What elements make it sound like a Rhodes?

Started by orangefizz, April 03, 2022, 03:53:49 PM

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Hi folks. I had asked this over on Reddit and I think I have a somewhat better grasp of how the sound of the Rhodes is shaped but I wanted to ask Rhodes users here.

As I understand it, the hammer/tine/tone bar assembly are amplified by the pickup—including the proximity/placement of the pickups—and that signal is further shaped by the cabinet and speaker. (I'm leaving out effects here as I'm just interested in the essential quality of the raw sound.)

Someone mentioned that, if you changed the cab/speaker, it would still sound like a Rhodes, just a little different. So that might suggest that the real "sound" of it is in the tines/tone bars/pickups.




you are correct about the basic elements that give a Rhodes its sound. Just remember that the most important part of the sound is how all of those parts have been adjusted. The difference between an amazing rich tone and a dull lifeless one is in how they interact.

Here is a thread that has a really good analysis on the specifics of the Rhodes sound: https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=2896.0
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270


The Real MC

The pickups make a difference.  Rhodes changed them over the years.  I found a great sounding 1967 sparkletop Rhodes, with the right signal chain it gets everything from mellow bell tone to fusion bark, with the pickups adjusted right I could get a wonderful attack transient THUNK just with hard playing.  Very dynamic, very controllable.  I tried the same signal chain with my 1976 Stage 73, it sounded too dull and no amount of pickup adjustment would get close to the 1967 piano.  Both signal chains are straight off the harp.


Very interesting. I know almost nothing about pickups/flavors but these seem to be single-handedly responsible for adding those harmonics that make a sound more meaty/complex.

This post has also been an education:


I stumbled across this really interesting series of build vids looking at how to create a DIY EP sound easily and inexpensively.