Author Topic: Pickup question and escapement question  (Read 5836 times)

Offline 1975

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Pickup question and escapement question
« on: November 07, 2007, 04:09:14 AM »
HI, glad to be here.
I'm working on this early `73 piano I have. I'm kinda ticked that it isn't a `74 or an early `75, but what can you do.
First question is, can pickups be "half dead"? I've got some notes that won't go to the right volume despite all attempts. How can I measure the output of each pickup?

Secondly, how can I measure escapement? Like the manual says,there can be a 1/16" escapement distance for tone bar 41. But how do I know that distance,or how do I measure it?
I cant rely on measuring the height of the tonebard assemblies because i did this, and it turns out to be useless because the tines arent perfectly straight on the tonebars. Basically, to make the escapment even for any given set of notes, the tonebars would have to appear to be uneven (if you were simply looking at the tonebars from the side of the harp).

This istrument is definitely a pain and heartache. I want every note to be perfect. THanks for any and all help.

Offline Rob A

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Pickup question and escapement question
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2007, 07:35:53 AM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvhMvS1tZS8

This video represents how I did it. I didn't try to measure or set escapement distance directly, instead I standardized the tonebar height and adjusted timbre subsequently.

If you like written descriptions better, i also have it here:
http://music.linear1.org/2007/05/13/voicing-the-rhodes-piano-first-pass/

Some people consider 1973 desirable (Herbie fans I think).

Offline Ben Bove

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Pickup question and escapement question
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2007, 12:01:14 PM »
usually the 1973s are desirable, especially because they have the full skirt keycaps (the 74/75s look yellowish over time).  Don't be too sad it's a great year production wise!

If its single notes that are half dead (not a group of notes next to each other) then most likely you'll need to replace the pickups.
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Offline 1975

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Pickup question and escapement question
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2007, 01:01:35 PM »
Hey.

Thanks for all the tips guys. And the quick replies
Rob, that method of dialing in escapement is useless for me because it assumes every tine is flush with the tonebar, or rather it assumes that all of the tines sit EXACTLY the same as each other in relation to the tonebars. Simply not true.....
I've used homemade adjustment blocks and set the piano to what would appear to be "perfect," and then taken the harp completely off and looked underneath. What i discovered was that a great deal tines were not in the same position at all.
See these guys are just measuring the distance from the tone assembly to the harp, where I need to actually measure escapement. It seems like a very tricky thing to do. I'm sure there's a way to actually measure this. Any ideas...techs?

The `73 looks wonderful.....the faceplate is just bare with only two knobs, and the curved keycaps look nice and feel even better. Glissandos are possible without pain. But really, appearance means nothing to me. What's important is sound. The sound of the `73 is a lot more interesting than the `76, which was my first piano. The `76 is OKAY, but not as ridiculous / pretty sounding as the `73.
Sadly, the `73 also sounds OKAY to me when compared to `74 , `75s. You can just tell when you're hearing a 74 or a 75. Paul Mccartney - Listen To What The Man Said, obviously a `74 or 75. Starship - Miracles, same thing. Mid `70s Joni Mitchelll.....at least 4 albums with `74 or `75 on it Joan Baez, Truth, Yes, LA Express, ....etc they all use `74s or `75s. They weren't stupid. They all knew those were the best sounding pianos out there. It actually really bothers me now, because I just assumed that any rhodes with the word FENDER in the logo would be better off than just a RHODES, so a bought the `73 for 600.
If anyone here has a `74  or an early `75 and would rather have closer to that Herbie sound, let's trade harps. I'm not kidding. Let's trade 1973 tines and 1973 pickups for 1974/5 tines and pickups.

Before I ever made a trade like that though, I'd want to know the exact condition of my pickups. I've got voltmeter and a huge will, so if anyone here knows how to actually measure the output of each pickup, I would really be happy to learn.

Thanks again guys

Offline Ben Bove

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Pickup question and escapement question
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2007, 01:28:26 PM »
Well 1972 through very early 1975 have the same production parts for the harp.  A 73 harp and a 74 harp have no mechanical differences.  The good news is if you aren't happy with the tone on your 73 it is purely a setup problem probably needing a tech to go through, and can be rectified to sound like these 74 or 75s you're referencing which were probably laboriously teched for recordings to sound great.  To get the sound you're looking for you can either adjust the closeness of the tines to the pickups, or do tonebar adjustments.  The only real differences between 72 and early 75 are the key pedestals, and the keycaps.
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Offline 1975

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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2007, 02:28:06 PM »
Interesting.....
I'd like to think my piano is the same as a `74 - `75 in the sound department, but I think they're different.
Dave Ell told me the `74 `75 pianos (or should I say, some `74s and all early `75s) have different gold colored tines. I for one believe him because these pianos sound way too different from the earlier ones. The earliers ones - like mine - have a nice lovely plop, and they bark like a wurly.

