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Messages - The Real MC

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For Sale / FS Wood/plastic hammer assembly for 73 note Rhodes piano
« on: April 22, 2021, 11:19:30 AM »
I am getting ready to relocate to a new job and have to sell a hammer assembly.  It is for a 73 note keyboard.  Wood/plastic hammers, missing the rubber hammer tips.  Must go.  Make an offer, if you pick up I will throw in a surplus set of new hammer tips.  This is also interchangeable in silvertop pianos, my silvertop piano has them and it really improves the tone.  In Tioga County PA.

does anybody know what kinds of changes there were in design and parts during that era (1983)? What changed besides the plastic keys and smaller hammer throw from earlier Mark II's and Mark I's?

Pickups.  Different coil wire, different magnet poles.  Yes they do sound different.

The OEM of the tines changed over the years.  Raymacs were used until about 1971.  Then Torringtons.  Schagler tines were the last and most durable, and are more bell tone with less bark.

Resonators.  First generation were square resonators, replaced in 1969 with the cold rolled flat resonators to reduce weight.  They are not interchangeable.

Fender was ALWAYS changing suppliers, for two reasons.  One, they wanted a second source as a back up in case the first ran into supply or quality issues.  Two, the CBS beancounters were aggressively looking for cheaper and cheaper suppliers which drove the engineering department nuts when a new source did not make the new parts correctly or with inferior quality.

This is why it is futile to nail "the best year" for Rhodes pianos.

After listening to your audio sample, I think the piano sounds good.  You could really benefit from a different amp.  Tube amps work really well with Rhodes pianos.

The Mark II does not have the dreaded white tape pickups, but if that piano has the fiberglass keyset (white or black color plastic key shanks instead of wood) with plastic key guides, run away from it.  That keyset is prone to breaking.

The major tone difference between the pianos is the Mark II is more bell tone while the Mark I is more of the fusion style "bark".

If the Mark II has the integral pedestal bump, the action will play really good.  The Mark I is likely to have soggy action and harder to play.

As for market value, I haven't kept up with recent prices.  Ebay is a poor indicator.

Buying / Re: Looking for Rhodes Bass Pre-Cbs!
« on: February 18, 2021, 10:33:08 PM »
Prepare to be disappointed.

Those pre-CBS piano basses used an integrated one piece resonator/tine assembly that had short life.  You will have a very very hard time replacing any broken ones.

And they did not sound very good.

I think someone needs to design a modular synth in the form of a Rhodes name rail.

This would be close - Moog Polymoog.  IMO the best synth interface ever invented, yet was never duplicated.

But a modular in that format?  The patch cords would drape over the keyboard.

The reason was economics not technical.  A sanding procedure would had added to the production expense, and we're talking about a company whose bean counters were searching everywhere to cut production costs.  Fender was changing vendors all the time which frustrated the designers because the new vendor could not make the components with the same quality as the previous one.  It was not a good situation for quality product.

Amps, Effects & Recording Techniques / Re: Mic and Cabinet Emulators?
« on: October 31, 2020, 12:23:26 PM »
I use a cabinet simulator for recording and for gigs.  They would work for apartments.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: How best to record suitcase
« on: October 04, 2020, 09:43:54 AM »
The Accessory jacks on the piano are intended for effects loop.   The top one (effects send) is 'normalled' to the bottom one (effects return).  If you only use the top jack then it will interrupt the signal flow to the preamp.

If your DI has a thru jack you can connect this to the bottom accessory jack.

However the accessory jack is wired directly to the pickups and they are extremely sensitive to input impedance on outboard devices like a DI box.  Meaning the tone can change drastically.  If the impedance is too low - such as a passive DI box - your tone will be muddy with high end and it can be noisy.  I had read of the impedance problem and they recommend no less than 1Mohm.  I tried the DI boxes in my collection and the best one was CountryMan Type 10 which has a 10Mohm input impedance.  There was zero noise and the tone was excellent.  Not even my active Radial DI could perform that well.

Keep in mind that pickup design of Rhodes pianos have changed over the years.  Some eras (IE 1976) have pickups which won't have ANY high end.

I never owned a stock Suitcase piano so I have no experience micing it.  But one way to improve the sound is to change to different speakers.  The stock speakers are real dogs, changing to better ones goes a long way to achieving that "sweet spot" than micing techniques.  I also play guitar and found that good guitar speakers can really improve the sound of the Rhodes.  I like the Celestion 75w speakers (stay away from Celestion 70w speakers they don't sound good with ANYTHING).

My brother had a 212 HD ~30 years ago, he played guitar.  I do not remember playing my Rhodes through it, but the MusicMan amps were designed to distort whereas the Twin Reverb were too clean for most guitar players.

As for Rhodes, it's a subjective issue.  Some folks like an amp that distort, some folks like an amp that is clean.

Buying / Re: Handles for Oberheim 4 Voice
« on: September 20, 2020, 02:20:05 AM »
Any web store that sells tolex will also sell handles identical to the 4 voice.

