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Clean Rhodes 78 or ugly 72?

Started by eddie_bowers, March 02, 2019, 02:18:59 AM

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I found a local guy with two Rhodes 73 stage pianos. The 78 is super clean inside and out. Very well taken care of.
The 72 has cosmetic issues including a cigarette burn that melted a dent in a key. It also has an unidentified electric box mounted inside. I'm assuming it's a home made preamp, but i'm not expecting much. It's in a cheap project box with a two prong lamp cord. It also look like the power transformer for it is mounted inside the piano fairly close to the pickups.
The harp and hammers all look good though. I can replace the tips or at least the ones I see that have a divot in them.

Because I want a project and it's an earlier piano, I'm leaning towards the 72. He initially said $650 for either, but that was before I saw the problems with the 72. I might could try for $500.

Does that sound reasonable? The only thing I don't know how to fix is burned plastic keys and the scratched top (very scratched). but it would be a good project piano to get good at setting up. I fear the 78 is just nice (if a little too chimey) and not much adjustment would improve it.


In the title, you're talking about 78 & 73 and in your topic 78 & 72, is it a 72 or 73 ?
Have you checked the stamps on the harp on each ?

The best answer I can give is actually a question : Have you tried the pianos ?
If yes, what's your favorite ?

For sure the 72 seems to be in bad shape, but sometimes, visually it's bad, but sonically it's very good.

I owned 4 Rhodes in my life, 74, 77, 78, 72, I still have my 77 and 72, and I prefer the 72, but it's my personal opinion... The 2 are perfectly adjusted, so it's easy to make an opinion. But in your case, maybe the 72 doesn't sound as it should...

Another thing, 72's are more rare, so usually more rated, and for me of better overall quality...

You really have to test them, because a 78 could be an excellent piano and a 72 a bad one.
I disliked my 78, hated my 74, really really like my 77, love my 72 Buz Watson.

I hope I helped you



Wurlitzer 200a
Wurlitzer 145
Fender Rhodes (1966, 1971, 1975)
Hohner Clavinet Pianet Duo
Hohner Clavinet D6s and C
Hohner Pianet T
Hohner Pianet N and Combo Pianet
Hammond B3


Sorry for the bad title. The older one is definitely a 72. It might a bit tough to compare them sound wise without adjustment but I will try. I guess I should tap direct off the harp on both to compare since the 72 has some wacky rigged electronics added.

It's a place that has stuff staked up, so it was some effort to look at them. I need to take a day off and spend some time listening. Maybe being some portable headphone amp?


I think the best would be a good guitar amp to test them...


Yeah, it's just a situation where you have to dig a bit and move heavy stuff just get a guitar amp next to it. I literally had a French horn case get dislodged and fall on my head. Lukely it was empty and light.


The lightest gear you can use is maybe a MacBook with a small interface, like an apogee solo and headphones...
If you find a Moog Modular on that room please let me know ^^


I don't think the sound of these two pianos will be the big deal between them. 

These two pianos will feel so different under your fingers.

The 1972 piano will have rounded-top white keys, and sharp-cornered black keys.  The 1972 piano will have half-wood hammers and square hammer tips.  The 1972 piano action will probably feel heavy or sluggish compared to the 1978 (miracle mod will fix that). 

The 1978 piano will have nice flat white keys and more rounded black keys.  It might have a lighter-feeling action.

