Follow us on Twitter for important announcements and outage notices.

Main Menu

Reed interchangability

Started by Rob A, April 10, 2011, 03:48:48 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Rob A

Quote from: Fred on April 09, 2011, 10:09:00 AM
  I have a service note that we all might find helpful in keeping the 100 series alive. Here is the complete text:

E.P. Note No. 17                                                                                       August 17, 1964

                                    ELECTRONIC PIANO REED INTERCHANGABILITY

The left hand column below lists groups of E.P. reed numbers. The right hand column lists the E.P. models in which the reeds are interchangable.

               Reed Numbers                                            E.P. Models
                  1 thru 64                                           140A, 145A, 720A

                  1 thru 64                                           140, 145, 720

                  1 thru 64                                           120, 700

                  1 thru 64                                           110, 111, 112, 112A,

                  21 thru 64                                         120, 140, 145, 700, 720
                  52 thru 64                                         110, 111, 112, 112A
                                                                         120, 140, 145, 700,

PLEASE NOTE that the model 140A, 145A, and 720A reeds are NOT interchangable with any other models.

PLEASE NOTE that the same reeds are used on the models 120 and 700 as on the models 140, 145, and 720 WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FIRST 20.

PLEASE NOTE that all models EXCEPT the 140A, 145A and 720A use the same reeds for number 52 thru 64.

With the following stock of E.P. reeds, every model Wurlitzer Electronic Piano can be serviced:

                                 Model 140A  - One complete set  (64)
                                 Model 112    - One complete set  (64)
                                 Model 120    - Numbers 1 thru 51
                                 Model 140    - Numbers 1 thru 20

  No mention of the 100, but I have seen an official picture of one. I currently own a 110 (which looks just like the 100 in said picture) and  a 111 (which is essentially a 112 in the darker finish, with the 110's amplifier)

Hope this helps!


Also, see the end of this thread for a bit more discussion about it:
- Jezza

Film composer and orchestrator:


Here are two versions of that memo, from 1964 and 1971.  They are in agreement, but the later one ads later models.

It's written in a very confusing way.

There were probably many versions of the reeds over the years, but the gist of the 1971 memo is the following:

Style 1: (1954-early 1957) Reeds for 110, 111, 112, and 112A can be used interchangeably.

Style 2: (1957-1961) Reeds for 120 and 700. Low and mid notes a little wider than Style 1, and taper is different, affecting position of optimal strike point. The top notes, #52 to 64 (C6 to C7), are either the same as Style 1, or at least compatible with Style 1.

Style 3: (1962-3) Reeds for 140, 145, 720 (not A or B):  Interchangeable with Style 2, as above, except for notes #1 (A1) through 20 (E3).  This also means that, as with Style 2, the top notes, #52 to 64 (C6 to C7), are interchangeable with Style 1.

Style 4: (circa 1964 and beyond) Starting with 140A, 145A and 720A, and moving through the end of series 200A (including 200B and 300), reeds are interchangeable.  Not compatible with any earlier reeds, including 140/145/720.

As Jezza says in the other thread, you CAN use "wrong" reeds, they just may not sound great.  Strike points will be wrong, and you may need to reshape them in a pinch to even have them clear the pickups (esp using Style 2 in Style 1 instruments).


I am repairing my first Wurlitzer 120.  Whoopie!!  I knew what I was in for.  I am managing to maintain a reaction of delight to all of the ridiculous design choices they made with this model.  It's even more ludicrous than the 112!!  But that's not the main subject of this post.

I'm noticing the reeds on this baby.  It appears this one has model-appropriate reeds all the way up.  So I'm taking notes on what they are like.  Of interest is their thickness and beveling, which I believe to be different than on earlier and later models.  All of the uppermost reeds--starting at 43, but no lower-- have what I'd call a "thickness bevel" on one side.  It is very dramatic.

As I noted above in this thread, that "Note 17" claims that reeds 52 through 64 are compatible through all pre-140A models.  However, as we know, that does not mean the reeds are the same.

As far as I know, original reeds on the 110s through 112s are even thickness (except for the solder, of course).  That is to say, each one is "flat" until you get to that solder blob/pyramid.  (It would be great if someone could confirm this--it's hard to be sure because my only 112 repair had quite a mixture of reeds.)

On this 120, the reeds are even-thickness in the same way....EXCEPT that from 43 through 64, the area at the screw is maybe twice as thick at the tongue area.  I have not tried calipers on this, but I think this means that the tongue area is thinner here than on the lower keys.  [Nope....see correction below.]

In the 200-era, ALL reeds have a thickness bevel.  But it is subtle, gradual.  You might not retain a memory of it when you aren't looking at the reed.

