In Restoration: Rhodes Mk I
From the Archives: Wurlitzer 206a
A customer brought this Rhodes in for restoration. It had been in storage for some time, and he asked us to bring it back to optimal playing condition.
The instrument was out of tune, missing most of its tolex, and suffered from a sloppy, unresponsive action. It had clearly been well-used for a while, and then at some point it had been put away and not used at all. Overall, though, it was in good shape, because all of its fundamental parts were present and more or less functional. That is, the wood parts weren’t warped, the plastic parts hadn’t deteriorated, and nearly every pickup worked. It was a great candidate for restoration.
On the Wurlitzer 120/700 Amplifier
The 206a is the student-model Wurlitzer. It shares all the same cosmetic features of its professional counterparts, except - appropriate for the classroom - everything about it is just a little less exciting. Instead of dramatic black, here we have friendly beige. Instead of four speakers, we have two. Instead of vibrato, we have the self/ensemble knob.
Wurlitzer 120/700 Amplifier: Circuit Analysis
This vintage tube amp was removed from a Wurlitzer 700 electronic piano. It’s is the same amplifier as a Wurlitzer 120…unfortunately. The 120 had very limited cabinet space, so that’s why the physical design of the amp is so cramped. On the other hand, the 700 had a cavernous cabinet that could definitely have handled a larger amp chassis. Oh well: that ship has obviously sailed.
From the Archives: Wurlitzer 206 Student Electronic Pianos
The Wurlitzer 120 amplifier represented a total redesign from the previous Wurlitzer model, the 112. The upside is that the amp is a lot smaller, so it fits nicely in the smaller, lighter 120 cabinet. The downside is also that the amp is a lot smaller. It’s missing many of the features that make the Wurlitzer 112 so magical. Regardless, it’s still a great vintage tube amp with a lovely, classic tone.
How to Replace Vintage Filter Capacitor Cans
These photos are from a batch of four student model Wurlitzers that we recently picked up. All arrived in amazing condition, with very few rips or scuffs and immaculately clean interiors. With just a little restoration, they became excellent and highly playable examples of early 200 Wurlitzers. Only one is still available.
Why our 145 Chassis is Bigger and Better…Than the Original
The filter capacitors in many amps are mounted in a metal can, which can be an obstacle to successfully recapping the amp. These days, filter cans are only made in a limited values, so it's hard to find the exact match. Mounting the caps outside of the can is another option, but finding the space can be tricky. Removing the can can leave a giant hole, which can allow dust to enter the chassis over time. So, what's the best way to replace can-style filter capacitors?
On Modifying a Wurlitzer
Originally, Wurlitzer built amplifier chassis just big enough to fit the components they needed. This left some interior cabinet space unused. There is nothing wrong with this design choice, but there is a lot of interior cabinet space that can be utilized should one (like, say, us) were to design a brand new replacement amplifier to go inside the Wurlitzer.
Why Your Wurlitzer 206 Electronic Piano is a Shock Hazard (And How to Fix It)
Whenever you think about modifying a vintage electronic piano, you should think about two things. Is the mod reversible? And, if not, am I actually improving the keyboard?
A Wurlitzer electronic piano has been around for decades. Clearly, Wurlitzer did something right when they manufactured them, because even after all these years they are still desirable. It is important to avoid performing impulsive mods that will irreversibly change the keyboard. Think it through. Consider whether the mod enhances the function of the keyboard. Consider whether there is a less invasive way to reach the same goal.
What to Look for When Buying a Fender Rhodes Electronic Piano
In the classroom, multiple student-model Wurlitzers were connected to each other via the two ports on the back. This connection allowed each Wurlitzer to communicate with the teacher console. It also linked each Wurlitzer to the mains wiring so that they could power on in the first place.
How to Fix Hum in Your Wurlitzer Electronic Piano (Or Other Vintage Amp): Part II
When we’re thinking about buying a Rhodes, there are a few criteria that we use to judge potential purchases. We’re mostly concerned about how much work the Rhodes needs to become playable - and if you want your Rhodes to be a functional keyboard and not just a moderately inconvenient buffet table, you probably care about the same things we do.
