My Keyboard’s Broke!
We want to help you get it repaired as easily and fast as possible. Here’s some helpful hints to help you communicate your problems to us. Remember, the better we understand your problem, the better prepared we can be to service your instrument.What we need to prepare for your specific service needs:
- We need to know the Brand of your instrument.
- We need to know the Model Number.
- We need to know as specifically as possible the Symptom.
Sometimes, describing the Symptom is harder than it seems so here’s some suggestions.
It Sounds Funny!
- Does it sound distorted?
- Does it sound like static in the background?
- Does it have a popping sound?
- Does this noise happen when you play it, or when it’s not being played?
- Is the noise affected by the volume control?
The Keys are Sticking!
- Are they physically sticking down?
- Are they sometimes not sounding when you play them?
- Maybe the sound stutters or cuts in and out when played.
It Makes a Noise!
- Is this noise more like a hum?
- Is the noise more like static?
- Does it sound like one or more notes playing in the background?
- Is it affected by the volume control?
- Does it sound like a rattle?
- Does the noise happen when playing it loud?
The Organist Said to Call!
- If possible, have the Organist call us with the Symptoms.
- Have the Organist Write a list and leave it for the technician.
Hammond Organs should be serviced once a year and when servicing these systems there are some typical problems that we routinely look for and address on each service call.
- The proper operation of the drawbars.
- The proper operation of the percussion and the vibrato.
- We check the operation of all the key contacts.
- The condition of the pedals and specifically the felt system.
- The proper operation of the electronics and cleaning of the tube sockets to prevent static.
- We play the instrument to judge it’s overall “play-ability“.
- The condition of the cables, plugs and jacks.
- We oil the motor and generator.
We check the condition and operation of:
- The motors for condition, adjustments, and oiling.
- The replaceable motor o’rings are checked and replaced if necessary.
- We check the condition of the belts and replace when necessary.
- We check the condition of the bearings checking for wear and noise.
- The electronics are checked for proper operation and the tube sockets are cleaned.
Many of these problems can just be a nuisance but some are signs that greater than normal wear may be taking place and those problems should be addressed right away. Here’s some examples:
- Worn pedal felts will cause excessive wear to the pedal pins.
- Low generator oil will cause excessive wear in the generator bearings.
- Dry bearings in the Leslie motors will cause excessive wear.
- The keyboard Buss bars need to be shifted to reduce key contact wear.
Since many of these parts are no longer available, the above listed problems are to be considered serious. The best thing you can do is to have regular maintenance!
Questions arise about Organs with separate speakers in regards to speaker placement. Basically if this is a classical Organ installation which is imitating a Pipe Organ the speakers would be best located up and inside the walls in speaker chambers. Provisions must be made for access for service.
In an installation with a Hammond Organ with Leslie Speaker(s) it is recommended to set the Leslie close to the Organ. Hammond playing styles are usually different from classical. It is typical in this setting, to place the Leslie closer to the Organist. Placing Leslie speakers up on the wall is no longer customary for several reasons.
Leslie’s placed high up on a wall:
- causes a loss or reduction of the bass signal.
- causes a small delay in the sound which affects the organist.
- causes the organist to play louder to compensate for the distance.
- creates a major obstacle in the required regular maintenance.
Since the main reason for placing the Leslie’s on the wall is for better sound coverage in the room, you can simply add microphones to one Leslie and run that through the sound system. This way, the Leslie can be located near the organist and the sound operator can add as much as necessary to fill the room.
(1) Overview Operation.
Today’s modern Digital Pianos and Keyboards are remarkable for their sound and vast number of features. What’s the difference between a Digital Piano and a Keyboard?
Typically, the Digital Piano is attached to a matching stand and usually has 88 keys which are weighted. Some are built into an actual Piano Case which could be an Upright or a Grand version. This type of product will usually have a built in sound system and can be played by themselves without any need for external speakers or amps.
A keyboard is typically not attached to a stand and is made to be more portable. They usually have to be connected to an amplifier to be heard. Keyboards come in many variations. The smaller versions are similar to the basic Digital Piano in function and have fewer keys that are not weighted. Larger ones can have 88 weighted keys and may be aimed at the professional player.
There are two broad divisions in the Digital Piano instrument. The basic models have 88 weighted keys and about a dozen sounds. They may have effects like reverb and chorus. They may have a limited recording ability and a metronome.
The other type is complete with hundreds of sounds, rhythms, automatic chords and backgrounds, and disk playing and recording, and programmability.