The 74 `75 piano is in a league of its own. Super midrangy, clear, warm, chirpy, and full of mercy.  

 But who knows? No one really gives enough of a darn to document tine/pickup changes over the years. It's hard stuff to document.

Offline Ben Bove

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Pickup question and escapement question
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2007, 03:35:54 PM »
The tine changes we were told by original lead Factory Rhodes tech Steve Woodyard were Raymac Tines, Torrington Tines, and Schaller tines.  If I remember correctly it was discussed that untapered Raymac tines were in Rhodes upto ~1969, Torrington tines used from 1970-an undetermined 75-77 era, where Schaller tines were then introduced but mixed in together with Torrington batch at the factory.  Schaller tines were then only left from around 79-end of production.

I haven't heard of these gold tines that David Ell speaks of, I do own a '74 Rhodes 88 suitcase and the tines appear and sound the same as a 73 stage I had a while back, however this is all I have to go on.
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Offline 1975

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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2007, 04:33:47 PM »
Interesting stuff. Thanks for all he history info. I like this kind of stuff.
I don't mean to imply there is this magical brightly gold colored holy tine, but more that it would have like a gold shade or a more copper color if you will. It would make sense. A lot of different makes of guitar strings differ in shade/tint  as well - even ones made from same material (pure nickel for example in daddarios and ernie ball). Let's hear some more voices. get all excited about it.

Edit- bjammerz, can you by any chance tell me the month make of the `74 and the make of the `73 if you can remember? I wonder if your `73 had a "Fender Rhodes" faceplate on the control pannel. I'd really appreciate it! Thanks.

Offline Rob A

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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2007, 04:48:30 PM »
I want to return to your escapement issue for a minute though.

It's hard to directly measure, yes. According to the dimensional standards part of the service manual, it varies across the keyboard, greater distance in bass and lesser in treble.

So I'm a little puzzled by why it would matter to you that tonebars are uneven. In case it's not clear, that's an okay thing in my view--mine came out quite uneven after I ran my voicing procedure.

I think the idea behind the tonebar height measurement (which is a dimensional standard specified in the service manual that remains constant across the range) is that it is a sort of baseline for setting escapement.

Consider one note for a minute. If I set the tonebar height to 3/8" per the manual, then voice the note to my liking by adjusting the farther tonebar screw, I have set the escapement to some (unmeasured) value. If I set the tonebar height to 5/16" and then voice to my liking, I've set the escapement lower. Not necessarily 1/16" lower, but lower.

Adding another wrinkle,i took a few minutes before I even started voicing to ensure that my hammers attained a consistent height after a strike. There's some variation, but it is really minor. If your hammer heights are wildly different, I can see that being a major obstacle to using this method.

I'm just kind of curious at this point what your goal is by setting escapement distance specifically to some quantity. I got "I want every note to be perfect" from your original post, but I'm not sure what you are considering as defective that setting escapement to a specific number will correct. (Not doubting you here, just probing.) I know why I wanted to manipulate my escapement, I am curious about your goals.

Offline 1975

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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2007, 05:19:10 PM »
Curious about my goals? Even I'm curious about my goals. If you gave me a bunch of tech phrases (such as key dip, escapement, pickup distance, action rail adjustment, strike line, ped mod, timbre adjustment, damper adjustment) and askd me what order I'd want to perform the tasks, I wouldn't really have a clue. Maybe someone here can solve this puzzle.  
So I don't know why I'm working on escapement first, but I fiddled with strike like and I found some rather pleasing resuts when I slid the bass side a considerable ammount closer -a little less than a quarter of an inch away from the edge of the support block.
Ah and yes, the support block - the blocks used to have black probably factory shims that were poorly removed. I wonder if it needs to be shimmed back? How would I know? I wish I could just view this as logically as possible. I wish there was just a guy sitting around who could answer my rhodes question at any given time. And also make me some food right now because I'm starving.    

