Author Topic: "Handyman's Special" Rhodes  (Read 2367 times)

Offline The Real MC

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"Handyman's Special" Rhodes
« on: January 11, 2007, 07:58:42 PM »
I got a Rhodes piano for $0.  It's a handyman's special.  You may think I got a bargain, but fixing it up is gonna cost me  :D

It's a Mark I suitcase top with no lid, no amp.  Harp datecode is "4572" and there is a datestamp "Oct  28 1972" on the left side of the key base - never knew they put a timestamp there.  The harp has a "Fender Rhodes" badge while the panel rail and rear badges are "Rhodes".   Plastic hammer shanks with wood hammers and neophrene tips.  It is missing tone bars, hammer tips, harp brackets, and has ten broken tines.  The tolex on the bottom of the case is badly torn.  Some minor rust on the tines but none on the other metal components.  Two piece keys with plastic keyshells on wood actuators.  Hinge pins for the sustain rail were loose inside the piano.

I used to own a 1974 F-R stage 73 and sold it in 1984 because it had horrible spongy action with the two piece plastic keys.  I didn't think I'd ever own another Rhodes until I stumbled on this one, and the tines have that classic fusion "bark" tone.  I have played many Rhodes in stores with that mellower bell tone -  I prefer the older pianos with that "bark".  The wood hammers/neophrene tips with tines from that era are the key to the sound.

I used to voice my Rhodes back then.  Whoever owned this basket case before me knew nothing about voicing a Rhodes piano - uneven tonebar adjustments and pickups too close to the tines, many of them colliding with the tines!

It has the spongy action of my stage piano, but with the Internet resources I have learned how it can be fixed.  I had played Rhodes in a store years ago with full wood keys that had a much better action, so I located a source with a set.  I also got a harp from them that I will scavenge tonebars and brackets from (no tines though).  MusicPartsGuru.com scavenges parts from busted pianos, so call them to check their current inventory.

I won't be looking for a suitcase amp as they are hard to find.  I will put the piano on a stand and build a power supply/interface for the suitcase preamp (I'm an EE).  Getting stage piano legs/flanges is tempting but it's much cheaper to use a spare stand I have laying around.

I know that Rhodes changed the tines and hammer tips during production, so I will be calling VintageVibe to get proper replacement parts to match the production era of my piano.  I will also be getting "Fender Rhodes" reproduction badges from them.  Have to find a sustain pedal but  from what I read the stage sustain pedals will not work on a suitcase without modifying the wood plunger for the sustain rail.

In the future I will inquire on a custom colored top and re-tolexing of the case.

It's been a long time - after dealing with sampled Rhodes over the years, I'd decided that there ain't nothing like the real thing.   I'm looking forward to hot-rodding this thing so I can build the "ideal" Rhodes piano.

Edit: oh yeah there is something non-stock on the harp.  A small terminal strip with an RC network, and the pickups are connected to it.  There is an auxiliary cable off this RC network with a 1/8" plug on the end.  No audio from this 1/8" plug, but the audio from the RCA plug sounds normal.

Offline The Real MC

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"Handyman's Special" Rhodes
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 09:09:48 AM »
Unfortunately the piano is unsalvageable.

I took out the keys and discovered that the wood case is broken underneath and is irrepairable.  I'm going to scavenge the parts and look for another piano.

Offline Pale

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"Handyman's Special" Rhodes
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2007, 10:54:48 AM »
Hey, namerail + preamp,  tines,pickups,harp,keys,cheekblocks, legs and sustain pedal for 0$. Not bad at all.
'80. Stage 73 Mk II