yamaha – Alex's Piano Service

Yamaha GH3 Substitutions

I recently had a client request I replace the stock GH3 action in her Yamaha CVP-305 with a Yamaha Natural Wood action, and I had an opportunity to do some experimenting.

The Yamaha GH3 keyboard action can be replaced with the NW-GH3 action, the GH3X action, or the NWX action. All four of the actions below seem to be interchangeable, with the features as listed:

Plastic Wood
No Escapement GH3 NW-GH3
Escapement GH3X NWX

Her favorite action was the NW-GH3. Although there’s some subjectivity, we mutually agreed that the natural wood actions were lighter than the plastic equivalents (which is a bit counter-intuitive initially), and that the escapement added perceived weight.

In other words, we found that the NW-GH3 action was the lightest action, perceptibly, and the GH3X was the heaviest.

Yamaha P105 with No Sound

I recently had a customer report their P105 was producing no sound, although occasionally, it emitted a scratchy noise. Attached to this post is a picture of the burned out chip I found inside the unit. The solution was a replacement DM board (Yamaha #ZJ2570000).

Yamaha Disklavier FAQs

My Yamaha Disklavier just makes a ‘Pop’ when I press the power button and doesn’t light up. Can you fix it?

Yes! This is a common problem with older Disklaviers, and usually indicates that the power supply has failed. I can box it up and send it to Tap Electronics, who can then rebuild it. At present (1/17/23), this is a flat-rate service provided by Tap for $700. Tap Electronics is authorized by Yamaha.

My Yamaha Disklavier runs for a few seconds (or even a few minutes), but then turns off. Can you fix it?

Yes! You might have a power supply that’s dying (in which case, see the answer to the last question). However, you might simply have a damaged power button. You can test this by wiggling the power button side-to-side with your finger. When they wear out, sometimes even just the vibrations of the piano can cause them to switch on and off. These buttons aren’t terribly difficult to replace; however, they’re discontinued.

Their (discontinued) Yamaha Part number is VN388300. The switch itself is a (discontinued) ALPS SPPH23. You can see a spec sheet for the ALPS SPPH230500 here. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an exact duplicate, and would love to know if you have. I purchase bulk generic locking switches from Amazon and use sandpaper to shape them to size.

Can you set up my wireless connection / fix my terrible connection?

Yes! I wrote a definitive guide on connecting the Disklavier wirelessly. I don’t generally recommend using the native wireless adapters that come with your device, which are clumsy and confusing. I use PowerLine adapters, which allow you to broadcast your network signal right through the power lines in your house! This technology means neither you nor your piano ever have to adjust and reconfigure anything. No keeping track of passwords, no weak signals, and no need to call a technician every time you buy a new router. Just plug in your piano and marvel at its spontaneous, excellent internet connection.

This works in most homes, although in particularly large houses or houses with old wiring the PowerLine adapters might have trouble. In that case, the best device to use is a WiFi extender mounted underneath the piano.

Can you replace or upgrade old floppy drives?

Replacement is sometimes an option, and upgrading always is. Most manufacturers have stopped producing replacement drives, but they can often still be purchased second hand. eBay is a good resource.

However, I recommend upgrading to a USB floppy disk emulator. The Bulgarian company Nalbantov Electronics manufactures USB floppy disk emulators specifically for older digital pianos and players. These systems allow you to use a single USB stick in place of dozens (if not hundreds) of floppy disks. As solid-state devices these are considerably more durable and long-lasting than old-fashioned floppy drives.

With some generations of Disklavier (most notably some MX100II uprights), the floppy disk drives are mounted behind a shaped plastic piece. In these cases, you’ll need to cut away the old plastic facing (a pair of flush-cut nippers is helpful here), install the new drive, and put some kind of buffer around it. I’ve experimented with a few different choices for something functional and attractive. Purchasing neoprene strips is a cheap solution.

I have a 3D model in STL format of a floppy bezel that’s sized to fit around a Nalbantov. You can 3D print this yourself, or I can mail you one. I adhere it to the replacement Nalbantov with a little bit of hot glue, and then slide the whole assembly in.

You can read more about this on my Nalbantov Floppy Disk Drive Upgrades page.

Connecting Yamaha Disklaviers to a Network

If you have a previous generation of Disklavier and haven’t updated its firmware since October of 2020, it is absolutely necessary to update it before attempting to connect to the internet. Your Disklavier will tell you it isn’t connected to the internet no matter what you do until the firmware is updated.

I have more information on updating the firmware on the Disklavier E3 (DKC-800 / DKC-850). I can also help with updating the firmware on the Disklavier Mark IV, and can even provide you with the media if that’s helpful.

You can link directly to this page with https://setupdisklavier.com.

Yamaha Disklaviers are an innovative fusion of digital and acoustic engineering. They allow you to experience famous, concert pianists performing right in your living room, on your piano. They’re an excellent tool for both entertainment and for learning. And of course, they’re just fun to watch. Take a look at this beautiful 2009 Yamaha GC1 Disklavier playing Billy Joel’s Piano Man that I recorded last summer.

They do have one drawback: Connecting them to Wi-Fi networks can be confusing and difficult. Is your Disklavier acting as an access point, or is it connecting to your Wi-Fi? Is it doing both? Can you tell from the instructions what you’re expected to do? Do you even have all the parts you need?

