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Reed tuning hack

Started by jam88, April 11, 2022, 06:09:31 PM

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jam88

Back in the 70's, when I was still gigging with a REAL Wurlitzer (and breaking plenty of reeds), I got tired of trying to tune reeds IN the piano. I came up with this: a fixture to tune reeds outside the piano, using my (then new) Korg WT10 digital tuner! (It was revolutionary!)

More recently, after I retired, I was planning to sell new replacement Wurlitzer reeds. I figured I could maybe sell this 'reed station' along with new reeds, to tune reeds before installing them into the piano. With the advent of clip-on tuners and a 'reed station', one could easily pre-tune a reed before installing it into the piano. Particularly handy for, say 120 models where there is no practical way to tune reeds other than (1) pull the harp out (2)install the reed (3)check intonation (4)remove harp to access newly installed reed (5)pull the harp again and repeat...

When clip-on tuners were introduced, it made this method particularly practical. When I was considering marketing replacement Wurlitzer reeds in my retirement, I thought maybe this 'reed station' could be a complementary product. It consists of
•   an aluminum block, machined to replicate a section of the reed harp...
•   ...thru-bolted to a piece of hard maple
A clamp-on tuner is mounted to the aluminum block. The reed can be soldered and filed to achieve intonation, before being installed in the piano. This eliminates the iterations of putting the reed in and out of the piano, and keeps the lead filings out of the piano.

I prototyped a handful of these 'reed stations', before I got lazy and decided not to sell replacement reeds.

Anyway, just throwing this out in case anyone wants to simplify their reed tuning process, go ahead and make your own 'reed station'.
120, 206 Chop, Baldwin, Gulbransen, Nord & Yamaha digitals, Antigua Strat, Selmer Mk VI, 10M Naked Lady, etc...

Alan Lenhoff

Looks like a great idea for someone who tunes a lot of reeds!

Alan
Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music"

Learn about the book: http://www.classickeysbook.com/
Find it on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1574417762/

1965 UK Vox Continental;1967 Gibson G101 organ; 1954 Hammond B2; Leslie 21H; Leslie 31H; 1974 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73; 1972 Rhodes Sparkletop Piano Bass; 1978 Hohner Clavinet D6; 1968 Hohner Pianet N II; 1966 Wurlitzer 140B; 1980 Moog Minimoog Model D; 1983 Roland JX-3P; 1977 Fender Twin Reverb; 1983 Roland JX-3P synth; Vox AC30CC2X amp.
(See the collection: https://vintagerockkeyboards.com/ )

Jenzz

Hi .-)

The idea is great, but doesn't work in real live, or is kind of 'random'.

After doing over 100 Wurlitzers, i can say: The distance from the reed-bolt thread inside the aluminum casting to the corner where the reed 'leaves' the supporting edge differs from cast to cast by roundabout +/-1,5mm.

So, tuning with another fixture than the 'real' cast (where the reed will be mounted to) will be only a approx. in tuning in most cases.

Jenzz
Rhodes tech in Germany
www.tasteundtechnik.de
www.spontaneousstorytelling.net

VintageVibe 64 ACL + DOD FX25B, Tone City Sweet Cream, EHX SmallStone, Mooer e-Lady

Adams Solist 3.1 Vibraphone

In the Past:
Stage 73 Mk1 (1977)
Stage 88 Mk1 (1975)
Stage 73 Mk2 (1980)
Stage 73 Mk2 (1981 - plastic)
Suitcase 73 Mk1 (1973)
Suitcase 73 Mk1 (1978)

jam88

Jenzz, are you thinking that supporting edge is defined by an as-cast surface? It isn't. Both surfaces that intersect to form the edge are fully machined.

Quite accurately machined, in my experience. Maybe just good luck! Of all the Wurlitzers that I've owned (less than a dozen), I would say that the dimension from reed hole center to the supporting edge didn't vary by more than a few thousandths of an inch from piano to piano. Maybe you meant to say "...roundabout +/-0,15 mm"?

