Author Topic: Just scored an early Sparkletop!  (Read 48901 times)

Offline voltergeist

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Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« on: September 24, 2013, 10:23:43 AM »
Just scored this baby.  Obviously needs some work, but the piano is in very good condition.  Teardrop hammers and untapered Raymacs.  Missing all original electronics (if you know where to find a Jordan pre- and power amp, please let me know!). 

Even in its current condition it's obvious what all the sparkletop fuss is about- it sounds gorgeous.  Very different from the MkI's. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 11:06:18 AM »
I'm sure these guys must still have some Jordan preamps left. Give them a go:

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=6132.msg30156#msg30156

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Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 03:27:05 PM »
Or better still, get a Peterson and stick it in there.
They sound better (to some), they're stereo, and that's what Fender did at the end of the Sparkletop era.

Ray

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2013, 11:26:34 AM »
I thought about a Peterson solution, but I'm really hoping to put it back to its original configuration.  I understand the Jordan system wasn't that great, anyway, but a different (external) amp could be used regardless of what's installed in the cabinet.  Given its rarity and good condition, I'd rather return it to what it was than create another Frankenstein.  I think all the original Tolex can be kept and repaired, so that's another reason for me not to make major modifications if at all possible.

Working on arrangements to have the legs replated.  Interesting sidenote: Chris at VV said he's never seen legs like are on this piano.  He didn't question that they're original, though.

Kind of agonizing over what to do about cabinet hardware.  The original stuff is in pretty good shape, but new stuff would look (and function, in the case of the hinges and latches) so much better.  Leaning toward replacing the hardware to sharpen the look and improve safety in transport, but keeping the original hardware with the piano.  Thoughts?
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Ben Bove

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2013, 01:26:18 PM »
Very interesting piano - I have seen those legs before, but only on very early sparkle tops.  Not sure if I can locate a picture but I can say they may very well be original.  As a side note - inside the speaker cabinet, on the bottom either on the left or right side, do you see any screw holes where a square amp might have been bolted down? 

The Jordan preamps were a reasonable and good sounding design - it's the power amp section that was pretty poor, just a very early solid state design.  Like you said, a different external amp could be used - perhaps you can power the preamp, have it run into a more modern amplifier in the cabinet through the speakers.

I have a Jordan power amp that is non-functional - it would be good as a face plate and the transformer only... if you wanted to use the faceplate section to run to a different amp.  Let me know
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Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2013, 01:39:45 PM »
I've got a couple leads on fully functioning Jordan amp sets, so I'm going to run those to ground first.  If I can't get a working Jordan set, your faceplate would be just the ticket.  Thanks!

I'll look for screw holes next time I'm at the shop.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Rob A

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 11:16:40 AM »
Was this the one on KC Craigslist? The shots they posted of the hammers looked really nice.

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2013, 11:29:04 AM »
Yep, it's the one from KC Craigslist.  Paid less than what he was asking on Craigslist, though. :)
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2013, 11:38:51 AM »
Btw, I need to give kudos to the previous owner.  He had already had a buyer, but wouldn't sell it to him because he knew the guy was planning to part it out.  He also did a good job of keeping the piano intact when it was in his possession, and was purposefully looking to sell to a restorer.  Gold star.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2013, 12:40:15 PM »
Kind of agonizing over what to do about cabinet hardware.  The original stuff is in pretty good shape, but new stuff would look (and function, in the case of the hinges and latches) so much better.  Leaning toward replacing the hardware to sharpen the look and improve safety in transport, but keeping the original hardware with the piano.  Thoughts?

http://www.analoguediehard.com/studio/keyboards/fender_rhodes/index.html#restoration

Btw, I need to give kudos to the previous owner.  He had already had a buyer, but wouldn't sell it to him because he knew the guy was planning to part it out.  He also did a good job of keeping the piano intact when it was in his possession, and was purposefully looking to sell to a restorer.  Gold star.

Awesome!
« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 02:30:44 PM by The Real MC »

Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 12:41:36 PM »
Speaker cutouts for 2x12 or 1x10 plus 1x12?

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 12:58:30 PM »
The player-side baffle is missing, unfortunately.  The audience-side baffle is 2x12.  I'm assuming it was originally a 12/10 configuration, and that's how I'm planning to restore it.

With the corners and handles I'm planning to get the originals replated.  It's not cheap ($10-15 per piece), but I think the finish quality will be better, and it's the best of both worlds- original hardware with show chrome finish.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2013, 01:01:30 PM »
To clarify- planning to replate original corners and handle ends.  Hinges planning to use new VV ones.  Latches planning to use the smaller-size twist (butterfly) latches.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2013, 02:20:39 PM »
Original hardware was nickel plated, not chrome.

My sparkletop has the amp bottom cabinet with no amp/speakers but the baffles have cutouts for 1x10 and 1x12 speakers.  No Jordan preamp either.  It is a 1967 piano with tapered tines and pedestal bump.

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2013, 02:29:26 PM »
Can you post a photo of your player side baffle?  I need to build one, but I have no reference what it should look like.

As far as replating, I'm not going for the original finish.  To me the nickel isn't bright enough to look right, even if it is original. I guess if any future owner doesn't like it, they can replate them themself.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2013, 06:10:46 PM »
I need to measure to verify the size of the holes on the existing baffle.   I won't have a chance til next week, though.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2013, 12:34:13 AM »
Can you post a photo of your player side baffle?  I need to build one, but I have no reference what it should look like.

This seems like an early one.  If I not mistaken, I believe the earliest Sparkle Tops had 12"s in the front, and 10"s on the players side, no?

