What was the consensus on the percussive attack/quirks of EPs back in the day?

Started by spave, June 26, 2022, 05:32:32 PM

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spave

Hi all,

I just got done reading an old sound on sound article on Ernst Zacharias and the Clavinet in which it was revealed that Hohner actively tried to remove the percussive attack that the Clavinet was known for! In fact, Ernst received a patent to remove it in 1983 that would have likely made it to production had the Clavinet not been discontinued.

Link to the article: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/ernst-zacharias-hohner-clavinet

Today these quirks are integral to both the Clavinet's sound and the other electro Mechanical keyboards but they clearly weren't always thought of that way (Ex: Hammond key click). My question to those of you who played these instruments back then is, what where your thoughts on the percussive aspect of these keyboards at the time? Was the key click in Hammonds as desirable as it is today? How about the percussive attack on the Clav, a desirable effect or a limitation to be overcome? What about on Rhodes and Wurlitzers? It seems like Wurlitzer only cared about their actions and Harold never seemed to be happy with the sound of the Rhodes but I'm curious what the player consensus on their quirks was back then.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

gacki

Quote from: spave on June 26, 2022, 05:32:32 PMWas the key click in Hammonds as desirable as it is today

Is it really? I've worked on Hammonds where players complained about the excessive key click (because the contacts were too dirty).
I think it always comes down to the relation between the attack portion and the sustaining portion. If the attack part is too loud or weird it will feel somewhat out of place. Of course this could be considered a completely new sound; however we usually build on previous listening experiences. A grand piano with an exaggerated "thud" at the beginning of the sound will usually sound somewhat "wrong".
The human ear is very sensitive to the attack portion of sounds so this is a tricky subject.

spave

Quote from: gacki on June 29, 2022, 02:50:08 AMIs it really? I've worked on Hammonds where players complained about the excessive key click (because the contacts were too dirty).
It's definitely subjective, but it seems like every serious vst/keyboard has key click adjustments and at least a subset of diehard Hammond players seem to enjoy the sound of it.
Here's an interesting thread on how to modify vintage Hammonds to get more keyclick: https://organforum.com/forums/forum/electronic-organs-midi/hammond-organs/44967-key-click

I'm not an organ player so I can't say the key click is that essential to me, but I thought it was an interesting example of a "defect" that some contemporary players find to be very desirable.


As a counter example, nobody wants a realistic Rhodes emulation where repeated bass notes cancel each other out when using the sustain pedal, so there are definitely "quirks" that no one wants in modern vsts of vintage gear.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270

gacki

Yes, also "key click" doesn't always mean the same. Sometimes it's more of a very sharp single click (where it might or might not make sense to make it more pronounced); sometimes it's a messy noise consisting of several clicks (this is more common with dirty buss bars).
When the Clavinet emulation was done in Logic (back in the Emagic days, before the Apple takeover) there was also discussion how the aging and "gooeyness" of hammer tips should be integrated in the simulation. Do we really need or want a model of the behavior that the string sticks to the hammer on release of the key and then gives another "thud" when finally breaking free?

spave

Ya there is a fine line between a sterile reproduction with zero quirks (the DX7) and overly realistic. I think it really depends on who the target audience is (ie vintage aficionados vs players looking for something that sounds good even if its not 'Historically accurate")

For instance, I remember seeing a review awhile ago for one of Yamaha's CP or YC stage keyboards and the reviewer was complaining about how some of the Rhodes samples had different quirks on random notes because they use samples of real instruments. He seemed to be annoyed by it which was funny because most of the people on this forum would probably appreciate having those little details. I can't say I'd want a Clavinet emulation with sticky hammers but as the sample realism arms race continues, I'd imagine things like that will continue to be added to the most expensive emulations/keyboards.
1969 KMC Home Rhodes Prototype
1971 Suitcase Fender Rhodes
1977 Wurlitzer 270