Korg 01/W sticky keys repair

This is meant to be a description of my experiences concerning the „sticky keys“ problem with the Korg 01/W. See the excellent On-Line Guide to the 01/W by Ken Westover or join the 01/W mailing list to get more information on the 01/W. Maybe you want to listen to the 01/W factory demo while reading this stuff. Recorded it with the 01/W directly plugged into the AX-44 expansion unit of my Yamaha DSP-Factory.

Update (May 15, 2007):
Emmanuel KATZ sent me his french translation Réparation du symptôme des «touches collantes» du KORG 01/w of this article with the kind offer to provide it here for download, available either as zipped MS Word document (8.2 MB) or as PDF file (1.5 MB).
Besides owning and playing synths like Korg 01/W, Korg 707, Roland U-20 and E-MU Classic Keys, Emmanuel’s profession is being a project leader in development. Visit him at OSymbian.com.

Update (May 20, 2007):
Robert Viands posted a link to his website where he describes his experiences with fixing sticky keys on the 01/W without taking it completely apart. Check this out.

Update (August 03, 2008):
My 01/W suffered from a „no sound“ problem due to leaking electrolytic capacitors on the mainboard. See this article for a description of how this could be remedied.

Got the 01/W in 1992 as the winner of the monthly Keyboards Give-Away. Since then there were many hours playing the instrument on stage and at home. About four years ago some keys moved more and more sluggishly until they finally got stuck every now and then. Recently the battery went low and I decided to get rid of the problems by fixing them myself.

Unplugged the power cable and put the 01/W on a thick cloth to prevent damage on the panel. Removed the bottom plate and looked at tons of printed circuit boards. Decided to avoid static electricity and sat down to have a coffee and meditate.

bottom-side up

The joystick panel shield. It had to be removed to get the keyboard out.


Part of the CPU board. The CPU board had to be removed to get the keyboard out. Red circle showing the battery holder. The battery is a CR2032.

part of the CPU board

The aftertouch board and a closer look on the activator strip.

aftertouch board and a closer look on the activator strip

The CPU board after being removed. Again decided to strictly avoid static electricity.

CPU board after being removed

Lots of screws lying around well assorted for later reassembly.

lots of screws

Even more screws, and again assorted.

even more srews

The keyboard after being removed without any hurts. Thought the fridge would be a nice background. Paid attention to the aftertouch strip.

keyboard after being removed

The aftertouch strip.

aftertouch strip

The remains of the 01/W, bottom-view.

remains of the 01/W

The remains of the 01/W, top-view. Nice fridge, isn’t it?

remains of the 01/W

The keyboard viewed from the left. Tried to come across the mechanism. Basically it all works without the grease. The key is hanging on a small plastic clamp on the bottom side. The action feeling is produced by the combination of a spring in the middle and a lead weight on the inner front.

keyboard viewed from the left

It took some time, still tried. I have learned that it is not just the lubricant getting sticky which then causes problems but the lubricant combined with the dust & dirt getting stuck even worse then in the mechanism. After cleaning the keyboard it slightly worked without any grease as there is nothing in it to rub inherently. The lubricant does it’s job if you deeply strike the keyboard bending the keys to the left or right.

took some time..

Meanwhile put the keyboard onto the table and removed the fixing strip.

the fixing strip

Removed a key and meditated.

removed a key

Removed some more keys and meditated.

removed some more keys

Removed all keys and suddenly knew where all the dust and dirt had gone. Ken Westover writes: „Several users highly recommend completely removing the delicate activator strip before doing any work. This takes more time, but activators are easily damaged while working on the keys.“ Didn’t believe this and thus had to pay my bill: Later, while re-fixing the keys, there were three activators bent off. Thank god, they did not break and I had a fair chance to fix it. Of course, I had to remove the activator strip for this, so why not do it right now ?

removed all keys

Cleaned the keyboard and fussily removed the sticky old grease. Spent a long time looking for the right lubricant. Took an ivory key with grease on it and went to some electronic and modelling shops to hear what they would recommend. Actually Klüberpaste, which is also used for VCR or tape-deck repairs, made it. Did not try teflon-lubricants that may be the better choice in the long run (out of stock). Prepared 10ml of Klüberpaste in a shot.

cleaned the keyboard

The freshly greased keyboard. Needed only 2ml. Reassembled my 01/W and got lucky. It’s a bit like having a new one. New battery and one of the best keyboards one can have. Don’t know how long the lubricant will do it, but yet it works great.

freshly greased keyboard

PS: Still great in 2022 ;-)

168 Responses to “Korg 01/W sticky keys repair”

  1. Joseph sagt:

    Hi, I would like to know where to find the display of the 01/Wfd or who repair it. I brought the Backlight and because im a rookie in this I open the display,so now i can see nothing.
    need any help please!

