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Second Touch Keyboards?

Building organ consoles for use with Hauptwerk, adding MIDI to existing consoles, obtaining parts, ...
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damuehlbauer

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Second Touch Keyboards?

PostWed Jun 24, 2020 12:38 pm

Wondering if anyone in the Theatre Organ world has a recommendation for a Second Touch keyboard. Rather than trying to repurpose something from an old console, what are the best current options for new keyboards. The velocity-based second touch that Hauptwerk supports is only marginally useful.

Thanks!
David Muehlbauer
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magnaton

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Re: Second Touch Keyboards?

PostWed Jun 24, 2020 11:52 pm

That is a great question! The only "new" 2nd touch keyboards that are being produced are found on the larger Allen theatre organ models (which they build themselves) or Walker theatre organs which are basically custom instruments. I don't know the source of the Walker keyboards and I doubt they would tell you. I wouldn't be surprised if they built their own mod for a standard organ keybed.

The older Rodgers 340 analog theatre organs had a true 2nd touch Accompaniment manual. However these are still in high demand since they are a quality built console, have wood core keys, and the wiring design lends itself for an uncomplicated MIDI project. Not sure if the smaller Rodgers TOs had 2nd touch or not.

Sorry, I probably commented on things you already know. :|

Danny B.
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ldeutsch

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Re: Second Touch Keyboards?

PostThu Jun 25, 2020 11:44 am

I also do not know of any source of new second touch keyboards - although I am sure they can be custom ordered from most high-end keyboard manufacturers. The Allen keyboards are indeed very nice but I do not know if they will sell them direct to a user.

I used some Peterson contacts and reproduction Wurlitzer second touch springs on my own instrument. You can see how I did it here:

http://www.nightbloomingjazzmen.com/Theater_Organ_Project.html

Les
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Andrew Grahame

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Re: Second Touch Keyboards?

PostThu Jun 25, 2020 2:13 pm

I have just installed a second touch keyboard on my Hauptwerk console, replacing a Behringer unit. This wraps up a protracted venture which began nearly 2 years ago.

My plan first began when I found an item listed in the online catalogue of a company in the US specialising in constructing new Hauptwerk consoles. I won't name that company here, but if anyone wants to send me a PM I'll provide more information privately. The firm in question has a good reputation and I know of customers who are quite pleased with the work they do. I also know of others whose dealings with this firm have not been entirely positive. In the end everything worked out satisfactorily, though not as originally intended.

I ordered and paid for one of their advertised second touch keyboards, then waited for a considerable time. I also purchased other items from their catalogue for my console. The other items arrived promptly but the second touch keyboard didn't turn up. Significant delays followed, along with a series of emails over a considerable period of time. Various explanations were offered, but still there was no keyboard.

After a lengthy period of email contact it was eventually established that the product could not be delivered. Initially I sought a refund, but later settled for delivery of other products from the same supplier whose value equalled the amount already paid for the second touch keyboard. My relationship with the firm in question was cordial and positive throughout, and I am happy with the outcome even though it did not result in the delivery of a second touch keyboard.

Late last year I learned - via the Hauptwerk forum - of a Rodgers second touch keyboard for sale privately. I purchased it, had it shipped from the US to Australia, then sent it on to an organ technician in this country who stripped out the original key contacts and installed Hall Effect sensor contacts. This technician also constructed a new MIDI encoder for the control not only of this newly refurbished keyboard but of my entire Hauptwerk console.

Right now I am in the final stages of installation and expect to complete this work within the coming week. The keyboard itself has come up well with the modifications and in testing it has performed well. I look forward to getting the console back together so that I can actually sit down and play.

In the end I believe I have been fortunate. The new keyboard happened to fit into position within my existing console keyboard stack as if it had been designed to go there in the first place.

I wish you well in your endeavours, and yes I agree that it would be good if MIDIfied second touch keyboards were more readily available for Hauptwerk users.

Andrew
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engrssc

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Re: Second Touch Keyboards?

PostThu Jun 25, 2020 4:06 pm

Were the 2T springs left in place? My Rodgers 340 has original 2T contacts on the accomp manual that have considerable resistance to overcome making it harder to play esp with arthritis. Haven't found a reasonable method to lighten up those springs short of some kind of rebuild.

Rgds,
Ed
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mdyde

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Re: Second Touch Keyboards?

PostFri Jun 26, 2020 3:34 am

damuehlbauer wrote:The velocity-based second touch that Hauptwerk supports is only marginally useful.


In case it's useful (which it probably isn't!), Hauptwerk also has native support for triggering virtual second-touch from MIDI polyphonic aftertouch keyboards. They aren't quite the same as real 2nd touch, but closer than using velocity for the purpose. The main problem is that there are very few MIDI keyboards that actually support polyphonic aftertouch ('key aftertouch') -- most just support 'channel aftertouch', which isn't as good.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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Andrew Grahame

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Re: Second Touch Keyboards?

PostSat Jun 27, 2020 5:49 am

Hi Ed,

Yes, the original flat brass springs are still in place. I've been told that there is a way to lighten the touch, but it involves a bit of work.

If your second-touch springs work like mine, the flat brass springs have a strip of steel attached to each. At rest, the steel strip is drawn towards a long felted magnetic strip which runs the length of the keyboard. A screw let into a hole drilled into the underside of the key body strikes the spring to create first touch (with a separate set of coil springs on the key tails providing the tension on 1st touch. Pressing the key harder causes the screw to push down onto the flat brass spring. At first the flat brass spring flexes slightly - generating top resistance and gently lifting one end of the steel plate off the magnet. As the key is pressed further the point is reached where the magnetic grip is overcome. The free end of the spring lifts off the felted magnetic strip and allows the key to fall further into the second touch depth. A long felted non-magnetic metal bar running across underneath the keys halts the travel of the flat spring. Releasing the key allows both the flat spring and the 1st touch coil spring to send the key back to the off position.

The top resistance of second touch is provided by the magnet. To lighten the second touch top resistance it's necessary to weaken the magnetic force. This is apparently possible if a thin spacer, such as another layer of felt, is added between the magnetic bar and the steel plates attached to the flat brass springs. This holds the steel plate further away from the magnetic bar, thus reducing the magnetic force slightly, thus requiring less pressure on the key to break the magnetic grip.

I haven't tried this on my keyboard, so this is as yet unproven. Yesterday I looked closely at the assembly, and even unscrewed one of the flat brass springs, and this allowed me to see exactly what needed to be done and how. Ideally if I was to do this to my keyboard it would have been good to do it right then and there, before reassembling the console. However this would have significantly delayed the reassembly process and I'm running out of time for this stage of the project. I decided therefore not to attempt any lightening of second touch just yet. I'll use it as it stands, and give myself time to get a feel for it, before embarking on any further changes.

I hope this advice is of use to you. It doesn't look like a difficult task in itself, but it would certainly be time consuming and fiddly to do - and of course you'd need to take your console apart first in order to gain access, unless you can remove a board from underneath the lowest manual and operate from below.

Also, bear in mind that my comments are based upon the current structure of my keyboard, in which the original key contact assemblies have been stripped off and replaced by the very compact HE sensor circuitboard. I only had a quick look at the old contacts before I sent the keyboard off to be rebuilt, and from that glance I can't recall to what extent the original contact assembly would get in the way of this work. With my setup there's no trouble whatever in gaining access, but it could be possible that the original contacts may pose a physical obstacle - I just don't know.

Andrew

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