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Messages - chigalihape

The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano / Re: 1965 sparkletop
February 19, 2023, 03:43:52 PM
Hi all !

My lucky star put an early sparkletop in my path recently and I'm preparing its restoration. As Seanfir says, it is very difficult to find resources on these early models, and we agreed to share this post for the community to benefit.

I think my piano came out of the workshop in mid 1966. The speakers are Jensen from Sept. and Dec. 1965 (1 was substituted by an Oxford from March 1969) and the potentiometers are CTS from May 1966.
He's gorgeous for his age! The harp is in very good condition, 100% Raymac tines, original tone bars as well as the pickups (except 3).

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You cannot view this attachment.

The action is entirely in wood, and is also in pretty good condition... except for the Teardrop hammer heads, which have already been reshaped once or twice and have some significative grooves on the upper 2/3 of the keyboard.
I will replace them in a second time, my priority for the moment is on the action which is very short and stiff, and thus not very pleasant to play.

Like Seanfir's piano, the pedestals AND hammer butts have felt, respectively white and red. The pedestals are fitted with the aluminum bump.
The white felt on the pedestals, looks quite old, the sticker being dry and easily removed with the fingernail.

On the shema 8-2 of the service manual, the bump is presented without felt, the felt being on the hammer butt.

After hours (seriously) of searching on the internet, I did not find any picture of these pedestals without felt like on the service manual, even less picture of the hammer butt... here are the ones on my piano.

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You cannot view this attachment. 

I wonder about this pedestal felt: is it original? What was the real original design?

I read your article Real MC (thanks for sharing the information!) and I see that the felt is on the pedestal, but I understand that the hammers are hybrid cycolac/wood. Is that correct?

I tested by removing this pedestal white felt, and as Seanfir says, it's night and day, much lighter action (almost too much) and dynamic. And this despite a much too important escapement. 
By the way, two shims are present under the harp supports, and I think that by removing them, we should be not far from the good escapement without pedestal felt. 

So any advice is welcome! Thank you guys!
Hi Seanfir,
Hi all,

I have the same question about the meaning of these numbers on my Sparkle top. Below are the pictures of the 1st keys.
I estimate that my piano was manufactured in mid 1966 (Jensen HP from September and December 1965, preamp potentiometers from May 1966).

We find in a more faded way the stamp AR(?)1-SAN and the 94. For the other numbers I do not see an obvious link with the dates of manufacture.

Hi every one,

As I was still wondering what TBJ meant, and I guess I'm not the only one, I put here the informations found on this forum, as well as a nice old picture present on the actual TBJ website, which probably speaks to all of us here!

Quote from: Ben Bove on October 12, 2015, 04:47:18 PMAll the date codes were not put on by Fender themselves, some of them are dates applied from the vendors they subcontracted parts from.  For example, the most consistent date code on a Rhodes is in the upper right hand corner of the harp, or 2272 in your case.  This was actually applied by Turbo Jet (TBJ) upon completion of the pickup rails, who supplied the pickups for Rhodes pianos.  This date isn't a completion date of the whole piano - just the pickup rail by another vendor, which was then put into a piano later on.   

Quote from: Ben Bove on June 07, 2016, 02:54:22 PMTur-Bo Jet (I guess is the actual spelling), which also goes by "TBJ Designs" on its site, was a vendor that Fender used to outsource the pickups.  Just like the keys, Fender didn't make the Rhodes pickups in-house.  Looks like they're still in business, and still specialize in electro-mechanical devices including coils.

Quote from: Tim Hodges on February 24, 2010, 03:56:59 AM
QuoteBy the way, who turbojet is?

QuoteAs a quick background, the pickups were installed by a company called Tur-bo Jet. Fender would send the wood rails to them, Tur-bo Jet would install their pickups onto the rail, and then send it back to Fender.

All the dates in the upper right hand corner were applied by Tur-bo Jet as their dating for completing assembly on the pickup rail (most believe it's a Fender date). So when they finished, they stamped "4375" on yours.

The TBJ1-5 stamp, usually a little circular stamp is a quality control stamp. So it looks like an inspector OKed the rail and stamped his number, can't confirm but I see a lot of circular quality control stamps on Fender stuff.