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Joseph,

      see this answer for the part’s description. You can find videos on Youtube showing the backlight replacement procedure.

      Hope this helps,

      • Joseph sagt:

        I saw this after i broke the display,lol.
        there is some rubber strips that goes in the board display and now it can be on the right side and dont see nothing,I dont know hoe to fit it.

        • Hajo sagt:

          Hi Joseph,

          it seems that you have detached the contact strips („zebra strips“) of the LCD matrix. Maybe a total loss (new display unit required), but there is also a chance to manually reattach the stripes unless they are damaged: Remove the metal shield (see this photo), try to rearrange the stripes and glass as good as possible, then test the unit before remounting the shield. It is a delicate but not impossible job.

          All the best,

  2. JED sagt:

    hi hajo, im jed i have a 01/W PRO X KORG its pano cant explain what problem is? can you HELP ME?

  3. Jeroen Elias sagt:

    Hi Hajo!
    I just replaced the backlight of my 01/W this week. It was a hell-of-a-job and took me about 4 hours!
    The backlight was sort-of-glued to the PCboard but I made a piece of hard-paper strip and pushed it between the backlight and PCB. That was the only way to get it loose.
    After i replaced the backlight I did not test the 01/W it before I reassembled the stuff, maybe I was just too confident it would succeed :-)
    Anyway, it works fine now!

    Another happy 01/W user :-)

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Jeroen,

      congratulations on your successful backlight replacement and thank you for sharing the information.

      All the best,

  4. Jorge Aristondo sagt:

    Hi guys.
    I recentyl got a 01r/w for 10$.
    Problem is that theres no Display on the screen.
    However the EL seems to work.

    I already ordered a new EL and took away the old one.
    hoever i had to take apart the LCD from pcb to take the EL.

    However i cant seem to get any display any one care to comment please??
    Im in Montreal, Canada if anyone could guide me.

    im a bit experimented in DIY electronics…build my own preamps, compressors and EQs.

    Thank you.

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Jorge,

      check/replace the ribbon cable from mainboard to LCD and, if necessary, get a new display.

      All the best,

      • Jorge Aristondo sagt:

        Thanks Hajo.
        I fixed the display problem..
        There was a short on one of the +/- psu rail.
        fixed that and display came back to life.

        Now i got no sound at all.

  5. jose s sagt:

    i have a korg 01/wfd with hissy sound background(distortion) when you play any instrument at the list. The sound looks like nasty. If I erase all sound works fine but all voices are empty.
    So when I reset factory settings, all voices come back but the hissy noise cames too.
    What can i do?

  6. markee sagt:

    hi I have also 01/w and i needed to replace the lcd light because it is no longer working , does anyone knows any guide or walk thru how to do it? need help pls.

  7. Claes-ake sagt:

    Hello! I am owner of 01/w but now it have seen the best days. I wonder I can take away the keyboard and make the rest to a sound modul.
    Regrets claes

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Claes,

      the mainboard should operate properly without the keyboard and the joystick assembly. It may still be a mechanical problem in that the mainboard may not fit into a standard 19 inch housing. Better try this out before starting. And by the way: I like the 01/W keyboard pretty much (manufactured by Yamaha, the same as on the DX7II as far as I know) — it is nicely playable and in my opinion much more robust and long-lasting than the rubber contact boards available today.

      All the best,

  8. Sy sagt:

    Hi Hajo,
    I followed your directions and got the sticky key to work like new. But, ran into another issue. Another key, which was working fine, now does not respond to midi. So, there is no sound. All other keys are working perfect. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Please help.

  9. Richard sagt:

    Hi Everyone,
    I just came across this helpful website and I need a professional advise. After cleaning and lubricating the keys on the Wavestation, the synth keys are now producing weird unexpected sounds and the keys react strangely (a sort of „random and completely out of sync“ tunes). I have used universal grease not silicon grease to lubricate… could that be the reason for the malfunctioning keys? On the other hand the sticky keys problem was eliminated.
    Thanks for any help and all the best.

