Posts in Classic Gear
On the Wurlitzer 120/700 Amplifier

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.

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 206 Student Electronic Pianos

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.

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 214

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!

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 120

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.

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 720a

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.

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 112a

This is a classic example of a Wurlitzer 112a that we once had. We photographed it in our main studio live room. A serviced Wurlitzer 112a electronic piano is a powerful music making tool in any studio! The effective alnico speaker is mounted on the rear of the instrument so it can be easily mic’d without picking up much (or any) mechanical key or finger noise from the players’ hands.

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In Restoration: Wurlitzer 145

This Wurlitzer 145 was brought in by a customer, who had just purchased it from its original owner. The Wurlitzer was in a state of obvious neglect: the amp was noisy, the keys were sticky, and the entire unit was covered in a film of dust. It had been refinished many years ago and had developed an interesting patina, but it needed to be handled gently because the old paint was prone to chipping. The 145 is a rare model of Wurlitzer and this one in particular was truly one-of-a-kind. We were very happy to work on it.

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In Restoration: Removing Duct Tape from the Wurlitzer 140a

This Wurlitzer 140a belonged to a producer for many years, and arrived at our shop in well-used condition. By that, we mean that it was pretty banged up and showed evidence of previous repairs. Also, because multiple latches were missing, the lid didn’t attach very well. At some point, it had obviously once been held in place with duct tape.

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How Does a Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Work?

All Wurlitzer electronic pianos - from the model 112 to the Wurlitzer 200a - are more or less built the same. There are subtle differences in the mechanical action and the amplifier, but they all follow the same basic principles.

When you hit a key on the Wurlitzer electronic piano, a felt-tipped hammer rises and strikes a metal reed. The reed vibrates to a certain pitch, which is determined by the weight of a lump of solder at the end of the reed. A pickup converts the vibration into an electrical signal, which is finally amplified by the onboard amp and sent to a speaker.

Here’s how it works in a little more detail:

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How to Convert a Wurlitzer 206 into a Wurlitzer 200

The Wurlitzer 206 is the student version of the Wurlitzer 200. It is equivalent to the 200 in every day, but it is mounted on a cabinet instead of legs and some features of the amplifier are disabled. However, all of the components that are in a 200 are also present on the circuit board of the 206. Enabling vibrato and the aux output is therefore as simple as adding some wires and a 10k potentiometer. Here is how we do it.

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What is the Difference Between a Wurlitzer 140 and a Wurlitzer 200a or 200?

Wurlitzer in the 140 series are transitional models: more reliable than Wurlitzer’s earlier electronic pianos, but not as portable as later models. On the other hand, the 200-series is the iconic final iteration of Wurlitzer keyboards: smaller, lighter, more chrome. If there’s a Wurlitzer 140 (or any of its many variants, from the 140b to the 145) that has caught your eye, you may be wondering if buying it is a good idea. How does it stack up against the 200a? Does it require more work? What are the practical differences between them? This guide is here to help.

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What is the Difference Between a Wurlitzer 200 and a Wurlitzer 200a?

The Wurlitzer 200 and 200a are extremely similar. If you are trying to decide between the two models, you should first of all realize that there are no bad decisions here. When restored, both types of keyboard are equally reliable, high-quality instruments. And, of course, both of them have that iconic Wurlitzer sound.

If you can’t decide between a Wurlitzer 200 and a 200a, this guide may help. Below, we’ve listed the differences between the 200 and the 200a.

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Gibson GA-5 vs Fender 5F1: Circuit Analysis

We’ve written about the history of the Gibson GA-5 before. Basically, the GA-5 was Gibson’s first practice amp offering. Not only was the circuit nearly identical to the Fender Champ, but the GA-5’s cabinet was suspiciously similar as well. Eventually, Gibson adopted a more original exterior design, but the circuit remained pretty much the same. This means that a GA-5 of any vintage is an extremely affordable equivalent to a 5F1 Champ.

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Would Your Wurlitzer Benefit From Servicing?

Some vintage keyboard are in a state of total dilapidation, and will obviously need a lot of work before they can be played. But others are in better condition. They turn on, sound comes out, all or most of the keys work. Is this enough? When can servicing a keyboard that “works” make it perform much better?

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 200a

This is a classic example of a Wurlitzer 200a that we once had. We photographed it in front of a wall at the studio - actually, in the control room. (The “signal” stencil is a holdover from the building’s time as a Metro-North Railroad switching station.) The floor is very slanted so we got to use an underrated feature that all portable 200 models have: adjustable feet.

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 203

The 203 is, objectively, one of the best models of Wurlitzer ever made. It has four speakers - 8” speakers!, but still, this is as close as Wurlitzer ever got to the classic 70s stack. When you play it at high volumes, it envelops you in sound like a really nice acoustic piano. The bass response is excellent. The two front speakers are pointed at you, for monitoring purposes. The two back speakers are pointed away, for filling the room. It’s just perfection.

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