Refurbish Rhodes Suitcase 1970 - Action & Electronic Parts

Started by laurentdm, December 30, 2021, 11:45:03 AM

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laurentdm

Hey guys,

I am the lucky new owner of a Fender Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase from 1970. I couldn't be more excited since I want to restore it and make it sound incredible (or so I hope!).

I'd like to thank you all because the EP Forum is full of useful information!
Yet, I feel like I could use some of your lights before many buyings my rhodes needs.

Here is the deal :

1/ ACTION PART
Keybed is playable but some keys are sticky, dumpers are not as effective in the bass section as in the high section, keybed could use a bit of alignment...
Yet, I'm hesitating on buying vintage vibes or avion studio refurb kit, any feedback in between these two brands?

If Vintage Vibes : https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/fender-rhodes-73-key-refurb-kit
Should I go for graduated angled hammer tips as adviced by VV or go for a replica of my keyboard (square but the bass section with felt) ?
Should I buy key punchings and shims ?


If avion studio : https://www.avionstudios.com/rhodes/complete-action-restoration-kit?category=Rhodes+Action+Parts
Should I buy new screws or is it worthless ?

Whatever happens, I intend to install the bump mod if it can help with the action.

2/ ELECTRONIC PART
This rhodes doesn't have any electronic parts - no preamp and no amp - but still have all four original speakers.
If possible, I'd like to have :

  • noiceless, trustful components
  • have a FX loop
  • no destructive changes
... but I wouldn't mind compromises if it's too complicated!

Do you guys have any ideas on what to do?

Note :
I see that I can buy preamp on avion studios or VV but can't find any ready-to-go amp for my cabinet.
Also, I feel like getting the FX loop is a bit tricky. Maybe should I buy a new name rail, or have holes underneath the keyboard straight to the cabinet and have the FX option available to the side of the cabinet (next to the amplification) ???
For what I have seen money shouldn't be a problem since I want that rhodes to shine!! Yet, would 1000 USD be enough?! I live in France and will have plenty of taxes i guess.


Below are the pictures of my rhodes.
https://ibb.co/k0dyYpz
https://ibb.co/PQQTpmR
https://ibb.co/7RD6xNZ
https://ibb.co/gm1rk58
https://ibb.co/gDFvsGq
https://ibb.co/6bcKjH4


Thanks a lot for your help, I'll be craving answers!
Laurent
Free EPs in Europe!!!

spave

Hi Laurent,

Congratulations on your new suitcase!

I'll try to answer the portions of your post that I have experience with.

1.
QuoteWhatever happens, I intend to install the bump mod if it can help with the action.
/quote]

With a 1970 Rhodes there is a good chance you have Marcel pedestals on your keys that act like the bump mod already. Take one of them out and see if it has a subtle bump like this: https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/fender-rhodes-key-curved-marcel-pedestal
If it does, then you probably don't need the miracle mod. Putting the bump mod on the marcel pedestals have been discussed here over the years and most people agree that is that it is unnecessary.

Also, your 1970 would have had all felt cubed hammer tips originally. It looks like someone put the early colored cubed ones on at some point. I would recommend getting a felt cubed set as your Rhodes's strike line is most likely optimized for them.

2.
QuoteI'd like to have :
noiceless, trustful components
have a FX loop
no destructive changes

The easiest way to get a non destructive effects loop would be to buy a new name rail with the extra holes drilled in. Aside from that, your other big challenge will be finding a working power supply for the suitcase.

If you can find one then you can get new amps from Vintage Vibe or Borish electronics (probably high taxes though) https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/fender-rhodes-power-amp-module
https://reverb.com/item/13825644-custom-fender-rhodes-7054-peterson-amp-set


Could you post some photos of the harp, harp stamps and the gold fender label? It is hard to tell in the pictures, but it looks like your tone bars might have been replated at some point.


Hope this helps  :)
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Filmosound 621

welcome !  :)

I bookmarked this thread, in case I ever buy an old Rhodes Piano.

