Author Topic: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?  (Read 818 times)

Offline fromthepuggle

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Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« on: June 09, 2020, 05:25:53 PM »
First post ! I'm thinking of purchasing a Wurli. I already have a late 70's Rhodes Mk 1 Stage 73 I'm fixing up, similar to the one I had in HS years ago.

My primary use is recording (I'm not planning on taking it out to play live at all, though I do enjoy playing for my own enjoyment of course), and I plan to record using the aux out jack if possible, to avoiding issues with mic-ing, especially as I'm in a small apartment and making 'too' much noise isn't great (but medium to semi-loud levels are ok at right time of day).

Because I already have the Rhodes to complement it, I'm looking for the Wurli to provide as much bark, bite, and harmonic character as possible. I feel like I've got the Rhodes already for warmth, though I do tend to adjust my Rhodes away from bell-like tones that I'm not a fan of.

After reading a bunch of posts here, I'm trying to figure out the best model for my needs.

I've read up a lot on the diffs, between tubes and solid state, class-A amplifier and not, hum issues, maintenance issues, and shifts in reed thickness. I know action is often quite different, but I'm used to slow action from playing my older Rhodes years ago, and while I know there's now mods, the action isn't a huge concern to me. More than anything else, I'm interested in tone.
 
I could be wrong, but I think a late 70's 200a with class-A amplifier and thinner reeds will give me the most 'bark', but I don't want to lose harmonic complexity along the way (does that happen with the thinner reeds)?

I've heard great stuff about earlier 100 series tube models, but these often sound more pianet like to my ears, with less harmonic complexity from the reeds themselves if more from tube distortion (which is always nice), just want to make sure that's really the case, or perhaps its just the videos I'm watching.

I'd prefer not to pay crazy prices either, the 100 series seem much cheaper, but I'm open to suggestions.

Thoughts? Which would give me the most bark and harmonic complexity for studio recording?

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2020, 07:47:34 PM »
I believe the sound you are looking for is more in the 200 series pianos as you said. The 100/700 pianos do not have vibrato and sound a bit different.(Ray Charles) IMHO they are more for the collectors who have more than one. The actions are a bit clunky too. The 140/720  series are some of the best versions action wise, but the ones with the solid state amps sound a bit different than any other. I wish they continued the 140 action with the 200 series. The difference is minor, but they feel different, I think it's because the keys are slightly heavier. (Capstans mounted on keys)

Also, to some extent, processing the sound through different effects will help or hinder the sound you want.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 07:53:51 PM by pianotuner steveo »
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline fromthepuggle

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2020, 09:09:48 PM »
Thank you so much, that's super helpful!

That's kinda what I figured, though I've heard some stuff I very much like come out of older tube wurlis on youtube videos too. Tell me if I'm wrong, but it's not all earlier wurlies that lack vibrato, are there?

Regarding 200 series, which do I likely want to get from that group? I hear 200a has better amp and aux out, and a slightly more intense feel to the vibrato (that some prefer and some don't). What about the shift in tines between early and later 70's models of the 200a? Is there much a diff in tone?



Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2020, 05:13:48 AM »
The 100 series models prior to the 140 have no vibrato. And no AUX out.

IMHO, the tonal differences have more to do with the electronics than the reeds in the 200 series, but yes, there are some tonal differences in early 200 vs later 200A models. It's all personal preference. It sounds to me like you want an earlier model.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline cinnanon

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2020, 11:57:41 AM »
Bark = early 200
The 200’s have slightly thinner reeds than the 200A’s

Offline fromthepuggle

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2020, 11:22:41 PM »
interesting. so what about earlier wurlis? listening to more videos, I'm realizing they all sound damn good! I think my initial thought that some of the earlier ones were too soft was just the playing on the videos I heard, but I found some other ones that sound damn barky. There's a 112 and 140b right by me as well. How do those compare?

Offline Alan Lenhoff

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2020, 08:13:04 AM »
My quick, subjective guide:

112 (and other early Wurlis):  Not the classic sound most people associate with Wurlis on recordings.  A thinner, more raw sound without a lot of sustain. No tremolo.  Light action.  Better amps were to come. Parts are hard to come by and these models can be difficult to work on. Someone who has a collection of Wurlis might enjoy the unique character of some of the early 100-series pianos, but I'd not recommend one as someone's first -- or only -- Wurli.

140B:  My favorite.  Arguably the best action (a touch heavier than the models to follow).  Beautiful, round optical tremolo. Nice sustain (at least by Wurlitzer standards.) The same barky reeds used on the 200s.  Great build quality. The negative: While the early solid state amp sounds quite good (and makes the tube amp in the otherwise identical 145B model sound dull in comparison), it can be hissy. You can improve it some by replacing some components, or solve the problem for $400 or so by buying a modern replacement amp.

200:  Uses the same nice barky reeds of the 140B.  Some hiss and hum problems (from the amp and poor shielding), but with time and money both can be fixed. (Replacement amps and by adding the reed shields from the latter 200A pianos).  Action not quite as nice as the 140Bs, but is totally acceptable.