Buying / Re: Handles for Oberheim 4 Voice
« on: September 19, 2020, 09:37:06 AM »
Most guitar supply websites have them.  Google for tolex and check the results.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: shiny or original?
« on: May 02, 2020, 06:01:32 PM »
Don't try to equate vintage guitars with vintage keys.

I've own four Rhodes pianos since 1978.  The first three were bone stock and they were dogs.  They had spongy action that hurt my hands and I was never happy with the sound.

The fourth one I currently own is a '67 sparkletop piano.  When I bought it the original electronics and speakers were missing, and a previous owner had changed out the original felt hammers for early-70s wood/plastic hammers with neoprene hammer tips. 

Did I care that it was not original?  No I did not.  I have played other sparkletop pianos and the original electronics sounded awful, and the felt hammers are my least favorite keyset.  The combination of parts from different eras gave it a sound that I loved, and the action is really nice to play.

I had no intention to seek out original electronics as the active devices are PNP germanium transistors which have been out of production for decades.  They were very poor transistors and it is not worth the effort to seek them out.  Even with good transistors, the electronics distorted too easily.  In fact the electronics were intentionally designed to cut off high end to mask the noise of the pickups.  The pickups are very sensitive to loading, if the input impedance is not high enough the pickups are noisy and their tone is not optimal.  Using a Fender tube amp from the same era, you want to use the jack labeled input 1 as the pickups work well there.  Today a pro audio DI like the Countryman Type 10 works wonders to eliminate the noise and bring out a tone that has been hiding in these things for years.  I can get everything from the fusion bark to bell tone just from playing dynamics.  I could not get the same tone from my newer Rhodes so I sold it.

Back in the late 60s, Fender was installing dog-s**t speakers in these things - Oxford, etc.  Again, the selection was intentional to mask the noise.  I made new speaker baffles for the suitcase bottom and installed four Celestion 75w speakers, same speakers used in Marshall guitar cabinets.  They sound much better.

In my experience I got the best sound from a piano that was not original.  Others may find value in an all-original stock piano.  Frankly there is no agreement on the "best era" of Rhodes pianos.  The factory did a sloppy job of assembling them, players didn't know better, and good Rhodes pianos were few and far between.  It just takes some cherry-picking to find the good ones, but they don't turn up often as owners hang onto them.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: 1982, the best year?
« on: March 30, 2020, 12:53:05 AM »
There is no universal agreement on "best year".

Specialized music equipment - especially those no longer in production - are not usually covered in homeowners insurance as they are not considered typical household fixtures like home piano, furniture, TV, stereo, refrigerator, etc.  You can easily replace typical household fixtures but not vintage gear.

You should look into a personal artifacts rider specifically designed to cover non-typical household fixtures.  They have these for unusual personal collections such as stamps, sports memorabilia, artwork, etc.

Also check your policy very carefully for terms IE most policies will not cover loss if it leaves the dwelling IE gigging with vintage gear.

What's this come out of? I bet they found it easier throwing a clip on bump rather than integrating the bump in the manufacturing of the key pedestals themselves.

These are in my 1967 sparkletop piano

How does your rhodes handle double striking? Teardrop hammers?

Previous owner had swapped out the teardrop hammer set for wood/plastic from early 70s piano.  The service manual recommends this if the felt hammers wear out.

Wood/plaster hammers in a 60s sparkletop is a lovely combination.  I get everything from fusion bark to bell tone.  The square resonators from the 60s do have a unique sound, as do the pickups.  I discovered that the pickup can saturate, so with optimum positioning I can saturate the pickup with hard playing which imparts a pleasant thump transient to the sound.

To get the best tone out of it I used a DI right off the harp assembly.

I had a '76 Rhodes when I got that sparkletop and tried the same techniques - nowhere near the same sound.  I sold the '76.

None of my student models have a factory bump, but I do have a sparkle top that has a metal clip with a factory bump that clips on the on the key ped.
I'll try to get a photo.

from my webpage

Buying / Re: ITALIAN Vox Continental Leg Braces
« on: February 18, 2020, 11:00:53 PM » was making repros years ago but I don't see them now.

"Classic Keys" just arrived yesterday.

I bought the hard cover version. The book was bigger than I expected. The photos are excellent quality, there are lots of them, the paper stock is very good quality. I have some guitar books made out of nice paper stock with excellent photos, and I have to say it is about damn time we had a keyboard book with similar quality. The book "Prophet of Silicon Valley" started this trend, this book elevates it to another level.

I shared my dad's passion with trains; when he passed away I inherited his collection of over 1000 long-out-of-print books on railroad history. Many are over fifty years old; books from that era were top quality which were constructed from hard cover and heavy paper optimized for photo reproduction. When I first held "Classic Keys" in my hand I recognized the same quality.

From what little I have read so far, there was a LOT of research that went into the history of the instruments. Even well-read seasoned pros (like me) will find themselves saying "I did not know that" as they read along.