Member Sean has listed everything you need to know:

https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=5721.0

:)

laurentdm

Thanks a lot for your quick answers, it's great!
Alright so there are my further investigations :

Quote from: spave on December 30, 2021, 02:21:40 PM
With a 1970 Rhodes there is a good chance you have Marcel pedestals on your keys that act like the bump mod already......

yep yep yep, exactly my case. Save me a bit of time and money  ;D ;D
https://ibb.co/28NN1DS

Quote from: spave on December 30, 2021, 02:21:40 PM
Also, your 1970 would have had all felt cubed hammer tips originally. It looks like someone put the early colored cubed ones on at some point. I would recommend getting a felt cubed set as your Rhodes's strike line is most likely optimized for them.
I didn't even think of that possibility.
In your opinion, will durability or sound would be equivalent to the plastic version?
Don't know if useful, but I'd like to get the rhodes to be belly, barky but not emphase on the mellow part.

Here are the pictures of the harp and numbers :
https://ibb.co/qdBWXJ0
https://ibb.co/wYzhmbH
https://ibb.co/ZdhtVxF
https://ibb.co/vzxrSkp
https://ibb.co/ZRQQg1t
https://ibb.co/y083crL

For the suitcase power supply, I guess the follow will suit? : https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/4-pin-rhodes-suitcase-power-supply-rebuild-kit?variant=37907570229431

Quote from: Filmosound 621 on December 30, 2021, 03:08:33 PM
https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=5721.0

thanks for the link, it's awesome. I'll be more than useful during my first restoration process  ::)
Free EPs in Europe!!!

spave

QuoteIn your opinion, will durability or sound would be equivalent to the plastic version?
Don't know if useful, but I'd like to get the rhodes to be belly, barky but not emphase on the mellow part.
 

The felt hammer tips definitely have their own unique sound. Whether or not you like it better is just personal preference. They will wear out faster but they are the correct parts for a 1970 and they might keep your tines from breaking faster (Your 1970 has Raymac tines which are easier to break so the softer felt tips might help them last longer.)

Here is a link to Vintage Vibe's comparison of different hammer tips. The felt cube section has 2 1970 examples which should give a good idea of what your's could sound like. (Also, remember that a large portion of the "bell", "bark", and "mellow" sound comes from how you adjust everything): https://www.vintagevibe.com/blogs/news/the-definitive-guide-to-vintage-vibe-hammer-tips


Based off your harp stamps it looks like you have a late 1970/early 1971 Rhodes. The Mk1's changed a lot between 1970 and late 1971 so you are guaranteed to have a special sounding Rhodes when its all fixed up. Supposedly, the Riders on the Storm Rhodes would have been made around the same time so your Rhodes should be able to get that sound better than nearly any other. 8)

QuoteFor the suitcase power supply, I guess the follow will suit? : https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/4-pin-rhodes-suitcase-power-supply-rebuild-kit?variant=37907570229431

I believe that kit is only to rebuild a power supply if you have one. It looks like your suitcase is missing its power supply so you would need to buy one before getting that kit.


Quotehttps://ibb.co/wYzhmbH
Does anyone know what the "NT" stands for at the end of the serial #? I have never seen that code before.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Filmosound 621


spave

Quote from: Filmosound 621 on December 31, 2021, 04:10:51 PM
how 'bout "new tips" ?  :)

That's an interesting theory. Maybe Rhodes was thinking of keeping both types back then?

As far as I know, the neoprene hammer tips started showing up in early 1971. Because yours was finished the 3rd week of 1971, there is a good chance it was one of the first to get colored cube hammer tips. :)
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

laurentdm

happy new year!  ::)

Interesting theory, I heard Rhodes had some expriments at that time it may be one of these?
I'll take more pictures for archive purposes and wait a bit if some contributors have the answer about the NT part (and what to do next on the tips..?).

