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DatDere

Fender Rhodes corner

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I'd figure we'd might have a topic for Rhodes (and other vintage keys) players here as well, although it's not an organ. I own a Mark I Rhodes stage model, and I've used it a lot for gigging over the past years (I'm only a hobby musician, but I do play out fairly often). I know some jazz lovers despise the Rhodes sound, but as a younger guy.. I dig it a lot.

Lately, I've been noticing some problems with my Mark I. The most serious issue is that the hammer tips are beginning to show signs of wear, and the tines leave marks in the plastic coating of the tips. It's also noticable in the sound, it seems to get more 'clunky' in the higher registers. Is there anything that can be done about this? Like.. fill the gaps with some sort of substance or replace the hammers (hmm... that seems like an expensive mod)?

Also, I recently had a gig in extremely hot weather for the Netherlands (30+ degrees and under stage lighting.. oof...), and I noticed it knocked the tuning somewhat off, while it was still okay when I checked it back home. Anything to be done about this? I guess it might also be caused by lugging the thing around too often.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about the Rhodes, including a downloadable copy of the service manual:

http://www.fenderrhodes.com

Most likely you're going to have to replace the hammer tips, which is not terribly expensive nor terribly hard. Another thing you can do with a Mark I (which I also have) is modify the action to Mark II standards.

http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/action.php

http://www.fenderrhodes.org/rhodes/manual/ch6.html#6-4

I have not done these mods yet, but I've bought a nice can of silicon spray in preparation. The key pedastle felt mod is supposed to really speed up the action of the keyboard. I'm looking forward to doing that one, since my Mark I is very hard to play.

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Damn Jim... I wish you played vibes! You make everything sound so simple! I could use your guidance in wiring these bars!

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Damn Jim... I wish you played vibes! You make everything sound so simple! I could use your guidance in wiring these bars!

I don't know anything about vibes, sorry!

As far as tuning the Rhodes, it's pretty easy as well. The service manual outlines the strategies. If you don't want to tackle it yourself, call up some piano tuners in your area and see if they would be willing to try or have experience tuning them.

Another thing to do is adjust the space of the tine in relation to the pickup. You can drastically alter the tone of the instrument that way. This is outlined in the service manual as well as is very easy to do.

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Thanks for the links, I actually never ran into that site before. That mod to make the action lighter seems interesting, because mine does play a bit sluggish as well.

I have adjusted the tuning before, but I found it a lot of work to get it 'spot on' by using an electric guitar tuner and moving the tuning rings around. I might get a piano tech to work on it one of these days, although before the Internet, I had a hard time with even finding a music store that stocked spare tines.

Thanks. :)

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Thanks for the links, I actually never ran into that site before. That mod to make the action lighter seems interesting, because mine does play a bit sluggish as well.

I have adjusted the tuning before, but I found it a lot of work to get it 'spot on' by using an electric guitar tuner and moving the tuning rings around. I might get a piano tech to work on it one of these days, although before the Internet, I had a hard time with even finding a music store that stocked spare tines.

Thanks. :)

Using a guitar tuner on an instrument with as many octaves as a Rhodes will lead to more frustration than good tuning. That's because as you go down, away from middle C, due to equal temperment (and the way our ears work), the notes need to be progressively a bit sharp. Likewise, as you go up, the notes need to be a bit flat. I'm not sure a guitar tuner takes such things into account.

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I'd figure we'd might have a topic for Rhodes (and other vintage keys) players here as well, although it's not an organ.

could a melodica thread be too far behind? :P

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Using a guitar tuner on an instrument with as many octaves as a Rhodes will lead to more frustration than good tuning. That's because as you go down, away from middle C, due to equal temperment (and the way our ears work), the notes need to be progressively a bit sharp. Likewise, as you go up, the notes need to be a bit flat. I'm not sure a guitar tuner takes such things into account.

stretched tuning.

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Right. Do guitar tuners support that? I've always been wary of electronic tuners tuning something as complex as a piano (or Rhodes) anyway. The best way is the ear, but a trained ear.

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Right. Do guitar tuners support that? I've always been wary of electronic tuners tuning something as complex as a piano (or Rhodes) anyway. The best way is the ear, but a trained ear.

Not normally, but my Korg mt-1200 does. It also supports one user tuning and a bunch of historical tuning. It's a bit more than a guitar tuner. I don't think they make them anymore.

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According to the manual above, the Rhodes originally didn't come in stretch tuning off the assembly line, but in equal temperament tuning. I only used the tuner to adjust some of the keys that appeared to be way off, but adjusting the rings around the tines to get it to sound right is pretty time consuming. It isn't really an precision system, imo.

Anyway, would be best to get someone with a good ear to look at it.

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I recall removing the guide pin felts completely on my Mark II, or at least some in the problem ranges where I had stickiness. This would be the front of the keybed, not in the middle "hinge". It made the action sound louder, but this was never amplified with the pickups.

