Author Topic: VV EP 64: A review in german  (Read 3985 times)

Offline Nitrofunk

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VV EP 64: A review in german
« on: January 16, 2013, 05:31:50 AM »
Hey!
If anybody is interested: Here is a review (without soundclips, unfortunately) of my new VV 64 EP. It's in german, so you have to unse Google Translator :-).
http://www.musiker-board.de/orgel-vintage-keys/462597-vintagevibe-electric-tine-piano-leichter-rhodesnachbau-3.html
And here are some pictures:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nitrofunk/sets/72157632348323207/

Peter
Vintage Vibe 64 Tine Piano - Strymon Mobius - TC Electronics Hall of Fame - Podium MXVS Amp
Fender Rhodes Suitcase 88 ('74) - MXR Micro Amp - Small Stone Phaser
Moog Prodigy
Nord Piano
Suzuki Pro 38 Melodica

Offline drcarver

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 11:42:39 AM »
My German is a bit rusty, but I think he likes it!  I've been seriously considering buying one of these...I miss playing my Rhodes live, but its just too heavy to lug to the gigs!  :)

Offline Dote

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 02:21:54 PM »
Hi,

I have tried to come up with a translation. Wherever needed I did not translate in the literal sense since it would be very time-consuming and hard to read. I did this translation without permission of the original author. I hope he does not mind this. Hope you all enjoy! Oh and btw I added some comments here and there for you to better understand the text.

All the best,

Dote

"A dream come true in red: The Vintagevibe Electric Tine Piano. A Users Review.
Brainstorming: which three things come to your mind when you think about the Fender Rhodes? In my case it were the cool looks, the gargantuan weight imparting a sense of quality, the typical sound and that pleasent smell of wood and Tolex. A unique instrument, but not inimitable. Because the US based company of VV- for years the international top address for Rhodes restauration- has put its know-how into the construction of a new instrument that is more than a simple Rhodes copy: The VVP could well be the dream come true of a lot of Rhodes enthusiats, if they are willing to take some trouble on themselves

Tour to the Nethelands
These problems start with ordering. Because up until now there were only two european dealers, that would import from the states and sell the piano: Classickeys from the UK and EP-Service from the Netherlands. I myself ordered my piano (64 key model, red, active electronics, series # 077) without any trouble via EP-Service, if you take that long trip to the Netherlands out of count. Ordering goes like this: you pick out a model, decide upon the number of keys, type of electronics-and if wanted Midi electronics, colour and accessories. Marcel will then order the piano via email and you pay in advance.

Minor hickups (Kinderkranheiten - childhood diseases):

After ordering it took about 8 weeks until the piano was finished. I picked it up in the Netherlands and unfortunately tested it only upon my arrival at home. This is when found some minor problems with the piano: the dampers were not fully regulated so that 9 out of ten keys did sustain a tiny bit too long after key-release. It has to be noted though that this is my tenth electromechanical piano (I sold most of these old pianos again in the past) and so I know what has to be done in such cases: either contact my trusted Rhodes technician or adjust the dampers myself, which I did and thus remedied this problem. Also middle D would not want to return to the rest position, due to some glue residues on the front of the key, keeping the key from getting to the rest position. Really a very small problem. After fixing these minor hickups I had a piano in front of me that outshines all my past Rhodes pianos in terms of intonation, tuning and playability. I might contact my Rhodes tech (Jens Lüpke) this upcoming year for a final brush-up although I can not imagine anything right now that really needs to be improved upon. Because as the piano plays right now, it fully lives up to the expectations.

The looks

But let us go through each of the above mentioned points of my brainstorming list. Let us begin with the looks. At a glance, the VVP looks like a Wurlitzer. The case bottom looks like the one on my old 200 Wurlitzer, same goes for the legs, and the hood is fastened to the bottom by means of screws, just like on a Wurly. The hood is available in sparkle or high-gloss versions, albeit the sparkle version is more expensive. The hood of my piano is red and looks just like the bonnet of an old Cadillac- owing also to the impressive VV64-logo on the back. On the key side one finds the namerail, a shiny chromed rail, also sporting the VV-logo in the middle. on the left side: three knobs-one for volume, one for bass and treble each, one for intensity and one for rate of the stereo tremolo. In addition one can regulated the speedrange of the tremolo by pushing the middle knob, which makes the tremolo either very slow to slow or slow to very fast. This is a feature not found on my Suitcase Rhodes. All in all I really dig the looks: the shiny surfaces should make for quite an impressive sight on stage and the pure design looks very elegant.

One drawback of the smooth exterior (and with this we will come to the next bullet point of the list) is: The instruments does seem to be rather fragile and not like carved from a solid block like those old Rhodes pianos do. The surface seems to be prone to scratching, the logo can be easily marred if one does not pay attention in a hurried setup or breakdown and the VVP does not have the stability of a Stage-Rhodes due to the missing leg braces. The "new" piano is rather an artfully crafted light piece of machinery (lightweight).