Quote
So I'm a little puzzled by why it would matter to you that tonebars are uneven. In case it's not clear, that's an okay thing in my view--mine came out quite uneven after I ran my voicing procedure


You got me wrong. I'm saying that the tines are uneven after I set the escapement using an adjustment block (when I take the harp off and look underneath at the tines - I can see that many are at different heights, even some close to one another, so now you can see why I need to actually measure the escapement for each note).
Thanks again guys

Offline Rob A

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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2007, 06:44:16 PM »
Actually, I think I got you right. Different tonebar heights is not a big deal. Not good, not bad.

I wanted to lower my escapement distance to improve the response in the softer dynamic range. When I would play bebop kind of eighth note lines, the softer notes were not sounding. Additionally, one particular not in the bass register wouldn't sound at anything lower than a medium volume (and it pissed me off because it the tonic in this song I was working up). I lowered escapement globally to fix the first issue, and on that one note in particular to fix the second. Maybe it was just the same issue but a matter of degree.

So my goal was extending my dynamic range, specifically the soft end got much more responsive. I was stunned what difference there was between using a 3/8" (.375) setup block and .340 where I ultimately landed. And those measurements are tonebar heights.So if my escapement distance was x before, it was x minus 35 thousandths of an inch after (right around 1/32" change). I can play Donna Lee now, I couldn't before.

I don't know how your axe plays or what kind of music you do or anything, so I can't be terribly specific, but those were my goals and how I went after them, and the results were very much to my liking. And yeah, my tonebars are not level or anywhere close.

I suppose it's worth asking, have you read chapter 4?

Offline 1975

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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2007, 09:03:33 AM »
Quote
Different tonebar heights is not a big deal. Not good, not bad.


Tonebar heights where though? We're not talking about the height of the main part of the tonebar that sustains or at the end of the tonebar (where they always look uneven), but rather the height from the first screw of the tonebar o the very top of the wood on the harp. THe part where you shove your adjustment block in.



Yes I've read that manual stuff.......not a very specific manual or helpful. For example, it doesn't tell me how to measure escapement, yet it tells me the dimension.  
I came up with a new way last night to actually measure the escapement on every note (or at least a way I haven't stumbled upon on the internet yet). To me it's a fool proof method of actually measuring the distance between the striking part of the tip to the bottom of the tine.

After every note was adjusted and actually measured (in a linear fashion....greater escapement from tine 1 to less on tine 73) I noticed that every tonebar had a different height..again, the height at the front of the tonebar.

The feel is even now. It's seriously about time the piano felt this way. Unfortunately, there are about 6 notes in high traffic areas that sound incorrectly metallic......and I swear that every one of those tines must be dead because on one really ugly clanky note, I replaced the happer tip, the grommet, made sure the tine was filed flat at the end, and still.....I got a clanky noise.

I've got about 5 spare `73 tines, plus I can cut bass tines down to size as I feel the tone of higher notes is more important than lower notes (ie I could replace the lower tines with non 1973 tines and the sound different wouldn't be as noticeable on tine 2 as it would be on tine 35).


Ah, yes, and speaking of tines.....check this quote out from James Garfield.

Quote
....A few of the tines have a silver-colored generator, while most of the others have an aged gold-ish look. The damper felts and hammer tips look like they were replaced fairly recently, bu....


As it turns out, his piano is basically an early `75........half wood/half plastic action, old pickups (they dont look like the orange pickups on my 76) and of course, the glorious aged gold-ish tines.

(The quote was pulled from here: http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=1038&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=90 )

Now I'm onto repairing those clanky sounding notes. Any ideas in this regard?


I also figured out how to measure the output of the pickup. My roommate told me each pickup needs to be desoldered unless you want to measure the resistance of the whole 73 pickups. Now, what value I'm looking for on the voltmeter for each pickup....I don't know. Of course that would be too helpful to put in the manual.

regards

Offline Rob A

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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2007, 09:47:33 AM »
Output voltage would be proportional to the input signal, I'm not sure that's the quantity you want to measure.

You can measure the pickup impedance though, it should fall within 10 ohms of 180 according to this:
http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/rewinding-pickups.php

You'll still need to remove the pickup before measuring, your roommate got that right.

Offline Ben Bove

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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2007, 04:36:00 PM »
It depends, I've found when I get clanky notes (like hitting an anvil) it's usually because the tines aren't being hit in the optimal spot with the hammer.  To check this, you may want to slide one side of the harp back and forward as you hit the clanky notes.

Many techs removed the shims all together, when the harp rests solely on the support blocks you get a good dynamic range for quiet notes.  You'll just have to do some other adjustments like dampeners etc.  Either with or without shims is ok, just your preference.
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