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Dead key . . . due to humidity?

Postby 4dubs » 19 Jul 2016, 02:17

Just curious if anyone has ever experienced this: played an outdoor show on Friday . . . . very hot and humid conditions. By the 2nd song in the set, I realized the highest "C" was not sounding. Had to work around it for the gig. Checked it when I got home, and saw that velocity sensitive sounds like piano were triggering at a very low velocity level . . . almost inaudible, in other words. Organ patches would trigger some of the time. Figured I had a dirty key contact. As I'm not an experienced tech, I didn't want to open the machine late at night since I had to wake up at about 6am the next morning. I was playing a double that required about a 3 hour drive. I must have emptied about a half can of Deoxit into the Stage hoping that would clean out the dirty contact . . . to the point that it was dripping out of the bottom of the machine . . . haha. Still no good, but I tested it again about a half hour later, and it was working just fine. Got through the two shows the next day with no problem (also outdoor, but at a marina on the water, so much less humid). This got me thinking that perhaps the excessively humid conditions at the first gig might have been the culprit. Two days later and the key is still working fine. Anyone ever experience dead keys due to humidity? Any solutions? Maybe get a portable fan to keep it dry?
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Dead key . . . due to humidity?


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Re: Dead key . . . due to humidity?

Postby pablomastodon » 19 Jul 2016, 05:33

Wait....let me get this straight....you blindly sprayed De-Oxit into the instrument? In copious amounts? Into the cracks between the keys?

:wtf: :shock: !!!! OMG !!!! :shock: :wtf:

I will be very interested to use you as an experiment going forward. Conventional wisdom is that De-Oxit is a VERY BAD thing to put on key contacts. Here's the theory: De-Oxit is designed to leave a residue which will provide lasting protection over time against corrosion of metal conducting surfaces such as 1/4" jacks. The key contact surfaces are not metal and not subject to corrosion. What they are subject to is being infiltrated by assorted varieties of schmutz which may happen to fall between keys. Every time a note is played, air is expelled from the contact chamber. Every time a note is released, the chamber springs back into its domed shape and air is sucked back in. With clean contact surfaces there will be a chance that any linty, dusty, etc. type of infiltration will again be expelled when the note is again played. With contact surfaces which have been contaminated by De-Oxit residue, these kinds of things are likely to stick in place once there.

Your saving grace may be that very little of any of the De-Oxit actually got underneath the rubber contact strips and caused any fouling of those surfaces. If it did get into there, I am thinking that you are now on the leading edge of having continual problems with that. Potential cures to this will be either to have the interior of the instrument cleaned with an appropriate solvent, isopropyl or acetone, to remove any residue left by your spray job, or to replace the key contact PCBs entirely. Certainly I wouldn't be ordering parts right now, but I'd have that in mind if you begin to experience those problems in coming months.

Just FYI, replacing contact PCBs is not an expensive proposition with respect to parts cost. In the US, the 73-note contacts are only around $100; 76 and 88 are not very much more than that.

Forget about humidity. Not the issue. And did you really say: "...also outdoor, but at a marina on the water, so much less humid?" Waterfront marinas are not commonly known for low humidity, as I can attest from extensive personal experience. And unless that's at an inland lake somewhere, you have the added complication of salt in the air at marina gigs. During the years I played in and around Chicago drummers commonly had shiny hardware. Now in Florida most drummers who are working regularly at waterside venues have no end of sufferation with their kits from the salt.

Bless, Pablo
Last edited by pablomastodon on 19 Jul 2016, 05:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dead key . . . due to humidity?

Postby 4dubs » 21 Jul 2016, 01:52

Thanks for the tip on the De-Oxit pablomastodon. Yes, a guitar tech friend of mine told me the exact same thing regarding the resulting residue just prior to seeing your response, so I don't doubt what you're saying. But go figure . . . . truth be told, De-Oxit has (perhaps ignorantly) been my go to fix for a myriad of problems for years, particularly with vintage analog boards. Pure dumb luck on my part, I guess. Over the course of 35 years or so of playing electronic musical instruments, I've probably owned somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 instruments. Honestly don't think I've paid more than maybe $500 total in repair fees over that time, which I almost can't believe myself. De-Oxit has (I think!) bailed me out of a lot of tough situations, but again, I don't doubt what you say . . . so certainly wouldn't recommend to others under those circumstances. Like I say, I'm probably just lucky . . . but I'll live with that. Feel free to use me as the "treatment group" in any future experiments you might conduct.

With regards to the humidity, please let me clarify . . . . a touring, long time Nord-user friend of mine suggested that humidity in the air might have been the issue, which is why I posted the question in the first place. Yes, of course there will be moisture in the air at a marina. However, temperatures were lower and there was a nice, cool breeze coming off the water as compared to my previous, land-locked gig where I experienced the problem. At that first gig, conditions were downright disgusting. My touring musician friend claims to have had the same issue (with a NS2) in similar conditions and attributed it to humidity. But yes, considering how the rubber key contacts function, I'm sure your explanation is probably correct.

All I can tell you is that almost a week later, my high C is still working like a charm. I have a ton of other outdoor summer gigs, so I'll keep you posted.
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Re: Dead key . . . due to humidity?

Postby pablomastodon » 21 Jul 2016, 05:02

Hi 4dubs,

you ARE the experiment, the test case...we'll see how that works out over time...too bad we don't know how much, if any of that de-oxit actually got onto the contact surfaces themselves. But I'm definitely a big believer in using de-oxit almost everywhere else, just not on key contacts.

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Re: Dead key . . . due to humidity?

Postby 4dubs » 21 Jul 2016, 07:06

to boldly go where no man has gone before . . . haha
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