Started by joshkelly, September 25, 2009, 02:28:47 AM

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Hey guys

I was looking to get myself a nord but then I thought I'd rather invest my money in making my rhodes as nice as possible and possibly getting a synth. I have a rhodes mk1 stage model and I was just wondering what are your recommendations in terms of restoring the rhodes. Any suggestions as per what to upgrade first?

Cheers, Josh


please say do you own stage or suitcase, what is the year of your model,
what hammers does it have - plastic or wood/plastic,
what is the condition of piano and what sound you want and what exactly you dont like in sound you have now...



You should restore your Rhodes in the order that makes you happiest soonest, and according to your needs.  You really can do the work in just about any sequence that works for you.

If you want it to sound awesome:  Grommets, escapement, timbre, tuning, tips, and strikeline usually covers it all.  If your damper felts are wonky, you might have to replace the felts, and adjust your damper tension.

If you want it to feel awesome:  pedestal felt lube, guidepin ease and lube, miracle mod.

If you want it to look awesome:  new tolex, and maybe custom paint on the top cover.  (Fuzzy brown velvet tolex, and a light green top?)

Part I:  Make it sound great:

Replace the grommets, and adjust the timbre and individual pickup volume balance according to,, and my post at the bottom of
Don't miss Rob's hidden video:

I don't know if we have located cheap sources of grommets outside of the USA, but you can see the mcmaster site for the dimensions per Doug's blog:

In the course of the grommet replacement, you will have cleaned up all the tines and tonebars, and set the escapement according to and

When you are done with the grommets, timbre, volume, and escapement, you should check to see if the strikeline might be improved.  See and again.

Oh, did we almost forget tuning for perfect pitch?  
See, and,,,

You also get to decide if you want to replace the hammer tips.  If you want the mellower sound that non-hardened-by-age, not-old-and-crusty, not-grooved-and-damaged new hammer tips can give you, then see: (I love the bandaid on his finger, and Leon Russell in the background at 2:20),,,,,

If your damper felts are nice solid cubes of dense felt, then great.  If your damper felts are thin, and the felt itself looks like it has long silky strands in it, or looks more furry than fuzzy, get yourself new damper felts.  (If you have an early Fender Rhodes with the hilarious V-shaped damper felts that extend up on both sides of the tine, then take photos to share before your replace them.  I should have photographed my 1973 dampers.)  Find your felts here:,, or

You can follow the VV directions:

When your new felts are installed, you will have to re-adjust the damper tension.   See and and

Wow.  Okay, that should get the Rhodes sounding great.

Part II:  Make it feel great:  ...

You can lube up the pedestal felts.  Pick a lubricant here and read, and maybe

Make sure that your keys are moving freely around the balance rail pins and the guiderail pins.  See

Please don't miss Ben's excellent treatise on the Miracle Mod:
See also and

Part EK-10:  Make it look great:

First, see this:
And don't miss this:

John Della Vecchia's brief how-to for Rhodes Re-Tolex work:

Get your Tolex and glue:
VV Tolex Corners:
VV Tolex Tips:
VV Tolex Pattern:
Is it worth $800? yes:

Since it is springtime in NZ, this would be a good time to replace the tolex, if your tolex is nasty.  You want to do the tolex job in your backyard or ventilated garage, not inside.

This should cover the initial needs of most folks.  For other issues, please check the Service Manual at

Don't miss all the how to videos on spewtube and on VV's website:

good luck....


Okay gang.  I did my best to create a primer for getting started as a new Rhodes owner.  Since my memory is best for my own posts, they unfairly dominate this primer.

Please respond with links to your favorite posts that shouldn't be missed.  

Then we can turn it over to James and get it posted in the "Big Help" section or put at the top of the repair topics with a sticky.



thanks so much that is ridiculously helpful!


wow that must've taken a long time I'm really grateful! I'll probably start with making it sound good. This will be my summer project after I've left school! I look forward to it


i say number one strike line.

that's my vote.


as for me... amplification means much.

i love the way suitcase amplification sounds (suitcase preamp and amp cabinet).

i never tried suitcase preamp with other amp cabinets though
(i dont have power supply to use suitcase preamp without suitcase amp speaker).

sometimes there are suitcase model preamps for sell on ebay...

or try to find high quality class A discrete preamp  :D


yo funkin, my rhodes I got secondhand. It is a suitcase model and one of the previous owners tore the cabinet up and built a tiny thing the size of a beer fridge for ease of transport. It houses four 8 inch speakers and the original rhodes amp but it truly does the rhodes no justice in terms of sound. One thing I can say is I have a unique setup but at quite a substantial cost and so I'm looking into ditching the thing completely and getting myself an external amp, probably an all tube guitar amp. I'm pretty sure it's wooden hammers and if my memory serves me correctly then it is a '76 but I'm pulling this number out of my head as I am overseas, away from her at the moment..


and as for me i just love my suitcase pre and amp!!!
for me its cool sonically plus the sound is so big,
i can soar swim and fly in this sound :D

i hope you find great tube amp :wink:


Quote from: sean on September 25, 2009, 04:38:42 PM
You also get to decide if you want to replace the hammer tips.  If you want the mellower sound that non-hardened-by-age, not-old-and-crusty, not-grooved-and-damaged new hammer tips can give you, then see: (I love the bandaid on his finger, and Leon Russell in the background at 2:20),,,,,

Thanks Sean for very detailed list!

I have two questions regarding hammer tips:

1. do you know if exist some video/audio  that sho difference amongs damaged/old tips versus new tips ?
I ask because I'm repairing a Mark I stage 1979 ... remained in cellar for more than 20 years...
probably also some tips have been ... bad ... changed: see:

in facts it not seem to me a big problem in final sound ... I'm probably worng ?

2. where I can puchase hammer tips replacement (73 keys) ? Vintagevibe seem to sell huge amount of these ...
probabluy indeed I would change only the really exausted tips ...



When I see these hammer tips I feel lucky with mine !

In this video :
What is the setup block used to set the initial escapement ? Are you using different ones for the 3 different sound heights ?

Rob A

I made it from wood. I think I wound up with 0.340 inch. That was intended to solve a problem with my setup though, and is not applicable to all pianos and all players.

The customary trick (which I learned later) is to use a tine--the mounting block is 3/8" (0.375 inch), which is the factory standard dimension for that height. All tonebars are set the same to begin with, but then adjustments as necessary after that.