Whenever you see a "TBJ" number in the top right hand corner of a Rhodes, it's actually a part number. All 73's have a TBJ number of 010254 which is the part number (size of the rail), and all 88s have an 010459 TBJ number {size of 88 rail}. they changed in late 1979 with Mark IIs I guess maybe dimensions were changed so new part number... but it's more of an inside thing.

TBJ pickup rail picture
Another great research and analysis ! thank you very much Spave for sharing this knowledge.

I was wondering if my sparkle top number 320 could be the 320th Rhodes on this earth, it seems almost right ! wow !
Hi Spave,

I just picked up a Suitcase from this era and your post is very interesting.
Your research, thought and approach are very credible, I love it ! 

My piano's serial number is 50656 with date stamp 3071.
Continuing your thought, let's call this point 1bis.
So, 139 pianos would have been released between week 30 (1bis) and 35 (2) in 5 weeks, with an average of 28 per week. Between 1 and 1bis, that's 223 pianos over 27 weeks.

This can confirm your conclusion of production by batches.


even though it was a proto, the design on the photo is very nice.

the guys @CLFResearch may have some informations ?
Hi everyone,

A picture on clfresearch's Instagram caught my attention, showing John McLaren working on a MKII suitcase . Don't know what "maximum mod" means, Rhodes mod or simply John's attitude !

The weights fixed on keys intrigued me, perhaps installed or at least kept in place by someone who knows what a Rhodes is.

Its look like Jiffy lead use for Wurli for example. So I decided to try with materials I have on hand, a roof lead sheet.
Each piece weights about 30g, like Jiffy leads, and is put around the key arm. For that test, tape is used to block the piece, to avoid making holes or any destructive technics. See picture above.

The effect is light on attack, but pretty cool on release, with a nice feel of something real under fingers. I haven't played for hours yet, but it seems to be a interesting solution to improve the plastic keys feeling. For information, my balance rail is in front position.

As anyone already try this or something similar ?

(As usual, sorry for my English)

CLF Research is the company Leo Fender founded in 1966, where he continued to support CBS/Fender until 1970, later developed and manufactured Music Man instruments and ultimately his G&L instruments. Dave & John McLaren seem to lead the company now
Thank you Sean !

The link below contains :
- a PDF file of the manual
- 600dpi resolution scans for each pair of pages, in JPEG
- an extract of the two figures, single key view and exploded one, 600dpi JPEG

The content is exactly the same than the MKII manual on, except the two figures shared in this topic (and one title :D) . I also sent them the link.

The manual was supplied with my MKII, acquired last summer, which is in the same very good condition, almost NOS (realy). I would have preferred one with wooden keys, but fate had it otherwise ... I was not so far away, the date of the stamp indicates April 1981 ... perhaps one of the first batches of plastic keys  ::)

Despite this, I am very happy with it, and "he" has become my best friend !

(sorry for my google translate English...)
Hi everyone,

Here is the late MKII, with plastic keys, action figures : the single key view and the exploded one. I haven't find it on internet, so if it could interest/help anyone.
Hi sean,

My knowledge of electronics is very fragmented, so thank a lot for your analysis which advances my thinking!

For that late Janus, I wonder why the designers imagine schematics like this... the first Janus seems to have effectively only one double OPA for preamp.

May I ask you to take a photo of the component face of your late Janus, to compare it to the schem like a seven mistake game. The corrected schematic would be a useful resource which is missing for everyone on internet, at least for guys like us  ;D

Thanks !
Hi Guys,

Even if this topic seems to be an old one, it's just my goal for now : Build this late Janus preamp section ! (only preamp, 'verb and trem on my fender amp are greats)

I've first "breadboarded" the Peterson, but this late Janus sounds better for me, more clear, more dynamic.

I used the same schematic as you :

I think there is a mistake for U2 gain control : with R8 46,4k an R13 464, gain is x101 !!!. I have tried R13 4,64k for a x11 gain. It's better, but there's still distorsion at high levels.

did you encounter this problem too ? Have you find a solution ?
I spent a lot of time looking for photos, informations for this late Janus... but nothing... 

Chris, would you share the files of your first post again, the dropbox links are dead ? I would be very grateful to you.

See you !