Just the Way You Are Rhodes Model and Phaser Settings

Started by mrlawrence, May 20, 2022, 09:24:42 PM

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Does anyone know the exact model of Rhodes used in the recording of Just the Way You Are? It was recorded in 1976, and you can see Billy playing something in 1977 here.

I want to be able to play the song and have it sound like the original. It's like 90% of the reason I want a Rhodes.

I read that on Sesame Street he played a mark ii eighty eight, but that had to be later. If it doesn't matter which model I get as long as I set it right (especially considering Billy clearly saw value in getting a Mark II), that's cool too and I'd be curious to know that, especially because I'd prefer an 88-key, which maybe he didn't use originally (I haven't looked at the sheet music though for hints).

If you know what phaser and settings and stuff was used too, I'm a total noob so I don't even know what a phaser is. I just know this video and thread seem to indicate that the small stone is, if not at least a good substitute, the actual thing used. Idk how to adjust the settings, though, since I'm not planning on looking into that stuff too much until I've decided what Rhodes model I want to buy. Anyone know the steps for a noob to achieve the sound? Instructions that are only intelligible once you understand how phasers and the Rhodes work are good enough - I can reference them later as long as I know they exist.

I really want to replicate this sound and to be able to play it, bur if that's not a realistic goal then idk if it's worth going through the hassle of learning about all this stuff for me, so that's why I'm asking about the specs beforehand.


I can't comment on the exact Rhodes from the original recording but I can tell you a bit about the phaser and the effects/models from the others.

1. On the original recording, the phaser is most likely a MXR Phase 90 or Small Stone. Either one would sound very close to the original and the only thing you would need to do in order to get a similar sound is adjust the speed of the modulation until it is in sync with the record.

1. On the live 1977 clip, Billy is playing a 1977 MK I 88 suitcase with the janus preamp. He's also not using a phaser.

2. On the Sesame Street clip, he is playing a Mk II 88 suitcase which would make it anything from a late 1979 to 1982 piano. (Note: if you want a Mk II try to get one from 1979-80 as those are the ones with wooden keys). This recording is also using a chorus instead of a phaser.

Overall, just about any Rhodes that's properly set up will sound similar to that recording with a phaser. As you can tell in those clips, Billy played 3 very different Rhodes with different effects and they all sounded great. You can look up covers of that song on YouTube and see it played on just about any model Rhodes and it will still sound good. As long as its in good condition, just about any Rhodes from 1971-1982 will get you a similar sound with the right adjustments.

Here's a cover from an earlier stage Fender Rhodes that doesn't have a preamp yet still sounds similar to the record:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbf8J0pGbAc
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270


Mr Lawrence,

Get the MXR Phase 95 (Dunlop model # M290).  You will like it a lot.

Watch this video demo of phase 95 with a Rhodes:

The Phase 95 can do everything a Phase 90 can do (four phaser stages), and everything that a Phase 45 can do (two phaser stages) - both MXR block logo types (with emphasized feedback), and MXR script logo types (without extra feedback). 

The little thing is great, except for the blinding blue LED next to the stomp switch (the only mod I did was to change the LED to dim RED).  It is a fiddly little mod, but you can cut the legs of the blue LED right where the leads enter the 3mm plastic lens (don't cut them off at the circuit board).  This will leave two little stumps at the right height for you to graft another 3mm LED in there.  Wait.  Before you cut the LED out, make a little black mark with a sharpie pen on the PCB next to the negative leg (the side of the LED lens that has the flat edge at the bottom).  It is obviously very important to get the new LED installed with the right orientation.

There is a little plastic spacer below the LED that blocks your cutters from getting at the LED legs.  I just used my cutters (put on eye protection goggles) to shatter the plastic housing of the LED, and it broke off clean enough to remove the LED and the spacer, and then clean it up with the cutters. (Look closely to make sure you didn't get any bits and pieces stuck in the rest of the circuitry.)  Use the plastic spacer as a template to show you exactly how long you want to cut the leads on the new LED.

Then comes the hard part:  getting the new LED to sit there while you solder it to the old LED's legs.  I made two tiny lassos with sewing thread, and was able to knot each leg of the new LED in place, and then solder them together with good contact and the LED sitting straight up.  It may be a pain, but it is quicker and less risky than dis-assembling the pedal to get at the underside of the PCB and un-solder the LED.

I also don't really like the light that flashes at the speed rate.  I can see the setting on the knob right next to that annoying light.  This LED also gets annoying bright blue if you set the pedal for Phase 90 mode.  And if that nasty blue LED wasn't there, I wouldn't be blinded every time I look at the pedal, and I could read the knob. 

I think the pedal would be more fun if the little mode switches could be toe-bean operated, but that won't work with the tiny little pedal chassis.  I decided it wasn't worth the time and money to put it into a big new chassis with three stomp switches.

At least the power jack is in the right place - on the far back end.

I can't watch the video portion of the Phase 95 demo at:
(but the audio is good showing your ears what the phaser can do to a guitar.)

See also the little pdf manual.  It tells you exactly why you want the Phase 95 - so you can push the "script" button to remove R28 and all that feedback wetness, because there are times when you don't want it.

Also, sometimes I power mine with a 9V battery by just getting a "9V battery to 5.2mm x2.1mm male tip-negative barrel connector" like https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Power-Battery-Converter-Connector-cable/dp/B07FCZZ5JF