Author Topic: 1978 mk1 stage sound  (Read 4286 times)

Offline 78'er

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« on: September 02, 2009, 02:15:34 AM »
Hello, just joined because this is THE place for information.

I just bought a 1978 Rhodes mk1 stage in near perfect condition.  I like the lightning fast action of this year (3978), but wanted to know if it's possible to get a grittier sound like the older ones.  The sound I have now can best be described as similar to the theme from "Taxi" sound.  Is it possible to get a more gritty sound like that of maybe Herbie Hanc**k?  I've yet to get a proper amp, and currently using some crappy small no name brand.

Thanks in advance.

Offline Ben Bove

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 01:04:00 PM »
It requires a specific set up to get similar to the earlier mark I sound.

The best thing I can suggest is to bring your pickups closer to the tines, and to incorporate more overtones into the tonebar settings.  This is the adjusting of the tonebar screws to mix the "octave" sound and the "fundamental" (when it sounds like it kicks up the octave).

I also recommend an EQ pedal or other to be able to shape the sound better.
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Offline garagebandking41

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 05:14:12 PM »
EQ all the way. I have a 78 suitcase as well. And after a lot of pickup/escapement/harp adjustment, I've become certain that a good EQ will be the only way to coax more of that kind of tone out of her. I haven't gotten one, but plan on trying the MXR 16-band soon.

As a comparison I ran my 54note through the suitcase preamp/amp to see if it was my harp, but the two sounded pretty similar. And my 54 is almost all bark. I might have to tone down the suitcase when the EQ does some of the work. Mellow her out.
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Offline 78'er

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 06:47:47 PM »
Ok, thanks for all of the advice.  I'll try adjusting the harp as well as an EQ.  I guess it's a bit of a trade off, fast action of the newer ones or grittier sound from the older ones, but not both, kind of too bad (maybe), but I still love my Rhodes.  I've tried one of the older ones with the mod bump change, but wasn't totally satisfied with the action.  Better, but not perfect - for me anyway.

Thanks again.

Offline modorange

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2009, 06:45:25 PM »
Try plugging it into an overdrive pedal, or playing into an overdriven tube amp, or also using an eq pedal from the keyboard into the OD pedal into the amp. That would be easier than totally changing the pickups on it.
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Offline keysandslots

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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2009, 07:25:56 AM »
It's possible to get a very light, fast action on an earlier Rhodes without mods.  Mine's from 1974 and you're welcome to come over and try it.

I agree with the others about moving the pickups closer.  It's not really distortion you're after, it's that "bite" that comes in on the attack of the note when the tines are closer to the pickup.  You probably wil not get that from any effects boxes.

Voicing the piano is not very difficult but it is time-consuming.  It's also impossible to screw up, you can't actually damage anything so take your time, try a few different things and eventually you'll either get the sound you want or you'll end up with something accidentally that you like better.

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Offline jim

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2009, 09:35:39 AM »
i've found that increasing the hammer swing can get you closer to the older sound, cuz them old pianos had more distance for the hammer to travel it gives you more power to really lay into the tine.
this is done by shimming under the harp supports and hammer rail.
but then you gotta fix yr dampers tho.

 and strike line.
strike line is the best, search it. i'm too drunk to explain right now.

Offline funkin

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2009, 11:43:38 AM »
one of the factors is
til some moment in early 1975 rhodes had square hammetips.
these square hammertips give early rhodes sound.

the area of the place where square hammertip touches tine
is bigger so it gives that early sound

interesting did anybody here experiment and twist later triangle design hammertips 90 degrees
to make them work like square ones?

the second thing is action.
action (power of strike) should be powerful.

also early tines maybe give some other sound in comparison
with later tines.

Offline jim

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2010, 07:06:58 AM »
hangon, no it's only the corner of the square hammer tip that hits the tine.
just like the corner of the rectangular tip.

u crazy in 2009!

Offline goldphinga

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2010, 05:47:20 PM »
Quote from: "funkin"
one of the factors is
til some moment in early 1975 rhodes had square hammetips.
these square hammertips give early rhodes sound.

the area of the place where square hammertip touches tine
is bigger so it gives that early sound


also early tines maybe give some other sound in comparison
with later tines.


earlier tines have a tighter fit into the tone block and vibrate differently as a result. theyre also made from softer metal. big effect on the sound.

