Part Five - Action Setup

My questions about the key stiffness and setup soon answered themselves. The trick was removing the weights from the keys. Several people on the Rhodes mailing list commented that the weights were obviously a modification, so I decided to remove them and see how the action felt. All of the keys tilted forward without the weights attached. That left only the question of why one key leaned forward even with the weight. The answer to that came from a scale. The average weight of each piece of lead was 35 grams. But five of the weights were only 15 grams. Apparently they were not cast properly and had air pockets in the metal. I hadn't noticed this on the other four because they were attached to keys that tended to stick in the upright position. I moved the five defective weights to the keys at the extreme end of the keyboard and everything seemed to work fine.

Cleaned Case

To relieve the sticking keys I used an exacto knife to lightly trim the felt in the holes under the ends of the keys. It seems that the wood had expanded with humidity (probably from being outside with the leaves and twigs) and the felt was rubbing quite tightly against the pins. With that finished, all the keys were level, weighted equally, and moved smoothly. I decided to keep the weights on the keys even though the keys are made out of wood. One person on the mailing list commented that this would make an already heavy action even heavier, but seeing as how I have no experience with how a Rhodes is "supposed" to feel, I like the way the action resembles that of an acoustic piano.

Cleaned Wooden Frame

The next step was cleaning the hammer modules and the damper bars. This just took elbow grease and I worked on them for the entire length of watching "Saving Private Ryan." Again I started with a soft brush, then moved on to Fantastik and paper towels, always being careful not to get the white felt wet. And by the way, the felt strips on the underside of each hammer are in remarkably good shape. None of them have worn through.

The last thing I did to the hammers was to repair some of the most heavily damaged tips. Since I didn't have the money to buy a complete set of new tips I had to figure out the next best thing. I ended up filling the cracks and depressions with epoxy. Epoxy hardens to the consistency of very hard rubber and is practically indestructible; just what I needed for the tips. I applied it and then shaped it with a toothpick and I am quite happy with the results.

Action Setup - Page Two

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Pat Terrell