Just scored an early Sparkletop!

Started by voltergeist, September 24, 2013, 10:23:43 AM

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voltergeist

Quote from: Student Rhodes on February 10, 2014, 10:15:57 PM
Has anyone ever tried rubber grommets on a Sparkle Top? 
I wonder if grommets from a Mk I would fit...

That's a good thought, but the rubber grommets definately don't "fit", per se.  The square tonebars have a conical countersink to fit the head of a wood screw. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

Here's the harp with the mod fully incorporated.  Below the top bracket I used two thick felts per screw.  Above the top bracket I used two thick felts and one medium.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

I ordered a pair of Jensen C10Q's to replace the Weber Californias.  The Webers sound good, but they add too much weight and their power handling is overkill. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Student Rhodes

Quote from: voltergeist on February 12, 2014, 09:12:32 AM
Here's the harp with the mod fully incorporated.

Yes!

Now some sound clips?

Ray

voltergeist

Quote from: Student Rhodes on February 12, 2014, 11:18:22 AM
Quote from: voltergeist on February 12, 2014, 09:12:32 AM
Here's the harp with the mod fully incorporated.

Yes!

Now some sound clips?

Ray

Here's another demo vid.  It's another "in-progress" vid, though, made as I was implementing the mod.  I've got some work to do before posting an 'after' vid with the mod on the whole harp.  I had to remove all the tonebars to incorporate the mod, so that un-did a lot of the adjustments I'd already made, and it will take some time to get it all squared away again. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgvid21V35w&feature=share&list=UURBmRCrOHTxaZ1NJ05RB9xQ
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

The Real MC

Quote from: Student Rhodes on February 10, 2014, 10:15:57 PM
Has anyone ever tried rubber grommets on a Sparkle Top? 
I wonder if grommets from a Mk I would fit...

I did.  The mounting screws are bigger on the sparkletop and won't clear the hole in the grommets.

Tine-E

#156


I would start by just replacing the screws with wood screws and see if that's an improvement.  Focus on high note(s)- a mix of ones that sound ok/good and poorly ringing ones (if you only focus on problem notes you may not be evaluating the mod properly, since the problem could be something unrelated to tonebar isolation).  Next I might try combining a felt with the rubber grommet, say between the rubber grommet and the washer.  I might also try a stackup of rubber grommet/washer/felt(s)/washer/screw.  I'll probably experiment with this, too.  If you try it, let us know what you did and what, if any, effect it had.
[/quote]

My initial concern here would be finding a countersunk wood screw having an exact diameter (and pitch) with the VV tonebar screw so that if this mod does not make a difference I would still be able to re-install the VV tonebar screw without the problems of the hole being enlarged, stripped or pitch-misaligned.

voltergeist

Quote from: Tine-E on February 12, 2014, 08:39:14 PM

My initial concern here would be finding a countersunk wood screw having an exact diameter (and pitch) with the VV tonebar screw so that if this mod does not make a difference I would still be able to re-install the VV tonebar screw without the problems of the hole being enlarged, stripped or pitch-misaligned.

Exactly right.  It may be very difficult to find the right screw.  A junked harp to test on would be ideal, since screw diameter and pitch would not be critical.  I suppose if the mod was beneficial to the point that going back to the original screw was not a concern, identical diameter and pitch would not be as critical.  Even then, though, the diameter would have to be very close.  I haven't started looking for an appropriate screw myself, so I don't really know how tall an order that is. 

I suppose one could machine a little "washer" with a conical bottom and flat top that would sit between the original screw head and the original washer.  That might provide the upsides (if there are any) without the downside.  Though, I suppose there is still a downside in having to machine little specialized washers. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

Quote from: Tine-E on February 12, 2014, 08:39:14 PM
My initial concern here would be finding a countersunk wood screw having an exact diameter (and pitch) with the VV tonebar screw so that if this mod does not make a difference I would still be able to re-install the VV tonebar screw without the problems of the hole being enlarged, stripped or pitch-misaligned.

Whether or not I'm able to find an appropriate screw, I plan to experiment with combining felts with the MkI/II rubber grommet configuration in the high octave (of a MkI).  The name of the game is improving the mechanical isolation of the tonebar.  Anyway, experimenting with different felt/rubber/washer configurations is one avenue to pursue that doesn't require a new screw.