The weight and interior
Speaking of lightweight: the instruments weighs a mere 25 kg and one can easily carry it around without any help. This is in part die to the very thin hood (I personally would not put another keyboard on top), and also due to a radically economic interior. In contrast to the lucious exterior of  my "real" Rhodes the inside of the VVP looks like stripped to the bare necessities. You only find wood were it is absolutely necessary, the harp stands realtively free, and the guys from VV have settled for smart solutions to carve off a bit of weight here and there, e.g. concerning the novel sustain pedal mechanics, where the classic wooden dovel was replaced with a small plastic one. Yet there are other differences in the interior compared to the old models: the hammers are blue, not cream like on the old ones, they have an optimized form, which is supposed to make the more resistant to breakage by adjusting and also should give them a better breaking power (stopping power); the newly designed tonebars ("tines in the original text") are silver and not brass-coloured, the wood of the harp is painted black, all connectors are higher quality than those of the old models and the hammers do have a small step that was also used in later Rhodes pianos ("I think the author is referring to the pedestals).

Playability
This last mentioned modification is seperately available from VV and called "miracle mod". It effects that a piano with a more pronounced action point ("I think he is referring to pianos with a hard action") is easier to play. I have this MM in my 1974 Suitcase Piano and even though the mod is also from VV both pianos do play differently. The suitcase has a very light touch due to the VV MM although it is missing a bit of "body". I feels a bit undifferntiated and hakelig ("sorry, now way of translating this, I think he means that you will get a bumpy feeling, IMHO this is a sign of a not correctly done MM btw). Fats runs are not a problem but the dynamics are reduced. The MM in my case leads to a cut of when playing very softly or when playing very hard ("choking?"), inhibiting that bark. This reduced dynamic range is also in my case witnessed on the VVP64, althought only on the most soft range, because this instrument can bark: if I play the notes very softly, sometimes no sound is produced. Oddly enough mostly if the sustain pedal is depressed. But maybe that is just a matter of a proper regulation, we will see what Jens Lüpke has to say when he will play the instrument for the first time. Apart from that the action is miles apart from the life-less action of the Suitcase: it feels like the action of my old MKV during its best days. Playability is way better on my VVP64 than on the MKV. The touch is not too hard, but has a perceptible counterweight, feels very elastic, clearly differntiated and precise, round and full. The best action I have ever experienced on any Rhodes. Period.


Sound
Talking about superlatives: how about the next point on our list- the sound? Well, the sound of my piano is even and flawless, one thing I have not heard before on any other model. Flawless means: all notes do have a wonderful homogeneity, no sustaining tines ("I do not know what the author means by that, maybe tonebars hitting the harp braces?") no typical "thunks" that occur when the damper or the hammer kisses the tine (as said all this after removing the above mentioned minor hickups), volume and timbre are very homogenous, the sound is full and covers a broad part of the frequency range. I just start to realize that it is difficult to describe the sound because it is not as characteristic as the one from vintage Rhodes pianos. It is not as snotty unbridled as the one of earlier Silvertops, not as lean and bell like as the late MKII, it has more of the body of the Mark-I-models and the distinct punch of a MKV. It is a very clean consensus-timbre without a pronounced character. And this is not meant in a negative way.

Electric

Responsible for the sound is also the installed Stereovibe-preamp, which seems to be a copy of the Suitcase preamp. It rather bright, which means that the Treble pot leads to a crystal clear sound early on. In comparison my old Suitcase Rhodes sounds rather dull-which to me is unbelievably charming. Another difference to the old model is the sound of the tremolo. On the old models it was produced by means of small light bulbs (all techs please forgive my unprecise wording); on the new models (and on the VVP) it is produced by means of LEDs which results in a slightly different Stereopanning. All in all the preamp is awesome: in my opinion it a fantastically low noise level, features a headphones out and is much more flexible compared to the Suitcase when it comes to the range of tremolo.


To the last point on the list: the smell. Well, concerning that the VVP does not stand a chance against the old Rhodes unfortunately. If any at all, it smells like electronic components. But not like wood and tolex.

Conclusion
The lack of that typical Rhodes smell dwarfs against that almost risible low weight, the wonderful homogeneous sound, the splendid looks and that fantastic of owning a high-class piano.

Even the Vintagevibe piano is not free of minor flaws: it does not seem to be as robust as the old models and has a very delicate surface finish (I am yet undecided to cancel my order of the Vintagvibe softcase and get a real flightcase instead.... which would up the weight of course).  The hood being fastened to the bottom by means of screws makes for a less servicable piano in comparison to the old pianos with their detachable lids.
Because of the mentioned homogenous and clean sound, faulty adjustements seem to stand out. In my case as said there was a problem with the dampers. On my old suitcase it never bothered me if the piano was not set up perfectly. The great playability makes for a trade off in terms of playing very soft notes- this might be a problem of the correct adjustement of the piano though. And most importantly: the price really hurts. I paid about 3900 EUR including shipping, customs via Marcel, legs, pedal and the not yet delivered Softcase and the Stereo-Preamp. Those of you that might now want to buy one of these pianos will have to dig a bit deeper into their pockets: Vintagvibe has upped the prices during the past weeks.