Concerning the electronic part, I'm a bit lost on the power supply issue.
If we solve this, I consider buying a new name rail on VV (https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/fender-rhodes-mirror-name-rail?_pos=4&_psq=name%20rail&_ss=e&_v=1.0&variant=32267175559255) and install their preamp. It will look really nice and I'll keep the original name rail just in case.
Free EPs in Europe!!!

spave

Quote from: laurentdm on January 01, 2022, 05:16:55 AM
Concerning the electronic part, I'm a bit lost on the power supply issue.

I've attached a photo of what the inside of the suitcase should look like. The metal box on the side is the power supply.

Also, does your suitcase faceplate look like this? https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/4-pin-suitcase-power-supply-faceplate?variant=19694752628823
It looks like the previous owner might have removed it when they took out the electronics.

If you want to avoid the trouble of getting 2x power amps and a power supply, then you could always run the preamp to an external power supply box then to a different amp. https://www.vintagevibe.com/products/4-pin-rhodes-external-power-supply

Happy new year :)
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

Will


Filmosound 621

#10
Tines and Reeds in Schee├čel, Germany, not far from where I live, has a new pre-amp for the Rhodes as well.

not sure for what kind of Rhodes though, I have no Rhodes.  :)

Mr. Tines and Reeds is a member of this board and kind and helpful.

https://tinesandreeds.com/



Tines&Reeds

#11
Oh, no ;-)

Jenzz is running "Taste und Technik" in Germany.

I'm running Tines & Reeds in Germany :-)

We have our Preamp available also with a mirror name rail. Check this site:
https://shop.tinesandreeds.com/produkt/ferro-vorverstaerker/


Best,
Chris
German Rhodes Tech nearby Hamburg / Bremen

http://www.tinesandreeds.com

laurentdm

#12
Quote from: spave on January 01, 2022, 11:16:18 AM
It looks like the previous owner might have removed it when they took out the electronics.

Oh yes yes yes yes, there's nothing but the speakers by now :
https://ibb.co/6bcKjH4
TBH I was pretty happy to get it cheaper and without the electronics (1900EUR which is a fair price in France I think). The idea was to buy reliable, noiseless hardware for praticable use rather than collection.

Congrats Chris, your Tines and Reeds' preamp looks marvelous!
Well, it's a bit over my budget.. but from what I understand, it has the FX loop and could use another name rail which matches my rhodes perfectly. I may need to review the business plan  :o
Yet, how can I play on the cabinet of my suitcase???
I'd like to use it completely and get the stereo tremolo  ::)

P.S. : Thanks a lot for your messages, it's nice having so much feedbacks  :-*
Here is a video of the beast, sharing my enthusiasm and the HUM of my amp : https://youtu.be/4TQ2L1wOdkI
Free EPs in Europe!!!

spave

Quote from: laurentdm on January 10, 2022, 02:25:31 PM
TBH I was pretty happy to get it cheaper and without the electronics (1900EUR which is a fair price in France I think). The idea was to buy reliable, noiseless hardware for praticable use rather than collection.

Yet, how can I play on the cabinet of my suitcase???
I'd like to use it completely and get the stereo tremolo  ::)

1900EUR (or roughly $2100) is definitely a fair price even for American standards   8)

However, getting the suitcase fully operational will definitely take a lot of $$$. It might make more sense to keep using your guitar amp and refurbish the action parts first.

If you were going to get the suitcase working, you will need: a preamp, an original power supply, 4 pin cable, 2 power amps, the cables that connect the amps to the power supply, and the faceplate for the power supply. On Vintage Vibe, all of that (without the power supply and power supply cables) is $968 + taxes and shipping.

Also, you need to check if the previous owner replaced the speakers to make sure they will work with the power amps. Some of the reproduction power amps can handle different loads but if you get originals then they won't be able to. You also need to rewire the speakers to be in stereo again (They are currently in a mono configuration).


Because of this, it might make more sense to get the mechanical parts working properly and slowly start buying the suitcase parts you need until you have them all. As cool as the stereo suitcase is, it doesn't have as big of an effect on your sound as a proper mechanical refurbishment does.

Hope this helps  :)
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

BlakeHardin

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