The reeds in 120 have a rectangular back --no "corner chip"-- where the screw goes.  The bevel on these 120 upper reeds is sharp--a rapid concave curve to thin-- creating a 4th side to this rectangle.  If the solder blob/pyramid is facing up (which I've decided is probably correct on this model, as on the later models), the bevel goes down, so the side with no solder is flat, front to back.  Again, I don't think the original 110-112 series uppermost reeds have this beveled look-- it came in with the 120.

I'm posting this here for reference.  When I first noticed the bevel I was caught off guard by it, and thanks to some washer scratches on the reeds, convinced myself temporarily that the flat side of the reed was supposed to face the ceiling on this model.  Now I suspect that is false, and that I was about to replicate a mistake made by a prior technician.

These beveled reeds, by the way, start at a pickup division.  The 120 harp has three pickups.  The bass goes from 1 to 20 (E3).  The midrange pickup is 21 through 42 (D5).  The upper pickup starts at 43 and goes through 64.

In case this is helpful to someone, sometime, or even me, later on....

EDIT:  By eyeballing, I think it's that the screw area is thicker in the upper reeds, not that the tongues are thinner.  Something to consider here that that the screws of reeds 40 through 64 are covered by a super-heavy long bar, tightened down with allen-wrench hex screws, and that screws 54 through 64 are further weighed down with a big lead block.  This greatly increases the sustain on these notes (despite certain online claims to the contrary).  It could be that the extra pressure on these reed screws contributed to designing-in the extra thickness.


For what it's worth, in my 112 the reeds are perfectly flat, as if they were simply punched out of sheet metal.
- Jezza

Film composer and orchestrator:


That is good data!!  Thank you.


I edited my prior long post to add in a little data about the nature of the reed thickness.


Here are a couple of attempts at showing the difference in the bevel between an upper-register 120 reed and a 200 reed.  This is probably a #43 (Eb) reed.  Both of them are thicker at the hole than at the tongue, but the bevel is subtle on the 200, while on the vintage 120 reed there is a sharp drop-off.

As I'm querying in another thread (which maybe should be merged with this one), the 200 reed also has a chipped-off corner at the back.  According to Morelock's, the "chip" does not necessarily indicate a 200 reed, but rather the factory where the reed was produced.  If so, I'm not sure there's any way to tell a mid-register 200 reed from a 120 by looking at it.


Here's a question for anyone who has worked on the straight 140's:  The bass reeds.  That famous "Note #17" about reed compatibility seems to indicate that 140s have reeds that are compatible with 120's/700's from note #21 up.  The notes 1-20 are supposedly unique to the 140/145/720 keyboards.

OK, cool.  But when I LOOK at them with the naked eye, they seem to have they same exact taper as 200 reeds.  There is one shape and tongue width to reeds 1-14, and another to reeds 15-20.  They also seem to be the same thickness.  I can only assume, either:

1) They have a different springiness that makes them different, or
2) They are in fact the same, and the memo is wrong.

There IS, as far as I can tell, an error in that memo.  (both the 1964 and 1971 version).  You'd think that, from the 100's through the 140's there is some change in the gauge between notes 51 and 52, because all the reeds are claimed to be interchangeable starting at that point.  It appears that, in fact, the change is between 50 and 51.  Always.  51 is the first reed with a narrower width in the tongue.  If you try to put a #50 reed in the #51 pickup, you may be sorry.  It may not clear.


I have a little tip for anybody out there who has a 110, 111, 112, or 112A, but is using replacement reeds from a 120.

120 reeds will often work in an earlier model Wurlitzer, but sometimes they sound a little bit dead. I think that's because the 120 reeds have a slight taper from base to tip and the scoop of the neck is different. If you use a round file to fix the scoop of the neck and then a flat file to reduce or remove the taper along the length of the reed, you'll probably find that it sings better. This lowers the pitch, so you'll also need to remove a bit of solder afterwards.

In the photo:
Reed 1: 120 reed reformed to 112 shape (it sings beautifully now)
Reed 2: Original 112 reed
Reed 3: Original 120 reed with the wider neck scoop and slight taper.
            (This one sings fine for whatever reason)

My round file was actually a little too small, but it worked.

I hope that helps somebody.
- Jezza

Film composer and orchestrator:


My understanding of the early reeds has evolved a LOT since I posted on this, and my earlier posts are full of errors. I'm horrified to see that I never updated my earlier findings. One major error is my claim that 112 reeds has no grind. They sure did have a grind, from reed F-21 on up. It was the 120/700 reeds, used until the brief pre-A 140/145/720 era, that lacked a grind in the middle range.

Also: bass reeds, A-1 through E-20, never have a grind, in any era.  I made some inaccurate or poorly-worded statements about that, many years ago. I'm not sure what I was thinking, or if I was thinking at all.

This page has my up-to-date data. As my understanding of the reeds evolves, I continue to update that page.

The page may further evolve, as a lot of new data from old documentation has recently come to light.