Question about hiring? Problems with your piano? Here are some frequently asked questions. Any more queries, do get in touch.

hire faq

How much does it cost to hire from you?

This will vary depending on what you want for hire from us, how much, and how long for. We offer discounts for multiple instruments and gear hired;, and for hires with cumulative days (in other words, the more stuff and/or longer you hire from us, the cheaper per day it is). Please contact us so we can give you a bespoke quote.

Can I hire gear from you for a tour?

Absolutely! Many of our hire pianos have been all over the country with artists. We are happy to drop off/pick up to your first/last show, but if you want to collect from our workshop in SE London, then that is fine too.

Can you supply a number of pianos for a music festival?

Of course! Whether it’s a city festival or one in the country, we would be delighted to supply electric pianos and anything else we can for you. Get in touch and we can discuss arrangements.

Why should I hire a real electric piano over a keyboard?

Where to begin! Whilst we understand that not every occasion calls for hiring in heavy vintage equipment (a gig up 10 flights of stairs for example); we would always say that the sound of real instruments is always superior to a digital version. If you want to really know what me mean, just look at the face of the drummer when you say it’s an electric kit on the gig…

Now we know it’s not quite as bad as that with keyboards – there’s nothing wrong with the Rhodes sound on a Nord or the Wurlitzer sound on a Roland. They’re good I guess. But let’s face it, they’re not the same as the real thing, not even close.

We reckon to truly capture the music you are playing authentically, you should play the real instrument. Acoustic piano, Rhodes, Wurli, analog synth, whatever. Nothing beats playing an instrument with real mechanical parts – striking tines, reeds, or strings that are generating a real sound, being amplified by real pickups. The touch and feel of these real instruments is quite different to a keyboard, and your playing will be different as a result – usually for the better and more authentically. If you never have, the first time you play a real Rhodes will blow you away!

So yes they are heavy and fragile and expensive, but they are so worth it for that elusive magical thing – the feel, and the vibe.

Do you have a delivery charge?

We do yes. These instruments are valuable, increasingly rare, and heavy, so we deliver them to you properly. The price of this will depend on your location, but out of London it will be more expensive. We also are happy for you to collect from our storage facility.

A Rhodes is a Rhodes right? It doesn't matter which one we hire, won't any one do?

If you have an event and just need a Rhodes/Wurli etc. or don’t know much about these instruments and just want one, then yes that it fine. We are more than happy to hire out any instrument you would like. However, what we believe makes us different is that you do have choice when it comes to your hire. Many companies that hire out musical instruments in the UK can be very hit and miss when it comes to their gear. I know that from personal experience, having hired a Wurli or played the battered old Rhodes at a gig venue – half the time I’d rather just play the keyboard, which is a terrible shame. Its our mission to change that.

We give choices and options on sound, touch, and feel for our instruments because, as musicians ourselves, we truly care about the experience that the performer has. So yes, you can have any Rhodes from us, and it will be great quality, but you can also get the right one from us too.


How much does a service cost?

It depends on the type of service you want, and the cost of parts. Typically we have 4 ranges of service that vary in price depending on the piano:

  • Tune-Up Service
  • Standard Service
  • Full Service
  • Restoration

Please see either the Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, or Clavinet service pages for detailed pricing.

How often should I get my Rhodes/Wurlitzer/Clavinet serviced?

It varies – the great thing about Rhodes, Wurlitzers, Clavinets and other electric pianos is that they are usually pretty low maintenance. Unlike an acoustic piano, they don’t need regular tunings and servicing which can save a lot of money. A Rhodes with regular use in a recording studio or rehearsal space might need an on-site tune up every 2/3 years, and some repairs or replacement parts every 5 years or so.

An instrument that is being used for a tour or gigged extensively will a bit more than that though – usually a service before each tour, or a once over before a big artist comes into the studio. Whilst Rhodes and Wurlis were built for live playing as well as the studio, they are heavy and fragile so any bumps or knocks it gets on the road will affect it much more than being in one place. One drop or big bump can knock the tuning and voicing quite a lot. If it’s been a long time – definitely get it serviced.

Do you service keyboards that aren't vintage electric pianos?

Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit.


There are some dead notes on my Rhodes. Help!

This could be one of a number of issues, here are some places to start: (Note: if unsure of any of these terms, consult the Glossary.)

