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ChromaTalk Archives: May 2001

chroma cleaning

Rob Vandivier [21030396]

Hey there
I live in Orlando FL and Im trying to resurrect my favorite keyboard. Does anybody have any info that I could use? The case rot has pretty much wrecked the finish and Im trying to figure out what to use to clean it off (baby oil??). It has no audio but the 'puter still seems to be functioning as I remember it. any help from any where would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks

Murray Macdonald [21030276+]

Hi Rob,

You might be getting no sounds because the patch memories are empty due to dead batteries. I would replace the batteries and try to reload the factory sounds (or some other sounds) from a cassette.

Good Luck,

--Murray Macdonald.

Rob Vandivier [21030396]

Re: chroma cleaning (thanks)

I dont think thats it because Ive tried to initialize a patch and theres still nothing. Thanks for responding.

Paul Hackett-Evans [21010094]

Hi Rob,
I'm restoring my beloved Chroma right now. I'm writing a piece for the site about how to do the bits I know about. Cabinetwork is part of it. I'll put something quick together for you in the next few days. look out for it!

Don't do anything until I mail you!!!


Rob Vandivier [21030396]

Hey Paul,
Thanks for responding, restoring is the word of the month i say. looking forward to hearing more. I've heard that Goo Gone can remove foam rot. Any opinion before I start the experiment?

Paul Hackett-Evans [21010094]

Cleaning 2

Hi Rob,

Goo Gone isn't a product which is available in the UK where I live, so I can't comment on it, I'm sorry I can't help you there.

I used mineral spirits on mine, which got the rot off nicely. Trouble was, after 5 years in the flightcase, the rot had ruined the varnish so I've had to totally disassemble the Chroma, strip the wood bare and start refinishing it from scratch.

I think the deteriorating foam reacts chemically with the varnish and if the rot gets a grip, there's nothing else for it but a strip-down and refinish.

Cigarrette lighter fluid (petrol) also is very effective in dissolving the hardened rot, but it can also attack the varnish below. I think that's true of most solvents - if you find one strong enough to take out the rotten foam, it's gonna eat the varnish too. Mineral spirits was the only thing I found which didn't. If yours isn't too deeply infected by the rot, I'd suggest you go carefully with a little spirits or lighter fluid on a rag wrapped round your fingertip. Rub it gently for a while to get the rot off and then see what the varnish is like underneath. Then you'll have to decide what to do.

Tell me if you do have to strip it down I'll give you some do's and don'ts and "wish I'd known that before I started"s

I hope this helps.

Check out the attached pictures of where mine was at.

Top Rot

Full Length Rot

Stripped Down Base

"Top Rot" And "Full Length Rot" are my Chroma as she was when I rescued her from oblivion in December. You can probably see that all of the varnished surfaces were deeply encrusted with rot, and the general condition cosmetically was awful. "Stripped Down Base" is how she looked two months ago, after I'd removed the cabinetwork to be restored and the electronics to be serviced.. Since then, I've been restoring the finish of the keys and stripping, filling and restoring the woodwork. The revarnishing is going really well right now, I've found I need a LOT of care and patience to get it really looking good, but I love my Chroma and it'll be worth the effort.. You'll see more on the site when I can get down to writing about it.

My power supply is on its way back to me and I hope to get my Chroma working, looking beautiful and singing sweetly in the next couple of months. I'll write more very soon about the cabinetwork for you. Thanks Paul

Chroma List and Nobodys

David Clarke [21030085++]


I was familiar with Ken Ypparila's [21030229] name from the conversations regarding the Syntech/Chroma Cult midi interface.

The other day I just happened to be flipping through some LPs and came across a reference to a Ken Ypparila as a keyboardist (and guitar & violin player) for the group "The Nobodys." Lo and behold, they are one and the same Ken Ypparila.

(The Nobodys are best known - at least best known by me - for the song "No Guarantees", which received quite heavy video rotation here in Canada back in the early/mid 80's and appears to be on the Miami Vice Soundtrack.)

Just some trivia for today...


Update on my restoration project

Paul Hackett-Evans [21010094]

Hi everyone,

Don's experience at refinishing must have been much easier than mine. I had problems with -

  • Rot stains IN the wood,
  • Dings and gouges from careless roadies
  • Crushed corner on one end-cheek, dumb roadies again
  • Veneered, not solid wood (later production models?)
  • Different colours of wood in the same panels due to poorly-matched logs in the veneer.

