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Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
#2594521 05/05/14 02:23 PM
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The other thread about donating gear made me think of this.

Do the modern digital keyboards just run a "past due" date and are no longer valid due to more fresh and current technologies? Are we going to see piles of kronos, motifs and fantoms in the garbage 30-40 years from now? Will no one have any interest in these once flagship models in the year say 2054? It seems analog instruments sustained some staying power and are valued even in a retro way. Even Fm synthesis has a niche market still.

Are we all playing throw-away boards????


-Greg
Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent
Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255
Keyboard Corner Island
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Mogut #2594523 05/05/14 02:31 PM
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We are now.


"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!
So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
CEB #2594528 05/05/14 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Are we all playing throw-away boards????


Yes


Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12
Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Toano88 #2594529 05/05/14 02:47 PM
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Yes, better is yet to come. These current tools are not like a Steinway D which doesn't get much improved upon.

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Jazz+ #2594532 05/05/14 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jazz+
a Steinway D


Speaking of.... local piano store is closing. No more Steinway.

cry


When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Jazz+ #2594533 05/05/14 02:53 PM
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Previously due to limited technology instruments were built that had their own voice and established themselves based on their uniquness.

Now after technology improved to the point that we are able to play true imitators when technology improves there will always be a better imitation................. except the actions, chasis and hardware is becoming shit because everyone seems to want light weight non substantial instruments and the providing vendors are more than happy to build cheap shit. This is another reason they are disposable.

Last edited by CEB; 05/05/14 02:56 PM.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!
So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
CEB #2594536 05/05/14 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted By: CEB
hardware is becoming shit because everyone seems to want light weight non substantial instruments and the providing vendors are more than happy to build cheap shit.


Don't candy-coat it... how do you really feel? laugh


When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Synthoid #2594538 05/05/14 03:13 PM
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Not to mention lead-free solder connections which will inevitably die.


Moe
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Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Synthoid #2594540 05/05/14 03:16 PM
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It's all good fun. I'm using and FA-06 and it is kind of nice that it only weighs 2 pounds but I don't expect it to be working as nice in 25 years as my D-50 is today.

The lead free solder is a huge issue. Seriously huge issue.

Last edited by CEB; 05/05/14 03:17 PM.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!
So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
mate stubb #2594542 05/05/14 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted By: mate_stubb
Not to mention lead-free solder connections which will inevitably die.
Ensoniq went to lead free solder around 1990 (25 years ago) since the VFX. Still running ....


57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; GEM Equinox; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini Desktop Module;
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Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
mate stubb #2594544 05/05/14 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted By: mate_stubb
Not to mention lead-free solder connections which will inevitably die.


I guess the verdict is still out on thermal cycle reliability on these lead-free solders


-Greg
Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent
Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Delaware Dave #2594545 05/05/14 03:27 PM
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So is that why Ensoniqs flooded the repair shop in the 90s and early 2000s? To this day Tarkus hates Ensoniq. I stopped by to ask him about getting VCO adjusted on my SH-101 and before I could tell what I had he asked it isn't an Ensoniq is it? LOL!

The saving grace for keyboards may be that you don't have the high heat and temperture swings that you do with guitar tube amps. My amp guy has stockpiled massive amounts of lead solder.

Last edited by CEB; 05/05/14 03:35 PM.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!
So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Delaware Dave #2594547 05/05/14 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted By: Delaware Dave
Originally Posted By: mate_stubb
Not to mention lead-free solder connections which will inevitably die.
Ensoniq went to lead free solder around 1990 (25 years ago) since the VFX. Still running ....


Congrats. You have one of the few still going.


Moe
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"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
mate stubb #2594551 05/05/14 04:07 PM
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Remember that just about all modern electronic keyboards have watch batteries for retaining the CMOS memory, and those have a life span of 5-10 years. After that they die first, which eliminates the user settings and possibly the OS for the device; then they corrode which can eat through circuit boards and/or wiring.

Changing the CMOS battery usually requires almost a complete dissection of the keyboard to get to it so many people won't bother.

That's not to mention that sometimes circuit boards just go bad, and those are usually only available for a limited time from the manufacturer.

And BTW: old keyboards such as transistor organs may not suffer from battery failure or circuit board loss but the transistors can become obsolete. I've also seen ARP Odyssys become unrepairable just because the sliders went extinct.

A good old Fender Rhodes might last forever though...

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
CEB #2594564 05/05/14 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted By: CEB
So is that why Ensoniqs flooded the repair shop in the 90s and early 2000s? To this day Tarkus hates Ensoniq. I stopped by to ask him about getting VCO adjusted on my SH-101 and before I could tell what I had he asked it isn't an Ensoniq is it? LOL!

