Friday, November 19, 2004

Wurlitzer 200 Rescue

Wurlitzer 200 Rescue

Hey the Wurli is ALIVE

Yesterday after I recovered from a episode of intestinal discharging I set to getting the Wurli that was rescued from disposal working. I popped the case via three screw under the front edge. The case was nearly fused to the wood base from years of no access...First I burns on the power amp and the only problem I could visually see was that an aluminum guard that covered the dampers arms for each key showed signs of being bend. On the high side of the key board, the highest key's damper arm was broken. I took the aluminum guard off and found that the top four keys do not even have damping mechanisms. This looks like it is by design because the metal reeds that create the tone for the highest four notes are so short damping them would be silly. Check out the flash link from the keyboard museum that describes the Wurlitzer 200 action.

I removed the broken piece and then checked the action on all the keys. One small adjustment to the middle c and it appeared all the keys and reeds were in good working condition. A little stiff from lack of play but that will no doubt be corrected. The inside was surprisingly clean BTW.

I then set to rewiring the power. I took an old power cord from a computer and cut the end off and removed the old oval power cord connector on the Wurli and spliced the new cord in. I have a modern three prong power socket I could use but I did not want to spend a gob of time modifying the case to find the thing didn't power up. So I will add the nifty socket sometime in the future. Well I agonized about which wire went where...but that was easy enough to figure out with a mutli-meter to id the wires on the power cord to match them up with the green, white and black wires of the Wurli power. I plugged it in and put the volume knob back on the pot and turned the power on....

The light came on. No smoke or sparks. I heard a small hiss coming from the speakers....I started playing each key and there it is...that unmistakable sound. Super Tramp, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Sly and Family Stone and Steve Winwood came to mind...I started off playing some goofy things that I do on the organ and I could hear and feel why this instrument is so cool. I quickly set to cleaning it up. I took fantastik to the plastic case and cleaned all the filth from it and then applied armour-all. Nice and shiny now a few scratches and stains but not bad. I then carefully cleaned each key and removed as much dust and dirt from the felts on the case and around the keyboard. I put it all back together and then sat down and played for an hour or two.

The sound is awesome, cranking the volume all the way brings out the character of the pickups and hides the physical mechanism sounds. The sustain mechanism works but there is no pedal and the original legs are missing as well. Replacements can be had or a simple keyboard rack would work.

As for the action. When the Wurli is off you can't really judge the action because the reed does make a sound when powered down but they only really sound when struck hard. The action is there when the power is one. A bit stiff but you can easily layback and play soft passages with ease. In fact it is surprisingly expressive and the touch is very intuitive. This is the real deal. I have yet to plug it into an amp yet but that will probably happen soon. All in all I spent about three hours playing and I could feel the action loosening up. Regular playing is the best thing for this Wurli. It will make a great addition to the upcoming Soul Amp CD.

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