Oh dear! It's a nightmare turning that mess back into part of a lovely instrument, but I'm managing it. I hope that Ron's Chroma isn't as bad!

I'm working on a lengthy piece for the website on lessons I've learned in restoring my Chroma. I hope it will only be a few weeks at most before I can post it to Chris.

In the meantime, some great news. I received my Chroma's power supply back from the engineer, Roy Paynter today. Wow! This guy's really good!

As you'll see in more photos in my article, a bodged repair job while the Croma was out of my hands had left the power supply looking rather sorry and with burned-out areas from the catastrophic power surge when it finally did let go and die. Although it has taken nearly 5 months to get hold of some of the more specialised or rare parts, Roy has done a super job, well worth the wait. What I got back today looks like a new power supply with soldering and finely detailed work better than you see in most new electronics. Lovely job, thank you Roy.

If anyone needs their Chroma repairing, I'd wholeheartedly recommend Roy. He's absolutely top-notch.

Only thing is, now I've got to find the time to rebuild the Chroma and test the rest of it!I'll take care and get it right, this has been a labour of love so far and I'll stick to my guns in terms of aiming for the perfect restoration.

I'll keep you posted.

Paul completed his restoration in 2003: see It's All Done!!! (October 2003).

Jerry Leonard [21030100++]

New end pieces can be easily made from any wood of your choosing. If the originals are damaged, it might be easier to cut two new pieces. The good part is that you could choose any kind of wood/grain you wished. All you'd need is a band saw or radial arm saw to cut the new pieces. Just a thought and an alternative.

Rob Vandivier [21030396]

Ive got Bob from Bobs Synth Shop (found on your site) with the Chroma in his posession at this moment I will let you know what he can do as soon as I find out

I can't recall if this is the same as the Synth Repair Shop listing on the Service & Parts page; but efforts to reach Bob Benchic were unsuccessful. [January 2004]

Rob Vandivier [21030396]

his 1st chroma (BTW()

Paul Hackett-Evans [21010094]

New end pieces can be easily made from any wood of your choosing. If the originals are damaged, it might be easier to cut two new pieces. The good part is that you could choose any kind of wood/grain you wished. All you'd need is a band saw or radial arm saw to cut the new pieces. Just a thought and an alternative.

Thanks JL,
I did consider making new ones, and I still haven't ruled the possibility out. But I wanted to restore my Chroma as much as possible using the original parts, so I went down the route of working onthe original wood. It's very difficult but I'm making good progress. If the end result isn't to my liking, then yes, maybe I will get new ones made. I just think there's a romance about restoring the originals if I can.

Making extra work for myself, I know, but, hey, it's fun!.

By the way, check out the article in the current issue of the UK "Sound On Sound" magazine on guys who love old analogue synths -we can all totally identify with it!


Dave Bradley [16330135]

I don't know about the romance, but my original Chroma has solid cherry one piece endpieces, and my late model Expander has strip veneered particle board. The Expander sides will be pitched forthwith and replaced with solid matched cherry just as soon as I finish building my modular. Oh no, what am I saying! That damn modular thing will never be done, it just keeps growing!

New Syntech/Chroma Cult Kits Available

Chris Ryan [21030691]

The Syntech/Chroma Cult retrofit is available again. This is the best MIDI kit for the Chroma, and many of the commercial editor/librarian programs require it.

From: Ken Yparilla
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:49:24 EDT
Subject: Chroma MIDI interfaces

I'm sending this to everyone who has inquired about Chroma MIDI interfaces over the past several months. Sorry it took so long but I finally have assembled and tested 60 interfaces. I was able to reduce the price to $200 (from the original $300). In addition to the $200 there will be a shipping fee of $10 for ground shipments inside the U.S., $25 for Federal Express next day within the U.S., $20 for Air Mail outside the U.S. and $50 for Federal Express next day outside the U.S. The most convenient payment method would be for everyone to prepay the order with a certified check or money order. If paying from outside the U.S. you must send a certified check payable from a U.S. bank. If you want to send a personal check from inside the U.S. then please allow time for the check to clear. I will do COD but would prefer not to. Make all checks out to KMX and mail to: KMX, 4378 Avenida Prado, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. Thanks again to everyone for their patience and please pass this message around in case I missed someone.
Ken Ypparila [21030229]

See MIDI Retrofits: Syntech/Chroma Cult/KMX for current contact and pricinig information.