I always paste in this list of features when I see a pre-1973 Rhodes:

These are the major differences that this 1972 piano has from later years:
It will have half-wood hammers with square hammer tips.  Nice.
It will have rounded-top Pratt-Reed fully-skirted white keys.
The black keys will have more angular front edges, rather than more nicely-rounded edges.
It will have the split damper felts that look like tooth roots.
The action will quite likely be heavy or sluggish, so the miracle mod pedestal bump will help.
The key pedestals have their front edge beveled, but this portion does not contact the hammer cam.  Yours might have the marcel curve.
The black rounded lid will be thicker than later years, and feel more like vinyl than styrene.  It is taller than later years.
It still has the old-style small hinges on the back, doesn't it? 
The sustain pedal is the nice old non-painted style with the original shape.  Sweet.
The sustain rod might have Rogers USA molded into the wing nut.
The control plate on the name rail is mounted about two centimeters to the left, so the output jack is about one key lower (it sits over the A instead of Bb)
The piano logos still have Fender branding.
The sides of the case and the lid are not sawed straight, they have the birds-mouth notch so the sides of the piano dip below the cheek blocks before they get to the front of the piano.

However, none of that matters, because you have already been given the correct advice by mvanmanen:  BUY BOTH!

And if you pass on the 1972 piano, you will regret it.  Do not lose out on that one.  The action might turn you off initially, but you will eventually love it.  The 1972 will probably be easier to get that "honk" from hard strikes (and I think that the honk is desirable - nice to have that different tone color, texture, and variety in sound).

If you get both, you can have the 1978 piano to play now, while you do the work on the 1972.  When you are done with the 1972 restoration, you can use it as your main piano while you tear apart the 1978.  If you decide that two pianos are too much for you, you can eventually sell the 1978.



$500 seems like a great price. If the 72 were near me I would snag it in a second.

If you have a chance to post some pictures please share.  :)
Wurlitzer 200a
Wurlitzer 145
Fender Rhodes (1966, 1971, 1975)
Hohner Clavinet Pianet Duo
Hohner Clavinet D6s and C
Hohner Pianet T
Hohner Pianet N and Combo Pianet
Hammond B3


Here is a fairly blurry photo of the 72 with the top off.


Like this it doesn't seem to be ugly !!

All I can say is :

- The harp was achieved the 22th week of 1972
- The piano leave the factory the 2x week of 1972
- It has been modified with a preamp, it explains the wires
- The keys seem to be in good shape, and they maybe are from the Marcel Curve pedestal era which is very good.
- Some grommets are bads and maybe stiff
- the tonebar plating seems to be good and not too oxidised
- Except the preamp, it seems to be original (little ground wire, RCA cable...).

I'd really go for this one, and like the others said : buy the 2 !


Thanks so much guys!
I guess now I just need to make workshop space for it and then convince my wife it's really worth the money. Getting both would be ideal, but that would be a very hard sell even though I'm sure I could make some money on the 78. Space is always a problem. I give my wife a hard time when she buys stuff and she has no place to put. She it will at least have fun making me eat my words   :D


Tell us, have you bought the Rhodes ?


It's not super close to my house. I'm back over there on Tuesday and will take a headphone amp to connect to the harp of the 72 to check the pickups. Then I will make an offer.

I happened on another one in really terrible shape the other day (76 maybe). It's keys where not straight (all over the place) and it had tons of stuff piled on it. The guy at the shop wouldn't even bother letting me dig it out. He said his boss is the only one that could tell me what he would sell it for anyway. This was a music store with pretty typical low end new instruments, but in a large corner they literally had piles of interesting vintage stuff in really rough shape. That's the stuff I want to see, but that guy wouldn't let me. Weird.

I will post back after my visit on Tuesday.


Quote from: eddie_bowers on March 17, 2019, 11:31:48 AM
but in a large corner they literally had piles of interesting vintage stuff in really rough shape.

God bless America  8)

This kind of stores are pretty rare in Europe ! Some in Paris or London...

Keep us in touch ;)


I visited the piano today and tested it. It has one dead pickup (no big deal). I can only get sound directly off the harp. That preamp (assuming that's what it is) currently doesn't function. Good news for negotiating a price.

I was a little surprised that the output from the harp easily distorted the input on my little zoom headphone amp. I expected it to be lower than a guitar signal.

The guy suggested he might let it go for $500.
I just need to scrape up a tiny bit more cash and it's mine.
I asked if I could put some money down, but he told me not to worry about it "it will still be here in the next couple of weeks".


