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Thread: Hohner Favor-Combo - Tuning and silence

  1. #1
    pp Pianissimo theseacowexists's Avatar
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    Hohner Favor-Combo - Tuning and silence

    Hi there,

    I'm new to the forum because I just picked up a Hohner Favor-Combo organ that's having a few issues that need to be sorted out. I've never seen one of these organs before, and I was interested in it because of it's rarity and the fact that I have a Hohner Symphonic 30N that I love (which has an issue of its own, more on that below).

    Here's the issues:

    -All C's are silent except for a quick "click" when depressed.
    -All D#'s sound closer to C#'s.
    -Highest octave F# is faint and lower octaves are silent.
    -No vibrato on E's only.

    Here's what I found inside the organ:

    -One of the leads from the C generator board to the keys was not connected. Connecting it did not seem to make any difference. Still haven't been able to look at the underside of the board.
    -The tuning slug on the D# generator is broken. The other generators seem to have their slugs intact, except for a couple that appear to be missing the plastic part that the alignment tool slots into (fortunately those notes don't seem to have any issues).
    -The issue that the Symphonic organ has is similar to the F# issue on the Favor. In fact, it also affects F#. The Symphonic has frequency divider trim pots on the generator board that when adjusted will bring the F# back to normal functioning. The frustrating thing is that the problem is intermittent, and sometimes adjusting the frequency dividers does not work. The Favor does not appear to have any frequency divider trim pots.

    This is a video that the seller made of the Favor, which shows all of the issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-97_BtOEx0

    I also have the service manual/schematic if that helps. I didn't expect anything from them, but I e-mailed Hohner in Germany asking about it, and they immediately sent me a PDF copy!

    It is a neat little organ and I'd love to get it in working order. I haven't done much work on these before, so any help would be appreciated. I'd rather learn how to fix the problems myself, since it's impossible to find anyone around here who will even look inside old combos.

  2. #2
    p Piano Ted J's Avatar
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    Can't offer much help with the Favor but I went through a Symphonic 320 a few months ago, and it also had a divider that need adjusting a couple of times. It's been completely reliable since then but I did replace many of the electrolytics and also the rectifiers. I also was able to buy some spare xeon tubes but didn't see the need to replace any.

    These are good sounding combos, and the build quality seems to be really top notch. You might try some deoxit or contact cleaner in the pot and exercising it some after checking for any other issues on that card. The 320 uses the same generators and power supply as the 30n.

  3. #3
    pp Pianissimo theseacowexists's Avatar
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    Thanks for the idea about the deoxit on the pot. I will try it next time I have the Symphonic open and see if it helps.

    Meanwhile, the Favor is still open on the bench. The F#s seem to have corrected themselves without any help from me! Other problems are still there. I'm working on getting a new ferrite core for the D#. However, I was messing around with a wire tracer probe tone generator (this guy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1). When I hover the probe close to each board, it would pick up the notes of each oscillator and divider. The only one that did not emit any sound whatsoever was the C board. Now, the C and B notes actually share the same board, and the B works fine and is clearly picked up by the probe, so I would assume that there is power reaching the board. What would this tell me about why the C isn't working?

  4. #4
    pp Pianissimo theseacowexists's Avatar
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    So after a couple months of fiddling around inside the Favor-Combo, I have fixed all of its issues!

    -The Cs were silent because of a bad solder connection between the tuning coil and the board.
    -The tuning capacitor for the D#s was replaced with a different value that brought the pitch perfectly up to D# from C#. The rest of the broken slug was completely removed from the tuning coil.
    -The F#s started working perfect again and have not been a problem since.
    -The E board had a bad trace going to the wire that leads to the vibrato board.

    It seems that overall the organ suffered from bad soldering, since there were other solder joints that gave out while I was working on it. Whether these joints were originals or from a previous owner tinkering around, I don't know. But I do know that it will probably be the first thing I look at if I have any issues in the future.

    I agree with Ted about the build quality being "top notch" on the Hohner Symphonic organs. Mine is built like a tank! Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the Favor-Combo. The worst part is probably the tuning slugs. As I said in my first post, several of the tuning slugs were missing the plastic "cap" with slots that the alignment tool fits into. It seems that the tuning slugs actually have a plastic core, that I would assume that the slotted plastic "cap" was attached to. The ones missing the cap obviously had no way to be turned anymore. A couple of the ones that still had their caps were unresponsive to being turned, leading me to believe that they may also be becoming separated from their cores. All but four of the organ's notes were out of tune to some degree (all flat, never sharp), with seemingly no way to tune them up. The solution was to bridge a resistor across the tuning capacitor. Through trial and error, I found the value of resistor that would bring each note back into tune and hold it. For now, this seems to work just fine. I will keep my eyes open for replacement tuning slugs, although I have yet to find any that fit in these tuning coils (they seem unusually small).

    Along with the aforementioned weak solder joints, the boards are all mounted to a flimsy piece of plastic with screws that seem to have lost their hold over the years. Now that I have the major electronic issues fixed, I will work on securing the structure of the organ.

    I should have taken more detailed pictures along the way, but here's one of of the insides after everything was fixed:

    IMG_0843.jpg

    And a quick video:

    https://youtu.be/wzEj9V8x8GM

  5. #5
    p Piano Ted J's Avatar
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    Nice job restoring the Favor combo you came up with some clever solutions to those problems and it's always satisfying to get a good result.

    You should have no problems getting the symphonic 30 back up to tune after the tricks you pulled off on the Favor. I really like the sound of the 320, it has real presence and is fun to play

  6. #6
    pp Pianissimo theseacowexists's Avatar
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    I tried your suggestion of using Deoxit on the pots of the Symphonic. They were quite dirty, so hopefully this cleaning will keep everything working as it should. I sprayed all the key contacts too, and the keys actually have a much better response than they did before.

    I agree with you on how fun the Symphonic is to play - I gig and record with it every chance I get. It always makes at least one appearance on any recording project I'm involved with. In fact, it ended up being the only organ featured (along with a Pianet T) on my band's last record. I'm glad someone else out there owns and appreciates this awesome keyboard!

  7. #7
    p Piano Ted J's Avatar
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    The lowest A# on the symphonic 320 acted up again. It seems this one tone has always had the pot adjusted full counterclockwise while most of the other trim pots are roughly centered. I could see witness marks on the tracing indicating it has always ended up in this position. But the trims seem interactive to a degree, and by backing off from center two of the proceeding pots i was able to get the lowest one locking up in tune again instead of playing a 5th and it was no longer maxed out of adjustment.

  8. #8
    pp Pianissimo theseacowexists's Avatar
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    Must've been a full moon last week. I was playing my 30N last week and after a few minutes, the F#s started acting up again. I didn't have time to open it up, but I'm glad I saw your post first. I'll see if I can get that same interaction between trimpots that you've noticed, since sometimes moving the F# trimpot doesn't resolve the issue and I just end up having to wait until it just decides to cooperate again. One thing I want to check while I'm in there is the connection from the F# board to the vibrato board. There have been cases where switching the vibrato on or off has knocked the F#s back into functioning. When they're acting up and the vibrato is switched on, the vibrato does not affect those notes. All the other notes function properly with the vibrato. I'll report back once I get the chance to poke around in there...

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