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Messages - The Real MC

Do not gig the 1960s Rhodes pianos.  They are not rugged and they go out of tune.

I gigged my '67 sparkletop pianos maybe three times before I grounded it in my studio.  Every time I moved it the piano went out of tune.
Quote from: Alan Lenhoff on April 16, 2023, 08:14:44 AMJust wondering: Have you also played the Vintage Vibe Tine Piano? If so, discounting the electronics built into some of the Mark 8s, did you prefer one over the other?

No I haven't, and I always wanted to.

From what I heard on VV's YouTube demos, their piano sounds like my sparkletop with the felt hammers replaced with wood/plastic with neoprene tips.  Which sounds great but isn't the atypical Rhodes sound.

The Mk8 sounds more like the atypical Rhodes.

Both are great sounding pianos, can't really say I have a preference.  I would definitely prefer them over the vintage deal, because so many of them are crap!
Played the Rhodes Mk8 at NAMM 2023 in April.

As a Rhodes player since 1978 who has gone through four pianos looking for "the one", the new Rhodes is excellent.

Dan was maniacal about making a quality piano with the best traits of pianos from each era, and he succeeded.  They have great action, the pickups sound excellent and can get anything from that bell tone to fusion bark with playing dynamics.  That is a feature I love with my '67 silvertop and was never able to duplicate with the later Rhodes.  Dan was aware of the superiority of the early pickups from '65 to '72.  I played the basic model and the one with FX, both had the same feel and raw sound.  Finally someone is making a Rhodes that is consistent from unit to unit, which Fender could never do.  The new Rhodes is almost half the weight.

Yes there are thousands of used Rhodes at a fraction of the price, but they varied all the map due to CBS/Fender ruining the product through corporate bean counting, inferior parts through poor substitution (which drove Rhodes engineers nuts), and stopwatches to monitor production rates that resulted in forced inferior product out the door.  Many of the deficiencies of the older pianos aren't easily fixed.  Frankly my experience with buying used Rhodes was a crapshoot until I found my silvertop.

Cyril Lance designed the preamp and effects and I know Cyril from his days at Moog Music.  I asked him some engineering questions regarding his design, and I liked what I heard.

The effects include compressor, chorus, phaser, and delay.  Nothing fancy but they fit the Rhodes well.  Compressor is nice for getting that Herbie Hancock vibe.  The other effects are stereo.  Chorus is effective, phaser sounds like the EH Small Stone.  Delay is stereo and I found it most effective at short delays combined with chorus.  The FX model has a headphone amp with the jack in the left side cheek.  I neglected to check for MIDI ports.  There are buttons right at the name rail for toggling the effects in/out and are easily accessible while playing.

The preamp in both models feature volume, envelope, drive (overdrive), three band EQ with sweepable mid, and stereo tremolo with selectable modulation waveshapes.  One thing they missed is that the classic Peterson stereo tremolo is modulated with a trapezoid waveshape LFO.  The new Rhodes offers square, curved ramp, triangle, and sine - no trapezoid.  The closest to trapezoid to my ears is sine; I mentioned this to Dan, apparently there is a feature to remedy this in firmware but I haven't played with it.

Complain all you want about the price - you're getting quality that Fender could never have dreamed of.

I passed the Rhodes booth multiple times at NAMM and the booth was busy every time.
I crossed paths with Chuck today at NAMM in front of the Rhodes booth.  Had an interesting chat with him.  I asked while they are not the Dyno My Piano, did he approve of the new Rhodes?  He did.
Hammond organ also had a non-sequential serial number system.  They did this to hide the production capacity from competitors.
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: 1965 sparkletop
January 14, 2023, 03:16:02 PM
The early sparkletop pianos had untapered tines which are less durable.  My 1967 sparkletop has tapered tines.

Those pickups with green coil wire are hiding a wonderful tone.  My piano was missing all the original electronics so I had to take the signal direct off the harp.  Those pickups can be noisy and the preamps intentionally filtered the piano signal to eliminate the noise, and the piano bell tone with it.  I started experimenting with my DI boxes and found that the piano tone improved and the noise was lowered as the input impedance of the DI box went higher.  So I bought a Countryman Type 10 DI box (10Mohm input impedance) and not only was the noise gone, but the piano tone was excellent.  I had a 1976 stage piano with different pickups (red coil wire) and when I tried that DI trick it did not sound as good.  The sparkletop piano pickups are really sensitive to loading.

Another trick I learned with the green coil wire pickups is saturation.  As the pickups are placed closer to the tines, the coils saturate from the hot level.  As I backed the pickup away, I found that saturation to be a pleasant "thump" compression effect on the attack transient when you play hard.  You'll hear this on early Fusion songs especially Herbie Hancock.  Again, no such trick with the 1976 stage piano.

But don't place the pickups too close to the bass tines, the pickup magnetism is strong enough to "pull" on the vibrating tine and change the pitch.  Not a pleasant effect.