The saving grace for keyboards may be that you don't have the high heat and temperture swings that you do with guitar tube amps. My amp guy has stockpiled massive amounts of lead solder.
My VFX was actually one of the early keyboard failures. It would start recycling in the middle of a gig and error out. I would drive it to Ensoniq (out of nearby Malvern Pa) who could find nothing wrong with it. After two or three of these incidents they sent a technician to my gig with a backup keyboard. When it finally crapped during the middle of a gig the tech took the keyboard and immediately replaced it with a backup keyboard so that I could continue the gig and he then tried troubleshooting the issue at the gig. He then took it back to Ensoniq where it would not exhibit the problem. Eventually the backup they supplied me also started exhibiting the same problem and eventually it started to happen to them in the factory. Once they identified the fix I never had another issue. I actually purchased an SD1 a couple of years later and it never had an issue either. That was back in 1991. I don't recall Ensoniq having those issues in early 2000 or even late 90's although they took a beating in the market because of it.

It's a bummer though to read about the lead-free solder having a short life span.....


57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; GEM Equinox; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini Desktop Module;
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Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Delaware Dave #2594574 05/05/14 05:23 PM
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Dead/leaking batteries.
Worn/corroded contacts.
Cheap circuit boards that absorb moisture.
Faulty jacks.
Dirty pots and faulty contact switches.

Lots to go wrong with keyboards. The more "digital" they become the harder it will be to service them in the future.

Not that software instruments are any better. You never know when an OS update or spec change in the AU/VST standard will break a software instrument. If the developer is not around to update it then you are left needing a collection of old computers that run old software.


This post edited for speling.
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
resigned #2594578 05/05/14 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jim Eshleman
A good old Fender Rhodes might last forever though...


...and that's why I have a good ol Rhodes, a Tonewheel Hammond and a Wurli, these instruments are easily repairable , and with care and maintenance, should last forever. Obviously the throw aways I play at gigs not so, but I also don't expect them to be, after a few years they will be updated with a new wizz bang board that only weighs 3 lbs and will need sandbags to place on top so they don't blow away in the wind smirk


"Ive been playing Hammond since long before anybody paid me to play one, I didn't do it to be cool, I didnt do it to make a statement......I just liked it "
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Mogut #2594581 05/05/14 06:10 PM
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My Korg 01Wfd was built in 1991 and its just now going out of service due to age and not passing the cost/benefit analysis for repair expense. I had a new disk drive installed when the original crapped out and when I Autosampled it extensively for posterity, it still delivered, even though several of the floppies had gone to Dead Format Heaven as a result of Weiss domains decay. It held together flawlessly through travel and one hell of a thunderstorm. (Praise good resin instrument cases.) It brought me to the next level in a big way. I'd marry it, but people would talk.

I look at it this way. Everything has a life expectancy, including you, your dog and your car. For the dog and the car, at least, that's not unduly bad. Same for a keyboard, which is, after all, a complex device you selectively beat on. I don't know if an FA-06, treated with the same care I gave the 01W, will last twenty years. I do know that pro-rated, I got a huge bargain for the hours of butt-kickin' pleasure that came with it. Immortalizing it as WAV files I can keep using over time is the best tribute I could give it. So its not life expectancy as much as how good the party was.


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Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
David Emm #2594582 05/05/14 06:18 PM
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I think this is why the esteemed synth-using pros in this forum insist on getting paid for their gigs. wink The money is needed for maintenance/replacement of all this gear (including computers for those who use softsynths - as computers have much shorter lifespans than hardsynths), among other things.

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 05/05/14 06:49 PM.
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Mogut #2594584 05/05/14 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted By: Greg Gallant
The other thread about donating gear made me think of this.

Do the modern digital keyboards just run a "past due" date and are no longer valid due to more fresh and current technologies? Are we going to see piles of kronos, motifs and fantoms in the garbage 30-40 years from now? Will no one have any interest in these once flagship models in the year say 2054? It seems analog instruments sustained some staying power and are valued even in a retro way. Even Fm synthesis has a niche market still.

Are we all playing throw-away boards????


Not at all.
But just look around you at the "throw away" ( made like that on purpose - but I wont go into it to avoid ruffling the feathers on a few people here grin ) - throw away Cars and Appliances , a B.S shocking state of affairs.

Brett

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Aussie_Chicago #2594586 05/05/14 06:52 PM
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IMO, today's technology is built on the platform of planned obsolescence. While it may not last a lifetime or become a family heirloom or a collectors item, there is enough power underneath the hood allowing musicians to make music right now. The only limitation is individual creativity.

H8ll, musos made a ton of music and money with those *old* synths, samplers and ROMplers before the solder connections or CMOS batteries went bad. laugh cool


PD

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Brettymike #2594587 05/05/14 06:53 PM
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My car is 16 years old (a 1997 model) and counting, now that I think about it. It has outlived all the computers I've ever had. Then again, I've been extending its life by taking it in for repairs, which seem to increase in cost with each passing year.

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Aussie_Chicago #2594630 05/05/14 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted By: Aussie_Chicago


Originally Posted By: Jim Eshleman
A good old Fender Rhodes might last forever though...


