Vintage Clavietta issue
March 21, 2016 at 11:46 pm #6946
I became intrigued by the clavietta after reading about it and hearing one on the site. Just this week I bought one on eBay that the seller described as, “La Clavietta in very nice shape with instructions and case- tested for functioning- works great-“. Well, maybe it did when it left the seller but when I received it 6 keys did not play. Also, it did not come with a mouthpiece so I have to blow on the metal. As I blew into it black bits came out from between keys. There was tiny black debris in the case also. It seems to be mostly dead black ants. After much blowing through with the spit valve open and blowing and brushing between the keys and keys not working that worked before and vise versa I am down to 4 keys that won’t play at the low end: G, A-flat, B-flat, B. Yes the A in the middle plays!
What’s going on? Can anyone advise me? I’m a novice and reluctant to open it. Also, is it possible to scrounge up a suitable mouthpiece or improvise on? The clavietta does sounds lovely.
The seller (rated 100%) is very upset and co-operative. He will accept a return, though that is a pain.
Anyone on this site live in the NYC area that can help?March 23, 2016 at 10:20 pm #6951
Hi! I have not heard from anyone yet. I really need advice/help from clavietta experts so I can decide what to do – Alan Brinton, Melodica-Me, Daren Banarsë? Please help!March 24, 2016 at 7:25 am #6956
Hello Maria, let me review your question and I will get back with you tomorrow, And by the way, if you need a mouth piece for your Clavietta I can mail you one, I have extra.
Melodica-MeMarch 24, 2016 at 12:57 pm #6958
Thank YOU, Melodica-Me! Wow, how do you have extra mouthpieces for a vintage instrument such as a clavietta?
Looking forward to your help.March 25, 2016 at 5:37 am #6961
Hello Maria, in transit the hard washers may have cracked, they are old and brittal but there are repairs than can be done. I would open the Melodica and check a few things. First remove the (4) screws on the chrome air chamber. First check to see if the hard washers have cracked and have failed. If so the can be replaced with rubber washers. You can find these at your hardware store. 1/16″ thick 7/16 OD with a 1/8″ center hole. Second remove one of the end capes by removing the (2) screws. Once the cap is removed you can take the metal housing off. You do not need to take them both off if you don’t want too. Next see if there the reeds are stuck by picking at the end with a tooth pick and see of it is sticking. If it is, it will not sound. Also if the keys of the notes are lower than the ones that function ok this will tell you that the hard washer is probably broken as well. As for the mout piece, go on Facebook and send me a message at the Monsters of Melodica page with your address and I will send you the mouth piec. The ones I have are old. And used but they work. After you check the Clavietta let me know what you find, maybe take a few pictures, it will help diagnost the problem.
Melodica-MeMarch 25, 2016 at 4:22 pm #6964Daren BanarsëKeymaster
Great advice from MM! Also, perhaps consider returning the Clavietta, and looking for one that has no problems with it, or dead ants etc. Could save you a lot of work!
I always check with a seller that all the notes work, and ask them whether they can blow through the melodica without pressing any keys (for airtightness).August 10, 2017 at 3:46 am #9141
I need some advice. I have a Clavietta but 2 keys no longer produce sound and it seems rather leaky. I opened it up and checked it out. There is practically no gasket material left around the air chamber. One key seemed to have a felt pad that was deteriorating. I rearranged the felt pieces a bit and tightened screws. Rubber gaskets seemed intact and not deteriorated. I tweaked the reeds but they all seemed intact and not stuck. When I closed the Clavietta up again, one key had begun to work but the one next to it now didn’t while the other original key was still unresponsive. I’m wondering if it is possible that I just need a new gasket seal and if so, what material you would recommend? I also am wondering whether anyone has replaced the felt pads and if so with what material? Hopefully someone has some expertise in this area. I would appreciate it very much.August 10, 2017 at 4:14 am #9142
Hi Pam, the gasket needs to make a good seal or the volumes will be very low. You can use leather lace available on eBay or a craft store like Michael’s. Once you install the lace you need to coat it with a thin film of silicone if not it can create light mold. As for the grey felt, I make and sell the replacement felt pieces as well as silicone washer replacements, if they are cracked you should replace them or at least the ones cracked. If you are interested send me a message on the Monsters of melodica Facebook page and I can give more info.
