Author Topic: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)  (Read 577 times)

Offline Little

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54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« on: May 20, 2021, 04:18:22 PM »
Dear members of the EP-forum,

the last months i dived deep into my two rhodes:

a 54 Rhodes from 15/80 (the wiring is changed to ‚normal‘ 6 pin-groups) w. suitcase preamp.
a 73 Rhodes from 10/79 w. suitcase preamp.

Both are in good shape, are on gigs regularely, the 54 beeing the reference in a couple of things.

So i tried to translate the things i like about the 54 to the 73. And compared all the parts, which should be similar as they're just one year apart. I thought....

One that did not work and i want to ask your opinion is the sound HF-wise: the 54 has a ‚high frequency shimmer with a longer release’, the 73 more of a ‚pick‘ and the overtones are not as high. (at the end of the post --> sound/video). I like to know, where this comes from, so i made a short video to show the differences. (I pushed the highs a lot to make the difference clearer)

https://youtu.be/4CaA_zbwmU4

For the experimental setting, i mounted three different D's next to each other:

left MK2 81 (Length = 59,5 mm)
middle 54 (60,2 mm)
right MK1 '79 (61,9 mm)

Tine's ends are even, hammertips the same, tines look the same.




Why is the 54-Tine sound behaving differently in the high frequencies? For me it sounds higher/opener and has a longer HF-decay vs the shorter 'pick' of the two others.

Is it just the tine? And what kind of tine ist this?
(picture of the three attached, they look the same to me). Or did i overlook something?

Cheers, Ulf


Offline Little

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Re: 54 key tines are sounding different - why?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2021, 05:38:20 AM »
Hello Rhodes-World - has no one an idea?

I read tons of excellent discussions here on EP-Forum about different tines (thank you all for that!).

Unfortunately I don't know the older (golden era) ones as my oldest Rhodes is from 79 - and the other one from 80.

But i know that the tines of theese both sound quite different and it would be great to have a clue what kind of tines these are.
Any tips are highly appreciated...

Sample with one (same) tine next to each other : https://youtu.be/4CaA_zbwmU4

(Details above)

Have a good weekend!


Offline The Real MC

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2021, 01:41:00 PM »
Primary culprit is wiring of the pickups.  54 is different from 73.  The pickups are very sensitive to loading, and the different wiring is going to result in a different sound. 

The preamp is going to sound different compared to the passive Rhodes (54 or stage piano).

If you want a true A/B comparison, use the harp output (the RCA jack).

Tine sustain problems are usually due to worn/degraded rubber gromlets on the mounting screws for the tonebar/tine assembly.

Offline Little

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2021, 03:41:11 PM »
Hi Real Mc,

the 54's wiring is changed to standard/parallel-wiring.

And for the comparison i took only 54 pickups from the 73 harp (c to f as the 54), both running through the same preamp. So they should be well comparable and the sound of the tines is quite different to my ears.

When you hear the tines set next to each other i find it best noticeable (and this is the same for the other tines).

So i'd like to know what kind of tine this is. I thought this is the typical mk2-tine - but the left tine in the vid is a mk2 1981 tine and sounds like the 79 mk1.

Offline drpepper

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2021, 04:51:40 PM »
Interesting how the tone bar twist is reversed for the 54. I doubt this would make a difference, though does this imply a different manufacturer? is there any other differences between them. Might be interesting the swap the tonebars to see if they have an affect.
Rhodes Suitcase 75
Wurlitzer 200a
Gibson es 335

Offline Little

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2021, 02:26:49 PM »
Yes, i thought the same (they really look different, matte finish, polished holes, reversed shape), gave it a try today and swapped them. It seemed to change the sound a little bit but the difference was not huge...


Offline drpepper

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2021, 04:45:21 PM »
Ok, good to know.

The next thing I would try is move the spring to the same length for each of the tines. The photo of the 54 shows the spring closer to the end, so it will have a  larger pull on the magnet. The pickup will also be more likely to pick up any vibrations of the spring.

I know it wont be in tune now, but I suspect this is how venders can make new tines match any piano. By creating new tines with the springs at the same length ratio as adjacent tines.

Modifying this ratio will change the sound. You could take a piano, remove 1mm from all tines and then retune. What does this do to the the sound?

All guesses but interested in what you find if you test this.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2021, 05:13:33 PM by drpepper »
Rhodes Suitcase 75
Wurlitzer 200a
Gibson es 335

Offline The Real MC

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2021, 06:03:33 PM »
Interesting how the tone bar twist is reversed for the 54. I doubt this would make a difference, though does this imply a different manufacturer? is there any other differences between them. Might be interesting the swap the tonebars to see if they have an affect.

Pretty safe bet that Fender changed vendors for the resonators.  The engineers complained that the bean counters were always looking for cheaper vendors but at the expense of quality.  Often the original vendor had something unique about their process that didn't get passed onto the cheaper vendor.

The resonator is supposed to be the same frequency of the tine.  If they're out of tolerance then this causes sustain issues.  The new vendor may had neglected this.

Offline Little

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2021, 09:28:32 AM »
Thank you for the input - i am waiting for some grommets i ordered and will do a second comparison including a mkV tine.

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2021, 05:32:45 PM »
The question is, which sound do you prefer.
For my money, since no two Rhodes really sound the same, the difference is an advantage, as it gives you distinct tonal options.

Offline Little

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Re: 54 tine sounding different - why? (comparison-video)
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2021, 08:30:16 AM »
Hi Student Rhodes,

i agree. But there are two aspetcts of my 54 that work better in live situations:

1. The velocity curve, so far i can not reproduce the beheavior. Seemes to be connected to the bump, backrail & form of the hammers. And maybe also to the tines...

2. The sound of the tines, as described above

The fine uppertones don't need so much treble (and as posted, i know the 54 can be basically brighter because of the lower imepdance - but when you use a buffer with high input impendance, this does not count any more i experienced). That makes it easier to place into a mix without boosting the treble too much. Plus - it has less sort of a 'click' than a longer sound - i like that.

The last days i tried the suggestions by @RealMC, played with the spring position and used different grommets/screw-combinations. My conclusion so far: the tines' sound stays the same - so theese are some different tines.