  • The Escapement is too low, which stops the hammer tip from moving away from the tine, ‘choking’ the note. Raise the escapement.
  • A tine is broken meaning the hammer is unable to strike it. A new one will need to be ordered and cut to size.
  • A loose or missing tone bar screw means the tine is not close to the pickup. Readjust the tone bar so it is near the pickup or replace the screw.
  • The pickup is dead, which can lead to a very quiet or completely silent note. Replace the pickup.
  • A hammer tip is missing on the note in question, meaning that the tine is not being struck. Purchase and replace the hammer tip.
  • A broken hammer cam, which means the key is not hitting the hammer. Purchase and replace the hammer cam.

IIf none of these are the problem without looking inside the piano to diagnose the issue, it can be difficult to provide an exact solution. A service of your Rhodes will take care of this issue unless there is a huge problem. We have spare pickups, tines, and other parts if needed. Send us some photos and we can better solve the issue when your piano is serviced.

I moved my Rhodes and now it sounds dull and flat. It didn't before?

This is likely because the strike-line of the Rhodes has been moved because the harp is not screwed down. Remove the top lid from the Rhodes and you should see two screws at either end of the harp assembly, locking it into place. If they are not there then the harp may have moved causing this issue. If it is screwed in then the screws may be stripped or damaged. Adjust the harp so the top note sounds clear and bright, and lock it into place by screwing the harp down. Drilling new holes may be necessary.

What is the miracle mod?

This can be answered in two ways.

Simple answer: The Miracle Mod (manufactured by Vintage Vibe) creates a bump which allows the hammer mechanism to jump off the back of the key more effectively which leads to a lighter and much more responsive touch.

Complex answer: When the key on your Rhodes is pressed down, the back of the key rises and pushes the hammer up to strike the tine. The shape of the hammer mechanism (the hammer cam) is rounded at the front, but on Mark I Rhodes pianos the key isn’t. This means that there is more work for the key to do before it pushes the hammer up, making it feel heavier. This is why a lot of people complain about old Rhodes pianos being ‘sluggish’ or ‘heavy’.

The Miracle Mod adds a little bump underneath the sloping side of the hammer cam, so when the key is pressed the key engages the hammer much more quickly; leading to a greater responsiveness and lighter feel to the action which is much closer to the weighted feel of modern keyboards, whilst retaining the feel of a Rhodes. Installing the miracle mod is tricky, not unmanageable but requires several hours of work. If the bump is not precisely aligned then it can create issues with the touch, particularly in the pp register.

Some notes are not sustaining and/or some notes wont dampen. What's going on?

First check the sustain pedal is not jammed against the damper rail. There should be a very small gap (what piano techs call ‘lost-motion’). If that doesn’t solve the problem, then this is likely to do with either the damper rail being misaligned or there uneven pressure on it from certain screws. or dampers being in poor regulation. The solution is to adjust the damper rail, and to regulate the dampers so they lift away from the tine before the key strikes it. Damper issues can be a pain, but are often quick fixes.

Why do repeated notes on my Rhodes 'choke' when the pedal is down?

One of the limitations of the Rhodes action is when the pedal is down and a key is repeatedly played, the note can often deaden or ‘choke’. This is because when the tine is struck by the hammer the tine vibrates in a up and down motion, and when the hammer strikes the tine at a certain point in its cycle it can break the vibration of the tine and ‘kill’ or ‘choke’ the sound. It is only noticed when the pedal is down because usually the damper will deaden the note before it is struck again. whilst inherent in the Rhodes design it can be lessened by lowering the escapement so there is less distance between the time and the string, but only up to a point.

Sometimes the choking can also happen when the the pedal mechanism when set up incorrectly (which, as anyone who plays a Rhodes knows, happens all the time!). this can interfere with the process as well; but failing these more major problems, it’s just a byproduct of what makes the Rhodes piano what it is. I’ve learned from personal experience that playing a Rhodes like a piano (i.e. over-relying on the sustain pedal) doesn’t really work that well, and having a Rhodes-like sound on a keyboard can create expectations of what a Rhodes should feel like, only to lead to disappointment.

Only by playing a real Rhodes will you adapt to this limitation, and ultimately play more authentically on the real thing. Listen out for the ‘dead’ notes on some great Rhodes records: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Stevie Wonder, Bob James, it’s everywhere! And it doesn’t matter. Let’s embrace the flaws of this wonderful instrument.

What’s the difference between a Rhodes and a Fender Rhodes?

eople often use the terms interchangebly, but there are differences. The main ones are the year they were made, and subsequently the changes to the action inside. Fundamentally, they are both the same instrument with the same type of action mechanism and tines, but the differences between the components inside create a different tonal quality. Harold Rhodes’s company collaborated with Fender, which helped manufacture the pianos from the era of 1970 to 1973 (check dates). These pianos have wooden hammer cams and small hammer tips, whereas the more modern Mark I “Rhodes” pianos from 1975 onwards (manufactured by CBS, and argued to be of a less high quality, though not by much) have plastic hammer cams and angled hammer tips.

