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Messages - Alan Lenhoff

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1
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Post your Rhodes pics and its story
« 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.) 

Alan

2
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Post your Rhodes pics and its story
« on: November 19, 2021, 01:10:16 PM »
Thanks for your reply, Sean. I should have known that VV had a solution for this. The legs and other parts I knew they made, but I wasn't aware of the PS. With a little luck, a can do all of this (as well as maybe a miracle mod) and have the piano on legs with sustain pedal and dual channel trem and vibrato for its 50th birthday. I have a couple years  ;D

If your piano was a 1973 model, the action likely would feel desperately heavy to you, and you'd definitely want to do a bump mod.  But after careful cleaning, lubing and adjustments, my 1974 Stage plays beautifully without a bump mod. Make no mistake: It plays like a Rhodes, not like a synth.  But you might want to get other things in order before you buy a bump kit.

BTW, this 12-year-old post by Sean is still, in my mind, the gold standard checklist for restoring a Rhodes:  https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=5721.msg28106#msg28106

Alan

3
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: Post your Rhodes pics and its story
« on: November 18, 2021, 08:43:04 PM »
Your piano was "born"  on Aug. 21, 1974. That was a great era for Rhodes parts and assembly quality.

The 3443 stamp is its final assembly date stamp.  The code is:  week of the year (34); year (4='74) and day of the work week (3=Wednesday).

The transition to the Rhodes-only branding came in '73 for student pianos, but the other models made the transition in '74.  During that transition, they made a lot of pianos with Fender-Rhodes branding on the outside badges and Rhodes-only serial number stickers, just like yours. (I have a June '74 Stage piano that's also branded in that way.)  They were a frugal company: They must have decided to use up their supply of Fender Rhodes badges before making the change to the new outside branding, even though they had already moved on to Rhodes-only serial number stickers.

Another way to verify that it's a '74:  A '73 would have had keys with plastic "skirts" on the sides of each key, and slightly rounded tops. I'm betting yours has bare wood on the sides of the keys, flat tops -- and the front of the keys are more yellow than the tops.  These are the kinds of keys they were using in mid-'74.

It's subjective, but yours is in my favorite era of Rhodes pianos.  Enjoy it!

Alan

4
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Wurlitzer 112a paint?
« on: November 18, 2021, 03:12:56 PM »
Good luck with your project.  Post some photos when you're done!

Alan

5
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Wurlitzer 112a paint?
« on: November 18, 2021, 01:45:36 PM »
The original paint was a unique Zolatone-brand speckled paint, which was often used in car trunks and Airstream trailers in the 1950s. It was sprayed on, and contained little colored particles that "exploded" upon impact with a surface.  The company is still in business. https://www.zolatone.com/  I think it's unlikely that you'll find the same color available today, however, and it takes professional spray equipment (and probably some skill and experience) to get the job done right. For that reason, the leading vintage keys shops tend to send out instruments that need re-painting to piano shops, and typically have them painted in solid colors. I've not ever heard of a Wurli being restored in recent years with actual Zolatone paint, but maybe someone has.

Some hobbyists have tried spray paints like this:  http://www.hobbylinc.com/testors-fx-spray-enamel-texture-sand-2-9-oz-hobby-and-model-enamel-paint-79601?source=froogle&gclid=Cj0KCQiAkNiMBhCxARIsAIDDKNXd7C33IwZNWBrc_ZBzr55mGdMDsAXGSRQYqMj70ij-RIEOFR5a0_IaAjKWEALw_wcB  They come in various shades, some of which are sort of in the spirit of the original, but don't match it.  I can't speak to the results you'd get from using a rattle can.

If it were my piano, and it needed a full paint job, I'd probably send it to a pro, and have it painted a beautiful glossy white or black.

Alan

6
Steve, not very many 145s were manufactured, and not enough sell in any given year to really determine a market price.  (I don't see a single one in the Reverb and eBay sold listings.) I would caution that uncommon does not equal valuable.  The 145Bs, which were a significant improvement over the 145 design, seem to go for about $2,000 to $2,500.  So maybe ask something in that range -- but the seller should be prepared to accept significantly less, especially if it's being sold for pickup only, and isn't in a city with lots of musicians.

Alan

7
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: New Rhodes?
« on: November 02, 2021, 07:47:07 PM »
They say they are making 50 pianos per month -- so these will be rare birds (compared to maybe 50 pianos a day from the original Rhodes factory in its heyday).  So it's more of a custom shop approach at custom shop prices.  That also puts pressure to keep the wait time short or build more and risk quality issues, or, if marketing isn't strong enough, suffering even a small decline in orders against their target quota to put their operation at financial risk.