Melodica-meAugust 10, 2017 at 1:17 pm #9143
Thanks so much Melodica-Me! I will definitely send you a message on Facebook page! You’re the best!
PamAugust 10, 2017 at 8:06 pm #9144Alan BrintonParticipant
Melodica-Me’s silicone washers are very good, better I’m sure than the originals or other replacements.
I thought I was the best.August 11, 2017 at 12:18 am #9145
I think I should just replace all the washers. Will have to eat my Wheaties to tackle that though! And Alan, you’re double the best! LOL!September 2, 2017 at 8:40 pm #9212
Wanted to report that I replaced all my washers, a few felt pads and the gasket with MelodicaMe’s great materials. What a lovely difference it makes! Now all keys are functioning well (I did have to blow hard on one and unstick the reed). Another question for the group. I know the older instruments take more air than the newer instruments and in fact the Claviettas are quite “breathy”. I can sustain a note for around 15 to 20 seconds now that mine is sealed better with the new gasket but wondering if that’s about normal for an instrument with so many individual reeds and old wax sealing the reed plates. I did see where someone had posted that they had used this rope caulk beading to seal as a gasket material and then gotten a sustained note for 35 sec. I am just wondering if that’s the difference between an experienced player with better lung capacity than I have versus my instrument still being a bit on the leaky side. I can hear an air leak when blowing into the instrument unlike the newer instruments when no keys are depressed but can’t really locate where the air leaks from exactly so figure it is either still some gasket leak, leak around the reed plates themselves or just an old instrument that naturally takes a lot of air even when tight due to the configuration of individual reed plates sealed with wax (which of course has now deteriorated over time). Thanks for any words of advice you guys might have. I am continuing to slowly tighten the screws on the air gasket metal to create a tight seal but would think it would not take a lot of pressure since the lacing I got from MelodicaMe appears quite sturdy and level. Has anyone used the caulking rope or silicon caulking as a primary gasket material?September 4, 2017 at 5:01 pm #9246Alan BrintonParticipant
Some vintage instruments take no more air than current models, Pam, but some take a lot more, even if they’re not leaky. I have a Hohner Professional 36 that is tight, but that instrument simply takes more air than my lungs are good for. My tightest Clavietta is still leaky. I haven’t gotten around to trying the caulk beading on it but have used that for some other applications. It’s pretty easy to apply. I have tried using silicon caulking (gasket builder, actually) but without success.
I’m off for a few days in a bit and probably will not be on line.September 5, 2017 at 5:20 am #9247
Hi Pam, this is typical of the Clavietta, it is an inherent issue that they all have. If you are getting 15-20 seconds of sound you are doing actually pretty darn good. If you believe you are getting leaks from the gasket, first try this. Mix some dish soap and water and with an eye dropper place a little around the air chamber and blow with out depressing any of the keys and see if you get any bubbles. If you do not and you want to see if any air is leaking from your reeds due the same. place the soapy water around the reed plate and not on the reed. Do a few reeds at a time, this way you can concentrate the soapy water in a specific area. Repeat until all have been tested. If you get bubbles in the air chamber try adding a little silicone on the gasket in that area,let dry 24-48 hours before you reinstall your chamber. If you are getting an air leak around the reed plate, mark with a grease pencil. Order some accordion wax, you can find on Ebay. Note: (Not regular bees wax). Cut a small piece on place on a spoon heat on stove (use mitten as the spoon will get hot. let it melt and carefully pour at designated area you have marked let dry and it should do the job.
Hope this Helps
Melodica-MeSeptember 5, 2017 at 3:23 pm #9248
Thanks so much Melodica-Me and Alan! This helps a lot. I was thinking 35 seconds of air was perhaps the norm but if 15 to 20 is pretty good then I think I will check for air leaks as you suggested with the soapy water test and eye dropper. If tight, then just have to develop my lung capacity and love my old instrument! Thanks again!
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