Author Topic: Wood=tone?  (Read 1104 times)

Offline goldphinga

  • Mark I
  • ****
  • Posts: 269
    • View Profile
« on: July 13, 2015, 02:47:01 PM »
So how much bearing on sustain/tone does the amount of wood have on the tone of a Rhodes? For example the wood in the harp, keybed, the older wooden hammers, older wooden support blocks? Some say the wooden hammers/support blocks make for a better sound though I've heard and worked on some pretty incredible sounding metal frame Rhodes'.

SO-The rhodes tine/tonebar combo is essentially de-coupled from the wood, but does it have any bearing on the sound and quality of tone/sustain? If you were to remove all the wood from the harp for example, and mount all the tines and pickups in carbon fibre, would the tone radically alter? That's the kinda thing I want to discuss...

Thoughts please!

« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 03:36:40 PM by goldphinga »

Offline Ben Bove

  • Vendor
  • MIDI Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 3279
  • Formerly bjammerz
    • View Profile
    • Retro Rentals Website
Re: Wood=tone?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2015, 05:59:22 PM »
My personal opinion on this is very direct - the wood makes no difference whatsoever on tone.  Specifically, the pickup itself amplifies nearly zero noise outside of the short field of the magnet.  As an example, if a tine is slightly outside of the pickup field, you can barely hear it.  The distance of a misaligned tine compared to the distance sound would travel off a keybed or support blocks is much greater.  In a microphone scenario where spatial noise is picked up this would be different, but specifically on Rhodes pickups - I feel the field is too near to be affected by its surroundings whether they're wood, plastic or metal.

What the wood does do however is serve as a damper for mechanical noises - hammer noise, key return, any non-musical ambient noises can be reduced by wood - so that to the player's ears the Rhodes sounds less noisy when you're playing it.  The Mark V for example is louder mechanically with the thinner plastic shell (but again this is only to the immediate player's ears, and isn't transferred through the tone/pickups themselves).

You're spot on when you say you've worked on some pretty incredible metal frame Rhodes.  There is a little craftsman's allure to having wood as a part of the instrument, but specifically with tone I don't believe it has an affect.  The cost of carbon fibre would've been cost-prohibitive in mass production, but I can see where you're going by eliminating weight of the piano.  I would say in a blindfold test, the same piano with no wooden frame would sound the same if it were structurally sound.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 06:01:27 PM by bjammerz »
Retro Rentals
Vintage Music Gear
(818) 806-9606

IG: @RetroRentalsNet

Offline pianotuner steveo

  • MIDI Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 3269
  • A keyboard player in love with vintage guitars!!!
    • View Profile
Re: Wood=tone?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2015, 10:11:21 PM »
I agree with Ben.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline The Real MC

  • Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 751
    • View Profile
    • My '67 sparkletop Rhodes
Re: Wood=tone?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 10:49:47 PM »
I used to believe that wood harp supports changed the tone, but not anymore.

Offline Student Rhodes

  • Mark I
  • ****
  • Posts: 610
    • View Profile
Re: Wood=tone?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2015, 10:58:06 PM »
Well, if the wood harps supports it affect the tone, then you can't discount the compressed cardboard or whatever that stuff is they used to shim the harps.

Offline David Aubke

  • Vendor
  • Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 1196
    • View Profile
    • Shadetree Keys
Re: Wood=tone?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2015, 07:09:44 AM »
I think it's conceivable that the wood could affect the tone by changing the sympathetic vibrations of the entire system. Yes, the tone generators are supposed to be isolated by grommets and springs but surely there's still some interaction. My gut says the difference would be nearly immeasurably small but still...
Dave Aubke
Shadetree Keys