Dat - I also spent a long time adjusting the tines to my liking. Someone had given me a wah-wah type of pedal and so I was testing the tine vlumes with that. I can't recall the name of the pedal now, but it would have been the same one Jan Hammer and Joe Zawinul would have used in the early 70s.

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I'd figure we'd might have a topic for Rhodes (and other vintage keys) players here as well, although it's not an organ.

could a melodica thread be too far behind? :P

Sure :lol:

hooters93381.jpg

And We Danced

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Damn Jim... I wish you played vibes! You make everything sound so simple! I could use your guidance in wiring these bars!

What do you need help with. Stringing the bars? I do that all the time.

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Using a guitar tuner on an instrument with as many octaves as a Rhodes will lead to more frustration than good tuning. That's because as you go down, away from middle C, due to equal temperment (and the way our ears work), the notes need to be progressively a bit sharp. Likewise, as you go up, the notes need to be a bit flat. I'm not sure a guitar tuner takes such things into account.

It's called:

Inharmonicity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In music, inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of the overtones of a fundamental differ from whole number multiples of the fundamental's frequency. These inharmonic overtones are often distinguished from harmonic overtones, all whole number multiples, by calling them partials, though partial may also be used to refer to both. Since the harmonics contribute to the sense of sounds as pitched or unpitched, the more inharmonic a sound the less definite it becomes in pitch. Many percussion instruments such as cymbals, tam-tams, and chimes, create complex and inharmonic sounds. Strings are more inharmonic the shorter and thicker they are, which becomes an important consideration for piano tuners, especially in the thick strings of the bass register;

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more:

Stretched tuning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stretched tuning is a detail of musical tuning, applied to wire-stringed musical instruments and older, non-digital electric pianos (such as the Fender Rhodes piano and Wurlitzer electric piano) to accommodate the natural inharmonicity of their vibrating elements. In stretched tuning, two notes an octave apart, whose fundamental frequencies theoretically have an exact 2:1 ratio, are tuned slightly farther apart.

Even more.

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Damn Jim... I wish you played vibes! You make everything sound so simple! I could use your guidance in wiring these bars!

What do you need help with. Stringing the bars? I do that all the time.

:excited: Thanks Kat... no, I don't need help stringing the bars. I've got that one. I'm trying to decide between a couple of pick-up systems vs. a couple of mic'ing systems. There are pros and cons to each, as with everything. In the end, the cost is almost equal regardless of which route I go.

p.s. why would you have to re-string your bars all the time? Parachute cord is pretty heavy duty stuff. Considering the application here, I can't imagine needing to replace it more than once every couple of decades. Re-wrapping mallets on the other hand...

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Well I have a student musser marimba. I would imagine its not that durable. It cost 30 bucks just for the friggen string!

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I have adjusted the tuning before, but I found it a lot of work to get it 'spot on' by using an electric guitar tuner and moving the tuning rings around. I might get a piano tech to work on it one of these days

It *is* a lot of work. While the process is easy, unless you have really small fingers (or a tool which, unlike the dubious "Rhodes tuning tool" sold on ebay and such, actually allows for fine adjustments), you'll need to flip up the harp, adjust, then flip the harp back down to confirm the tuning is correct in normal position. It takes time, and it sounds like your springs might be a bit loose (needing a crimp from a pliers, maybe) if they're getting far out from a short move. Nothing to do with hot temperatures outside, though, I doubt.

You'll absolutely need a tuner or a set of references (like a synth or something) if you're at all picky about your instrument being in tune. A strobe tuner -- not a guitar tuner with LEDs that light up -- is expensive, but software can be had for free via TuneLab which works well. Some experienced piano techs use similar to this method, others don't, but it's not really a question of having "good ears" in the sense of being a good musician who can play what they hear -- rather experience understanding the beats and the intervals -- but I've never heard of a Rhodes tech who didn't use a strobe tuner to set the middle range.

You'll want to tune *after* setting the harp strikeline, tine/pickup geometry, basically anything, because, well, you'll see.

I bet you could do just as good a job or better than any tech out there -- it might take you longer (much!), though. Every afternoon spent on this kind of geeky stuff seems to kill my soul a little, so I never even got around to ordering hammer tips from McMasters or whoever supplies neoprene and all that, but yours sound like maybe it would be worth doing before tuning, to save time, unless you can't afford to have some down time for your instrument between jobs.

Of course this is all coming from someone who literally *can't* tune my Wurlitzer -- not enough patience in the world for that kind of BS.

If Jim's reading this still, did you paint the top to your Wurli yourself, or was it one of those factory "brick red" ones? I'm thinking about doing my standard black top in red as well -- maybe it will help distract from the crap tuning long enough to find a really good tech who can do a better job than me. I am working on replacing the mains with grounded and thinking about getting a drill and routing output to the front panel, so might as well make it a hat trick as far as non-essential stuff goes.

