ROD AND SPRING ADJUSTMENT
The following instructions are based on the model and version of the Continuum that I purchased in 2011. If there are discrepancies with newer models and more recent designs, please let me know. I am also open to any and all suggestions from other owners who have ideas about the procedure. I would like to emphasize that the manufacturer has provided a warning on page 59 (6.6) of the User's Guide regarding the dangers of attempting to open your instrument for do-it-yourself repairs and adjustments. Don't let this frighten you. With proper care and patience, you can open your instrument safely. I have done it a few times without incident, and you can do it too.
The Haken Continuum fingerboard is a delicate instrument. Its mechanical interface consists of a row of pencil thin, parallel aluminum rods that float on hundreds of tiny, almost invisible, wire springs that are as fine as a human hair. The rods, and the springs they ride on, are all held in place by the neoprene fingerpad playing surface of your instrument. If you play a little too enthusiastically and strike the fingerpad too hard (particularly at the ends of the 'Y' axis) it is possible to cause one of the rods to lift too high, like a teeter totter, and the spring which supports it can jump the needle-thin spindle it sits on and become misaligned.
If this happens, although the instrument will still function, sticking can become a chronic problem because the rod is no longer able to float unimpeded and return to its neutral position when you lift your hand off the fingerpad. The sensors will detect pressure and you will hear an unwanted sound. Constantly “refining” with the Continuum Editor will not cure the problem, it will only cure the symptoms which can become very annoying. The problem can be fixed but it requires patience, and throughout the entire procedure (which consists of the removal of the neoprene fingerpad) you must always maintain constant downward pressure on the rods. Failure to do this can result in disaster! DON'T BE DISCOURAGED, this is not difficult to do - and it's actually quite fun - but you must be careful and methodical. During the operation, cats, dogs and children must be banished from your work area.
I strongly recommend before beginning that you contact the Continuum manufacturer and get a few spare springs. If you happen to lose one in the process of realignment YOU WILL NEVER FIND IT. It's worth it to have a few extras on hand. Avoid using metal implements as much as possible. You could have magnetic problems.
You will need the following items before you start:
1. A wooden plank (plywood is fine) about 8 inches wide and a few inches longer than your instrument.
2. About 6 or 8 clean wooden slats (see photos below) of varying lengths.
3. A spool of good, strong string.
4. A bright flashlight and a magnifying glass.
5. A pair of tweezers may come in handy and I like to have a bamboo skewer on hand to poke around with.
6. A hammer and four finishing nails.
STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE
1. First, place your Continuum on the work plank, and using a hex headed screwdriver remove the four hex screws that are in each corner of your instrument. This next step is important. Take a credit card, or a stiff piece of cardboard or plastic, and run it along the entire length of the fingerboard on both the near side and far side, between the neoprene pad and the frame's underside. There is a slightly sticky gum strip on the underside of the frame that pushes against the pad, and you do not want your pad to lift up when you lift off the frame. Once you are sure the neoprene is freed and no longer adhering to the sticky strip, gently lift off the metal frame. If you see your neoprene pad lifting slightly while removing the frame, push the pad gently back down with one hand. Under no circumstances should it be allowed to lift up in any way. Use caution when unplugging the LED in the top left corner of the fingerboard from its bezel on the underside (see photo below). Never force anything and go slowly. When your job is completed and it's time to replace the frame, you must remember to reinsert the LED back into its bezel. More on that later.....
You will notice that the neoprene pad is now attached in eight places - through the four screw posts in each corner, and through four vertical pins (two at each end of the pad). Carefully detach the pad from the four screw posts, but do not lift the pad from its place. The pad is now attached only by the four vertical pins.
2. Before removing the pad, downward pressure must be exerted on the fingerboard to keep the rods in place so they are not disturbed once the pad is lifted off the surface. Cut two lengths of string, each one several inches longer than your instrument. Tie a loop at one end of each string. Using the four one inch finishing nails, gently tap them into both ends of the plank (two at each end) in more or less the positions you see below. You don't have to be exact. These nails are the anchors for your pressure strings, so make sure they are securely in place and not in danger of popping out. Now loop the ends of your strings to the two anchors at one end of your wooden plank. Don't tie them tightly to the anchors, just loop them, because you are going to want to remove them and put them back later on. Just for clarity, I took the picture below without the instrument in place on the work plank.
Gently lifting only the edge of the neoprene pad, carefully pass one of the strings underneath the pad all the way to the opposite end, making sure it doesn't get hooked on anything. Pulling the string taught so that it pushes down on the rods, tie it to the anchor at the other end of the plank. Now do the same thing with the second string on the other side of the instrument. Once you have done this, the strings will exert enough pressure of their own to keep the rods in place, and you can remove the fingerpad by lifting it off its four vertical pins. Don't drag the pad along the rods - lift it straight up.
Once you have lifted the pad off the rods, here is what it should look like. The rods are now held in place only by the strings that are anchored to your work plank at both ends. The next step is to get rid of the strings!! This is where your wooden slats come in.
3. Arrange your slats along the complete length of the now-exposed fingerboard so that they lie in the center space between your strings (see below). The slats don't have to be in any particular arrangement but they must cover, and exert pressure, on all the rods. Once the slats are in place, unhook the loop end of the strings from their anchors. Leave them attached at the other end because you are going to want to put them back when you reverse the procedure.
4. Now you are free to examine your springs and rods in order to find out exactly where the problem areas are. Using a magnifying glass and a bright light (I use one of those bright LED flashlights) go all along both edges, from end to end, and look carefully at the springs.
The springs sit vertically on spindles and support the aluminum rods from beneath. The rods essentially float on the springs. If there is a problem like the one illustrated in the drawing at the top of this page, the spring will be skewed and you will see it immediately through your magnifier. In order to fix it, the rod above the offending spring must be lifted from its seat but you must do it without disturbing any of the surrounding rods. Here's how you do that - one rod at a time.
5. Once you know which rod or rods must be removed you carefully shift your slats so that they cover all the rods EXCEPT the one you want to remove. Remember, you must always maintain downward pressure on the rods. Just slide the wooden slats around until you have found a way to make a gap just big enough to allow the rod you want to remove to be lifted up.
Lift the rod from its spindles, carefully remove the skewed spring, reposition it correctly (or replace it), and then re-seat the rod. If you examine the rod you will see that the holes for the spindle are larger on one side than they are on the other. The larger opening always faces DOWNWARD so the spring can nest in it. Once the rod is back in place and the spring is correctly aligned, slide the slats over it to keep it in place.
6. When you have corrected all your misaligned springs, you can put the instrument back together by reversing the entire procedure. First you replace your pressure strings. They are already fitted so you just have to loop the ends over the anchors to hold the rods, then you can remove your slats.
Next, you replace your neoprene fingerpad by fixing it to the four vertical pins and the four screw posts. Make sure the opening for the LED is in the proper place. You can now cut your two pressure strings at one end, and remove them by slowly pulling them out lengthwise from the other. Don't pull from the side. Pull from the ends.
YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!
Replace the metal frame making sure that the LED goes back into the bezel on the underside. This is tricky and you may need a pair of tweezers to do it - especially if you have chubby, cocktail sausage fingers! When it is all in place, put back the hex screws and you're done.
ONE FINAL WORD: Take your time, and have all the materials you will need on hand before you start. ENJOY YOURSELF. Think of your Continuum as a sick puppy or puddy tat that needs your help.