For a number of months the B2 key has been sticking on my Yamaha P250 stage piano. I wasn't sure if it was a matter of something being broken, or simply needing to be cleaned, but I went ahead and ordered a new key. I considering just ordering an entire new set of keys—this thing is almost twenty years old after all, and plastic can only take so much beating—but that urge was promptly restrained by the total cost of such an endeavor. After a few weeks of waiting and carefully avoiding unexpected drones any time that key came into play, the replacement arrived and it was time to dig into the deep dark underbelly of the near-retro behemoth.
Opening up the P250 is easy enough (as long as you have ample, sturdy space to go about flipping it over and setting it down): you simply remove six screws from the underside of the chassis and the whole top cover, along with its attached circuit boards, etc., opens up in clamshell style revealing the keyframe and other inner workings.
One thing that I had not considered, but immediately became painfully aware of, was the huge amount of dust and other nonsense that accumulated inside the body over the years. If it weren't for the mesh fabric on the speaker grills, there probably would have been a fine particulate cloud jettisoned from the speakers every time a note was played. Luckily I had plenty of spare time that evening, so I went ahead and cleaned out the whole darn thing.
After getting rid of more dusty paper towels than realistically should have been involved, it was time to get back to the main task at hand: get my B back in working order! Removing keys from the P250 action is only slightly more annoying than opening anything that comes in one of those sealed, plastic security packages. To remove a key, one must first slip a thin metal tool (I used a butter knife) between two keys and depress a flap that holds the keys in place. While the flap is depressed, the key is free to slide forward about 5mm. After sliding forward, the key has to be jimmied in some logic-defying manner that will simultaneously clear the key of its front and rear attachment point. This wouldn't be so difficult, but the movement of the key is limited at both the front and rear, and hampered by the alignment-spring attached to the hammer assembly.
Once I got the key off, I discovered even more evidence of the years gone by - caked and partially solidified lubricant on the hammer assembly, as well as dust and more grime. It was obvious at that point that this was not going to be a one-key operation. If I am going to clean one, I might as well clean them all, right? It certainly sounded like a good idea at the time. From there things got a little goofy, and eventually I was standing in front of one keyless keyboard.
Unexpectedly, all this previously neglected maintenance resulted in a keyboard that felt ten-fold better under the playing fingers. The action became so responsive that all the difficulties I previously had executing some demanding Rachmaninoffian literature disappeared into thin air! Well, not really. It felt slightly better, and Rachmaninoff is still an unconquerable nemesis.
Either way, it was an evening well spent. If anyone ever needs to know how to work on a P250 action, you know where to find me.
P.S., I realize this continues a trend of an entirely trombone-less blog. For whatever reason, the most noteworthy events of the last few weeks have been keyboard related. Do not fret, I'll be sliding plenty of trombone references in as time marches on.