Another idea I've had for sparkletops that may apply to MkI/II's is a way to decouple spring tension from escapement.  Higher spring tension helps with tine stability, and therefore tone.  However, to get more spring tension, the screw has to be turned down, which affects escapement and strike line.  So it can be a tradeoff.  However, if one adds shims (washers and/or felts) under the springs, spring tension can be increased independent of the height of the tonebar. 

On a MkI/II, tine stabilizers do the trick, however they limit flexibility when setting escapement.  So there may be cases where on doesn't want to use a stabilizer, but maintaining tonebar height while adding spring tension may be beneficial.  It may also be that shimming under springs offers a benefit in the zone above where one would use stabilizers but where tonebar assemblies still benefit from greater spring tension.  I don't know- haven't tried it. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Tine-E

A lot of experimentation is in order.....!

voltergeist

Replaced the Webers with Jensen C10Q's last night.  The Webers sounded really good, but were overkill and added too much weight.  The C10Q's sound good, too.  Definately sounds more "Fendery" with the Jensens, and the high harmonics are smoothed out more- a bit creamier.   The Webers had better definition and clarity. 



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

A couple more demo vids.  I consider the harp pretty much done at this point, except one pickup is still out for repair.  Most likely I'll still make some tweaks here and there, though.

Note by note demo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YblG0YJomt4&feature=share&list=UURBmRCrOHTxaZ1NJ05RB9xQ&index=1

Sunday I set up all my pianos for a couple friends who were stopping by.  This is one of them checking out the sparkletop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YblG0YJomt4&feature=share&list=UURBmRCrOHTxaZ1NJ05RB9xQ&index=1

A couple pics from Rhodes geek-out day:



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Student Rhodes

You posted the same link twice.
I'd love to see the Sparkletop getting worked.
Ray

voltergeist

Quote from: Student Rhodes on February 17, 2014, 11:01:25 AM
You posted the same link twice.
I'd love to see the Sparkletop getting worked.
Ray

Oops, thanks!  Ok, here's my buddy checking out the sparkletop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfgR3U1b3ec&feature=share&list=UURBmRCrOHTxaZ1NJ05RB9xQ
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

The Real MC

That dead pickup may be an easy fix.  I forgot to mention on my webpage that one of my dead pickups had a busted coil wire to the terminal.  I simply unwound the coil wire one revolution, stripped the insulation, resoldered to the terminal, and it worked.  Removing the pickup was the harder job as you have to remove the grounding buss wire connecting the series.

voltergeist

Quote from: The Real MC on February 17, 2014, 05:53:25 PM
That dead pickup may be an easy fix.  I forgot to mention on my webpage that one of my dead pickups had a busted coil wire to the terminal.  I simply unwound the coil wire one revolution, stripped the insulation, resoldered to the terminal, and it worked.  Removing the pickup was the harder job as you have to remove the grounding buss wire connecting the series.

In this case "the pickup is out" was meant in the literal sense - it had been removed and sent off for repair.  I couldn't see any visible breaks in the wire, and I didn't want to deal with it, so I sent it off to http://smithpianoservicing.com/
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

Put grill cloth on today.  Pretty happy with how it turned out.  Now I'm just waiting for the other leg to come back from plating and the pickup to come back from repair.









Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

Put grill cloth on the '78 suitcase this weekend,  too.




Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

The Real MC

Nice work!  I've seen too many DIY speaker panel jobs where the grill cloth pattern isn't straight at the edges, NOT an easy job.

I want to have 2x15 speaker panels built for my sparkletop bottom cabinet - found some Jensens that sound really good.  Planning on an external amp so the cabinet will be solely a speaker cabinet.  But I want a professional job on the grill cloth, and ideally would like the wheat colored grillcloth not the blue stripe colored grillcloth.

What's with the funky legs on the suitcase to the right in the top picture...?

voltergeist

Quote from: The Real MC on February 23, 2014, 07:49:52 PM
Nice work!  I've seen too many DIY speaker panel jobs where the grill cloth pattern isn't straight at the edges, NOT an easy job.

What's with the funky legs on the suitcase to the right in the top picture...?

Thanks, Ray!  I paid close attention to the lines.

