Tuesday February 4, 2014

Fixing Chuck's Keyboard

(Just to get it out of the way, I could have called this "Fixing Chuck's Organ" but there would have been no end of bad jokes with that title so I decided to go with the safe alternative).

45 years have gone by but you know, what goes around comes around. Imagine my surprise when after all these years I reconnect with all the members of the old band (although I've yet to hear from Spud or Paul Moro) and there's a hint of "getting the band back together" for a few laughs.

I can't wait!

But to accomplish this we need to be able to re-create that sound again, and the hardest part (at least to me) was going to get that fine organ sound that Chuck was able to produce. Point of fact, those old GEM keyboards are very hard to come by. So I must have had a vision of the future about 30 years ago when I purchased a used keyboard and amp from a co-worker up in Park City. They sat unused in my garage until 2010, when I was getting ready to build a new garage. The amp was an old Silvertone, in pretty bad shape and I gave it to a friend who played guitar. The keyboard though was another matter...

After Chuck and I reconnected in the beginning of 2012 I started to look seriously at that keyboard. I really wanted to play again to see how we would sound. I never thought it might really come to it but I took steps to get the keyboard back in shape. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to put that project on the back burner for awhile.

Fast-forward to 2013 and I get a call from Ray, Tom and Steve. Now there's a glimmer that some music may actually be in the cards. Early in January of 2014 Chuck gets in touch with Jon and it's looking like a sure thing. Except for the keyboard...

So today I decided to get it back in shape. Cosmetically it's not too bad:

The first issue I had to deal with though is the power cord. The original cord was lost by the previous owner and because that cord had an oddball connector they just cut the wires inside the case and spliced on a cord:

That didn't suit my needs because it just ran out of the top of the case and was pretty cheesey. (As a side note, the connectors that were used to splice the wires should be familiar to any old phone man. They're called "B Wire Connectors" or beans for short. Remember, I bought this from a fellow phone man). So I decided that a new connection was needed:

The old one's on the left, the new one on the right and yes, those are pennies, drilled and filed to act as washers owing to the fact that the new connector is not as wide as the old one. Necessity is the mother of invention. But it worked:

And now I can plug in a regular cord with no worries and the addition of a ground.

A minor start but an important one if we're going to get this keyboard back in business. I've got a 10' cord plugged in and we're ready to go. Hopefully another update in a day or two!



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