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100-Series Wurlitzer Keyboards

It’s convenient to separate Wurlitzer keyboards into two eras: before the 200, and after the 200. But although the earlier 100-series Wurlitzers generally have the same bulky wooden cabinet, there are a lot of differences under the lid.

Early, pre-200 Wurlitzers were manufactured from around 1955 through 1967. This was a major period of innovation for consumer electronics. In 1955, vacuum tubes were the height of technology, but by 1967 all cutting-edge products proudly featured solid state circuitry. The mechanical action of Wurlitzers also changed significantly as the decade passed. Late 100-series Wurlitzers are more reliable, easier to maintain, and less bulky than their predecessors.

This gallery illustrates many of the 100-series Wurlitzers that we’ve had in the past. Some of them are available in our store. Do you have a 100-series Wurlitzer? Let us know - we’d love to see it.

 

 Wurlitzer 112

The Wurlitzer 112 was the first widely available model of Wurlitzer. Its one-of-a-kind tone can be attributed to its unique early reeds and powerful tube amplifier. The 112’s amp is one of the best Wurlitzer amplifiers: more like a Fender 5E3 than the minimalist single-gain-stage 120 amplifier that followed. Because all of the controls are mounted on the side, the 112 also lacks the (arguably tone-sucking) wiring harness of later 100-series Wurlitzers.

The downside is that the 112 has the most primitive mechanical action, so it is more difficult to maintain than later models. But if you can get over the clunky feel, this Wurlitzer is an amazing addition to any studio.

More about the 112: on the blog | in the shop

 
 

 Wurlitzer 120

The Wurlitzer 120 was released in 1956, succeeding the Wurlitzer 112. The 120 is smaller and somewhat lighter, with a revised mechanical action that is relatively easier to maintain. The amplifier also shrunk, eliminating a preamp tube in order to occupy a smaller chassis. For shielding purposes, the lid of the 120 is now metal instead of wood. The keyboard still has a vintage speckled finish and an iconic Wurlitzer tone.

In 1958, the console version of the 120, the Wurlitzer 700, was released. This was logical because Wurlitzer was a piano company, and the 700 resembles a tiny spinet piano. We’ve seen two finishes of the 700: mahogany and oak. This is another underrated model: the 700 comes standard with a 12” speaker, which is great for more thoroughly reproducing the Wurlitzer’s bass tones.

More about the 120: console version

 
 

 Wurlitzer 140/140a

The Wurlitzer 140 & 140a were released between 1962 and 1963. These keyboards are extremely rare, and represent a significant departure from the 120. Both the amplifier and the mechanical assembly are very different.

The 140’s revised mechanical action is much easier to regulate and maintain. In fact, it’s the same mechanical action as the 200-series. It worked so well that Wurlitzer reused it, with only slight modifications, until the electronic piano was discontinued in 1979. The 140 is also the first Wurlitzer with a solid state amplifier. Since it is composed entirely of hard-to-find germanium transistors, it is challenging to repair. If you can find one in working condition, however, the vintage transistors have a beautiful tube-like warmth.

Considering its extremely short production run, germanium transistors, and one-of-a-kind reeds, the Wurlitzer 140 is one of the rarest and most unique Wurlitzer electronic pianos.

More about the 140/140a: cosmetic repairs | in the shop

 
 

 Wurlitzer 145

The Wurlitzer 145/145a/145b is another very rare model. It was released at the same time as the Wurlitzer 140/140a, and it almost identical in appearance and mechanical action. However, instead of a transistor amplifier, it contains a tube amp. The Wurlitzer 145 is the only tube model that contains vibrato.

There is a console version of the 145 called the 720/720a. It is similar in concept to the 700 since it resembles a miniaturized spinet piano, but it has a more substantial footprint.

The Wurlitzer 145 above would have originally resembled a 140 in color. At some point, however, somebody painted it green.

More about the 145: on the blog | in the store

 
 

 Wurlitzer 140b

The Wurlitzer 140b was released in 1964. Although the differences between the 140b and the 140a are minor, they seriously improve the keyboard’s playability.

First, the reeds are identical to those in the Wurlitzer 200 and 200a. This is of course very convenient today, since 200-style reeds are much more common than earlier types. The reed screws were also revised, since those in the 140a were prone to breaking. The second difference is the amplifier. The preamp transistors in the 140b are silicon, not germanium, which are much easier to source. This makes the 140b amplifier more reliable and serviceable than the previous version. But since it has germanium power transistors, the 140b still has a unique tube-like warmth.

More on the 140b: on the blog