Monday, 28 November 2011

It's Just Like New!

So, while a guest was playing on the Clavinova the other day, fantastically slaughtering Greensleeves like only a true novice can do.. I noticed something.. odd..

The 'D' key, to the right of middle C, seemed to be stuck down.. I watched her fingers, and she definitely wasn't holding it down.. and yet there it was.. still depressed. As she finished playing, it popped right back up, and I began to wonder how long it had being doing that.. 

I had a quick play afterwards, and concluded the key was just 'sluggish'.. sometimes it would come right back, other times it would stay down.. there wasn't any reason to it, just random chance. Of course, from that point on, if I tried to play something with 'D' in it, the key would behave fine unless anyone else entered the room. Perhaps I had a psychic key malfunction.. or perhaps this was about to get expensive..
A quick google discovered that I was not alone.. many Clavinova owners had discovered their keys were 'sticky' (not like that ! eeew).. and all of them protested they'd spilt nothing on the keys.. I'd have been doubtful, but I know I've never spilt anything on this instrument (note to all people arriving here from googling for "Yamaha Sticky Keys" yes, you can trust me more than those other blogs, because I'm umm.. just another blog.. but seriously.. no liquids near this thing!).

I had one slight hope.. the early dated search results were all complaining about the cost, but then as the dates went forward, it appears Yamaha stepped up and acknowledged there was an issue.. and started replacing them for free. 

I like free.

Free is good.

Free is especially good when the alternative is hideously expensive.

Seems if your Clavinova is from certain model ranges, was manufactured at the 'right' time, then you stand a good chance of developing "Sticky Keys". Explanations vary, but the best I read suggested the grease Yamaha chose to lubricate the pivots in the keys attacked the plastic, leading to the keys eventually failing. Nice.

Once they realised, they started replacing the entire Key Deck on affected instruments. Great! except these posts were mainly dated around 2006.. would they still want to fix mine, 5 years later?


Yamaha are awesome. With a single phone call, I got confirmation my Serial Number was in the affected range, and that I could have all the keys replaced with new. Wow. Of course, I would have preferred the response 'I'm Sorry Sir, we don't stock that model anymore we'll replace it with a CVP501', but that would also have included it being delivered by a bevy of cheerleaders, each offering a different complimentary alcoholic beverage, and demonstrating its abilities (the piano's, not the cheerleaders), before joining the rest of the squad in a mornings spring cleaning of my house. In short, that wasn't going to happen.

The bad news? 4-8 weeks for delivery of the new keys, before they can be fitted.. 

All I had to do was avoid playing 'D' for about a month and a half. Well.. Cm blues doesn't use D, except umm, during the G, Bb, and I guess it does.. amazing how you never really think about what notes are in a song until someone (or something) calls your attention to it. 

Thankfully I'm writing this now, at the end of that time, with a refreshed & renewed instrument to play on, it may all be in my head, but the new keys do 'feel' new. Might just be they aren't quite as shiny as the old keys through all the playing  yet.. or I might be losing it.. (the cheerleaders assure me I'm not, and they'll have the kitchen done soon).

So, outstanding support from a company for an instrument well out of warranty, many thanks to for their assistance, and if you too have "Sticky Keys" on your Clavinova, don't fret.. perhaps it wasn't the Bloody Mary the cheerleader spilt on it.

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