Tuning page! 

This page is devoted to the art of tuning a Wurlitzer Electric Piano. I have read the original
instructions for models 112, 120, and 200, and they detail the tuning process in each manual
a little differently. I recommend reading the entire page before trying it for the first time. 


The 112 Manual 

"If a reed should ever need tuning at any time, it may be taken care of by a piano tuner. 
The only difference in tuning it is that instead of pulling a string up to a pitch, the tuner will be tuning a vibrating reed. If the reed is flat, the pitch may be raised by removing some of the lead at the end of the reed scraping. If the reed is sharp, it may be tuned my adding lead to the end of the reed. 

Adding weight to the end of the reed is the better method and should be used if possible.
Filing, unless expertly done, can ruin the reed by weakening it and removing the protective 
coating which keeps the reed from rusting. 

Should it be necessary to remove the reed, first remove the shield by removing two screws.
The reed can then be taken out by removing the reed screw. The reed can be replaced or 
a new one installed by carefully watching the spacing between the reed and the pickup when
tightening reed screw." 


The 120 Manual 

"See the Model #112 Service Manual. The procedure is the same except that the model
#120 does not have a shield over the reeds. The metal top acts as a shield and the
interior of the case is covered with an electrostatic shield paint." 


The 200 Manual 

"The REED is the only tone element of the Wurlitzer Electronic Piano. Its tuning,
position in the instrument and how this position related to the pick-ups are essential 
to the tonal quality of the piano. 

INSTALLING NEW REEDS - The reed's retaining hole is slightly larger than the diameter 
of the reed screw. When putting a new reed in place for tuning, be sure that the reed 
is as far BACK as the reed will go. Additionally, before beginning to tune, insure that 
the reed screw is tight (not just snug). Tightening the screw after the reed has brought
up to pitch will cause it to go sharp (and lead will need to be added to the tip and the
reed retuned). 

Tuning is accomplished by removing lead from the reed tip (by filing or scraping a 
small amount at a time). Continue to remove the access lead until arriving at the 
proper pitch. 

While removing the excess lead, it is very important to maintain the PYRAMID shape 
of the tip. 

When tuning a new reed, removing too much lead will cause the pitch to be sharp (too high). 
Moving the reed to the "FRONT" will drop the pitch (from 2 to 5 cents) and permit fine tuning
without having to add additional lead to the tip. 

If moving the reed to the "FRONT" does nut sufficiently lower the pitch, remove the reed, add
lead to the tip and begin the tuning process again. 

When tuning new reeds, pitch tolerances should be kept to within 5 cents (-2 to +3). 
The tuning process is often made easier with the use of a strobe-type tuner". 


Personal notes 

I have opinions as to how to use the soldering iron to best achieve desired results. 

I personally recommend using Multicore Brand Solder. If you must use Radio Shack solder,
use the best electronic-type they offer. Kester brand is also acceptable. Make sure the 
solder you use is for electronic use, and contains a rosin-core, which is essential
for adhering properly. When you get the reed in tune, use a good solder flux remover
(spray or brush-on) to remove the flux left behind. This will make your reed work non-corrosive. There are solders available that utilize non-corrosive flux (rosin), but it's been my experience that they don't flow very well and usually need to get pretty hot to melt and adhere. 

Tinner is available for soldering irons, and it assures a nice clean tip for good heat
transfer and solder flow. A dirty tip won't work. If you have no tinner handy, carefully 
wipe the fully warmed-up tip off on a damp sponge, apply solder to the tip and wipe off the
tip again. 

This will get the tip of the reed too hot. Unless you're very skilled with a soldering 
gun, don't use one. Use a soldering iron of low-medium wattage. 

I would use a portion of an old sheet to pull between the pickup and the reed (or just under 
the reed will probably do) to protect the pickup and the insides of the piano from splattering or dripping solder. Leave enough room for the reed to get hot, so the sheet material will not burn! 

The solder on these keyboards is quite old, and for the new solder to stick properly, it needs
a nice clean surface to adhere to. The old solder will be oxidized and not conducive to new 
solder. Heat the old solder up on the reed, and take it off using a solder-sucker of any type. 
I use a solder bulb...it's cheap and effective. When the surface is nice and shiny, you know 
you have a good surface to work with. This is a subject of much debate, and I feel my method 
works best. Some tuners prefer to "dab" a little solder on the existing solder to expedite the
tuning procedure. This probably works fine...I just like the assured feeling of knowing that
a complete re-soldering of the reed (and cleaning) will stick for sure. Yes, my method would 
take more time...but to me, it's worth it! 

Add solder as quickly as possible to the reed surface. Draw heat across the reed for no longer
than 6 seconds, then add (or remove) solder. If the old solder appears to not be melting, try
applying small amounts of new solder onto the old...this will aid in heat transfer...since all 
surfaces need to be clean and unoxidized for soldering to work. Flux is also important for proper 
flow...and the old solder probably has very little left in it, and the new solder already contains
flux. Be sure to clean the flux off with a suitable flux-remover, to prevent eventual corrosion
of the reed. 

Don't Hit The Key until the solder drys!
This may seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning. If you hit the key to check your tuning before
the solder cools, you might just splatter the solder all over the insides of the piano. If this
happens, all kinds of weirdness can result...either immediately or over time! 

In a pinch for time? Try Beeswax to lower the pitch!
Believe it or not, beeswax can be added without soldering to lower the pitch! The old masters 
maintain that the beeswax will actually stay put for a long time! Give it a shot! 

Does the Pitch tend to keep going Flat after a few days? Guess what...the Reed is Cracked!
You probably won't be able to see the crack in the reed, but if you tune it an tighten the reed
down properly and this happens, it's cracked and the crack is getting bigger. Yes, the only way 
out of this mess is to replace the reed. Time to call Morelocks! 

More to come soon!