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Not to distract from the topic at hand, but all this talk about the Fender Rhodes has me thinking about Richard Tee. Do we have any Tee fans out there? He was a master of the Rhodes.

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Is there anything that can be done about this? Like.. fill the gaps with some sort of substance or replace the hammers (hmm... that seems like an expensive mod)?

I thought I'd mention that it's not necessarily that expensive a fix. The full kits from Majorkey or some others are pretty reasonable in US currency (not sure about shipping to the Netherlands, but they probably do quite a bit of business in Europe and elsewhere, given the state of the Rhodes).

But, if you think about it, these guys aren't molding their own rubber -- they're buying it from distributors who specialize in this stuff. I mentioned McMasters because my brother-in-law happens to have a bunch of catalogs and stuff for other reasons, but if you can find the specs online (they're out there, and I've seen them, but I can't remember where), you could get this stuff for pennies instead of a hundy or whatever. Probably easier to source it from one of those specialists who cut up the neoprene for you and package it into different hardnesses, or whatever the term is, but if you've got the time, it'd be really cheap to do it yourself with *exactly* the same results.

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If Jim's reading this still, did you paint the top to your Wurli yourself, or was it one of those factory "brick red" ones? I'm thinking about doing my standard black top in red as well -- maybe it will help distract from the crap tuning long enough to find a really good tech who can do a better job than me. I am working on replacing the mains with grounded and thinking about getting a drill and routing output to the front panel, so might as well make it a hat trick as far as non-essential stuff goes.

j lee, good to see you here again! I was wondering if you were still around. Man, not to get totally OT, but I checked out the alt.music.hammond-organ newsgroup the other day for some info on the XK-3. Has that place become a three-man pissing contest or what? Nice waste of the internet.

Anyway, I did paint the Wurli myself. Use Krylon Fusion spray paint. It's specially formulated to bond with plastic. It looks like the plastic has always been that color afterwards. Very cool stuff. A buddy of mine turned me onto it. He painted his Wurli bright yellow (don't know about that, but it does look like it has always been that color!) I like the red. If they made a nasty sea-green or olive-green, I might've tried that.

From what I've read, tuning a Wurli is a major pain in the behind. I've got one broken reed on mine that I need to replace, but the tuning is pretty damn good. Mine is also a student model without tremelo, so I need to add that. Still trying to find some schematics for my particular model. I ordered some off ebay, but mine is the 206A and this was for everything BUT that model.

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j lee, good to see you here again! I was wondering if you were still around. Man, not to get totally OT, but I checked out the alt.music.hammond-organ newsgroup the other day for some info on the XK-3. Has that place become a three-man pissing contest or what? Nice waste of the internet.

Anyway, I did paint the Wurli myself. Use Krylon Fusion spray paint. It's specially formulated to bond with plastic. It looks like the plastic has always been that color afterwards. Very cool stuff. A buddy of mine turned me onto it. He painted his Wurli bright yellow (don't know about that, but it does look like it has always been that color!) I like the red. If they made a nasty sea-green or olive-green, I might've tried that.

From what I've read, tuning a Wurli is a major pain in the behind. I've got one broken reed on mine that I need to replace, but the tuning is pretty damn good. Mine is also a student model without tremelo, so I need to add that. Still trying to find some schematics for my particular model. I ordered some off ebay, but mine is the 206A and this was for everything BUT that model.

It's good to see your forum up and looking good, especially WRT to the new Hammond Zone. Haven't been around much on account of some travelling and the fact that my chops (and motivation to add some new tricks to the bag!) seem to take a dive when online *too* much.

I'll check out the Krylon Fusion paint -- lots of ways to go for colors, definitely. Did you check out the Yahoo Wurlitzer group for retrofitting a tremolo kit to your piano? I could have sworn there was a bunch of discussion on the 206 series, but that could have been from a long time ago, or I could be totally wrong. I do know somebody sells a little tremolo kit via mail older that you solder right in which includes some schematics, but it might not be for your exact model. You probably already tried that route, but just in case you haven't, there it is.

I might be able to give you a reed or two when I pick up a freebie 720 in about a month -- it's supposed to be compatible with the 200 and 206 models, but who knows? I'll let you know if I get it, but be forewarned I need to cannabilize about three reeds myself, so we may be after the same one(s). There's supposedly some little tricks about using spacers to get the reeds just right in the center of that little metal groove when screwing back in the reeds, but it's so finicky trying to get it right, I'd rather just let someone else deal with the thing. It's pretty frustrating, because the sound is just right for a lot of things, and I enjoy that light action -- nice change from the Rhodes, you know?

Didn't even know you were into electric pianos, Jim -- this should be the new de facto site for discussion, given that there's not much that's super active elsewhere online, except maybe the Yahoo groups, but those are pretty hard to search for the way back stuff.

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