Both types can be played like a regular piano and due to the recent gains in sound technology and the weighted keyboards, are completely suited to be used as a regular piano in many circumstances including taking lessons. In fact, many piano teachers are beginning to use digital pianos to teach on.
(2) Key Contacts.
Several problems will occur with the Key Contact System.
- The Key Velocity is Off (Key volumes are uneven)
- Keys Do Not Sound.
The modern Key Contact System in today’s products are typically a rubber contact mounted on a contact PC Board. There are in fact two contacts per key. When the key first begins to go down, the first contact closes. Near the bottom of the key travel, the second contact closes.
To determine the velocity of the key, the computer measures the amount of time that passes between the two contact closures. If this time is short, then the velocity is higher and the key will play louder. For slower times, the key will play softer.
Some common problems are dust and dirt getting into the contacts and preventing one or more of the contacts from connecting. In one case, the key may sound loud even when played softly. In another case, the key will play soft even when pressed hard. Lastly, the key or keys may not sound at all. In this case, a simple cleaning will solve the problem.
Another problem is that the contacts can wear out and require replacing. The symptoms will be the same as those for dirty contacts.
There is no definite time table of how long these contacts last or when they might need to be replaced. It depends on how often it is played, and also how hard. From my experience I can give you this general insight… If the Digital Piano is used in a home and played occasionally or maybe a child taking lessons, you should expect 5 years or more of service. If it is played every day in a home or maybe used in a Church in an average way, you may need to replace contacts in 3 to 4 years. If it is being played hard nearly every day you can expect to have contacts replaced in 1 to 2 years. Also, if played in an environment with a lot of dust etc., you may need occasional cleaning.
(3) Keys and Weights.
In order to have the key feel like a piano, manufacturers add a weight under the key which feels similar to the hammer on the acoustic piano.
Some of the typical problems with the keyboards and their weight systems are breakage. The keys can break and the weights can break. Most of these parts are plastic and if pushed beyond their design limit, will simply break. Also, there is a felt system in the keyboard to cushion these parts. We have discovered that in keyboards that are played hard, these felts wear out and allow the plastic keys and weights to come in contact with metal frame that the keyboard is built on. This puts additional stress on the plastic parts. Any parts found broken must be replaced.
We have found that many times these key and weight breakage problems can be solved by adding additional amplifiers to the instrument so the player can hear themselves clearly. There is a tendency to play harder when you can’t hear clearly.
The Digital Pianos have a built in Audio System. These systems are normally very reliable and need little or no attention. However, here are some tips. Playing an instrument at full volume for extended periods of time can cause over-heating of amplifier parts and possibly damage the amp or speakers. This almost never happens in a home but does happen in certain Church or Professional applications. This is due to the fact that the internal amplification system may not be able to keep up with all the other sound coming from other instruments etc. In order for the player to hear themselves, they play the instrument very loudly and sometimes very hard. Since these instruments all have output jacks on them I recommend that the instrument be connected to a sound system or even a monitor. The player MUST be able to hear and by adding additional sound reinforcement you can actually protect the instrument from being stressed by playing it at full volume and playing it hard in order to hear themselves.
If you want to play it through an external speaker system and turn off the internal speakers, you can insert a “dummy” headphone plug and the internal speakers will be disabled. You can use a headphone adapter without actually using headphones. Make sure it is a stereo adapter.
The most commonly used pedal is the sustain pedal. It may be connected to the piano by a cable. This means that the cable has to plug into the piano somewhere. Usually under or on the back. If this cable is broken or the plug or jack is damaged, it can cause the pedals to not work. Also, some pedals have a contact in it just like the keys have. It can get dust etc. into it causing it to not work. Others have a sealed contact that is mostly immune to dust but still is mechanical and can fail. The pedals themselves can break or more likely the housing that the pedal is mounted in can break. Many products have a plastic housing with metal pedals. This means that the housings break more often. This happens when the pedal is pressed too hard. It stops on the plastic housing and if pressed too hard can break this plastic stop. These systems are improving and some steps can be taken to avoid problems. If there is an adjusting screw under the pedals it is there to be adjusted to touch the floor. This prevents too much bending or twisting of the pedal housing while operating the pedals. When pressing the sustain pedal, once the sustain action occurs, there is no need to press the pedal further. If the player tends to do this anyway, a carefully placed block can be positioned under the pedal preventing it from traveling past it’s stop.
(6) Wrap Up.
Digital Pianos are computers and should be treated with care. We recommend using a good quality surge protector on them. Keep liquids away from them. Keep them away from excessive dust etc.