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So my Dad has a 12 or 13 year old Yamaha Clavinova in a baby grand housing. He loves it, although admittedly he rarely plays it anymore. The last few times I've played it I noticed the volume surges when some single notes are played. It seems to be a random occurrence and doesn't happen all the time...irritating none the less.
Seeing as Dad is a very heavy smoker, and has a yellow Labrador Retriever that throws off pet hair and dander like nothing I've ever seen, I suggested a call to the dealer where he purchased it to inquire if they could service it.
I had a chat with the tech, and was surprised to hear him say that digital pianos don't really get 'maintenance sevice', and that you wouldn't unless something was really wrong with it. He didn't seem to think the random surge in volume was any big deal, and said it happens with new digitals too.
What do you guys think of this response? The guy was very friendly to talk to...and offered to come look at it ( I think most of his digital repairs get dropped to his shop ), but he kind of had me talked out of it by then.

Last edited by SuzyUpright; 04/25/22 04:38 AM.
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Hello,

@SuzyUpright, Such an environment (smoke, the yellow lab, and the regular dust we all have in our homes) is bad news for a digital piano. When not played, it should always have the lid closed or, alternatively, be under a good dust cover.

Maybe check whether the volume surges could be attributed to your pa's infrequent playing and therefore lesser proficiency/fluency.

If the problem does lie with the instrument, which could well be of course, the rubber contact sensors (which given the type and age of the piano, I assume it has) are the first suspects. Remedies are cleaning and if that doesn't suffice, replacement. Both jobs to be done by someone who knows what she/he is doing.

If the technician you spoke to is hazy about the matter, as it seems, my first impression is that you may need someone else.

Cheers and happy further diagnostics,

HZ

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Originally Posted by SuzyUpright
I've played it I noticed the volume surges when some single notes are played.

I'm sure that at least somebody out there may have a very good understanding about what are the likely causes of the volume surge for particular notes. Occurring unexpectedly.

I do see people online writing about 'sensor issue', which is probably right ---- as in it is probably a sensor issue. But not sure what the explanation is.

One guess is ------ if it is a two sensor system (for a key), and a key strike results only in a single pulse (from one of the sensors only), and nothing else happens with some allowed amount of time after that key strike ----- then the software program might just be configured to just do something anyway ----- such as to play at maximum velocity. Or just by default, if something out-of-specs occurs ---- such as detecting pulse 'B' only, without having detected pulse 'A' (for a 2 sensor system), then the software might be just set up to play max velocity.

In any case, if the sensors are really along the same lines remote control sensors ------ I really don't know for sure - but certainly hope not! Or at least hopefully the digital piano sensors are better quality ones than remote control conductive pad sensors ------ then those sensors are usually covered, so hairs etc usually won't be a problem, as they can't get in. And those pads just fail due to wear and aging. The electrically conductive film wears out. But I have a feeling that digital piano sensor pads might really be better quality ones, as I would hate to think that they're 'exactly' the same as regular conductive film pads. That would be nasty.

If the conductive film does wear and has broken down substantially, then 'cleaning' doesn't help at all - and probably makes it worse ---- even though some people out there reckon that the issue was 'fixed' by cleaning the pad (eg. with alcohol etc) ---- but I doubt that will work. Instead, the cleaning and rubbing probably just removes the rest of the conductive film - and puts the system out of action completely. Possibly the best bet is to replace the sensor ----- or to try our luck with something like "graphit 33" (although, hard to say how long it lasts for, even though it might be the best own-fix option for the moment).

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Originally Posted by SuzyUpright
So my Dad has a 12 or 13 year old Yamaha Clavinova in a baby grand housing. He loves it, although admittedly he rarely plays it anymore. The last few times I've played it I noticed the volume surges when some single notes are played. It seems to be a random occurrence and doesn't happen all the time...


