Author Topic: Making your early Rhodes action heavier  (Read 388 times)

Offline Alan Lenhoff

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Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« on: October 16, 2019, 07:52:55 AM »
I recently bought a copy of an early Mark I owner's manual from eBay.  It's dated September 1970, and may have been used for several years after that.  I couldn't help but notice that while so many people today are trying to lighten the action of early Mark I pianos with bump mods, the owner's manual had a somewhat different focus.

In a section entitled "Touch Adjustment," the booklet offered a tip on how to make the action heavier.

"If you would like your piano action heavier, it can be made 'stiffer' or 'heavier' by obtaining lead weights from any piano supply house and securing them to the back of the keys."

You do occasionally see Mark I's that have been fitted with weights on the keys. But I suspect Vintage Vibe has done a brisk business selling "Miracle Mod" kits to players looking to take their pianos' action in the other direction.

Alan

Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music" (Coming November, 2019)

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1965 UK Vox Continental;1967 Gibson G101 organ; 1954 Hammond B2; Leslie 21H; Leslie 31H; 1974 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73; 1972 Rhodes Sparkletop Piano Bass; 1978 Hohner Clavinet D6; 1968 Hohner Pianet N II; 1966 Wurlitzer 140B; 1980 Moog Minimoog Model D; 1977 Fender Twin Reverb; Vox AC30CC2X amp.
(See the collection: https://vintagerockkeyboards.com/ )

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2019, 07:10:57 PM »
That is hilarious! I've actually put those weights in some early Wurlis with a super light action, and some cheap spinet pianos for the same reason. But never in a Rhodes...

1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline Fred

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2019, 09:10:06 AM »
Seems like they were taking a "things can always be worse" approach to the vague response of flat, felted pedestals and excessive escapement... ;)
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Offline pnoboy

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2019, 11:32:09 AM »
Early Rhodes, before the bump mod, had a heavier action that felt quite a bit like the action of an acoustic piano.  The bump mod makes the action as light as a feather.  So, people who play both acoustic and Rhodes pianos might like a heavier action in their Rhodes.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2019, 09:33:04 PM »
The early Rhodes action was very sluggish and felt nothing like an acoustic piano. The Mark V felt more like an acoustic.
The only reason I can think of for someone putting the weights in was possibly to cause the keys to return faster. Of course easing keys and protek should help this, but maybe that Rhodes was in a damp basement or other similar place.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline Fred

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2019, 01:19:04 PM »
All kidding aside, perceived weight in an action and articulation are two different things. Because of the design of an acoustic piano (jacks with let-off adjustment, hammer weight, action center drag, etc.), it is possible to have an action that offers an increased resistance while more accurately assuring that a note will sound when the key dip bottoms out.
In the simplified Rhodes action, the absence of a bump, or addition of weights on the keys, can both adversely affect acceleration of the hammer. This can result in a less articulate playing experience.
Action is very subjuctive, however. I most often see clients go for the lighter, more defined feel of the bump, but I do have a fully regulated, flat pedestal '74 on the floor for demonstration. There have been a few that prefer it.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 01:59:50 PM by Fred »
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Offline Alan Lenhoff

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2019, 03:54:15 PM »
Action is very subjuctive, however. I most often see clients go for the lighter, more defined feel of the bump, but I do have a fully regulated, flat pedestal '74 on the floor for demonstration. There have been a few that prefer it.

I agree that action preference is very personal. I wonder whether what seems to be a growing preference for the bump mod reflects a generation of players who mostly know -- and expect -- the light feel of synths.  I have a '74 with flat pedestals that I've set up carefully.  I love its feel, and so do others who play it.  When I bought the piano, I bought materials to do a bump mod because I assumed it would be necessary. But I'm very happy with how my '74 plays without the mod.

Alan
Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music" (Coming November, 2019)

Learn about the book: http://www.classickeysbook.com/
Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ClassicKeysBook/

1965 UK Vox Continental;1967 Gibson G101 organ; 1954 Hammond B2; Leslie 21H; Leslie 31H; 1974 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73; 1972 Rhodes Sparkletop Piano Bass; 1978 Hohner Clavinet D6; 1968 Hohner Pianet N II; 1966 Wurlitzer 140B; 1980 Moog Minimoog Model D; 1977 Fender Twin Reverb; Vox AC30CC2X amp.
(See the collection: https://vintagerockkeyboards.com/ )

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2019, 07:25:06 AM »
There is a difference between a well performing heavier action and an action that is heavy due to sluggishness caused by tight bushings, etc. I'm thinking this particular Rhodes was sluggish due to humidity as I said before. That could explain the weights.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline Fred

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2019, 08:56:59 AM »
I don’t think we’re talking about a particular Rhodes here, rather, the concept of adding weights to make the action heavier found in an early Fender Rhodes owner’s manual that Alan found.
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Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Making your early Rhodes action heavier
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2019, 07:29:59 PM »
DOAH!!
Somehow I forgot about the first post in the thread! (referring to an old manual)
« Last Edit: October 28, 2019, 09:30:57 AM by pianotuner steveo »
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...