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2013, 12:41:33 AM »
To clarify- planning to replate original corners and handle ends.  Hinges planning to use new VV ones.  Latches planning to use the smaller-size twist (butterfly) latches.

I can't tell from these photos but didn't the Sparkle Tops have the same latches as the early Stage and Suitcase models?  The ones that look more like luggage latches?  I rather like those.  I'm putting some old ones that I bought off a guy on the FrankenSuitcase I'm doing.  I just think they look classier than what VV is selling.  Here's someone in England selling them on ebay.  I believe these would still be cheaper than replating.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fender-Rhodes-replacement-latch-early-version-/181208437874?pt=UK_MusicalInstr_Keyboard_RL&hash=item2a30dd5472

I would have bought them had I not already picked up the old ones that are still in pretty good shape.  They probably aren't as stout as the later types, but I'd imagine you're not going to be moving this piano around a lot, so realistically they get used for transport then sit idle while the lid gets put in the garage or storage, so it's not critical.

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2013, 03:13:36 AM »
They did use the ones which are in that link you posted Student Rhodes:



For the US it will be cheaper to order from Vintage Vibe

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Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2013, 01:53:43 PM »
I liked the latches used on later rhodes better.  The early latches didn't hold up well and when I owned a stage they slipped open more than once.

When I replaced the hardware on my sparkletop, I put newer style latches on it.  It originally had only one latch per side, not two.  And the original hinges were bad too.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 03:02:25 PM by The Real MC »

Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2013, 03:25:26 PM »
Can you post a photo of your player side baffle?  I need to build one, but I have no reference what it should look like.

This seems like an early one.  If I not mistaken, I believe the earliest Sparkle Tops had 12"s in the front, and 10"s on the players side, no?

You are correct.  Pics here:

http://www.analoguediehard.com/studio/keyboards/fender_rhodes/speaker-baffles/
« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 02:33:20 PM by The Real MC »

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2013, 11:16:56 PM »
For the US it will be cheaper to order from Vintage Vibe

Right you are.  I didn't know VV had them.  There's also another ebayer that has the proper latch strikes for a buck a piece.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-Vintage-Fender-Rhodes-Latch-Catch-Piano-Strike-/360177083045?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53dc3a22a5

I can't decide if I'm going to put four latches on, or two.  I know on the later style, four makes it a bit of a pain to get the top off without the thing relatching.  And like I said, I won't be taking the lid off and on much, as it'll be a set it and forget it piano.  Guess I can always add two more if I decide I need them.

Ray

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2013, 10:02:03 AM »
I'm partial to using small twist latches if I'm replacing.  They're solid, low-profile, and inconspicuous when the cover is off.  When the cover's on, they hold tight and don't come unlatched.  I'd be tempted to keep the originals, but only 2 of the original 4 are there.  I have not seen any repros that are an exact match to the originals (or, at least what's original on this particular piano), so I don't see the point in replacing impractical original latches with impractical new latches that don't match the originals anyway.  To each his own, though.

The former owner came up with the original preamp, believe it or not. 

The existing baffle is cut differently than the one in the photos on this thread.  It has a large rectangular cutout between the speaker holes. 

Ray- I wouldn't recommend going to two latches unless you also use the heavy-duty hinge.  Also, with two latches (or loose latches), more force is exerted on the back panel of the piano case, which makes the joints prone to separating.  The sparkletops used solid softwood with finger joints, so the joint is stronger than the early Mk1's without corner reinforcements, but by no means indestructible.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2013, 10:24:47 AM »
More photos.  Previous to any work being done.  (you can see the cutouts in the baffle in one of the pics)





Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2013, 03:05:33 PM »
I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with four latches on my top.

Is that large rectangular cut out on the baffle stock?  I don't recall ever seeing anything like that, but I haven't seen the insides of many Sparkle Tops.

Also, it looks like they put rubber grommets on the tone bars?  Can't really tell from the picture.  I haven't checked my own square tone bars for fit, but are those standard sized grommets or does it look like they just made do with rubber washers or something?

Ray

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2013, 08:05:38 PM »
I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with four latches on my top.

Is that large rectangular cut out on the baffle stock?  I don't recall ever seeing anything like that, but I haven't seen the insides of many Sparkle Tops.

Also, it looks like they put rubber grommets on the tone bars?  Can't really tell from the picture.  I haven't checked my own square tone bars for fit, but are those standard sized grommets or does it look like they just made do with rubber washers or something?

Ray

The baffle does not appear to have been modified.

The grommets are felt.  One row is white and the other black.  They look original.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2013, 01:19:10 AM »


I need to apply new velvet to the inside of the lid on my sparkletop.  Where did you buy this material and what adhesive did you use?  Looks great.

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2013, 09:28:32 AM »
The lid liner is original.  I don't know where to get that material.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline The Real MC

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2013, 10:19:13 AM »
That's the first original liner I've seen of that color, usually they are red.

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Just scored an early Sparkletop!
« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2013, 11:38:58 AM »
There seem to be a lot of unusual features of this piano.  All the photos so far were taken right after I'd unloaded it - hadn't even cleaned it up yet.  I'm repairing the original tolex and gathering parts to put it back to its original electronics configuration (the previous owner came up with the original preamp, so now I just need the power supply unit).  The existing baffle is original, but it's shot, so I'll be building an exact copy.  Seems unlikely I'll be able to pin down exactly what the missing baffle looked like, so I'll probably duplicate the existing baffle and load it with a set of VV Jensen Special Design 12's.  I'll most likely put it up for sale when it's done, so if you've been looking for one of these rare beauties, watch this space. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270