I’m sharing an incredibly elegant, simple way to hook up Yamaha Disklaviers. You don’t have to worry about reconnecting it if you change your Wi-Fi password or buy a new router. You can set it up quickly, and it works in most houses.

First, your supplies:

A little redundant labeling makes all the difference. And Small-Caps adds some style.

1. NexusLink PowerLine Ethernet Adapters These devices allow you to network through the electrical lines in a house. Your piano will believe it has a physical connection, and you won’t need to do any further configuration!

These devices are effortless to use once they’re paired: All you have to do to keep your piano connected is plug them in! They’re also encrypted and safe.

Before I go to a customer’s house, I label one of them with “Piano,” printed in 18pt text on a piece of plain white paper and covered with tape. It’s much less likely to get unplugged this way!

Remember that you need two!

I took it apart so that you don’t have to!

2. GE Designer 3-Outlet Surge Protector (pair) This is an 8-foot extension cord with a three port power strip on the end. It calls itself a surge protector, but doesn’t do any regulation or conditioning which might interfere with the NexusLink signal.

I did a tear-down of the device to make sure there were no surprises: Surge protection is achieved through a metal oxide varistor, and there is no voltage regulation beyond that.

3. Black CAT6 Ethernet Cables (1 foot and 3 feet) With piano work, subtlety is a must. Anywhere black or concealed equipment can be used, I use it. One foot has always been enough for me. More cord just means more to hide.

4. Scotch Interlocking Fasteners These are strong, interlocking fasteners that aren’t vulnerable to vibration, and are strong enough to hold up the end of the extension cord.

And now, we get started…

A basic diagram of the installation.

1. Prepare and Pair NexusLink Adapters Beforehand

Remove the two NexusLink Adapters from their box and plug them both into the outlets where you intend for them to go. One will be next to the router and, and the other will be plugged into the extension cord you intend to put underneath the piano. No Ethernet connections are necessary at this time.

If the green connection lights on your NexusLinks turn on (the top light on each adapter), that means they’ve found one another, and are now communicating through your household power. Great!

Now you can secure their connection to each other. On the bottom of each unit (near the Ethernet jack) there’s a small configuration button. Hold it down for three seconds, and the bottom of the three lights—labeled with a padlock—will begin to blink. Now press the same button on the other NexusLink for three seconds. After a short period of time, the padlock lights will turn solid. Then, some seconds later, the connection lights should turn solid as well.

These two NexusLinks are now a permanently bonded pair. No matter where you put them, they’ll find one another. In fact, they’re so tightly paired that they’ll even ignore other NexusLinks.

2. Run the extension cord up underneath the piano

A NexusLink plugged into a power strip, with a ghastly yellow Ethernet plugged into it.

With the Disklavier turned off, unplug the Disklavier.

Pick a good spot to mount the power strip underneath the piano. This is usually parallel to the floor on the side of one of the wooden beams adjacent to the Disklavier controller. (Also, make certain if there is a Dampp-Chaser installed, make sure the NexusLink isn’t near the humidistat, where the small amount of heat it produces might cause less accurate readings.)

Wipe the area down with alcohol. Take two pieces of your Scotch Interlocking Fastener and, after removing the backing, affix both to the back of the power strip. Mount the power strip to the beam.

If possible, try to route the power cord over a beam. This will keep it a more secure in the event it gets pulled on. You can even loop it around the beam once if you have enough cord.

3. Plug everything in

Plug your other NexusLink PowerLine Ethernet Adapter into the bottom port of the three of your power strip. Run a short length of Ethernet cord to your Disklavier controller. If possible, loop the Ethernet cord up over the beam to apply a bit of tension. Pianos produce plenty of shaking and vibration, so keep things as secure as possible. Use no more cable than you need.

Now plug the Disklavier power into the power strip (and the Dampp-Chaser as well if one is installed). This extension cord is comfortably rated for the power consumption of all three devices.

At this time, both the green connection lights should be on, and both the padlock lights, meaning the NexusLink Adapters have discovered one another. If this isn’t the case, skip to the troubleshooting below.

Use zip-ties, twist ties, and other appropriate cable management to bundle everything up and out of sight. Stick-on conduit can be used to run cords along the beams if precise positioning is needed, such as if the piano is positioned next to a low couch or somewhere else people might easily see underneath. I’ll actually sit in various chairs in the room and look at the piano.

You’re all done! If it doesn’t work immediately, read on.

No connection! What went wrong?

First: It’s probably a power strip or Universal Power Supply (UPS)

Do not plug either PowerLine adapter into a power strip or surge protector if you can avoid it. These often filter out the signal. Only simple power strips (like the GE one I recommend) will not block the signal. When in doubt, plug directly into the wall. And don’t forget to check the adapter that’s near your router. This also needs to be plugged directly into the wall.

Second: It might be the outlet

If the outlet isn’t receiving power, it won’t work. Make sure that the outlet can power other devices, and that it isn’t controlled by a switch.

Third: It might be the breaker boxes

If the house has multiple breaker boxes, then the devices might not be able to see each other. In this case, try different outlets. You can try changing outlets both near the piano and near the router.

If none of the available outlets work, you’ll need to try a different approach. This article is specifically on the PowerLine adapter technique, but you’ll need to consider using a Wi-Fi bridge, since the PowerLine adapters won’t work for you.