Here's my webpage on my piano:

1967 Sparkletop Piano
Answer: Impedance.

The higher the impedance, the more sensitive pickups are to interference and hum.

Guitar pickups are high impedance.  Rhodes pickups are much lower impedance.

Rhodes pickups aren't completely impervious to interference - if you stack anything with a power transformer on top of a Rhodes, the pickups WILL hum.

Rhodes pickups are sensitive to loading.  "Loading" meaning the input impedance of the preamp or amp it is plugged into.  The pickups on my Rhodes were very noisy when I tried to take the signal directly off the harp.  If the input impedance is too low on the preamp or amp, the loading causes noise and the piano tone sucks.  But when I tried a Countryman type 10 DI with input impedance of 10Mohms, the noise stopped and I got a great sound from the piano.
The pickups make a difference.  Rhodes changed them over the years.  I found a great sounding 1967 sparkletop Rhodes, with the right signal chain it gets everything from mellow bell tone to fusion bark, with the pickups adjusted right I could get a wonderful attack transient THUNK just with hard playing.  Very dynamic, very controllable.  I tried the same signal chain with my 1976 Stage 73, it sounded too dull and no amount of pickup adjustment would get close to the 1967 piano.  Both signal chains are straight off the harp.
Quote from: orangefizz on April 04, 2022, 06:33:51 AMWhere is the "resonator bar"? I don't see this on any diagram I've come across. The hammer strikes the tine/spring, which is attached to a post that connects to the tone bar. Is the resonator bar part of the tone bar?

The tone bar is the resonator bar.  It is designed to resonate at a particular frequency.  Every solid mass has a resonant frequency, all the resonator bars in the piano are different lengths set to the pitches of the keys.  When the tine is set in motion, the resonator bar resonates by way of sympathetic vibration.  Same principle of sympathetic resonation in a string instrument.

The exchange of energy between the tine and the resonator bar is what gives the tone a longer decay.  Otherwise the decay would be very short.
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Amplifier Advice
December 21, 2021, 08:27:03 PM
Another option is a tube preamp.  I used to put my Rhodes through a Tubeworks Blue Tube.  It is a 1U rack mount bass preamp, no speakers.  Cheaper than most tube guitar amps.  Bass preamps are designed not to overdrive as heavy as guitar amps.
Quote from: Filmosound 621 on November 26, 2021, 04:35:21 PM
anyway, let me share with you all what I believe to be the ultimate E-Piano home set-up:

the dear sparkle-top active deluxe with two freakin' Ampeg M-15 Amps ( second one came via UPS from Italy today ... )

build in 1959, 20 Watts from two 6L6, 15" Alnico Speakers  :) - these two Amps are upgraded with Altec Lansing 418B's.  :)

Octal pre-amp tubes for all that warmth, shimmer and dynamics one can think of.

these are octal amps that stay clean once turned up in volume, there is nothing like them out there.

non compressed vintage tone, true magical 3D sound.  :)

I play guitar as a 2nd instrument and have a variety of cabinets with different speakers.  I experimented with my sparkletop Rhodes through different speakers.  My favorite for tone are the Celestion alnico "blues" speakers; they're only 15w each, OK for studio recording but you need at least four of them to get enough volume in an ensemble setting.
Quote from: Alan Lenhoff on November 20, 2021, 12:08:37 PM
Passing along some words of wisdom I got from one of the nation's best vintage keys techs:  Don't replace anything on a Rhodes without having a good reason for doing so.  This isn't just to save you time and money.  There are a lot of bad replacement parts on the market that will change the character of the instrument.  (And for the record, this guy actually manufactures and sells replacement Rhodes parts, so he's speaking against his own financial interests.) 


Truth.  Years ago I bought a remote power supply from CAE Sound for a Peterson preamp.  It caused 60hz hum in the preamp when I used it.  When I opened the power supply, I found out that it was unregulated - useless.  A proper regulated power supply will not cause 60hz hum.
Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: Memorymoog DOA
October 11, 2021, 12:28:26 AM
I restored two MM+.  There's a LOT to go wrong in these things, especially after sitting in a case for 25 years.  Some things can't be fixed over the internet.  This thing should be in the hands of a competent tech.
Yes the top lifts off, that's how maintenance is done.  You can take pictures there.

Other than the grill cloth, that's the cleanest silver top piano I have seen.

Restore or sell as is?  I'd say sell as is.  The clean condition will attract buyers.  There's a strong possibility that the felt hammers have worn grooves and will need re-shaving, which is a labor intensive $$$ repair.  Instead of re-shaving, the hammer set can be swapped out for the next generation hammerset with wood/plastic hammers.  They are interchangeable.  Reshave hammers or swap out - leave that option to the buyer, sell the piano as is.
I have a Vox Tonelab SE.  When I tried it with my Rhodes it distorted way too easily.

Tube amps are great with Rhodes as long as they don't distort easy.  That rules out most guitar amps.  Bass tube amps are specifically designed not to distort as quickly and are better for Rhodes pianos.  Usually anything with a 12AU7 or 12AT7 in the first tube stage of the preamp - 12AX7 tubes overdrive too easily.