Cool ! Did you like the sound coming from the harp?
Have you tried the 76 too ? Differences between the 2 ?


Yes I did. It was surprisingly hot though. I like a dirty rhodes sounds, but I couldn't get it clean with my little battery powered headphone amp (made for guitar, but I turned off all the modeling and effects). The pickups do appear to be adjusted as close as possible. It has a nice fat sound. Less clear and percussive as the 78, but that could be a difference in setup and hammer tips. It has the cube tips. Some badly indented. Some show a hint of paint color (original tips?).


If the pickups are close to the tines it's normal to have a fat sound.
I think the rhodes's impedance is lower than a guitar, so it's normal too to have more juice with the rhodes.
A guitar has 6 strings, but with a piano you can play 10 notes at the same time + the ones you play with your sustain pedal... That makes the signal even fatter, and make your headphone amp overdrive...

The hammer tips are a big factor in sound differences between early and late models, it's a good thing to be able to compare a 72 with a 78 side by side, you'll get the best sounding to your ears.

The color on the tips represents the hardness, so yes, if they are slightly colored, they might be originals (if they are totally colored they are VV reissues).
Take a look on the 1st picture on this link :


I am horrified to learn that you are going to miss out on the 1972 piano.

Tell the guy that you will be back for it, or tell us where it is.


No, I'm getting it for sure. He put it back in a corner standing on end behind a bunch of boxes so nobody will ask about it. I just need to scrape up some more money and he didn't want to mess with having me put money down right now. He assured me it will still be there in a couple of weeks when I'm ready to pick it up. I trust him. He has bought and sold a bunch of stuff from one of my oldest friends and he may even get me to look at one of his vintage synths he can't sell because it wont power up (He knows I have an electronics background and have restored a few tube amps).


Finally. It's loaded up in my little car now and I'm headed home. Yay!


Cool ! When you're home, send us some pictures ;)


Unpacked it today. The stuck keys let loose as soon as I pushed on the hammers a bit. It has all it's legs and braces as well as the sustain pedal. It appears the hammer tips are toast. I'm not sure if those dampers are shaped that way originally or if it's from wear. I haven't seen examples like that.

I guess I will start with the dead pickup, then I guess hammer tips.

BTW It DOES have a harp cover. For some reason I don't start taking pictures until I pull it off. It's pretty scratched, but no big deal.

Student Rhodes

I'd say, yes, the dampers are original, and no, your tips are not toast. 
From the photo it looks like there may be plenty of meat left on the square tips anyway. 
You may end up trimming them back with a blade, but from this angle they look totally serviceable. 
I think you're going to be really happy with this when you get it up and running.


WoW great ! Very nice piano !
Apart from the rail, everything seems to be original : piano and under flycase latches, hammertips, tolex, logos, legs, legs bag...
One crossbar is missing, right ?
What's the crossbar big bolt shape ? Round or like a star ?

Yes, change the bad pickup, use compressed air to blow all the dust (I'd dismount the harp assembly and all the keys, it's more efficient). It gonna take a couple hours in total max, but it's a good starting point.

After that, I'd try to find a new rail to eliminate the preamp and give to this rhodes its original look and sound.

Tim Hodges

Good news is that I have a MK1a rail which is a perfect fit if you're interested?

Later MK1 rails had faceplates and then additional holes for effects loops.
Bristol Electric Piano



 I was assuming I would just have to accept the extra hole in the rail. I was thinking about making it a harp insert for pedals or something  (with a TRS jack). BUT I would definitely be interested in finding how much you want for an unmodified rail.

As for the hammer tips. What about the wood core ones where the wood is exposed? I think I read somewhere you can just use heatshrink tubing to recover them. (Maybe I'm imagining that).

The pickup may be a bad connection or broken wire I can resolderd.  I haven't had a close look yet.