Low Notes Don't Sustain on Rhodes Stage 73 (also: how do you raise the harp???)

Started by Jimmbo, June 27, 2022, 08:43:18 PM

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Jimmbo

Hi, all.

1978 Rhodes Stage 73. Sustain pedal doesn't work for low notes. Also, it makes a thudding sound when engaged. See this very short video. A non-tech at Vintage Vibe suggested:

Quoteit might be the push rod hitting bare wood on the sustain dowel or maybe the side of the dowel that makes contact with the damper rail is missing the felt on that part. Also: make sure the damper pins installed on each end allow the damper rail to move up and down.

But...I've never raised the harp. And can't find a single video showing how to hinge it up. I'm not sure what's securing it, but if I'm supposed to just swing it right up, uh...no, it ain't going...

Any illumination for any of this? Or should I bring it in to Vintage Vibe? Or, given that they're an hour away and booked solid, should I try to find a closer tech to take a look? I'm in lower Hudson Valley.

spave

Hi Jimmbo,

I'm not sure what's causing your sustain problems but raising the harp is pretty easy. There are 2 screws on each side of the harp going into the aluminum harp supports that you need to remove and then you can hinge it up.

I'd poke around a bit before going to a tech. sustain problems are usually easier to fix than other issues so its worth a try before taking it somewhere. Also, check out the Rhodes manual if you haven't yet. It has a lot of good tidbits that might help with this issue. https://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/manual.html
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Jimmbo

Thanks, spave, I'm going to boldly go on the offense! I've seen scattered manual  diagrams, always tantalizingly below the resolution quality necessary for intelligibility. The diagrams at that link are an iota above that threshold. A triumph!

If I figure it all out, perhaps I'll create the Internet's first video of raising the darned harp. So the four other interested geezers who haven't yet figured out this 1970s technology can find some satisfaction before they shuffle off this mortal coil.

Jimmbo

I think I've identified the screws to be removed to hinge up the harp, and it looks like one of them is missing (same on other side).

1. Have I identified the right screw(s)?

2. Should I buy two more screws?




lukevintage

Yes, on both sides. Yes, I would buy extra screws as it helps with grounding issues and the sympathetic reverberations (I would imagine).
However, I would try removing the whole Rhodes from the tolexed case and see if the sustain dowel is ok. The manual will explain how to remove the bolts securing it. You'll need a strong piano stand or a table close by.

Jimmbo

Thanks, will do! But I'm still struggling with the simple task of hinging up the harp.

The screws on left side came out fine. The screw on the right side easily came 99% out, but I can't remove. I've tried pinching it with pliers, but nothing. Also tried exerting gentle pressure by unhinging the harp upward (to try to push screw out).

Sorry to be so needy! I'm not sure why this is so hard!

lukevintage

It's just catching. Hold onto it and shift the harp around. If it falls inside, then you'll just have to remove some keys. Is the screw the same as the other two? It looks flat face from the photo.

Jimmbo

Lukevintage, I really appreciate your help. Grazie miliardo!

I'm now able to lift the harp. But I see that it's not necessary for diagnosis. See photos.

In left photo, you see that the bar controlled by the sustain rod (I'm not sure what it's called) moves freely frontward/backward when pushed on the left side of the keyboard. There's no such movement on the right side of the keyboard.  So I guess whatever holds this bar in place on the left is broken or non-existent.

Are we close to an answer? :)


Jimmbo

#8
Also, I guess this is unrelated, but the harp scrapes the left railing as it hinges up, ripping up the felt. VintageVibe sells name rail felt, key pedestal felt, back rail felt, and damper rail felt (not sure what this is; I don't see it in the manual).

Do you share my impression that it's not urgent to figure out why it's dragging (only) on the left?


spave

Quote from: Jimmbo on June 28, 2022, 03:48:33 PMAlso, I guess this is unrelated, but the harp scrapes the left railing as it hinges up, ripping up the felt.

You should be able to swing the back portion of the harp up as you lift it so that it doesn't scrape either side going up. Try to lift both sides evenly so that it doesn't put unnecessary strain on either bracket.

If only that one part is missing you should be ok. That material is used to regulate the escapement so don't modify it until you know whether or not it needs to be adjusted.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

gacki

Essentially you should try to lift up the harp "flat", as in "parallel to the support". The hinges then will move it automatically forward towards the front, and then you can put it vertical.

As far as the sustain problem goes: My first guess would be that the left pin for the damper rail is missing, perhaps its bushing too.

Jimmbo

#11
Yep, thanks, I see I've simply been raising the harp wrong. Thanks everyone!

Ok, almost done, I think.



In the photo, the good side is left, and the bad side is right. It does looks like I'm missing a sustain rail damper pin. And Vintage Vibe is out of them. Is paying shipping UK->USA from electrickeys.co.uk my sole resort?

Also, I read elsewhere in this forum that it should be two screws locking in those pins. But I only see room for one screw here. Any idea what's up with that?

Vintage Vibe does have the bushing in stock. Does it look like I need it? I think my bushing situation is ok, but I'm obviously not super-confident here.

And should I leave that chewed-up felt alone? Vintage Vibe sells felt, but I don't want to get into a whole project...

gacki

I take it you have checked that the pin hasn't simply slipped toward the middle of the damper rail? Or maybe it's rolling around somewhere inside the case?
The bushing looks ok; however the other pin looks atrocious. Remove the rust, please (the whole piano looked a bit rusty as well).
Any mechanic with a lathe should be able to make a new pin if shipping from UK or NL is too expensive.
Lastly, the felt (I think it's cork?): I would leave it alone for now. The part responsible for the escapement still looks ok to me.

Jimmbo

Gacki - good point! It's not like it evaporated! However, the pin is definitely not in the rail, nor anywhere easily accessible in the case. I'm obviously bad at this, so I'll buy a new one rather than take the whole thing apart looking for it.

And I'll buy two pins. I will not tolerate atrocity!

Any tips for addressing the overall rust? Here are two panoramic shots:


I've learned from reading the forum that the white dust is a natural outcome from the zinc coating and not a problem.

I really can't thank you (all of you!) enough!

spave

Quote from: Jimmbo on June 30, 2022, 09:59:30 AMAny tips for addressing the overall rust?

How rusty are the tines and pickups? It might be a good idea to clean them if rust is starting to eat into the metal but it won't improve the sound. Cleaning off the rust from the tines would just stop them from losing their integrity and breaking sooner.

Pretty much all the other rust/oxidation is just cosmetic so its up to you on whether or not its worth the extra work involved.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270