I had a chat with the tech, and was surprised to hear him say that digital pianos don't really get 'maintenance sevice', and that you wouldn't unless something was really wrong


What do you guys think of this response? The guy was very friendly to talk to...and offered to come look at it ( I think most of his digital repairs get dropped to his shop ), but he kind of had me talked out of it by then.

I think you had a chat with someone who, on the one hand, has a very friendly demeanor by telephone but on the other hand, may or may not have the right kind of tech stuff for providing you the kind of maintenance service DPs can and do get for diagnosing a familiar (here at PW among other places) a something-really-wrong problem that might be fairly easy to fix.

Regarding the rubber contacts that may vary in construction from one make & model DP to the next: for those models that have these rubber contacts, they have them between every key ( 88 in your example) and the bottom of the key’s travel IE. for every keypress played, the underside of the key makes physical contact with this piece of rubber and this physical/mechanical instance of contact is used by the DP’s computer to, ultimately, translate the keys’ mechanical movement into digitally-produced sound. I must admit, while i have experienced intermittent sound due to problems with these pieces of rubber on a different make & model, i do not understand why people at times refer to them, interchangeably, as sensors. DPs also have sensors that detect where a key is when at certain points in the key’s travel - newer ones use optical sensors, older ones use mechanical sensors - and may be a 2-sensor design or 3-sensor design but unless i’m badly mistaken, these 2 or 3 sensors are not simply pieces of rubber 🤷.

As to your father’s DP, if this friendly-by-phone guy is the only shop near you, you must consider whether or not to arrange a service call from somebody who’s already steering you away from this very thing. If there are other shops nearby, you might call them to gauge whether they are familiar with this fairly typical type of maintenance issue that arises especially with older and/or well-used DPs being used in a home environment that might have particles floating around known to be troublesome / tricksome when it comes to these important rubber contacts 🙂

Good luck!

Last edited by drewr; 04/25/22 10:46 AM.

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Thanks to all for taking the time to respond with such thoughtful replies...much appreciated. My options are very limited where I live, but there is at least one other place I can call...
Coincidentally, dad is expecting a few visitors for lunch next week, one of whom is a professional pianist that I know frequently uses digital pianos for gigging. Perhaps he can point us in the right direction for local sources.
Thanks again for those informative replies

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I have played a 2012 Kawai ES7 for many, many, many hours and it has had replacement contacts twice, the second time very recently. The problem generally showed up when a repeated note started not to to sound sometimes, usually in the middle section of the keyboard. But what I can say is that each time it was just like an acoustic grand action being regulated, IOW a "new" action. So yes, things do wear over a period of time and small inconsistencies in volume - as with acoustics, - do happen and we tend to adjust for them for a while, hence the delight when the issue is fixed. Beware however of technicians who claim to fix any make: one made mine much worse until I got an approved Kawai technician out. The person really does need to know what s/he is doing.

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Originally Posted by drewr
I must admit, while i have experienced intermittent sound due to problems with these pieces of rubber on a different make & model, i do not understand why people at times refer to them, interchangeably, as sensors.

I don't think anybody referred to that particular portion of the sensor system (the rubber pad element with the electrically conductive film) to be the 'sensor' itself, right?

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Also - adding ----- assuming remote control type of sensors ---

The 'patterned' conductive track side (on the circuit board) has two patterned tracks - each electrically isolated. Each side can be considered as linked to one terminal each. So basically we have two terminals, that are electrically isolated in the normal state. And, once the electrically conductive pad comes down onto the board's surface, this pair of terminals becomes shorted together - no longer electrically isolated. The change in condition, or state is what is detected by the sensor system. And, if the conductive film on the pads get worn away, or not very conductive anymore, then that becomes one of the problems. Other problems can arise when people put some conductive layer on the pads themselves, which may flake off and then accumulate on the patterned surface - causing permanent short circuits etc. So if somebody does attempt repairs, then may need to use the best material they can get. I haven't tried before - but graphit 33 might be workable for a satisfactory fix. Otherwise, another option is replacement of the pad(s) with new ones - that's if new ones can be acquired.


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