"Classic Keys" fills in gaps long overlooked; electro-mechanical instruments (hohners, mellotrons, hammonds, rhodes, wurlitzers, electric grands, etc) and early electronic keyboards (RMI, combo organs, electronic pianos, K250, etc). Although many have long been out of production, the authors dug into factory records and interviewed artists, former employees, and dedicated enthusiasts on the history behind these instruments. The attention to detail is equal to those with hands-on experience with these classic keyboards. The assessment of the instruments are unashamedly honest; they discuss the pros as well as the cons, such as which era has better playing sound/action and cautions on locating replacement parts. For instance if you are shopping for a Rhodes piano with a particular sound in mind, this is a valuable resource.

Well worth the money. Excellent resource and fascinating reading.

I found my Vox Continental 301-E in a pawnshop back in ~1995.  Has all the original components including the volume pedal.  Only needed a cap replaced in the power supply. 

You don't want to know what I paid for it.

Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: My "practice rig" Kustom 88
« on: January 13, 2020, 12:20:51 AM »
I thought that the cover somehow folds to turn into a stand for these?

Yes but he's probably missing the original support brackets.

B******** is a curse word

Please don't plaster this forum with B******** ads disguised as "threads", there's too much of that on other discussion forums and I don't want to see them here.

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Rhodes Stage MKI Hiss
« on: January 18, 2019, 10:14:42 PM »
Since it's a stage piano, you're going to need a DI with input impedance of at least 1Mohm.  The pickups in Rhodes pianos are very sensitive to impedance loads, and if it is too low then hiss is created.  The wrong impedance greatly affect the tone too.

I had a real problem with hiss and it took a Countryman Type 10 DI to get rid of it.

Directly off the harp.

And I am a man of science too.

In a double-blind test, properly set up, I claim that no one would be able to distinguish any tonal or noise difference between a preamp having an input impedance of 1 meg ohm and 10 meg ohm.  Also consider that the capacitance of the cable that connects the harp to the preamp of choice filters out some highs.  If we assume a cable capacitance of 200 pF, which would account for the cable from the harp to the front panel, and the front panel to the preamp, the impedance of that capacitance at 10 kHz is about 79 k.  That impedance, along with with the fairly low output impedance of the harp, makes it's just a bit hard for me to accept the idea that anyone could hear a difference between 1 and 10 meg ohm preamp input impedance.  I simply don't believe it.  There could be any number of reasons why the Countryman sounds better.

Challenge accepted.  Countryman type 10 in 0dB mode (10M input Z) vs Radial J48 (1M input Z) using an 18in cable from the harp equipped with 1960s green coil pickups.

That was the setup I tested, and I guarantee you WILL hear a distinct difference in tone.

I am 99.99% sure that 10Meg input impedance is not the reason for the quietness of the Countryman DI.

My empirical experiments are pretty strong evidence that is hard to dispute.  I don't know what is inside the Countryman other than ad copy claiming it has FET input stages, and the electronics are encased in epoxy. 

In fact I learned of the trick on Gearslutz from Mr. Jim Williams, an audio engineer with a long history of improving audio equipment for a few decades including some major name recording artists from the 1970s.

All versions of the stage piano have input impedances at least 10X lower than 1Meg.

No, you're confusing input impedance with output impedance.  Stage piano outputs have an output impedance.

I have several amp heads, 1 tube and 3 SS, all with 1Meg input impedance, and all are dead quiet.

As do I.  But guitar amps cut off at about 5K because guitars don't do any higher, so that 5K upper limit is filtering off the noise.

The big difference is the OP wants to record his Rhodes without a guitar amp and direct into a recorder, which is full bandwidth out to 20K where the noise will now be clearly heard.

In my experiments with various DIs and amps, the pickups on the Rhodes are very sensitive to loading from input impedances.  Another member here on EP forum graphed the frequency response of the pickups with varying input impedances and it is very revealing, pretty much mirrors my results.  Their tone changes, and the noise varies.  The pickups seem to be happy with an optimal input impedance.

Had the same problem.  After trying many remedies, the solution that worked was the Countryman Type 10 DI plugged into the harp RCA jack.  It brought out the bell tone and reduced the hiss at the same time.

so i've gotta ask, how was the country man different than the other options you tried?

Very high input impedance, 10M for the Countryman (with the switch at 0dB).

I have others around 1M input impedance that altered the tone and did not lower the noise.  Quality brands too, like Radial.  They didn't perform as well as the Countryman.

Thanks to Peter, he managed to help sort me out with a perfect set of 1973 keys.

Did the pivot holes match the pin block?

They varied over the years and I found out the hard way.

Passive pickups can also contribute noise.  This is a common problem with the pickups in Rhodes pianos.  What really makes a difference is the input impedance of the amp or DI.

Had the same problem.  After trying many remedies, the solution that worked was the Countryman Type 10 DI plugged into the harp RCA jack.  It brought out the bell tone and reduced the hiss at the same time.

The pickups on the rhodes are very sensitive to the input impedance of a processor or direct interface or amp.  With the wrong input impedance, they can produce more noise.  The better solution is a DI with input impedance of 1Mohm or higher.

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