Author Topic: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?  (Read 3400 times)

Offline funkylaundry

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Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« on: February 10, 2016, 11:53:23 AM »
I love to play left hand bass and some times I'm a little frustrated that there are songs I cannot play on my Wurlitzer, because it does not go down deep enough. Ideally it would go down to an F or an E like an electric bass and I would be willing to sacrifice a few keys in the top end.

Then I started thinking about it: If a got a couple of spare keys and some extra low range reeds, wouldn't it be possible to shift the entire range of a Wurlitzer 200 downwards simply by rearranging the keys to start from a lower key and by tuning the reeds down?

Do you know of anyone who have tried this?
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Offline Ben Bove

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2016, 12:16:44 PM »
I always thought this was a neat idea.  I can only speculate that there was a reason they stopped where they did, perhaps notes were a little unstable the further down they went?

Before shifting the entire piano, perhaps you can test multiple reeds on the lowest note to see if it's feasible.
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Offline funkylaundry

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2016, 12:31:38 PM »
You're right. But it's already kind of weak in terms of the top few keys where there are no dampers. But then on the other, the keys shifting into the "no damper zone" are more commonly used. That might be a showstopper. But on the other hand I suppose I could install dampers there as well. Overall the mechanics are the same.

That's what I'm thinking. I broke a reed the other day, so I'm about to order some replacements. I'm thinking about ordering a few extras for the lowest octave to see if they sound allright at lower pitches than they were designed for.

I suppose a mod like that would be reversible, simply by shifting all of the keys and reeds back into their original position. Anything irreversible I'm forgetting to think about?
'72 Fender Rhodes MkI Stage, '73 Wurlitzer 200, '72 Clavinet D6, '75 Hammond B-3, '71 Leslie 147, Hammond X5, Leslie 710, Nord Stage 2 73SW, Moog Sub 37, DSI Mopho X4, DSI Tetra

Offline Tehu

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2016, 01:42:13 PM »
I don't see this mod as reversible.
You'll have to cut the pickup reed bar a along the piano to allow ''longer'' reeds.
And i think there's no longer reeds than the actual lowest (except on the Columbia Elepian)
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Offline retro-mike

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2016, 05:22:03 PM »

Digitech Drop?

Offline cinnanon

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2016, 05:32:59 PM »
I would imagine that longer reeds would have more of a chance of hitting the pickup due to vibrating out of control (side-to-side). The reeds' solder pyramid would probably have to be perfectly balanced.  The lower notes probably sound(ed) like $#!+ too.

Online pianotuner steveo

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2016, 08:28:11 PM »
I don't think it is possible to make longer reeds, and no, they won't fit in the Reed bar anyway.  I think people are saying taking regular untuned bass reeds, and tuning them flatter to see how they sound.

But, that presents another problem. I don't think you could make them a whole octave lower like an 88 key Rhodes. So if you can't make them an octave lower, that would throw off the whole keyboard as far as the correct keys playing the correct note.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
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Offline funkylaundry

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2016, 09:43:06 AM »
I'm not talking about longer reeds. I'm talking about taking the current longest reeds and adding enough solder to tune them down. I'm not talking about taking it down an octave - only a major third or a fourth. I think that should be feasible by adding solder, but I'm not sure how it would sound. Dropping it an entire octave would sacrifice too much of the upper octave, but a major third would probably be the sweet spot for the kind of music I play.

And as to having the correct key play the correct note, I'm talking about swapping the keys as well. As far as I can tell there is no alignment difference in terms of black and white keys, but of course given that it is an old instrument the keys/keypins could have "grown" together and that there is a risk that the entire action would be out of alignment after the procedure.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 09:45:58 AM by funkylaundry »
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Offline funkylaundry

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2016, 09:58:06 AM »
Never mind. I just opeoened it up to check and I was completely wrong. The balance rail is offset for all of the black keys, so the sequence does matter. I recalled all of the balance rail pins as being parallel for some reason.
'72 Fender Rhodes MkI Stage, '73 Wurlitzer 200, '72 Clavinet D6, '75 Hammond B-3, '71 Leslie 147, Hammond X5, Leslie 710, Nord Stage 2 73SW, Moog Sub 37, DSI Mopho X4, DSI Tetra

Offline DocWurly

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2016, 02:08:34 PM »
This _could_ work if you added solder to all the reeds, all the way up, and simply didn't worry about the black keys corresponding to the wrong pitches.  It might change the tonality of the notes.  But if you did it by, say, a 4th, it might not be so hard to transpose.  It would just be a "G" Wurlitzer instead of a "C" one.

