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Conn keying rods

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    Conn keying rods

    We've discussed the issues with Conn's vinyl keying rods many times over the years. For a while, there was a source of replacement precious metal covered rods but then these disappeared from sight.

    I'm pleased to say that there is now a source of suitable replacement bussbar rods. It's in Australia, but as the rods are not going to be that heavy, international shipping should not be prohibitively expensive. The same company can also make up the Bowden cables that Conn used back then. They've recently rebuilt a 554 Trinidad for a Facebook friend of mine and he says it's working like new.

    Another service engineer friend tells me that he's had success repairing original rods with MG Chemicals Silver Adhesive Conductive Epoxy. Available from RS Components in the UK, and no doubt in other countries. It's expensive, at over £70 for a 15g syringe, but it apparently works well.

    So it seems there is hope for older Conns with keying issues on their vinyl rods.
    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

    New website now live -

    Current organ: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition
    Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
    Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.

    I had this problem with my 650 when I was restoring it. When I get a bit of time to spare, I will have another go at posting the story, I did try a couple of times some time ago, but as I was a new member at the time, I could not get the post published.

    I got over the rod problem by getting hold of some Tibia rods from a donor 628 organ, cutting the cranks off, then removing the old rods which had been badly modified with wire on the outside of the vinyl, l then, threading the modified Tibia rods into position and then soldered the various wiring to the ends of the rods. They are quite tolerant to bending, so can be threaded in while the keyboards are still in situ. You just have to be gentle with them and don't take liberties. Of course, you don't get the softer attack that you would normally expect with the vinyl rods, but a slightly different sound is preferable to no sound. I think they sound OK. I also did this on the bass generator unit.


      I bought a new conn-580 from the factory and I had just come home late at night from overtime as usual. There was the organ in the living room. My wife said how do you like it? I played it for 5 hors with no sleep and then I told her, 'I like it alot'.

      That was the richest sound I've heard. A beautiful instrument. I wore that thing out in practice time.
      I got the book with all the schematics and never had to use them.

      I distinctly remember the keying rods which I thought were very clever for 1973/4 (I think). A friend of mine told me that the way the gold was deposited on the rods was such that there was enough for 10 life-times of playing. He said when the time came where 1 or 2 were starting to ware through and causing problems, that they would 'bump' the rods a 1/16th and every single key-wire had new gold under it.

      That was long ago but I do recall that the 650 I had the rods were different but could still be 'bumped'. It may have included soldering the ends. I remember a sleeve around the rods on one model, don't remember which. As an EE I couldn't resist looking inside many times and reading the schematics.

      I held onto those books for 30 years and finally decided to dump them. What a mistake. Within 2 wks I was gritting my teeth wishing I could go to the trash heap and get them.

      I can't picture the rods today but I was wondering if this 'bumping' would help you.


      • Admin
        Admin commented
        Editing a comment
        There are two types of keying rods. Vinyl and gold. The gold keying rods are for the most part trouble free. The vinyl ones are the problematical ones.