Author Topic: Replacement hammer tips - replace in standard configuration of hardness?  (Read 1638 times)

Offline Mister Bailey

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Hi,

I have recently bought a 1979 Fender Rhodes 73 key.  I have not owned one before and I am very excited about getting it.

The Rhodes itself is in good condition but some of the hammer tips are pitted and the highest 30 notes make a definite knocking noise which is noticeable when the amp is switched off and loud enough to affect my enjoyment of the instrument when the amp is on.  The area affected is directly related to the highest two levels of tip hardness and are also the most pitted.  The noise is definitely the sound of the hammer hitting the tine.

I've purchased a complete set of replacement tips from a supplier here in the UK but I was unsure if I should just replace them to the standard graduated hardness or if I should skip the wooden ones and fit the next level of hardness so that the tips are a bit softer.  I have read this as a suggestion on a forum but was not sure if this is a good idea.  I plan to replace one wooden tip and see how this affects the noise.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Offline Ben Bove

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Re: Replacement hammer tips - replace in standard configuration of hardness?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2016, 12:14:39 PM »
Hey,

Congrats on the 79!

The noise you're hearing is actually standard to a Rhodes piano.  There is a decent amount of mechanical noise from harder tips hitting the tines, especially with an amp turned off.  They have to be hard enough to get the shorter tines to swing with enough volume. 

Feel free to experiment with softer tips, try say a section of 4-6 tips in an octave, and compare them against neighboring harder tips.  This would be a tone preference - you should hear a slightly quieter attack.  Often, people do at least change the transition point at B above middle C, from yellow to the black harder tips (somewhere around C# or D depending).

If you still would like to keep the attack but still have a problem with the mechanical noise, then you can look into acoustic foam or other deadening materials.  Start by throwing a quilt over the Rhodes lid, and see how that responds.  Either you can reduce the mechanical noise by covering the lid better, or by applying acoustic treatment under the lid.  There is a bit of dancing around not interfering with the tonebars if you do choose to go under the lid.
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Offline David Aubke

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Re: Replacement hammer tips - replace in standard configuration of hardness?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 12:22:52 PM »
I plan to replace one wooden tip and see how this affects the noise.

In case it didn't occur to you, you could temporarily swap hammers around to try out different tip hardnesses before going to the trouble of removing and gluing.
Dave Aubke
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Offline Ben Bove

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Re: Replacement hammer tips - replace in standard configuration of hardness?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 01:30:10 PM »
That is true - if you lift up the harp and remove the sustain rail, you can unscrew the hammer combs and damper arms, which are modular units in your piano, and move them to different registers and see how they sound.
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Offline sean

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Re: Replacement hammer tips - replace in standard configuration of hardness?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 03:42:40 PM »


Like Ben said, the percussive whack that each hammer makes in the upper register is a standard feature of every Rhodes piano.  It is offensive at first, but it grows on you, and eventually it won't bother you as much.

You will never get the top octave to be as quiet as the middle register, or even as quiet as the octave just below the top octave.  The tines are so short in the top octave that they need a pretty percussive blow to get them to resonate at the volume you want.

You might move the hammertip hardness transition point around to get a smoother transition, but you are still going to have to get used to the clickety clackety Rhodes action to some degree.

Sean

Offline Mister Bailey

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Re: Replacement hammer tips - replace in standard configuration of hardness?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2016, 11:32:17 AM »
Thanks to everyone who replied to my question.  I'll certainly follow the suggestions.

Offline Mister Bailey

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Hi,

Just a quick update in case someone stumbles across this post with a similar issue.

In the end I fixed the hammer noise by raising the treble end of the harp by 5mm.  I appreciate this was not the subject of my original post but was the solution to the root cause of my issue.

Thanks again for everyone's input.

Offline pnoboy

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5mm is a huge amount to raise the harp.  Did you check the escapement before and after the raise?  It may be that your problem was strike line, which raising the harp alters, but if so, the correct fix is to move that end of the harp front-to-back, and not to shim it up.

Offline David Aubke

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5mm is a huge amount to raise the harp.

I have to agree. 5mm is pretty darned thick for a shim. I've got to believe you sacrificed significant dynamic range and touch sensitivity up there by jacking up the harp so much.

If it makes the piano do what you like, then go with it. Just keep in mind if you're ever wondering why notes fail to sound when you're trying to play lightly that the escapement is probably way out of spec. up there.

I normally set things up so that the wood-core hammer tips only barely fall away after striking the tine - i.e. so that the escapement is as tight as possible up there.
Dave Aubke
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Offline Mister Bailey

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Thanks,

I will try adjusting the escapement and strike line with the harp lowered and see if this solves the hammer noise.