Another good preamp for Rhodes is the Tubeworks Blue Tube.  It is a 1U rack mount preamp designed for bass.

If you're aiming for a bass combo amp, consider experimenting with different speakers.  I got a lot of mileage swapping different guitar speakers IE Celestion Weber.  If your combo amp has a 12" speaker that opens ups many options for different speakers.  If you don't want loud, my favorite speaker for Rhodes is the Celestion "alnico blue" that was popular in Vox amplifiers - only 15w but fine for low volume.
The pickups on the Rhodes are very sensitive to loading.  The input impedance of any preamp is crucial to noise and tone.

When I got my sparkletop Rhodes, none of the electronics were intact - no preamp, no power amp in the suitcase bottom.  So I experimented with DIs plugged right into the harp.  I had read that a 1Mohm impedance was ideal for that signal chain. 

What I found was that the noise and piano tone varied with different input impedances.  As input impedance goes lower the noise is louder and the tone is negatively affected.  Even my DI with 1Mohm input impedance was not free of noise.

But when I tried a Countryman Type 10 DI with 10Mohm input impedance, the noise was completely gone and I could get a nice full frequency tone.  I got both the fusion bark and bell tone.

I can't guarantee this will work with a '75 Rhodes.  They varied the pickup design over the years.  When I got my sparkletop I also had a '76 stage piano.  I tried the "magic chain" on the '76, and could not get it to sound as good as the sparkletop.  The pickups on the '76 are different than the ones on sparkletop pianos.

The Peterson preamp has a FET input for high input impedance, but to my ears the Peterson (I have a surplus one) is not as effective as the Countryman DI.  I have no idea of the topology of the Countryman as the components are potted in epoxy.  The built in LPF of the Peterson serves to cut noise but at the expense of the bell tone.

Also consider that Rhodes put really crappy speakers on the suitcase bottom.  Since my piano did not have any speakers in the suitcase bottom I experimented with others.  You can get a big improvement in tone using guitar speakers like Celestion 75w like those used in Marshall cabinets (why should guitar players have all the fun?).  That's what I installed in my suitcase cabinet.  I got awesome tone with Celestion alnico speakers like the G12s or "alnico blues" but they weren't hefty enough to handle the wattage.  Weber makes higher wattage alnico speakers but I haven't tried them.

You gotta experiment... your mileage will vary.
Quote from: drpepper on May 23, 2021, 04:51:40 PM
Interesting how the tone bar twist is reversed for the 54. I doubt this would make a difference, though does this imply a different manufacturer? is there any other differences between them. Might be interesting the swap the tonebars to see if they have an affect.

Pretty safe bet that Fender changed vendors for the resonators.  The engineers complained that the bean counters were always looking for cheaper vendors but at the expense of quality.  Often the original vendor had something unique about their process that didn't get passed onto the cheaper vendor.

The resonator is supposed to be the same frequency of the tine.  If they're out of tolerance then this causes sustain issues.  The new vendor may had neglected this.
Primary culprit is wiring of the pickups.  54 is different from 73.  The pickups are very sensitive to loading, and the different wiring is going to result in a different sound. 

The preamp is going to sound different compared to the passive Rhodes (54 or stage piano).

If you want a true A/B comparison, use the harp output (the RCA jack).

Tine sustain problems are usually due to worn/degraded rubber gromlets on the mounting screws for the tonebar/tine assembly.
Quote from: mjbarber431 on March 25, 2021, 05:02:55 PMdoes 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!
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.
Quote from: Cormac Long on February 03, 2021, 05:33:00 AMI 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.
I use a cabinet simulator for recording and for gigs.  They would work for apartments.
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
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
September 19, 2020, 09:37:06 AM
Most guitar supply websites have them.  Google for tolex and check the results.
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.
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.
Quote from: TimeAndTineAgain on February 20, 2020, 08:00:19 PMWhat'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

QuoteHow 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.
Quote from: Student Rhodes on February 20, 2020, 02:26:42 PM
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
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.
Quote from: pianotuner steveo on December 30, 2019, 06:33:36 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.
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.
Quote from: pnoboy on August 16, 2018, 11:29:41 AMIn 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.
Quote from: pnoboy on August 12, 2018, 01:15:50 PM
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.

QuoteAll 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.

QuoteI 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.
Quote from: tomdavids1 on August 10, 2018, 09:26:02 PM
Quote from: The Real MC on August 08, 2018, 10:39:52 PM
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.
Quote from: Tim Hodges on August 06, 2018, 10:58:23 AM
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.
Please use a source other than photobucket.  The pictures do not appear.
Since then I have acquired a Fender tube spring reverb unit (reissue) that I was using on guitars.  I should try it on the sparkletop.
When I bought my sparkletop Rhodes the original speakers, power amp, and preamp were missing (they sounded like sh!t anyway).  I just put a 1/4" jack in the nameplate and wired it straight to the harp.  I prefer this anyway.