200A:  Improved amp and shielding, but still with some noise issues.  Wurli went to a slightly thicker reed on these, which means a bit less bark.  But the difference is subtle. Build quality of the last of the line fell considerably.

They all have pros and cons. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about all the differences.  The 140B and all the 200-series pianos have the potential to be great instruments, but they are all imperfect, which (unlike digital emulations) is part of their charm. Listen to them and buy the one that speaks to you. And a tip:  Much of the difference you hear in videos of these instruments may be differences in amplification. My 140B sounds mellow and soulful when played through its internal amp/speaker (like the Muscle Shoals R&B songs you hear, such as Aretha's "I Never Loved a Man"). But when I play it through my Silverface Twin, it sounds aggressive and metallic -- a real rock machine that can stand up to loud guitars.  I love both sounds, and it makes me feel like I own two very different sounding Wurlis.

Alan

Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music"

Learn about the book: http://www.classickeysbook.com/
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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 fromthepuggle

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2020, 11:26:57 AM »
Wow, that was a great reply, thank you so much!!!!!!!!!! Spoken like a true lover of the instrument who knows its peculiarities and variations in many situations. Thank you!!

Offline Alan Lenhoff

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2020, 12:25:42 PM »
You're welcome!  I'm sure others have differing opinions. My opinions were influenced by many interviews I conducted with top techs for my vintage keys book.  (See signature below.)  I think it's fair to say there's a consensus among them that the 140B was Wurli's high water mark.  But the 200 series pianos are terrific, too.  Buy your favorite among those that are available to you. Love it -- and play it a lot!

Alan
Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music"

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 jam88

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2020, 06:06:57 AM »

200A ...a slightly thicker reed on these...   

Does anyone have the details on the change in reed thickness between the 200 and 200A?
     --Which reed numbers were changed?
     --What were the thicknesses before and after the change?
120, 206 Chop, Baldwin, Gulbransen, Nord & Yamaha digitals, Antigua Strat, Selmer Mk VI, 10M Naked Lady, etc...

Offline fromthepuggle

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2020, 06:07:32 PM »
I don't know much about the reed change, tbh. I read somewhere it started late 70's.

So what's the difference in sound between the earlier tube wurli and later solid state? I know the early ones lack vibrato and often aux out, and often have less than quick action. But vibrato can be done with an external pedal, and aux out is easy for a tech to wire up. Are there sonic benefits to the earlier wurlis? What about the 'bark' issue? 

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2020, 08:35:07 PM »
The early models have their own charm, but I believe that I said before they may be more desireable to collectors who own more than one model. You have to remember that the real early models are now 60-66 years old. The amps run very hot. My first Wurli was a model 700. A friend accidentally left it on all night and in the morning the power transformer had opened up and I had to get a new one. But that was more than 40 years ago, I don't know if anyone is currently making replacement parts such as the transformers for those models. I really think you are looking for an early '70's model 200. (Non A) When my band recorded with the model 700, we had to mic the speaker.

The sound is very different. Listen to songs by people like Ray Charles for the model 120 sound. Compare that with songs by Steely Dan and Supertramp who used 200's.

I partly became a tech because my model 700 was very high maintenance. It was barely playable when I got it and it was less than 20 years old then. Wurlitzers in general are kind of high maintenance. Soldering skills are a must.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline fromthepuggle

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2020, 12:43:41 AM »
Ok, thanks again. Been trying to get the person with the 140b to respond, no luck yet, but there's quite a few tube one's around for reasonable prices, I guess for the reasons you're saying.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2020, 06:34:43 AM »
Don't get me wrong, the tube amp sound is great if they work well,but I personally would want a 140b or a 200 for a first model. I have owned about 30 Wurlitzers (most were flips) in the last 45 years.
My favorites were my 140B, and my 200,(non A) and my 270. I recently reluctantly sold my 200A, but I just wasn't using it much anymore and had very little work in April and May due to Covid.

Remember, the tube amp models prior to the 140 series have no AUX out and no vibrato. They also are more prone to hiss and hum, they get very hot, and a lot of them still have the "death cap" that needs to be removed. (A non essential capacitor that connected between the AC socket and ground- a shock hazard if when it shorts)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2020, 05:59:09 AM by pianotuner steveo »
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2020, 06:37:22 AM »
What models are you seeing at a reasonable price? (no, I'm not looking to buy any)

The Wurlitzer market has pretty much dried up in my area. (Albany, NY region)
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline Electrickey

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Re: Which Wurli model for most bark/harmonic complexity?
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2020, 01:38:29 PM »
The 200 has more warmth. The 200A is the more requested for use for back line pro stage.

As mentioned if you can try either model and see which captures your imagination.

Try and find  a Wurli that needs little work vs one that is a beater. These days with supply chain break downs and shipping you'll want to have any fix-er-upper projects behind you otherwise you'll end up doing less recording and more fixing and waiting for parts.

The digital clones pretty much have the sound down if you're just looking for representation of the sound in a mix, but the original has its analog charm and like playing guitar somewhat each player gets their own response out of the instrument that a digital sample won't.

My fave old Wurli recording is Joni Mitchell's Woodstock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3SjqGfe-yM