The Hohner Pianet T is a lesser-known electromechanical piano that was made in the late 1970s. It is completely passive without even a volume control, with little Wurlitzer-like reeds and the tiniest pickups I have ever seen. The sound is like a cross between a Rhodes and a Wurlitzer. The amazing thing about it is how small it is. It probably weighs around 30 pounds. If I was gong to give all the electromechanical pianos I have known (Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Clavinet, this one) each a score that was the ratio of how good it sounds to how much it weighs, this one would get the highest score. Why even bother with a 140-pound Rhodes when this little thing sounds almost as good?
There isn’t a lot of information about this instrument online. The mechanism is very unusual. The arm of each key has a sticky plastic pad on it that, when the key is at rest, sticks to the reed just via its adhesive. When you press the key and the back of the key comes up, the pad simply pops off the reed, causing the reed to vibrate and sound. With no-longer-sticky pads as this one had, it basically just doesn’t make sound. It needed a full set of new sticky pads. Before putting the new pads on, all of the very-rusty reeds had to be sanded and cleaned so that they would vibrate properly, and after sanding, they had to be retuned which is done by filing the little solder blocks that are attached to them, much like on a Wurlitzer. There was one dead reed that had to be replaced.
Since there’s so little info on these I’m going to go a bit more in-depth than usual on what we figured out/learned “the hard way” while working on this.
Don’t try to unscrew the reed screws unless you are replacing a reed! That is not how you tune or voice this instrument and the screw will almost definitely break. The machine screws for this are M3 x 10 that you can get at any hardware store, but you need to use a special spacer. Sticky pads were sourced from Clavinet.com, replacement reed from Vintage Vibe; the reed we bought came with the spacer, but if you need the spacer, Aaron at Clavinet.com has them too. Neither of these places had both of the things we needed, and no other place on the internet seemed to have any Pianet parts at all.
The keyboard design is similar to a Pratt-Reed with the same kind of keystops, brackets and bushings, but the keys are not on the same kind of springs and you can’t remove the plastic key tops (the white or black parts). We had slow keys to deal with because of bad bushings. To remove a key, you have to push the translucent plastic bracket that holds the back of the key arm DOWN until the key pops out. It doesn’t seem like it will work but it does. Then you can replace the bushings with Pratt-Reed type bushings. Sand a little of the sides of each bushing and lubricate them with something like Dow Corning 7 before you slide them onto the keystop.
Work done: sanded rust off and re-tuned all reeds, replaced sticky pads, straightened key shafts as needed. Replaced one bad reed and bad hardware on one other. Replaced some bad key bushings. Lined up pickups across the board to normalize volume and tone.