The difference is the sound which is created, with the earlier pianos arguably having a truer, purer sound, possibly because of the wooden hammer cams rather than plastic. Some in the vintage piano community mention CBS ramping up production at the expense of quality. Whatever the reason, older pianos are generally favoured for this, notably the “Sparkletop” Fender Rhodes of the 1960s (Herbie Hancock’s playing on In a Silent Way for example), but as with many vintage instruments, a mentality of ‘the older the better’ also exists here too. Personally I prefer the sound of the older ones, but its not a dealbreaker at all. The ones we hire out are the CBS post-1975 models and they sound just great.

An easy way to distinguish between them is the fender pianos have “Fender Rhodes” this written on the name board in the centre of the piano, whereas the later Rhodes model just have “Rhodes” written on. Another way would be to look on the right hand side of the harp, and see the date. If the digits have 74 or earlier, then its probably a Fender Rhodes.

How is a Rhodes tuned?

The way a Rhodes piano makes a tone is similar to a tuning fork – where two ends of a metal fork vibrate to produce a frequency. On a Rhodes though, instead of two ends the same size there is a larger tone bar and a smaller wire-like tine. The length of the tine and tone bars form the pitch of a certain note and this is amplified through a pickup to form the iconic sound. Tines and tone bars in the bass are longer and in the treble shorter, much like the strings of an acoustic piano.

This tine and tone bar mechanism though is not in tune outright. To achieve fine tuning there is a small coil on the tine which can be adjusted forwards or backwards, and doing so will change the pitch flat or sharp. The coil only needs to be moved very slightly to adjust the pitch, but once adjusted should stay that way for years. Usually only a little tuning adjustment is needed during a service unless the piano has seen extremes in heat/humidity or it’s been decades since it was last serviced

If undertaking this yourself be mindful that the amount the coil on the tine needs to move is very very small to rapidly change the tuning. Fine adjustment is usually all thats needed. If in doubt, let a professional do it. We provide voicing and volume adjustment as well as tuning in our voicing service package. Having tuned acoustic pianos for many years we stretch-tune our Rhodes and Wurlis in a similar way to give them that brilliant wider sound that only a slightly sharper treble can provide.

Wurlitzer faq

My Wurlitzer is buzzing when I play. Help!

This is a very common problem with Wurlitzer pianos due to having a complex reed/pick-up system, many screws and metal parts, and a built in amplifier. It could be one of many reasons, some easier to fix than others:

  • The hum shield (or pickup shield) is the L-shaped case that covers the piano action. It is designed to prevent buzzing, but ironically can create it if it’s not set properly. Readjusting it could fix the problem. Open up up your Wurlitzer (3 screws underneath, 2 music stand screws on top for the 200 series pianos) and look to see if the L shaped metal frame covering the piano action is touching anywhere and that the screws are tight. If there is not any dampening foam on the top of the pick up shield, add some at either end and in the middle, as another buzzing point can be between the shied and the lid.
  • Loose screws – a screw (or more) is loose inside the Wurlitzer and the vibration of the sound is causing it to rattle. There are a lot of screws holding action components and electronics in place, so this could take a while to find.
  • Dust/debris in the speakers – The speakers of a Wurlitzer are often overlooked during servicing. Often dust or debris is inside here and can cause buzzing problems. 
  • Broken speaker –  when the cone of a speaker is damaged it can create a distorted sound or buzzing. The speaker will need to be replaced. 
  • The Wurlitzer case doesn’t fit properly. One of the more irritating buzzing issues can come from the top half of the Wurlitzer case not sitting flush with the bottom half. This can happen due to years of expansion and contraction of the wood that makes up the body of the piano. The wooden rim will need to be sanded down to fit the rim if it’s too tight or shims added if it’s too loose. Adding anti-vibrations foam pads can also help with this.
  • Damaged electronics – sometimes a damaged wire, capacitor, transistor can cause buzzing. This is more difficult to diagnose as the circuit board needs to be tested. As with any Wurli electronics, be careful as electric shocks do happen.
My Wurli is making a loud banging or popping sound. What's going on?

This is a common problem with Wurlitzers and is usually because a reed is coming into contact with the pickup bar. Dust, dirt, or debris can get between the very small gap between the reed and the bar, creating a short in the electronics that creates a loud bang. It’s not harmful to the amp, but it is loud and annoying. Think of it like when you touch a jack cable that has been plugged in to an amp – you are creating the buzz from grounding it.