Back in the gigging days, I had great success tuning lots of reeds with this method. Although I was usually working with one piano at a time, I don't remember ever having an intonation issue stealing a reed from one piano and putting in another piano. (Admittedly, those days playing in bar-bands with guitars and saxes, I was probably a repeat offender of the 5 cent rule haha)
You cannot view this attachment.You cannot view this attachment.   
120, 206 Chop, Baldwin, Gulbransen, Nord & Yamaha digitals, Antigua Strat, Selmer Mk VI, 10M Naked Lady, etc...

Jenzz

Hi .-)

Yes, i know that the edge is a machined part, but i have seen these tolerances here over 30 years. There are a lot of inaccurate machined casts out there...

Jenzz
Rhodes tech in Germany
www.tasteundtechnik.de
www.spontaneousstorytelling.net

VintageVibe 64 ACL + DOD FX25B, Tone City Sweet Cream, EHX SmallStone, Mooer e-Lady

Adams Solist 3.1 Vibraphone

In the Past:
Stage 73 Mk1 (1977)
Stage 88 Mk1 (1975)
Stage 73 Mk2 (1980)
Stage 73 Mk2 (1981 - plastic)
Suitcase 73 Mk1 (1973)
Suitcase 73 Mk1 (1978)

jam88

Jenzz,
I'd like to benefit from your experience. If you don't mind, I have a couple questions for you.
   
--What would you define as the manufacturer's intended mean (nominal) dimension from reed hole center to the supporting edge? You know, like '6,8 +/- 1,5' or '5,9 +/-1,5' or '7,1 +/-1,5'?
   
--For a given reed frame, how much variation do you observe in the dimension from hole center to the supporting edge?
   
--Do you find that the machining is more precise on the later pianos like the 200A, than it is say on the early pianos like the 112's or 120's?

Thanks in advance--JM
120, 206 Chop, Baldwin, Gulbransen, Nord & Yamaha digitals, Antigua Strat, Selmer Mk VI, 10M Naked Lady, etc...

jam88

Quote from: Jenzz on April 13, 2022, 11:54:11 AMHi .-)

The idea is great, but doesn't work in real live, or is kind of 'random'.

After doing over 100 Wurlitzers, i can say: The distance from the reed-bolt thread inside the aluminum casting to the corner where the reed 'leaves' the supporting edge differs from cast to cast by roundabout +/-1,5mm.

So, tuning with another fixture than the 'real' cast (where the reed will be mounted to) will be only a approx. in tuning in most cases.

Jenzz
I continue to disagree.
You cannot view this attachment.
If your statement was true, then Vintage Vibe wouldn't be able to sell pre-tuned reeds.

120, 206 Chop, Baldwin, Gulbransen, Nord & Yamaha digitals, Antigua Strat, Selmer Mk VI, 10M Naked Lady, etc...

Jenzz

Pre-tuned doesn't mean 'exact'.

This is why i allways sale pre-tuned reeds a bit too low.

The machining seems to be more precise on the older models up to the 200... The worst machining is on the german models 201 / 300... It seems to me that the B-Stock parts were sent over here ;-)

It's the experience from over the years and what i see / measured here in the workshop... Maybe different from yours.


regards, Jenzz
Rhodes tech in Germany
www.tasteundtechnik.de
www.spontaneousstorytelling.net

VintageVibe 64 ACL + DOD FX25B, Tone City Sweet Cream, EHX SmallStone, Mooer e-Lady

Adams Solist 3.1 Vibraphone

In the Past:
Stage 73 Mk1 (1977)
Stage 88 Mk1 (1975)
Stage 73 Mk2 (1980)
Stage 73 Mk2 (1981 - plastic)
Suitcase 73 Mk1 (1973)
Suitcase 73 Mk1 (1978)