I think it would not work (at least in terms of being a reversable mod) if you simply added solder to a few low reeds, and shifted the other reeds up.  I don't think the tops of the reeds would clear all of the pickups, as others have stated.

Cool idea, though, for sure.  I'd like to see someone try it!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 02:10:15 PM by Paleophone »

Offline cinnanon

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2016, 04:15:02 PM »
I'll be modeling the reedbars pretty soon (need to take one apart first). If someone had the resources to make a casting up and machine it on a CNC, I could modify the reedbar model for longer reeds. I honestly don't think the original reedbar would be deep enough (front to back distance) to accommodate the reeds that would be needed.  They seem to get exponentially longer in the bass section. One whole octave shift and you could leave the keybed the same.  That upper octave of the wurlitzer is pretty useless I think anyway. Always sounds softer and less consistent from note to note.

Although i'd like to see some testing as far as adding solder goes.  That would shorten the length of the reed needed. Need some heavier solder.

One more thought, the reeds get pretty close to the reedbar shield on 200A's.  That may be a concern. Aren't the 112 reeds really long?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 04:22:26 PM by cinnamon »

Offline cinnanon

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2016, 04:23:14 PM »
Or just get a pedal that can step down.

Online pianotuner steveo

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2016, 04:29:40 PM »
Yeah, I was thinking about it just being easier to do this digitally.  My Korg SV-1 is 73 keys and has a great Wurlitzer setting, so it goes down below the standard Wurlitzer keyboard.

Funkylaundry: that is why I thought you meant a whole octave. It would be possible to do what you were thinking by cutting a second Wurlitzer key frame and making up a whole new one, starting on E or whatever, but finding a spare could be a problem. I threw some out a few years ago!!


It just seems like too much work and there are too many unknowns to do this major modification to an instrument that is no longer made.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 10:00:15 PM by pianotuner steveo »
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 funkylaundry

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2016, 09:55:06 AM »
It just seems like too much work and there are too many unknowns to do this major modification to an instrument that is no longer made.

I agree. As I said it was a wild idea and it was only because I thought I could do it in a reversible way I thought it could be fun, but I would not completely chop up my wonderful instrument to achieve this ...and even though it could be an excellent motivation to learn, I'm not so keen on transposing ;)
'72 Fender Rhodes MkI Stage, '73 Wurlitzer 200, '72 Clavinet D6, '75 Hammond B-3, '71 Leslie 147, Hammond X5, Leslie 710, Nord Stage 2 73SW, Moog Sub 37, DSI Mopho X4, DSI Tetra

Offline Ben Bove

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2016, 01:15:37 PM »
I had a thought this morning - the reason they may have chosen the low A for the Wurly's last note is because an acoustic piano ends on an A.  High C, ends on a C.  So, it sort of looks like a short 88 key acoustic piano.  Whereas, the Rhodes started out as a piano bass, with the low E as a bass note.

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Online pianotuner steveo

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2016, 05:48:31 PM »
Yes, Ben, the Wurlitzer was originally meant as a portable piano for college students, apartment dwellers, etc. The keyboard is A1-C7, one octave less than a standard piano keyboard on each end.
88 key instruments are A0-C8
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
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Offline Max Brink

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2016, 10:25:31 PM »
Quote
Or just get a pedal that can step down.

^^^Nooooo... Don't give in to temptation! Let's stay purely analog and encourage this wild experiment!



Quote
Never mind. I just opeoened it up to check and I was completely wrong. The balance rail is offset for all of the black keys, so the sequence does matter. I recalled all of the balance rail pins as being parallel for some reason.