...and that's why I have a good ol Rhodes, a Tonewheel Hammond and a Wurli, these instruments are easily repairable , and with care and maintenance, should last forever. Obviously the throw aways I play at gigs not so, but I also don't expect them to be, after a few years they will be updated with a new wizz bang board that only weighs 3 lbs and will need sandbags to place on top so they don't blow away in the wind smirk


Exactly! These items can be fixed and have a sound that has become iconic. I had the gooey foam taken out of my 1974 Hammond A105 before it could do any damage. My Moog Minimoog stands a much better chance of being repaired during my lifetime than any of the workstations in a few years, or even some of the polyphonic analogs that use custom IC chips.


1975 Hammond A105/122RV, Yamaha N2 AvantGrand, Hohner D6 Clavinet, 1978 Minimoog Model D, Korg Mono/Poly, Yamaha CS-60, Arturia KeyLab mkII
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
Doc Tonewheel #2594632 05/05/14 11:31 PM
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This is a depressing thread. But it's nice to get a reality check.

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
resigned #2594637 05/05/14 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jim Eshleman
... I've also seen ARP Odysseys become unrepairable just because the sliders went extinct.

Though expensive, the sliders can still be sourced. I bought a complete set a couple of years ago. Here's a site that has them. The sliders for all models are available.

CLONK


John Cassetty

"there is no dark side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact it's all dark"
Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
jcazzy #2594646 05/06/14 12:45 AM
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I love gigging with my fairly cheap and very light-weight VR09. I beat the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of it, too...lots of palm smears, back-handed glissandos, and choppy 32nd note machine gun smacks are required for my classic rock band. These things I'd likely not do if I was playing a Mojo or Nord or higher end Hammond. I have too much respect for a classic Hammond to pull the kind of antics that are done on my throw-away VR09. After a year of dirty bar gigs and several out door shindigs, I'm quite impressed how well the thing is holding up.


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Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
jcazzy #2594649 05/06/14 12:53 AM
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The coin-type backup batteries are planned obsolescence. They only lasted about eight years in my Andromeda. Common failure that is easily fixed.

The lead-free RoHS-compliant solder used in the last ten years has done much to shorten the life of products though.

My old gear will still be running long after new gear dies. My Minimoog was made in 1971 and forty plus years later I can still get new components for it. Even my MIDI computer running circa-1993 WFW311 is still going strong.

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
mate stubb #2594654 05/06/14 01:21 AM
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Why do the major keyboard manufacturers use lead-free solder? I have had issues with my es4 and microstation where my service tech guy had to re-solder certain circuit boards, because I was having some trouble, nothing major, just some functions would intermittently not work. He told me it was because of the solder that was used.

Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
agitato #2594668 05/06/14 03:50 AM
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I will play devils advocate:

Certainly in some or many instances older products were built more solidly, but the real reason for items being almost disposable is the Purchase Cost / Repair Costs Ratio. 20 or 30 years ago a given product might cost me $3,000 dollars (whether a keyboard, tools, electronics, computer etc). Today the same product only costs $1,000 to $2,000 dollars, which when adjusted for inflation is actually much less. 20 or 30 years ago repair costs might be $35 to $50 per hour. Today repair costs are $100+ per hour. This is likely due to outsourcing of manufacturing labor to China and advances in manufacturing technology bringing down the costs of manufacturing. Where as repair costs are all at local pay scales with little benefit from manufacturing automation.

The end result is 20-30 years ago you would spend $250 to repair a $3,000 keyboard, where as today you would not spend $500 to repair a $1,000 keyboard, as this keyboard may only be worth $500. You simply throw it out. When things aren't worth repairing, there aren't people or parts to repair the products, and the repair industry dies out. In addition, I think the pace of technological advancement just seems to keep accelerating, meaning obsolescence occurs even quicker these days, but that it a whole different topic.

Since I was raised in the buy quality, maintain it and keep if for life, era, this new disposable society kind of rubs me the wrong way. But maybe it is just simply a cost / benefit type analysis.

Last edited by CaptainUnderpant; 05/06/14 04:03 AM.

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Re: Do keyboards have a "life expectancy"?
CaptainUnderpant #2594676 05/06/14 06:11 AM
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For me the disposable society started in the late 60's when I convinced my parents to get me a Farfisa Fast 4 instead of an Acetone. Heat sensitive Germanium transistors meant that in the middle of summer you had middle C and an octave above all over the keyboard. Couldn't be fixed - sold it next winter.

Once keyboards moved on from being electro-mechanical devices, B3, Rhodes etc. they became disposable technologies running software that can be replaced by better faster hardware and iterations of the software. Until better recycling options come along they are going to be landfill for many more years than their useful life. Shame that even new keyboards including the VR 09 for example don't have full midi implementation so their useful life can be extended as controllers.

I can now access free Farfisa emulations that work summer and winter and look forward to updating my laptop every 3 or 4 years and controller when something better comes along. I suspect that improvements in keybeds will occur at a faster rate than the decay rate of lead free solder.




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