Dual Capstan Action
The original Rhodes Piano Action is beautiful in its simplicity. A minimal complement of moving parts not only streamlines the production process but ensures the player's consistent operation throughout a wide range of atmospheric conditions, something of paramount importance when crafting an instrument designed for portability. Such simplicity does not come without compromise, however, and one particular concession became our focus to improve upon the original design.
What is Regulation
It is the art of ensuring an even feel and dynamic response across the range of the piano key bed. Through the use of shims and felt back-rail felt thickness, the traditional Rhodes design only offers broad global adjustments regarding key dip, hammer throw, and escapement. Individual fine adjustments of the piano's action were never previously considered. Throughout our years of restoring vintage instruments, as well as creating our unique piano, our primary goal in terms of the action has been to develop and improve upon regulatory procedures which we have pioneered over the years.
The next logical step was to incorporate adjustability into our piano. Fine adjustments not only allow us the ability to set up our action with a precision never before attainable but allows our instrument to be easily regulated throughout its life by the end-user or service technician. Whether factory set or customized, precision specifications can now be efficiently and properly dialed in at any time.
Introducing The Vintage Vibe, Dual Capstan Action
Our patented design incorporates two separate capstan adjustments for manipulating the hammer throw and key dip, as well as stop lock and escapement, long overlooked and extremely important aspects of fine-tuning the Rhodes-style action.
The Lower Capstan
Allows the at-rest hammer height to be set to any specification desired. This adjustability directly correlates key dip, hammer throw, and hammer blow distance.
The Upper Capstan
Allows for the adjustment of “Stop-lock” or brake of the hammer. Offering adjustment of escapement and hammer height is a breakthrough development in the Rhodes simplified action design.
How it works
In this style of action, a brake is applied to the moving hammer before it strikes the tone source (tine). Momentum allows the hammer to travel past the applied pressure between the key pedestal and the hammer cam to strike the tine before yielding back to the effect of the brake, preventing hammer bounce from blocking the vibrating tine.
What we have discovered
During the study and regulation of vintage instruments, it was observed that hammers in the stop-lock position sit at different heights from one another and that the hammers of sharp keys often sit considerably lower than those of their natural counterparts. This is due to the nature of the traditional key bed. The balance points between natural and sharp keys are staggered to compensate for the shorter sharp key stick. This alternate placement of the sharp key fulcrum serves to offer a balance in pressure required to depress sharp versus natural keys. Herein lies an issue unique to the traditional simplified action; as the entire key bed sits at a slight angle, the balance rail is angled to match that of the keys at rest. This places the balance point of sharp keys lower than that of naturals, influencing key pedestal height with keys depressed, and thus directly influencing hammer height in stop-lock while creating an uneven escapement.
The adjustable brake not only serves to correct hammer height irregularities in stop-lock, but also offers infinite adjustability of touch sensitivity. Our US Patent No. 11,410,635 design allows for this new regulatory procedure individually, from note to note. Another advantage is that height adjustment of the tine/tonebar assembly is no longer necessary to adjust individual escapement. Strike-line and damper adjustments are no longer inadvertently affected by escapement adjustments. The end result is an unparalleled even playing experience.
The Vintage Vibe Dual Capstan Action offers precision regulation and a customizable feel, all while honoring the beautiful simplicity of Harold Rhodes’ original designs.