Offline Tim Hodges

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2010, 01:51:44 AM »
Quote from: "goldphinga"
Quote from: "funkin"
one of the factors is
til some moment in early 1975 rhodes had square hammetips.
these square hammertips give early rhodes sound.

the area of the place where square hammertip touches tine
is bigger so it gives that early sound


also early tines maybe give some other sound in comparison
with later tines.


earlier tines have a tighter fit into the tone block and vibrate differently as a result. theyre also made from softer metal. big effect on the sound.


Plus they're also tapered differently.. :-)
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Offline modorange

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2010, 09:13:06 PM »
I set up my 77 suitcase mk 1 with the tines closer to the pickups and it has tons of bite to it. It's really easy to get an overdriven sound from it.  An EQ might help, though if you have a separate amp. I think moving the pickups closer to the tines is a step in the right direction. The pickups pickup the vibration of the tines differently depending on the proximity to the tines as well as the placement of the tine relative to the pickup. What this means is that you are actually altering the resulting EQ by moving the pickups closer. You get more bite. That was the result of my placing the pickups closer and this was a Janus amp, whereas the other suitcase of mine has the pickups at a more moderate distance. The amp is a Petersen. I don't know what would happen if I switched tops, but Still, you will have more bark, more gain and more of a funky sound with the pickups closer.
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Offline Spaceduck

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2010, 07:17:40 AM »
I agree with the idea of adjusting the pickups closer to the tines for more growl & 'saturation'. I have 2 harps for my Mark I stage, one has the pickups slightly off axis like the manual suggests for a tight bell sound while the other has the pickups dead center & really close for an overdriven sound. Both harps are from the same production year (and month, I think), but the difference is night & day. Now if someone could just figure a way to swap harps with the stomp of a pedal, how cool would that be!

Offline shmuelyosef

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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2010, 10:33:03 PM »
Quote from: "Spaceduck"
Now if someone could just figure a way to swap harps with the stomp of a pedal, how cool would that be!


I've thought about this some. Trying to imagine some way that the pickup rail could have a moving taper to drive it up and down and a cam of sorts to move it away from the tines. You could set it up close and one pedal would move it ~1mm off center and the other could move it ~1mm away. For $10K, I will experiment with this on your piano...for $20K it could be motorized!

That's the problem with all these ideas. They take time and money. I generally carry my Nord Electro and have one each of these two types of samples. Not the same, but provides some flexibility.
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Offline modorange

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1978 mk1 stage sound
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2010, 02:30:55 PM »
Another way to at least get a cool Miles Davis Electric sound, is, besides the aforementioned ideas, get a Ring Modulator pedal. The Moogerfooger is incredible, you can use it for a tremolo as well, since you don't have the suitcase, and with a quick dialing in you can get various effects including what sounds like an eq or overdrive but is just a slight ring mod effect to the upper harmonics. I think Jan Hammer used one with his piano in Mahavishnu, and Chick Corea used one when he was playing with Miles. I don't have one but I'm planning on getting one. I did own one but like an idiot sold it. They were used a lot back then, though.

Did anyone mention the pickup wiring?

http://www.fenderrhodes.org/rhodes/manual/ch10.html#fig10-3

It details a mod that increases the voltage output of the rhodes. If you have a '78 it is already probably wired in this manner. Reading this topic

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=338&highlight=pickup+impedance

Leads me to believe that you may be able to produce an older Rhodes sound by modding the wiring  back to the old way. This would reduce gain but increase distortion, possibly. Keep in mind I haven't tried this, I'm only assuming that the sound they got on the old ones had something to do with the wiring of the pickups on the old ones. Please, someone tell me whether this makes sense.

BTW I'm measuring my pickups to reassemble a stage piano to be sure none of them are dead. Do I simply measure the impedance to make sure the pickup isn't open (dead) or is there a range of impedance a good pickup should measure?
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Offline Rob A

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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2010, 05:57:13 PM »
Look for 180(ish) ohms on one pickup.

You know, it would be pretty easy to build some clip leads that allowed you to try out the old-school wiring pattern without committing to it at all.

This suggests several interesting experiments actually (bridge some but not all the gaps, etc.).

Offline modorange

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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2010, 01:40:57 PM »
Cool. Yeah I lost my fluke multimeter and just got an ultracheap digital multimeter and every single good pickup measured right around 180. The bad ones were no where near that.
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