Posts tagged wurlitzer
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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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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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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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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Troubleshooting My Wurlitzer Electronic Piano’s Tube Amp: User Serviceable Edition

Early Wurlitzer electronic keyboards dating before roughly 1962 all featured on board tube amplifiers. Tube amplifiers offer a unique warm & full sound and what could be better to play your Wurly through right?  To many, however, a vintage tube amp can appear intimidating, high-maintenance and something only audiophiles should own. In the world of vintage amplifiers, however, a tube amp is more likely to be easier to troubleshoot should anything go wrong with its functionality.  In general vintage tube amps have large easy to check and replace components, while vintage solid state amps often have smaller, more delicate components. 

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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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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 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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Techniques for Recording a Wurlitzer Electronic Keyboard

The Wurlitzer electronic keyboard was first commercially released by Wurlitzer in 1955 as a convenient (and potentially silent) tool to practice and study piano.  But, almost immediately after its release, the instrument was discovered by professional musical talent such as Ray Charles and found its way to stages and recording studios. Because of the instrument’s unmistakably unique and warm tone and numerous practical advantages, it was a solid choice for recording artists from the very beginning. 

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How Many Wurlitzers Should I Have?

This may sound crazy, but if you can’t decide which model of Wurlitzer is right for you, you may need two Wurlitzers. All Wurlitzer models have subtle differences between them, from the amp to the reeds to the feel of the keyboard. In some respects, these differences can make two Wurlitzers of different models sound like two totally different instruments. In order to achieve all of the tonal possibly a Wurlitzer can offer, you may need two Wurlitzers.

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Wurlitzer Quick Reference Chart: Things We Included, and Things that We Didn't

Not going to lie: it was hard to narrow down the many variations of a Wurlitzer to create our Wurlitzer Quick Reference chart. We decided to do a quick write-up of all the subtleties that the graphic glosses over. And - let’s be clear - everything about that chart is a subtlety. Every Wurlitzer has that iconic Wurlitzer sound, and any model is capable of being restored to a highly playable, musical state. Amps can be modded for aux outputs and vibrato. Noise can be minimized. Console models can be put on legs. Portable models can be attached to consoles. (We have so many 206 bases. Please help us.) The chart is mostly about where you want to start, and how much work you want to put into your Wurlitzer to make it an exceptional piece of gear in the age of digital recording.

Anyway, here’s a few notes on the chart about the things we included, and the things we left out.

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Choose the Right Wurlitzer Model with our Quick Guide to Wurlitzers!

Having trouble deciding which Wurlitzer model is right for you? Take a look at our handy infographic!

This infographic is an at-a-glance guide to the features of common Wurlitzer models. All models of Wurlitzers are excellent instruments, and with the right restoration any one of them can become a functional, professional piece of gear. However, all Wurlitzers were manufactured 40+ years ago, at a time when standards for recording were much different. And, anyway, professional musicians weren’t necessarily the most lucrative target audience: that would be schools, who bought keyboards six at a time. So, some features that would be standard today - such as an aux output - are absent from many models.

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