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The Wurlitzer 112A Heirloom
Wurlitzer EP

The Wurlitzer 112A Heirloom

Posted by Vintage Vibe Aug 17, 2017

—"Beauty in the beast."

We recently had the pleasure of restoring a 1955 Wurlitzer 112A electric piano. It was very important to our client, Rebecca, that this neglected family heirloom be saved; her grandmother, a professional musician, had owned and played this instrument before it was put into a basement for storage some 40 years ago. Rebecca encouraged us to do whatever was necessary to fully restore the mechanics and electronics of this old piano. There was one limitation however, to which she held firm: that we not restore or clean the outside of the instrument in any way. It was important to her that the history of the instrument and its link to her grandmother not be in provenance alone but also show through the appearance of the instrument how it was found; to preserve the vintage patina that had formed over 62 years as well as any marks that may have been left by her grandmother.  

At first glance we knew that this restoration would not be an easy one.  The 112A had sat in a crawl space under the house for four decades where mice and moths had done a real job on the inside; all of the felt had either been eaten or disintegrated! On top of this, all of the metal parts were covered with heavy white rust which is a reactive symptom of older galvanized parts when they have been exposed to oxygen over time.

One of our Master Wurlitzer Technicans, Fred DiLeone, handled the mechanical work while our Head Electronics Technician, James Theesfeld, repaired the amplifier unit.

Fred has been restoring these rare and unusual pianos for over 20 years. They are, in fact, a particular specialty of his; no one that I am aware of in this world knows them better! Most people run from these pianos, some can handle repairs and tunings but Fred has a full mastery of knowledge including regulation and set up theory which are invaluable as troubleshooting is a given when working with such a vintage instrument. James brings to this restoration his background in tube circuits, designing and rebuilding classic tube amplifiers is where James excels. Not unlike the mechanical aspects, these old tube circuits can be pretty finicky and often require thorough troubleshooting and the application of special tricks to get them performing their best.

Here is a detailed list of the service this Wurlitzer 112A underwent:

Mechanical

• Interior cleaned + vacuumed
• Interior metal components refinished & polished
• New back rail, balance rail, front rail & damper felts installed
• Action screws tightened
• Action centers shrunk & lubricated 
• Key height & dip set
• Hammer height set
• Let off set
• Strike line set
• Damper lost motion set
• Key stops adjusted
• Tuned + Voiced

Electronics

• Chassis cleaned inside and out
• Tube sockets cleaned
• Potentiometers cleaned
• Speaker jack replaced
• Record Input removed from circuit for noise reduction
• New 1/4" Aux Output jack installed
• 12AU7 plate resistors replaced
• Harp input coupling capacitor replaced
• Fuse & light bulb replaced
• Three wire AC mains cable with quick connect plugs installed
• Standard 3 prong IEC outlet installed


When all was said and done, both technicians went further than what was asked or required to make this piano play and sound absolutely fantastic. I am positive it plays better than when it left the Wurlitzer factory. Most importantly Rebecca was thrilled at how her grandmothers piano turned out.

At Vintage Vibe we continue to push ourselves to be the best in the world at what we do. Our goals are simple; continue to grow our knowledge base, build the best electric pianos the world has ever known and to satisfy our clients needs beyond their expectations.

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