Posts tagged electronic piano
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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Why our 145 Chassis is Bigger and Better…Than the Original

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.

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On Modifying a Wurlitzer

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.

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What to Look for When Buying a Fender Rhodes Electronic Piano

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.

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How to Fix Hum in Your Wurlitzer Electronic Piano (Or Other Vintage Amp): Part I

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.

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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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What components should I replace in my vintage Wurlitzer amp, and why?

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.

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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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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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Does My Wurlitzer Need New Key Bushing Felts?

If you flip a Wurlitzer key upside down, you’ll see two holes underneath. These holes line up with the two metal pins in the keybed that guide the key’s vertical travel. They’re called the key bushings, and they’re lined with felt. As the keyboard is played, this felt becomes compressed over time and the keys no longer fit snugly around the key pin. Or, if these felts become damaged, they could prevent the key’s smooth travel and the touch-responsiveness of the keyboard becomes compromised.

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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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