great guys, with great products and will help you get your Rhodes sounding and playing better than ever.

Offline spave

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Re: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2021, 11:57:12 PM »
Let me preface this by saying I do not know much about electronics and I am only suggesting what I would try in your position.



1. For passive circuit hum. Does the Rhodes still hum if you bypass the passive controls and just go from the RCA straight to your amp/mixer? If it does then you might have a loose ground wire on the Rhodes which is causing most of these issues.

2. Probably best to cut power when you aren't using the RetroFlyer anyway. It can only cause problems when not being used so this should just be a part of your switching procedure going from passive to active.

3.  This could be connected to the loose ground issue from 1. or just dirt on one of the pickups/somewhere on the wiring. Avion Studios might be the best ones to answer this.


If none of the above works, then I would try moving the Rhodes itself. The place it is currently located is surrounded by electronics so it wouldn't surprise me if they were causing some of your issues as well. If they are, then I would look into shielding the lid of your Rhodes. I know Dyno my piano did a shield mod like that back in the day so I'd imagine there is some info on how to do it on this forum as well.


Hope this helps
1972 Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Offline qlyde1973stage

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Re: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2021, 07:44:12 AM »
I’m not sure about running straight off the harp since I don’t have an RCA to 1/4 or XLR or an RCA adapter either..

One thing I’m curious about is grounding the pots. On a Strat, which basically has the same style circuit, you have the same layout but in addition to everything the Rhodes has, the Strat has a ground wire soldered to the back of a pot and running to the tremolo claw to ground. The Rhodes doesn’t have this, it’s just RCA to circuit to output, no circuit to ground in the middle of this, so I’m wondering if that would help me and others who experience “noisy” Rhodes.

The only Ground wire that I messed with during restoration was the one going from the RCA to Sustain Rail, and only because I had to disconnect it to take the harp off the body. All I did to it was unscrew it, use steel wool to shine up the hinge it screws onto, and then re install, which if anything should have made the connection better than before right? Or maybe I brushed off the conductive finish on that part and now it’s not holding the ground? I dont know.. I’m also a electronics noob..

Offline spave

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Re: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2021, 09:08:30 PM »
Ok, I rewatched your video and have some other ideas.

1. The hum could be from a bad RCA jack. They are known to be a weak point and there is a chance that when you are switching from passive to active, you aren't getting a solid connection and that could be causing some of the noise issues. Try moving the RCA cables around when they are plugged into the jack and see if you can get the hum to be louder or quieter. Also, check to see if the jack is dirty. On my suitcase piano, the RCA cable had white oxidation on it and I believe it was contributing to the noise mine had.

2. I noticed you have the original passive controls in your cheek block and not new VV ones. There is a chance they are dirty and are contributing to the noise as well. I believe there are sprays you can use to clean them up or you could go for the new VV ones too. One thing to note for the VV ones is that they no longer sell the passive controls that would have been standard on your 1973. Rhodes changed them around that year so that instead of cutting the treble, they cut the bass instead. VV stopped selling the treble cut option because they believe the later circuit is the better design.

If you can, pick up an RCA to 1/4 adapter (they are only a few $) and see if the hum goes away with it. Playing straight from the harp has been a popular way of recording Rhodes for years and it will be able to definitively tell you if the problem is with the passive controls.

3. Have you tried moving the Rhodes yet? I'd say there's a strong chance some of these noises are being amplified by the pickups, similar to how a guitar will feedback if it is too close to an amp. If you can, move the Rhodes to another part of the room that has no electronics and see if the problems go away. If they do then you can either leave it in that new spot or add shielding to the inside of the lid so that it will be quiet where it is. Alternatively, if you don't feel like moving the Rhodes then try to turn off as much of your other gear that you can and see if that helps. If it does, then you might have to go through a checklist of things to turn off every time you are ready to record.
1972 Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Offline qlyde1973stage

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Re: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2021, 09:57:27 AM »
Thanks Spave, I will go through the motions with it. RCA looks clean on inspection, and I did clean up the rca jack and cable tip with steel wool before this issue started so it might not be those but I will still give it a try. I just need to find one in Canada, because I'm not paying $30 for shipping plus Import fees on a $8 product. When i ordered the back check kit, after all was said and done it cost me $140 CAD for import, shipping and the product..

Moving the Rhodes is going to be the first step, I'm hoping the issue is that the treble pickups are too close to the Left Monitor, (active monitors) this causing the pickups to get interference from the amplifier in the monitor.

I'm not sure how I would set it up, considering the limited space and I need my Midi Keyboard to be close enough to use for production since it has the 5 screens on it that work directly with Ableton for controlling plugins and a 2 bank set of 8 faders with mute, solo and pan functions to control 16 channels. I was thinking I would move the synths to where the Rhodes is, and move the Rhodes to where the Synths are, since it would be slightly more isolated over there, but I dont want my main controller to be 6ft away from the working position... Ughh

Small problems now, but I'm sure it'll all be worth it in the end.


Offline qlyde1973stage

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Re: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2021, 11:40:08 AM »
UPDATE: Some improvements but don't know what to do to fix it. Here's a quick 2 min video showing what's going on!

Video ->https://youtu.be/rWTvltCtIHU

Offline Tines&Reeds

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Re: Rhodes MK1 Noise, Hum & Interference Problem (Video Included)
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2021, 03:47:16 PM »
Here is the solution:

On a '73 Rhodes you have the single damper arms. These are not connected to ground by factory and though act as antenna. Get some copper foil wot conductive adhesive and properly ground the damper arms.
It should be dead quiet after this modification.
German Rhodes Tech nearby Hamburg / Bremen

http://www.tinesandreeds.com