I agree with most of what you've said here. One added insight: In some of the better sales years, with the "benefit" of the CBS bean-counters standing next to assemblers with stop watches to encourage their productivity, the Rhodes factory was producing 100 pianos a day, and working five days a week. So, the production disparity between the companies is even greater than you suggest. CBS Fender was at times producing as many pianos in a week as the new Rhodes folks are planning for their first year. 

Alan

8
Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: Memorymoog DOA
« on: October 13, 2021, 07:51:46 PM »
>>A proper restore is easily a 100-120 hour job for a competent tech.
Be prepared to spend, and BEWARE anyone quoting sub $5-7k on restoration costs..>>

Ouch!    :o

Alan

9
Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: Memorymoog DOA
« on: October 11, 2021, 10:37:57 AM »
>>Glock G44 Firearm.>>

I was thinking of signing up for some expensive insurance for my instruments, but perhaps the solution at the bottom of your gear list is more cost-effective. (Of course, that doesn't really protect against flooding, does it?)  ;-)

On any vintage keyboard that is DOA after many years of storage, my first suspects would be the electrolytic caps in the power supply, which are long past their life expectancy.  If that's not the issue, I agree with The Real MC that solving this with a few online tips would be unlikely.

Alan

10
The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: MK1 Name rail material
« on: September 09, 2021, 12:13:19 PM »
The rail is aluminum.  But there are enough Rhodes pianos that get parted-out that if you live anywhere near a Rhodes tech, with a little patience, I would think you could locate an original one.

Alan

11
>>Well after doing a third search in the forum I found this!

https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=7628.0>>


The member "Ozdoc" in that thread is my Classic Keys co-author David Robertson. During the production of our book, I shipped many vintage keyboard instruments from the US  to David in Australia, with a shipper who crated them in the manner he describes, with forklift standoffs.  Over the course of several years, I don't believe any of the instruments arrived with any damage.

Alan

12
Parts, Service, Maintenance & Repairs / Re: Do hammer tips go bad?
« on: August 23, 2021, 04:26:20 PM »

Too many times people throw out perfectly good tips and dampers due to marketing hype and groupthink, and then are not happy or struggle to get good results.  Many believe that replacing all the old parts will make their piano sound better, when it is more often issues with action setup, voicing, and tuning creating the problems.
 
Please appreciate that I state this unequivocally as a manufacturer and supplier of new parts, including hammertips. Tread lightly.  Don’t make extra work for yourself and end up with less than good results.  If it really ain’t broke, DON’T attempt to fix it!


Bravo Tim!

This post ought to be required reading for every new Rhodes owner -- BEFORE they run out and replace every part they can find. 

Alan

13
The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: WTB Wurli 140B bench
« on: June 11, 2021, 06:57:29 AM »
That is going to be tough to find. I've only seen ONE in the last 45 years. Is it to complete your piano, or to actually use? They arent the sturdiest benches for adults. But you probably know that! Lol

This bench would be for a friend who's slim enough to keep it from collapsing. (I think!) My 140B already has a bench.  You just never know about these things. In the past day, I've heard from a couple of potential sellers -- which surprised me!

Alan

14
The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / WTB Wurli 140B bench
« on: June 10, 2021, 07:42:38 PM »
Anyone have an original Wurlitzer 140B bench for sale?

Alan

15
The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: First Wurli and First post
« on: June 02, 2021, 07:50:54 AM »
I'll address the replacement amp question:  I've played a piano with the Retrolinear amp. It is amazingly quiet and sounds great. You can see a demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-mo0vHV7io The Retrolinear amp is a whole new, modern design created by Tim Warneck, who has two electrical engineering degrees, and worked on this with Ken Rich, the LA tech, to get the tone just right. They make very high-quality products.

I have never played a piano with the Vintage Vibe amp, but I know that others speak highly of it, too.

Alan


16
Here's a good first step that doesn't require any electronic skills or tools: The crackling sound is often the result of dust or dirt between the reeds and the pickups.  Sometimes you can dislodge little particles by simply banging gently on the keys. But you should also very carefully and completely vacuum the interior of the piano, especially around the reeds. You can also use a powerful flashlight to try to find particles between the reeds and the pickups, but it's likely some will be too small to see.

See if this makes a difference.

Alan

17
Other Keyboards & Software Synths / Re: Homemade electric piano
« on: April 20, 2021, 08:02:04 AM »
What beautiful craftsmanship! Can't wait to hear it!

Alan

18
A holiday gift suggestion this week from JazzWax, a three-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award, written by Marc Myers who writes about music for The Wall Street Journal:

Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music.

This 400-page hardback coffee-table book by Alan S. Lenhoff and David E Robertson features every conceivable electric keyboard produced and includes a superb, fascinating history. Plus hundreds of large color photos of the instruments, ads and other images. Best of all, you learn which rock bands used which keyboards. Set aside a couple of hours of reading and page-turning and listen as you read. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1574417762/

http://www.classickeysbook.com/

Alan

19
I've never actually seen a Philicorda organ in person, so I'm not a good source for you. (It certainly looks like a power supply, however, but other functions may also be included on that board.)  Perhaps it would be best if you asked this question on a combo organ site, such as https://groups.io/g/combo-organ . They do have some Philicorda owners who post to the site.

