Sing us a song, you’re the piano (repair) man

Absolutely and positively pleased with myself, as I have fixed a piano that I thought might end up on the skip. At the same time, this is a story about procrastination.

I have a Casio Digital Piano, which I have had for well over 10 years – I think it was one of the first things I bought for this house. It wasn’t the most expensive on the market, even then, but it had a nice piano sound, and full-sized weighted keys.

I’d bought it with the aim of trying to regain my teenage skills on the ivories, before I was lured away into the world of guitars. That never really happened, but I did enjoy playing it, and it helped me write some songs I would have never have conceived of on the guitar.

2013-04-29 18.30.48The year before last, I dropped a large heavy object on it, and one of the keys (the bottom F) took the impact, breaking in two. After some googling, I found someone who could sell me a spare key. For them to fix it, including transport costs, would be more than the piano was worth (you can get an AR65 on ebay for 250 quid, these days), but I though it was worth 16 quid to try and do it myself. The key arrived, but I never got around to fitting it – the thought of opening the keyboard and working out how it all fitted together made me put it off until “sometime”. However, the piano still worked, and the broken key was way down there, where I never played – still it annoyed me, so I started to keep the piano shut, and ignored it.

Then, one day, a visiting friend commented “you still haven’t fixed the piano then”, and – without asking – opened it and turned it on to play. There was a puff of smoke, and it went dead.

Since then, for several months, I have been saying that I would take it apart, and see if there was anything fixable – the smoke indicated something had burned out, and there was no chance of my either diagnosing an electronic component fault or obtaining a new board. So I said that if it wasn’t fixable, I would throw it out – I hardly ever play it any more, anyway.

2013-04-29 18.32.28So more months of procrastination, and pretending not to see this piano shaped object in my lounge.

Today, I finally decided I would fix it or dump it. It opened up with just 8 screws, plus 6 more to remove a fascia plate. No sign of any burned components, only a blackened fuse.

There were three identical fuses on the main motherboard, presumably to protect each of the boards it fed. I knew the amplifier worked – it was the actual keyboard module that was not working. So I swapped the burnt fuse for one of the two others. It went up in a puff of smoke immediately.

This did not look good. So I then unplugged all of the daughter boards, and tried again with the final fuse in place. It didn’t blow. I then turned it off, connected a board, and turned it on. Still ok. The next board I connected blew it.

So I now had no working fuses, but I knew which board was the problem. I went over it in minute detail, and saw a component whose lead had not only come loose from the board, but was touching something else. It was clear where it should be connected, so I soldered it back in place.

2013-04-29 18.32.45But now I had no suitable fuses to test it with. I could order some, but I wouldn’t get them for a couple of days. So I improvised – carefully – with 3 standard 3 amp fuses, just to see if I got power. As the proper fuses are smaller, I had to balance the test fuses across the terminals.

Not only did I get power, everything worked. I disconnected everything, and fitted the replacement key that I have had for over a year. Tried it all again – still worked.

So now I have turned it off, unplugged it, and removed my make-shift fuses. Amazon should deliver later this week, and I can then put it all together again.

One Comment

  1. chris
    May 4, 2013

    The fuses arrived a couple of days ago. Now fitted, and the lid screwed back down (with spare fuses taped inside.

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