Summary:

I fell in love with the little red one . Even if it does not smell like my old Suitcase. I will not sell the "big" although I have this new dream piano. Albeit the new one scores with reliabilty, playability, transportablity and sound, it has to abandon the field in one aspect: it does not quite reach the charme of the old lady!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 12:38:28 PM by Dote »

Offline Ben Bove

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 12:07:16 PM »
Thanks very much for taking the time to translate this.
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Offline goldphinga

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 02:16:42 PM »
Yep thanks. Unfortunately the pricing is totally unrealistic for us guys in the UK. I was after the 73 active with midi in sparkle black and it came in at £5138 without legs. I suspect that like me most will find that it puts the vv totally out of reach. I get the labour and design that has gone and goes into making one but this pricing is more akin to a new Yamaha acoustic piano!
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 02:05:47 AM by goldphinga »

Offline Julian T

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 02:07:15 AM »
I'm thinking of getting one later in the year - this thing about weight though - you need to add a flight case as you can't stick it in a van without one, so by the time you had a case to the same protection level as a rhodes... advantages for me are the action, the preamp etc. what concerned me in the review was the lack of setup - buying in Europe you need to have confidence in it, because if you have to start fiddling, you might as well get e refurb rhodes and retrofit a vv pre. as to price... these are custom made, handmade, premium items, something a rhodes never was, check out how much a custom no-frills guitar would cost, then compare the complexity of that with a piano - or the price of a refurbed B3!

Offline goldphinga

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2013, 03:24:18 AM »
Premium instrument sure, but Rhodes were pretty solid and with a little tlc can be brought up to the same level. You're talking 3000 more than a premium Rhodes don't forget! And you're right- you need to at the very least soft case it but ideally flight case it so that kinda offsets the weight saving to some degree. tough call.

Offline Julian T

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2013, 04:46:52 AM »
Its a niche instrument. A new instrument made by the only company in the world providing new pianos of this type, in the US with US costs. I get the price totally. As to is it 'worth' it - ep service in nl do fully refurbed 73 stages for 2750 euros plus cost of the preamp/installation plus shipping - assuming you don't want midi, which would then add more than 1k to that I'm guessing. Of course the various 'sizes' could be important for some. More power to them IMO, more options the better, but yeah value is always a tough call

Offline leon-

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 07:04:02 AM »
I think it looks good and am seriously considering getting one. At the end of the day, it does look like the best of its kind out there - regardless of 'brand' .I'd certainly prefer to spend money on something worthwhile rather than...
Its not cheap - but Im not convinced the prices will go down any time soon...and even here in the UK there is a difference between buying a Rhodes and buying a Rhodes that doesn't feel like a blancmange and with any sort of decent high end tone. I don't consider a new preamp, back check mod and miracle mod to be just 'a little tlc'.
The midi option is ridiculously expensive - but considering the modfications they need to make it was never going to be cheap.
It is absolutely a niche instrument, but then, like it or not - so is a Fender Rhodes...
VV deserve success with this.

Offline goldphinga

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 08:46:53 AM »
The prices wont be going down, they put them up by $1000+ on 21st Dec... >:(

Offline Nitrofunk

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2013, 03:44:02 AM »
Hey Dote and everybody,

thanks for the excellent Translation. Here's a Clip I recently did with my Band "Purephonic" and the VVP:

http://youtu.be/qBgygWeKnl8

The Piano was recorded directly into the Console with a hint of Chorus added and the Smallstone-Phaser in Verse 2.
Have Fun!
Peter
Vintage Vibe 64 Tine Piano - Strymon Mobius - TC Electronics Hall of Fame - Podium MXVS Amp
Fender Rhodes Suitcase 88 ('74) - MXR Micro Amp - Small Stone Phaser
Moog Prodigy
Nord Piano
Suzuki Pro 38 Melodica

Offline Dan Belcher

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2013, 07:28:54 PM »
The piano sounds fantastic (especially with the Small Stone) and your playing was equally fantastic!
Proud owner,
1978 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73

Offline Nitrofunk

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Re: VV EP 64: A review in german
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2013, 02:26:00 AM »
Thanks a lot! :)
Vintage Vibe 64 Tine Piano - Strymon Mobius - TC Electronics Hall of Fame - Podium MXVS Amp
Fender Rhodes Suitcase 88 ('74) - MXR Micro Amp - Small Stone Phaser
Moog Prodigy
Nord Piano
Suzuki Pro 38 Melodica