The piano with the funky legs is the first restoration I did.  The legs are my own design, and I manually machined them myself.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

The Real MC

Quote from: voltergeist on February 23, 2014, 07:59:36 PM
Quote from: The Real MC on February 23, 2014, 07:49:52 PM
Nice work!  I've seen too many DIY speaker panel jobs where the grill cloth pattern isn't straight at the edges, NOT an easy job.

What's with the funky legs on the suitcase to the right in the top picture...?

Thanks, Ray!  I paid close attention to the lines.

The piano with the funky legs is the first restoration I did.  The legs are my own design, and I manually machined them myself.

What are you gonna do, stand on that thing like Keith Emerson?  LOL

voltergeist

Quote from: The Real MC on February 23, 2014, 10:46:29 PM
What are you gonna do, stand on that thing like Keith Emerson?  LOL

I suppose those legs would afford me the option, if the opportunity presented itself. 

Yeah, they're over-engineered, but the originals were under-engineered.  At the time I did the restoration, no one seemed to be selling high-quality replacements (or, if anyone was, I hadn't found them), the pair from my piano were bent and beat up, and I didn't care for the way the original legs flex under load and mar the front lip of the cabinet when they're folded in.  So, I wanted legs that wouldn't flex and would have a positive stop to prevent banging up the cabinet.  The design I came up with works aesthetically (to my eyes, at least), works mechanically, doesn't add much weight, protects the cabinet, and makes the piano one-of-a-kind.  But the legs are much stronger than they need to be.  Oh well.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

The '64 sparkletop is done and will be heading to its new home with its new owner this week. 





Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

And a family photo before they start going their separate ways...

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

voltergeist

Here's the sparkletop's new owner checking it out before taking it home:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBggnrYvw1E&list=UURBmRCrOHTxaZ1NJ05RB9xQ&feature=share

Sad to see it go, but glad it's got a good home.  Kind of gratifying to see it go from sitting in a garage next to torn-down mopeds to sitting on hardwood floors next to a baby grand.  Here's a pic of it in its new home:

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Student Rhodes

#176
Wow, that's great.
As I've said before, I'm really a guitar player, who's been dabbling in piano for a few years now.  In that time, I've seen so many Rhodes pianos in trashed condition, yet for each of them I've felt that with time and care they could be resurrected.

I've had the same experience with many old guitar and cars. In fact, I've got several of my own that are in varying states of rebirth.
So great job, man.  You've turned a parts piano candidate into a truly special piece.  I see you as a kindred spirit.
Ray

voltergeist

Quote from: Student Rhodes on April 14, 2014, 03:07:52 PM
Wow, that's great.
As I've said before, I'm really a guitar player, who's been dabbling in piano for a few years now.  In that time, I've seen so many Rhodes pianos in trashed condition, yet for each or them I've felt that with time and care they could be resurrected.

I've had the same experience with so many old guitar and cars. In fact, I've got several of my own that are in varying states of rebirth.
So great job, man.  You've turned a parts piano candidate into a truly special piece.  I see you as a kindred spirit.
Ray

Thanks, Ray, I appreciate that.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Tim Hodges

#178
Quote from: The Real MC on October 11, 2013, 08:59:20 AM

It may have been this... a student piano with bench that had the tube amp and speakers enclosed.  I saw the piano sans amp at a NAMM show back in 2000, but have not heard of a complete package to surface.



I should say that one has surfaced in Paris. Complete with the amp cabinet. It belongs to composer Stan Laferrière who is asking 12,000 euros for it. Ouch!








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Student Rhodes

So cool.  Would love to know what's going on with the pre-amp on that thing.  Lots of knobs.
It looks at though that amp/piano may have vibrato?  That's kind of surprising for a Student piano.

Ben Bove

I can only guess it's Vol, Treb, Bass, Intensity and speed?  It's wild that nothing is labeled
Retro Rentals
Vintage Music Gear

http://www.retrorentals.net
(818) 806-9606
info@retrorentals.net

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IG: @RetroRentalsNet

The Real MC

The amp chassis is obviously a guitar amp mounted upside down.  It would be a model with vibrato given the rear panel control for vibrato speed.

As for the controls, it may be possible that concentric controls weren't available at the time or there were so few of this model made that they opted to use existing stock rather than buy a large quantity.  It is anybody's guess what the controls do, whether it is a preamp or just extensions of the controls that used to be on the adapted guitar amp.

That's a cool find though!