Author Topic: Opinions on plastic key models  (Read 3743 times)

Offline vunkturi

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Opinions on plastic key models
« on: June 30, 2004, 04:15:42 AM »
I've got a Rhodes M II with plastic keys...'cause it was affordable.  Stop laughing.

I know there's a big difference in FEEL from the wooden keys, but is there really a difference in sound compared to, say, a '79?
I mean, any more than all Rhodes may sound a little different.

I'm skeptical, as they all had plastic hammers since '76. And it's the hammer that hits the tine, not the key.

Can anyone hear a difference in the plastic keys vs. wooden?
-Sammy "Stuck with a late 83" Hudson


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Opinions on plastic key models
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2004, 04:51:34 AM »
Much of the prejudice is unjustified. The plastic key model is a perfectly good rhodes with some unusual features, though the construction is of lower quality with the action built directly into the case.

The most unique feature of the plastic key rhodes is the adjustable weight of the action. There are 2 slots cut into the case for the balance rail and each key has 2 balance points. The light setting is way too light and doesn't have a good response, but the heavy setting gives a better feel. Heavier than a wood key mkII (which as a pianist I find too light also).

Sound wise the plastic key models have the shortest hammer throw of all rhodes which translates into reduced dynamic range, but not really noticeable from the late 70s/early 80s wood key models.

The major problem with them is that they are prone to having the front guide pins break (they are very difficult to repair, and it is impossible to source replacement modules). This is one aspect of the construction which was obviously an attempt to economise.

Also the rubber standoffs on the highest notes (a feature of the mkV also), tend to harden over time, reducing sustain and making revoicing difficult. However if you take the fork out and pluck it in your hand you will find the sustain is far superior to previous models. The tonebar lengths had been reconfigured in the factory to eliminate the need for tonebar clips. If someone has a method of restoring the standoffs then please let me know!

Voice your piano correctly and you will have a perfectly good rhodes. Other dimensions such as escapement and dampers can be reset the same as other models to improve the feel.

I hope this is useful.



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stand-off replacement
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2004, 08:38:50 AM »
I restored a MkII with stand-offs. I disliked them because of the lack of  adjustability in tone and escapement, so I drilled the harp board to accept the escapement screw as on the rest of the tone bars, and had great results.