Author Topic: Rhodes input too low on interface?  (Read 69 times)

Offline miguellacorte

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Rhodes input too low on interface?
« on: November 24, 2021, 09:36:34 PM »

Hey guys I recently finished restoring my 1978 MK1 Rhodes and I have been trying to use it however, unfortunately, I can’t really afford an amp so I’m recording straight into the interface through a DI box.

The issue is that the signal I receive in the interface is way too low. I have to gain the signal manually through the interface preamp to all the way PLUS add around 13 db digitally through my DAW in order to be able to hear the Rhodes.

I’ve tried using the DI box with a synth and it works just perfect, so I guess the issue has nothing to do with the DI box. I’ve also tried changing the Rhodes preamp, from the original preamp into a new vintage vibe preamp, but they basically sound the same. I’ve also tried changing cables but nothing changed and there is a definite improvement between using a XLR on the output of the DI box in comparison to a XLR male to 1/4 inch. However, still I need to amplify around 13db digitally in order to get a good amplitude with the Rhodes.

I’m not sure at this point if this has something to do with the pickup circuit, is my interface too old XD?, or maybe the DI box just doesn’t have enough power to pump my Rhodes up hahaha.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Rhodes input too low on interface?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2021, 06:33:44 AM »
Do all of the notes have about the same volume or are some louder than others?
If some are ok, but others barely work, there could be some dead pickups.

Also, as a simple test, have you tried moving any pickups closer to the tines? It's possible they are too far away, or maybe the tines are raised too high? (Voicing)
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 CJMorgan

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Re: Rhodes input too low on interface?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2021, 12:48:38 PM »
I agree with all that Piano Tuner Steveo said.  I also think 90% of your problem may be your lack of an amp.  If the Rhodes is not getting adequate power, nothing is going to sound right.  When I initially got my Rhodes this summer, I plugged it into a little speaker that works with my powered keyboards. It sounded pathetic.  But when I plugged my Rhodes into an actual amp (30w) notes that weren’t sounding now worked, and it all sounded 1000% better.
I suggest you get a used amp - try a Guitar Center near you, Craig’s List, EBay, Mercari.com, OfferUp.com or better yet, try Goodwill at www.ShopGoodwill.com. I think with the proper cable you can still split your connection and get the sound directly off the harp RC jack, but without enough juice getting to the pickups I don’t think the pickups are ever going to properly detect the vibrations off the tines and give you a good sound.

I would guess that you have spend more on your work-arounds than what a used amp would have cost to give your Rhodes enough power to energize the pickups and produce sound.

You should study the service manual at FenderRhodes.com for how the tines and pickups should be precisely aligned.  You can also test for dead pickups by (gently) tapping a metal awl to each pickup while the Rhodes is plugged in. A screwdriver will also work but be careful.  If the metal is attracted to the pickup and produces an annoying high pitched cracking sound through your speaker or amp, then its a good pickup.  If the metal is not attracted and no sound comes through your speaker, then one of two things could be the problem: 
1) The wire connecting the pickup to the neighboring pickups may not be making a proper connection.  A wire could be broken, or not enough solder was used, or things just got knocked out of wack. You may need to re-solder and/or replace the wire that connects the pickup. Study the guide and diagrams as FenderRhodes.com to make sure that connection follows the proper pattern.

Or (more likely)
 
2) The pickup (which is a little electro magnet) may have a break in the wire.  This is frequently due to the thin copper wire around the pickup corroding over time and developing a little break in the wire.  To solve that either replace it with a new pickup, or unwind the pickup and rewind it. Rewinding sounds simple but its tedious!  If the hair-thin wire breaks again while you are rewinding, you have to stop, gently tie a knot in the tiny little wire, cut off the excess wire from the knot, and keep winding. If you loose too much length from breaks, the pickup may not perform properly after all that trouble. There are guides about how to rewind pickups on the internet.  I did 2 of them and it was very time consuming so I  decided it was better to just buy new ones.

Good Luck!

Offline sean

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Re: Rhodes input too low on interface?
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 07:48:06 PM »

Miguel,

What preamp are you using?  When you say you swapped out the original Rhodes preamp for a VV preamp, exactly which preamp are you talking about?  Do you mean the passive tone and volume controls, or do you mean a powered preamp?  What power supply are you using?

You didn't mention turning up the volume on the preamp, so I fear you are just using the passive controls on a Stage piano.  In this case, I don't think that 13dB is a big deal, that isn't really much gain... 20log10(VoltageGain)=13, then Gain = 4.46.

Photos of your setup might clarify things for us.

Sean