The fix to this is to clean the offending note, or all of the reed bar. Then to adjust the reed(s) so they are correctly aligned. There is a very fine margin between a reed being in the correct place and not, as this can affect the voicing too. Yet another thing that makes Wurlitzers tricky customers to service.

A note of warning, Wurlitzer pianos have built in amplification and the pickup bar is live, meaning that you can get an electric shock from touching it if it’s not turned off. Only proceed if you have some experience with electronics.

The keys of my Wurlitzer look and feel uneven. Can you fix this?

Yes! Adjusting the keys, or key levelling as piano technicians call it, is the process of adjusting the key heights and depth (called key-dip) of the white and black keys of the piano. It is the same process as with a regular acoustic piano – we use paper shims or punchings to set the correct height of each key. Because there are 60+ keys in a Wurlitzer this is a turn consuming process, but necessary to provide an even foundation for the action to feel even throughout the piano. Key levelling is an option of our full service package, and not only improves the touch of your Wurli but makes it looks regulated as well.

My Wurli is feeding back. Help!

This is usually because the gain potentiometer is too high. If you open up your Wurli, on the amp circuit board at the front left (on 200/200A models), there is a pot which adjusts the gain. Turn it counterclockwise to reduce the gain. You may also need to reduce the vibrate gain as well (See “Can I adjust the vibrato on my Wurlitzer?”)

When I play there is distortion on held notes. Can this be fixed?

Once you have ruled out that there is not dirt or debris in the reed bar, this is most likely an amp issue. The Wurlitzer amps are 50+ years old and really starting to show their age. Many of the capacitors may be not working perfectly and need replacing. The ‘bias’ of the Wurlitzer amp may be wrong too. In essence this means the amp will distort as the amount of resistance running through it is incorrect. This means certain resistors may need to be changed too.

The long term solution is to replace the amp with either a Vintage Vibe or Warneck amplifier. They have slightly different tonal qualities, but are both excellent. And because they are modern audio electronics, they are well made and will last a long time.

Some notes in the middle have a 'clunk' sound, even when the Wurli is turned off. Why?

This is often to do with the solder or ‘lead’ that is applied to the reeds to adjust the tuning. It often happens in the tenor register in the F/F#/G range below middle C. The solution is usually to replace the solder on the reed. If not this then it could be the hammer is loose or damaged. Hammers can be replaced but it is a tricky job and recommended to be done by a professional.

How is a Wurli tuned?

nstead of tines on a Rhodes or strings on an acoustic piano, a Wurlitzer piano uses metal strips called reeds that are struck by a small felt hammer. This is then amplified by a metal comb called a reed bar. The reeds are longer in the bass and shorter in the treble, much like piano strings or Rhodes tines.

The reeds by themselves however are not in tune and solder needs to be added at the tip of each reed to adjust the pitch. Simply put, the heavier a reed the lower the pitch. To make a reed flat, more solder is added to add mass, and to make it sharp solder is gently filed away. The solder is filed in a pyramid shape so it doesn’t contact the pick-up and create a loud pop, which can happen when a reed is misaligned. This is very easy to do and can be very frustrating for beginner.

The reeds can also be even more finely adjusted by moving the reed back and forward very slightly, and by adjusting the tightness of the reed screws. this will adjust the pitch by a few cents either way. Once tuned a wurlitzer should not need retuning for many years unless it has particularly heavy usage. Whilst tuning can be a fun challenge, in all honesty it’s usually worth just getting a professional to do it as it’s quite a hassle. Tuning a rhodes is many times easier. As with all things Wurlitzers be very careful about what to touch, as the power supply can easily shock you. Unless you know what you’re doing, get a professional to look at it.

Can I adjust the vibrato on my Wurlitzer?

IIf you open up your Wurlitzer (three screws at the front of the base underneath and the two music stand screw on top), you’ll see the amp circuit board. On a 200/200A the vibrato pot is at the back left side as shown below:

You can adjust the gain of the vibrato, but not the rate, you’ll need a variable tremolo mod for that. Move the potentiometer clockwise for more of the volume/depth, and anti-clockwise for the opposite. Be careful to unplug everything and switch all the power off before you adjust as you can easily get an electric shock from the circuits of a Wurlitzer, especially around the power on/off switch where there is live mains current.

Clavinet FAQ

My Clav won't make a sound. Help!