^^^Check out the "Low A" Rhodes Piano Bass key bed modification we did last year. We weren't the first to do it but there are some helpful hints on how to accomplish a shifted key bed modification. If you have a scrap key bed around you can probably make it work... It's a lot of work but I'm curious to see how it would turn out! The angle in the Wurlitzer keys might take a even more time to work around, though...



I'm mostly curious how a mod going to affect the "sweet spot" for the strike line across the reed bar... And overall how it is going to sound tonally... And let's be realistic, it's going to be a lot of work re-soldering keys if you're going to bring everything down by a fourth... You won't just be able to shift the reeds down five slots--I promise!


Quote
I'll be modeling the reedbars pretty soon (need to take one apart first). If someone had the resources to make a casting up and machine it on a CNC, I could modify the reedbar model for longer reeds. I honestly don't think the original reedbar would be deep enough (front to back distance) to accommodate the reeds that would be needed.  They seem to get exponentially longer in the bass section. One whole octave shift and you could leave the keybed the same.  That upper octave of the wurlitzer is pretty useless I think anyway. Always sounds softer and less consistent from note to note.


^^^If you were to do a lower registered Wurlitzer, in an ideal world, you may want to consider having the consumer shift the reeds up and introducing a new five bass reeds. This would require new pickups and a new reedbar that accounts for the strike line of the new reed range but it seems like a pretty damn good way to do it.



...I love the concept of this but if anyone accomplishes a lower ranged Wurlitzer I would be floored. I don't know where some people get the time for all this hyper specialized DIY!
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Offline cinnanon

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2016, 11:29:20 AM »
There are a couple ways I can think of doing it. I'm thinking out loud while on Percocet recovering from surgery so bear with me. All criticism welcome!

I think it all starts with finding out just how low we can go? To me that makes the most sense and drives the design. Can more solder be added to a reed to achieve the same wurlitzer tone with the same sustain? How much? If so, could the same reedbar be used?

If we could go ALL the way down and the reed needed to be really long, then a new reedbar would need to be made. I think all solutions result in a modified/new reedbar. I doubt you could use the existing reedbar and drop a whole octave just by adding solder/longer reeds.  Maybe the pickup can be moved backward and longer reeds could be installed? No, the strikeline would be shifted also. That wouldn't work out too well.

If you couldn't go all the way down to a low A then the keybed would need shifted/altered, and you would need extra keys in the mid-range where the key angle changes. Why make the change if it's only a few notes? That doesn't make sense.  If we could get to low C, I think it would be worth it.

I think the best option would be to somehow make a new reedbar shifted an octave lower. Some hammers would need changed out and that would be it! Drop in replacement without much modification. Just a whole new set of reeds so you don't have to remove/retune the current ones. Who knows, the low A might sound like fart.

Another problem is the reedbar shield above the reeds. Longer reeds may hit that on the upswing.  Maybe it's not necessary though, or could be modified. I'm going to model up the reedbar casting and see what happens.

Anyone have the ability to make a super long bass reed? I have a #2 that I can tinker with.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2016, 11:36:19 AM by cinnamon »

Online pianotuner steveo

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2016, 08:36:54 AM »
I think anyone who wants to attempt this should play and listen to a 73 or 88 key digital piano with a great Wurli sample and hear a close facsimile of what this sounds like before attempting this major modification. I would hate to see a Wurlitzer end up being ruined if the results are less than desirable.

My 2 cents

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 cinnanon

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2016, 07:45:48 PM »
Yeah the only way I'd do it is if I'd get another modified reedbar. I guess you could take the existing reedbar and machine it a little bit. That actually isn't a bad idea. Too bad those 2 reedbars are now gone that were on eBay a little bit ago. Good thing I work in a CNC shop.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 07:51:39 PM by cinnamon »

Offline hanos202

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2016, 02:26:06 PM »
Here is an example of how a Wurlitzer could sound in the bass.  Recorded with a Korg SV1 - Lick is in Em.

Best Regards,

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Online pianotuner steveo

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Re: Wild idea: Wurlitzer with extended bass range?
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2016, 04:50:41 PM »
And there you go...
Just buy a Korg SV-1 if you want to do this!


Lol

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...