Posts in Restorations
In Restoration: Rhodes Mk I

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.

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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 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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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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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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A Short Guide to Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Sustain Problems

The most common sustain problem on a Wurlitzer 200a (or earlier) keyboard is too much sustain: the note continues to ring out, even when the pedal is not depressed. This is almost always caused by damper felts that are excessively compressed or otherwise deteriorated. In other cases, the Wurlitzer’s sustain pedal doesn’t do anything when depressed, and the piano never has sustain. This is usually because the pedal is not making the proper interior connection. This guide will help you address both problems.

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From the Archives: Wurlitzer 200

We have a soft spot for the 200, because it was our first Wurlitzer electronic piano. Our favorite Wurlitzer model changes from minute to minute, but the 200 always has a strong case. It’s the final iteration, sleek and stripped-down - not an inch of wasted space - with features that have been arguably perfected from the previous versions. Electronically, though, it’s still ancient technology. It’s rough around the edges. The 200a was a necessary upgrade - but that doesn’t mean that we have to like it better.

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In Restoration: Four 206 model Wurlitzers

We are extra-excited about this group of four Wurlitzer 200 student pianos because they are clearly of an early manufacture. Three of them had original music racks with the closely-spaced metal bars, which are incredibly rare. Even aside from that great detail, however, all of the keyboards were in great shape. They had clearly been used only lightly and had been stored in a clean, low-humidity area.

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