  10. Iyer Log » Our Yamaha P120 sticky keys fixed sagt:

    […] solutions to sticky Piano keys and range of greases people have tried. This link was very useful http://hajo.kessener.net/electronics/korg-01w-sticky-keys-repair/. They discuss a couple of greases in Europe and also mention Molykote 44 and Molykote PG-54. I […]

  11. Aydin sagt:

    Hi Hajo
    this is a marvelous site thank you for your all efforts.
    I have a 01 wfd with up and down keys lost.
    Yes the buttons at the bottom still works button button caps are lost so its reallly hard to change the sounds.

    I couldnt find the exact spare parts. What should i seek for which parts. Do i have to change all the buttons on that zone or can i only find the caps and install it.

    please help me i m desperate

    My best regards

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Aydin,

      I had a quick look at the 01/W service manual and it seems that these caps are not sold separately as replacement parts but only in combination with a complete LCD hood. Your best bet in my opinion is to look around on Ebay and get hold of some used parts from a cannibalized 01/W. You will then have to completely dismantle your 01/W to replace the caps.

      All the best,

  12. Emmanuel Springer sagt:

    My O1W comes on for a second and then goes back off,why is it doing that.

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Emmanuel,

      I’d suppose that you experience a case of „bad caps alert“. Your 01/W needs a technician.

      All the best,

  13. Bogdan sagt:

    Halo Hajo,
    Sorry for disturbing. I just got a korg 01w , beautifull keyboard . Problem screen only works 2/3 of the size. I diassembled everything thinking it is the ribbon cable connecting motherboard with lcd but it was fine. There are two little capacitors on the lcd. Can they be the problem, one might be faulty. Any help is welcome. Thanks!

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Bogdan,

      sorry for the delay. You should replace both capacitors. However, I am not sure if this will remedy the situation. No other good advice from my side, sorry.

      All the best,

  14. Airegin sagt:


    I just cleaned a Korg M1 keyboard which is the same as this one. Removed every key, cleaned and put it back in. Now I have the problem that two keys have come loose and I’m a bit worried a little plastic may have been scraped off that holds the metal plate in place. Is it likely the key is broken or maybe it was just wrong placement?


    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Airegin,

      it is wrong replacement IMO. Remove the two keys once again and put the metal springs in place.

      All the best,

  15. darek sagt:

    Dzień Dobry ;)

    Noise and distortion caused by damage DRAM memory . When the capacitors are damaged memory could overheat and damage .

    DRAM 64×4 ( DIP18 , DIL18 ) – was used in Commodore64 , Atari , Amiga , PC x286 , x386 , graficzych old ISA cards .

    zaminniki matching are:

    FUJITSU dram mb81464-10
    NEC uPD41464 10
    IN41464P 10 .
    NEC D41464C 10
    OKI M41464-10
    Texas Instruments TMS4464 10NL
    Samsung KM41464 10
    NEC UPD 65536×4

    As a last resort you can wylutować memory – I just did. Then deactivate the block całby FX / effects. Then we get access to all supported sound without distortion.


    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Darek,

      sorry for the delay. This is an extremely helpful and valueable information. Thank you very much!

      All the best,

  16. Tony Horsak sagt:

    December 28, 2015

    I have KORG 01/Wfd keyboard working without major problems EXCEPT the following: recently, and once in a while, ALL the Bb-keys stop sound temporarily. After a short time of using the keyboard, the keys start working normally again. I tried to wiggle all Bb-keys back-and-forth, and sometimes (although NOT always!) this helps and all Bb-keys sound again. Other times, all these keys work just fine. This is very confusing – any idea what could be the cause for such an irregular malfunction of ONLY the Bb-keys once in a while? A professional musician/salesman mentioned to me that this could be tha fault of the ‚SCANNER‘ – what is it, I could NOT find any info on it in the KORG-Manual…
    Your earlier advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks…!

    • Hajo sagt:

      Hi Tony,

      the keyboard scanning circuitry works with the keys organized in a matrix. Imagine all the keys being placed on a spreadsheet. The processor then starts with field A1, continues with A2, A3, …, B1, B2, B3, … and so on. As all the Bb-keys may be placed on a single column or row, i. e. A3, they will fail if the wire/contact for A3 is broken/loose. Typically it is either a broken wire or a defective diode (1N4148) on the keyboard PCB. It shouldn’t cost too much to fix this as the keyboard is directly accessible with the 01/W opened up.

      Happy new year & all the best,