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Fitting leg flanges ro a suitcase top

Started by Oliver Sheen, May 03, 2022, 07:20:00 AM

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Oliver Sheen

This may have been covered elsewhere but I couldn't find it.

I have a 1969 suitcase top and want to add stage legs. I know the base of the top is too thin to add the leg flanges directly and i really don't want a separate stand.

Has anyone had any experience of adding the "missing" thickness (which I presume is about 1/2") to the inside of the suitcase base? I thought I could glue 1/2" plywood on the inside inbetween where the main "skeleton" of the piano is but I realise this will have to be two separate pieces and might not be strong enough to stop the base flexing in the middle.   

I should say that this is very much a Frankenrhodes as the keys (90 of them...) which came in a bucket when I bought it didnt fit the keybed so must be from a later instrument so there is no desire particularly to keep it pure.


I'd be worried about the weight splitting the wood of the bottom of your suitcase base too.  My experience is restoring 2 Mark I Stage Pianos, and as I'm sure you know they are HEAVY fully assembled. 
Surely you already know about the manuals available on

There are also helpful You Tube videos that helped me figure out how to take apart, restore and reassemble my 2 Rhodes pianos.

I do not entirely understand your set up. Is it a custom case, or are you fitting the Rhodes back into an original suitcase base, but just need to reinforce it?

I could see that working, perhaps, if you get a second plate flange from the hardware store, where the screw holes line up with the Rhodes leg flanges. Then use that flange to support & reinforce the thinner wood of your suitcase base.
I think you have to use a sold sheet of 1/2 inch plywood on the inside of the case, with that 1/2 inch plywood supporting the full weight of the guts of the piano like a table. If you wanted the case to be super-solid, you could use L-brackets to secure the 1/2 inch plywood to the interior SIDES of the case.  Thus, when you pick it up by the handles, the stress would be on the plywood insert, not the original suitcase bottom.
Then the original suitcase bottom would not bear weight - it would be cosmetic only, to maintain the look.

You may need screws that are a little longer to attached the blocks on the side of the keyboard an a few other parts when reassembling, but I think everything would still fit together and the top would close and lock.
The reason I think that is because of a mistake I made putting a Rhodes Mark I 73 back together.  I thought the skeleton, or guts was seated correctly in the bottom of the case, but it wasn't. The wood of the "skeleton" under the front of the keyboard was sitting high, balanced on that 1/2 inch square piece of wood reinforcing the inside front of the case.  I had not screwed everything back together yet, but I put the top on it, legs and everything.  I even played the piano like that several times. The top lid closed and locked, fit together and looked fine - except when I finally took a good look and wondered why the keys were sitting up so high. I lifted the skeleton and shifted it back 1/2 inch so that the keyboard and all sat in the case correctly.
The point of the long story is that my case had more than 1/2 inch of height to spare even with the lid on, so your case probably could handle the 1/2 inch piece of solid plywood that would keep your outer case from cracking and still close and fit correctly.

You should search You Tube because people have probably posted videos of how they converted their suitcase to a stage piano.  I also think I've seen a conversion kit on either Vintage Vibe or Avion Studios website.

I hope that helps.  Good luck.


Quote from: Oliver Sheen on May 03, 2022, 07:20:00 AMI know the base of the top is too thin to add the leg flanges directly and i really don't want a separate stand.
The safest way to do something like that might be to build a table and attach the stage legs to that, then just put the Rhodes on top of it. Painted black or covered in tolex it would look like it was factory and anybody not on the forum probably wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't. This also has the benefit of being easier to set up than the traditional process to put legs on a normal stage.

Alternatively, you could also swap out the old suitcase top for a stage case. I'm pretty sure the stage case will work with suitcase internals (but, definitely double check especially because a 1969 could have different dimensions to later mk1's). They come up for sale occasionally and there's actually one on Ebay right now.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Oliver Sheen

Thanks both for such detailed replies. After pricing up legs, flanges, plates ect it was coming out at nearly £500 inc delivery! I have a K&M 18950 adjustable stand which I'm currently using so perhaps I should get over myself and use that.

The problem I've had is that the piano slides about on the stand which periodically prevents the sustain pedal working properly and is obviously not acceptable. I'm getting around this by putting rubber feet (similar to the glide feet you get on a suitcase) but that will fit snugly into preformed holes in the K&M stand. It doesn't look too dissimilar to the "splay" of stage legs but the purist in me would prefer real legs or even the original speaker it came with.

I'll post photos when done. Cheers


Understandable - the cost of Rhodes replacement parts can get out of hand.
Early on, I was considering making a table for my Seventy-Three stage piano using legs from Ikea.  I never found out if they would have been sturdy enough because had a holiday sale so I bought the replica legs at a discount. 
Good Luck!

Oliver Sheen

Thanks CJ Am really happy with the look of the Rhodes on the K&M stand as the legs on that splay out in not a dissimilar way to Rhodes legs. Two 22m rubber feet were all that were needed to keep it in place and stop it slipping around


Aside from the problem with mounting leg flanges....

As a weight saving strategy, the box for the suitcase top was designed to be thin. It worked fine because the top enjoyed the support it got by sitting on the speaker box. To place it on a stand where it is only supported in 2 spots could cause the keybed to sag.

Might be a needle in a haystack but.....
If you could find a stage piano on the cheap where the guts are trashed but the box is clean, you should be able to dump your guts into the stage box. IIRC the guts are identical.