Assuming the jack cable is plugged in, this could be one of several reasons, most of which are very simple fixes:

  • Hohner Clavinet’s use a 9V Battery to power the internal pre-amp. The most common reason it won’t power on is because the battery is dead. Open the top-lid just behind the keys and replace the battery inside. It’s generally good practice to unplug the battery when the Clav not in use to guarantee it wont drain.
  • If you use 9V mains power for your Clavinet, check its plugged in. Basic I know, but happens more than you’d think; and the 9V lead can fall out sometimes.
  • Make sure at least one of the tone controls is switched on. These are the switches marked “Brilliant”, “Treble”, “Medium” and “Soft”. The switch is on when it’s facing towards you. These switches are essentially EQ filters that let a certain amount of frequency through. If none of them are switched on, then the Clav won’t make a sound. Switch all of them on for the fullest sound, or select the ones you want for your preferred sound.
  • If these don’t solve the problem, there may be an issue with the circuitry or electronics inside the instrument. Clavinets use an electrical current to generate a sound through the pickups, so there could be an issue with wiring, a faulty connection to the audio output, or perhaps an electronic component is broken. Without knowing exactly what it is, it is difficult to diagnose. The best thing will be to get it looked at by a professional.
What do the switches "A/B" and "C/D" mean?

These correspond to the pick-ups used to amplify the strings on your Clavinet. It’s more complex than it needs to be, but simple to understand.

Clavinet’s have two pickups, one by the hammers (near the keyboard), and one higher up on the bridge. The C/D switch determines whether you use one or both of these pickups – “C” for individually or “D” for both (D for dual helps remember this).

With the C switch engaged, the A/B switch decides which pickup is used. A for the hammer or “rhythm” pickup, and B for the “bridge” pickup (B for bridge is really helpful). The rhythm pickup (A) is bassier and rounder, whereas the bridge pickup (B) is has more treble and is sharper.

Now with the D switch engaged, the A/B switch changes to a setting that adjusts the phasing of the pickups. Basically this means whether they work the same way, or in the opposite way. When the switch points towards A, the pickups are working in-phase. This will give a rich full sound because both pickups are being used together. If the switch is set at B, the pickups are out-of-phase. This means the pickups are cancelling each-other out to some degree, causing the sound to be thinner (There’s no handy alliteration here, but A for in and B for out may help).

Some notes on my Clav are really sticky. Why?

This can be down to a number of things:

  • The hammer tips are old. The original hammer tips over time because squishy and often gummed-up the action mechanism. These will need to be replaced.
  • The Key bushings are too tight. Key bushings stop the keys from clicking and rocking side-to-side. Sometimes they can be to tight which will make a key sluggish. Lubricating the bushings and easing the keys will help solve this.
  • The key springs are old or broken. At the back of the key is a spring which brings the key back to its resting position. If they’ve never been changed then these are over 50 years old on many Clavs so they can become sluggish. If they’re broken then the key might not work at all. Replacing the springs is the way to fix this problem.
Can I tune my Clavinet myself?

Yes! And in fact we suggest you should. Because the Clavinet has strings that are under similar tension to a guitar, they can go out of tune quite quickly, and are easy to adjust. A quick tuning before a gig or session is recommended to bring the best out of your Clav.

Below the keys is a rail that can be removed to reveal the tuning pegs that the strings are wrapped around. By using a flat head screwdriver on the screw at a right angle to the tuning [eg, you can adjust the tuning – clockwise for sharp and anti-clockwise for flat.

Using an electronic tuner this can take around 15/20 minutes. Check that the octaves sound in tune and also test the fifths. Hearing the beats can take some practice but it is well worth it. Be aware that the tuning peg for a note is not the key above it – the corresponding key is usually an octave above. See the guidance note on the right hand side of the tuning rail.

My Clavinet has some notes which are sustaining. What can I do?

It is likely that the some of the yarn that mutes the strings in the non-speaking length of the clavinet is not dampening properly. The solution is usually to re-wind the yarn around the problem notes (if there are only a few), or remove the yarn and replace it. A more long term solution can be to replace the yarn entirely with Clavigel; which is a more modern dampening mechanism created by Vintage Vibe.

My Clav is really noisy and hums a lot. How do I stop this?

Hohner Clavinets are very sensitive to noise interference because of the type of pickups they use. Hissing, static, and occasionally radio frequencies can enter the audio signal. Try to keep the Clavinet away from things that have strong electrical currents or frequencies. Another common issue is when using 9V power from the mains. If the Clavinet is not grounded properly this can cause humming. Using the 9V battery will help solve this as the interference is much lower. If the noise does not go away after these steps then the pre-amp may need servicing or replacing. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.