How to Fix Hum in Your Wurlitzer Electronic Piano (Or Other Vintage Amp): Part I
In Part I of our guide on fixing hum, we listed some easy fixes. In Part II, we’ll go into further detail on techniques that require some prior electronics experience to execute. It’s worth checking out Part I first, because it listed some simple, non-invasive things that you should always be tried before diving into the amplifier’s circuitry. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you already tried everything in Part I. This includes:
On Vacuum Tube Heaters
Before we start, a disclaimer: hum should be addressed on a case-by-case basis, because every vintage amp is special and degrades in its own way. What cures one amp may not work for another. That said, reading this guide should give you a good starting point on how to address your own hum problems. This guide is pretty basic and going to assume that the only piece of test equipment that you have is a multimeter.
How is a Wurlitzer tube amp different from a guitar amp?
The heaters of your vacuum tubes are one of the most critical parts of your amplifier. A well-designed heater circuit is quiet and unobtrusive: truly an unsung hero of any quality amp. On the other hand, flaws in a heater circuit can produce noise.
What pedals should you put in your Wurlitzer's effects loop?
Wurlitzer tube amps are in fact very similar to guitar amps.
But before we talk about that, let’s back up a little. The Wurlitzer itself is very analogous to an electric guitar: the heart of both instruments is a pickup that converts vibration into an electrical signal that is ultimately sent to an amplifier. In a guitar, the amplifier is almost always external, but a Wurlitzer’s amplifier is tucked into the body of the instrument.
The Music Man 130HD 410 and Why It's So Amazing
An effects loop opens up many, many tonal possibilities in your Wurlitzer. Some of the earlier Wurlitzers have a reputation as a one-trick pony. The 112, for instance. How many people on forums have opined that it’s good for that one Ray Charles sound, and that’s it? Three people? Four? That’s not the point. The point is that, once you give the 112 an fx loop, it now has an unlimited amount of sounds.
But what sounds, specifically, should you plug into your Wurlitzer’s effects loop?
From the Archives: Wurlitzer 214
It’s impossible to talk about Music Man amps without bringing up their creator, Leo Fender. And once we start talking about Leo Fender, we can’t help but think of the famous Fender tube amplifiers he also created. And perhaps studying Fender tube amps and Leo Fender would be a great exercise to help understand & appreciate just how awesome Music Man amps are.
From the Archives: Wurlitzer 120
This Wurlitzer 214 that we once had is a classic example of 214 glory. The Avocado green top was in excellent condition and the tolex was all there without any tears. The wooden keybed has some “chair” nicks and the grill cloth had some stains, but no tears! Perhaps the most amazing feature of the 214 is that it is a complete 200 set on top of a console which houses four 8” round speakers. The four speakers - two in front and two in the back - project the Wurlitzer’s awesome tone in all directions!
From the Archives: Wurlitzer 720a
This Wurlitzer 120 arrived in exceptional condition. It had spent many years studio, a carpeted, finished basement housing an enormous collection of jazz records. Really the only indication that this keyboard is a late-50s vintage is the splatter-paint finish. It doesn’t show any of the cosmetic wear that you’d expect from a 60-year-old piece of gear. There’s a little bit of dust in the cheek block tolex, a little bit of patina on the metal parts, and that’s it.
What components should I replace in my vintage Wurlitzer amp, and why?
When we walked into the room where the original owner had this keyboard, the seller mentioned they had it switched on for us ready to try out. We thought, oh then it must not be making sound because we heard nothing - not even the usual idle hum. We played a A-7 chord, and a wall of rich tube sound blasted out of the massive 12” alnico speaker. Needless to say, we were floored.
Tropical Fish now offers several kits containing replacement components for all Wurlitzer amplifiers. If you already have experience working with electronics, these kits offer a convenient DIY option for restoring your amp. Each kit contains the same high-quality components that we use in our own restorations.
For all amplifiers, we offer the Basic kit as well as several add-on components packages. The Basic kit contains all electrolytic capacitors, power supply resistors, and a few input components for the preamp. For many amplifiers, replacing these components is sufficient for improved reliability and performance.