If you don't have one, you can download a schematic here: http://peel.dk/Philips/Philicorda_GM-752.html

Alan

20
I would check the output of the power supply to see whether it's providing the proper voltage. In old instruments that have been sitting idle for years, it's not uncommon for the power supply capacitors to work fine for a short time -- and then suddenly fail. If the caps are original, they are decades beyond their typical lifetime.

Alan

21
This would definitely be a labor of love/hobby, I'm interested in making a complete DIY guide for anyone else who might be interested and documenting the process for posterity. It would be a bucket-list sort of thing, building and playing my own piano.

I appreciate your advice! Got a link to your book?

Sounds great! You, too, can be lavishly compensated with online praise!  ;-) 

Book links:

http://www.classickeysbook.com/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1574417762

Alan



22
Would you be doing this as a labor of love or a hobby?  If so, go for it, and let us know about your progress! We'll be cheering you on!

If you are thinking of this as a business venture, I'd urge caution.  At the price point you'd likely need to charge, the market will probably be very limited.  Vintage Vibe at least had a large and loyal customer base before they launched the Tine Piano, and credibility from years of experience in restoring Rhodes pianos and selling parts for them.

(This reminds me of the seven years that David Robertson and I spent working on our Classic Keys book.  The book royalties are, shall we say, quite modest. We're essentially being compensated in enthusiastic Amazon reviews. But we knew it was a labor of love. Your project could be a fulfilling contribution to the vintage keys world, too.) 

Alan

23
Yeah, I'd get it back today! You never know when you might have a sudden need to read about how Wurli's were assembled in Mississippi in the 1950s!   8)

Thanks!

Alan

24
David Robertson and I are quite pleased that “Classic Keys: Keyboard sounds that launched rock music” was just awarded a certificate of merit in the 2020 Awards for Excellence of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. The book was recognized in the category of “Best research in recorded rock and popular music.” The ARSC, founded in 1966, is dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings. Its members include historians, archivists, museum curators, musicians, record collectors, music producers, reviewers and broadcasters.

Alan

25
Buying / Re: Handles for Oberheim 4 Voice
« on: September 20, 2020, 10:16:52 AM »
I think the issue is that you're trying to access it from outside the USA.  They are selling what Fender calls its vintage handle. (I think it matches the one on my silverface Twin Reverb.)  But if your client wants an original or exact replica, it may take some patience and luck to find.

Alan

26
Buying / Re: Handles for Oberheim 4 Voice
« on: September 20, 2020, 08:47:53 AM »
I guess some people are fussier than others -- and I can be that way myself, too -- but would something like this not be close enough for you?

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/fender-amp-handle-black-vintage/420544000000000?source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=CjwKCAjw-5v7BRAmEiwAJ3DpuBxEeAbhEQ8fYAiROjv16Idq3OXg6RQJn-EOJ3kKPveI3YbavR_qMBoC3bcQAvD_BwE

I've often found while searching for original parts for vintage keys that the manufacturers used multiple suppliers over the product's run. So the original parts don't always match each other perfectly either.  But if you feel you absolutely must have an exact match, I understand.

Alan

27
Thanks Peter!

Alan

28
Thanks so much, Major!  Tell your friends!  (Well, I guess you just did.)  ;)

It was truly our labor of love!



Alan

29
>>Is this just more mythology? Or can someone actually document dimensional differences between 200 and 200A reeds?>>

I've not measured them myself. But several years ago, when I was researching the Wurli chapter for "Classic Keys,"  Tim Warneck of Retrolinear told me that 200A mid-range reeds measure .024" thick, while the 200/140B reeds in that range are .022" thick.  He told me he worked with Ken Rich (of Ken Rich Sound Services) to develop replacement reeds, and they decided to split the difference:  Their replacement reeds were designed to be .023" thick, which Tim described as "pretty darn close" to the originals in any of those pianos.

(BTW, I'm not sure whether they still sell these.)

Alan

30
On the brightness issue, using an external amp can radically change the sound of a Wurli.  My 140B sounds mellow and soulful through its internal speaker and amp. (Think Muscle Shoals R&B sounds.)  When I play it through my Twin Reverb, it sounds bright, aggressive and metallic. (Like the "nasty" sounds Ian McLagan got with the Small Faces.) The sound you hear in concerts and recordings that you prefer may be impossible to achieve playing the piano through its tinny built-in speakers, which tend to roll off both the bass and treble registers.

I love having the ability to get both kinds of sounds from a Wurli. It's like having two different pianos.

Alan

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