Author Topic: Thumbtacks in the hammers  (Read 5131 times)

Offline noplayinmfer

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Thumbtacks in the hammers
« on: April 26, 2004, 04:23:40 PM »
I came across a studio engineer the other day in Manhattan who mentioned that a certain Herbie Hancock was known to use a modified Rhodes in which thumbtacks were stuck into the hammers.  This was responsible for the percussive nature of his Rhodes sound.  I have not been able to find much confirmation of this on any of my web searches.  Has anybody on this board heard of this?  It sounds like it could be a cool thing to do, but I wonder if the thumbtacks hitting the tines might cause damage.

Offline vicvega1972

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Thumbtacks in the hammers
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2004, 01:11:37 PM »
This is patently not true, for the following reasons:

1. Herbie Hancock's sound was not percussive (ie, there was no discernable attack on most recordings - it is a round sound).

2. Herbie's rhodes was serviced by the head engineer of the rhodes factory - Steve Woodyard.

3. Try to imagine what a metal thumbtack would sound like hitting a metal tine.
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Offline noplayinmfer

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Thumbtacks in the hammers
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2004, 05:15:27 PM »
Hey VicVegal1927,

I appreciate your reply, and I see that you have posted a number of times on this board and that your signature indicates that you are a Rhodes tech, so I don't doubt that you have knowledge about the Rhodes.  But, I think you need to get off your high horse and not reply in such a condescending manner.  I have owned a Rhodes for 5 years now and have done my fair share of modifications.  While I am not the expert you seem to be, I definitely think that Herbie's sound has a good deal of attack.  If I read your reply correctly, you seem to be saying that a round sound is mutually exclusive from having a percussive nature.  I actually just found a post on the "modifications and upgrades" section of this board that dealt with the Herbie sound.  Apparently another poster called "goldphinga" may have actually spoken with Steve Woodyard about how he achieved the Herbie sound.  I guess the thumbtacks thing might just be an urban legend after all, but there were modifications such as extending the harder hammers downward to enhance the attack.  Check it out.

Offline vicvega1972

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Thumbtacks in the hammers
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2004, 01:45:48 PM »
I re-read my reply and it is condescending - I apologize, as I did not intend it to be that way.

I am aware of Steve's use of different hammer tip break points, and have conversed with him directly on a number of different issues. I guess we differ on the word "percussive" to describe the sound. I viewed it as bell-like with a definitive high frequency attack (think Dyno). Herbie's sound was power with more fundamental - as opposed to high harmonic. But one person's "clank" is anothers "thud". You can read about hammer tips by Steve here:

http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/hammer-tips.html
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Offline noplayinmfer

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Thumbtacks in the hammers
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2004, 09:33:41 PM »
Hey, its all good.  Thanks for clarifying what you were talking about in your initial post.  I'll also be checking out that link.  As for the thumbtacks in the hammers, the idea sounded kind of crazy and dangerous to me as well, and I figured this message board would be the right place to go for a reaction.   Maybe there is a cat on this board that knows where this thumbtacks rumor got started.  I found a few random references to it on a google web search and also on a newsgroups search.  Nothing definitive though.  The mystery continues.