Wurlitzer 140a

Wurlitzer 140a


The Wurlitzer 140a is a unique breed of Wurly! Built in the early 1960s, during a time when Wurlitzer was specifically designing for professional musicians and studios, this model was intended to perform.

The 140-series was designed to remedy some design flaws found in earlier Wurlitzers. They were meant to be more reliable, easier to service, and equipped with state-of-the-art electronics. The 140a is a rare early attempt at ticking all those boxes. In some ways, it succeeded; in others, it missed the mark.

In order to make this keyboard the workhorse that Wurlitzer intended it to be, we remedied the 140a’s inherent problems by converting it to Wurlitzer 145b specs. It is now an excellent and very unique example of a classic 1960s Wurlitzer electronic piano.

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The 140-series is the successor to the Wurlitzer 120, an earlier tube Wurlitzer with a notoriously finicky mechanical action. In the 140-series redesign, Wurlitzer changed almost everything about the keyboard, from the reeds to the whip assembly to the amplifier. Then, Wurlitzer fine-tuned those changes by releasing a rapid-fire series of revisions to the 140: first, the 140a in 1963, then the 140b in 1964. At the same time - possibly to please traditionalists with a preference for tube amps - they released an all-tube version, the 145.

The 140a is a rare transitional model. It has the same amplifier as the 140, but the modernized, 200-style reeds of the 140b. Its mechanical action is very similar to 200-style Wurlitzers as well. However, the 140a is known for its defective reed screws. They must be replaced if the keyboard is to be playable. In addition, the early solid state amplifier relies on a dated topology and obsolete components, both of which are hurdles to its proper restoration.

In order to make this Wurlitzer a functional instrument once again, we opted to restore it as if it were not a 1963 Wurlitzer 140a, but instead a 1964 Wurlitzer 145b. If that sounds like a subtle distinction, that’s because it is. It requires just two changes. First, we replaced every reed screw with genuine Wurlitzer reed screws - the same ones that Wurlitzer would switch to just one year after this keyboard was built. Then, we swapped the obsolete solid state amplifier with our reproduction of the timeless 145 tube amp.

The result is a Wurlitzer that is reliable enough for the working musician, and yet still an authentic example of mid-1960s electronic pianos.

Features of this keyboard include:

  • Amplifier replaced with new 145-style tube amp

  • Onboard vibrato and speaker out

  • Reed screws replaced with correct ‘R’ screws

  • Mechanical parts regulated and eased

  • Interior and exterior thoroughly cleaned

  • Reeds tuned & voiced

  • Rare gold fleck metal lid

  • Original legs, music rack, pedal, and exterior lid

Shipping and delivery. Due to the size of this Wurlitzer, even with the legs removed, it can only be shipped via freight within the continental United States. Delivery is available to addresses within 250 miles of New York City for an additional fee. Or, pick up this item at our Tuckahoe, NY studio, 20 miles outside of NYC.

Questions about this keyboard? We are happy to answer any questions that you might have about this keyboard. Or, play it for yourself by making an appointment to stop by our Tuckahoe studio. Contact us at jon@tropicalfishvintage.com for details.

About this Wurlitzer

Condition Notes

Cosmetics. Overall, this Wurlitzer is in great shape. It still has many of its original accessories, including the legs, lid, and sustain pedal. The paint on the wooden case has some damage, due to duct tape that had been left on long-term. We actually considered repainting the whole keyboard, but once we removed the duct tape residue, we realized that the gold finish on the metal lid was undamaged and had a beautiful vintage patina. We felt that the beauty of the lid outweighed the minor paint damage to the case. For that reason, we left the Wurlitzer original.

Mechanical parts. The mechanical parts on this Wurlitzer have been regulated and replaced where necessary, so it now plays smoothly, with a high degree of touch-responsiveness.

Electronics. This Wurlitzer has all-new electronics, including the amplifier and the wiring harness.

Restoration Notes

Like all of our keyboards, this Wurlitzer has undergone restoration inside and out, including:

Installation of our new Wurlitzer 145 replacement amplifier. This 140a originally used an early solid state amplifier that made extensive use of germanium transistors. Today, new germanium transistors are unavailable, and they cannot be replaced with silicon transistors without circuit modification. Since the amplifier was totally nonfunctional, and to get it working again would require installing a lot of non-original, period-incorrect parts, we opted to replace it entirely with our Wurlitzer 145 replacement amplifier. With a new amplifier, this keyboard is reliable once again, with plenty of warm, authentic Wurlitzer tone.

Cleaned the Wurlitzer inside and out. As always, we removed everything from the case and thoroughly cleaned the interior of the Wurlitzer. The exterior of the keyboard needed careful attention, because it was covered in duct tape residue. Although we were able to remove all traces of residue, the duct tape itself had removed some of the paint from the wooden case. (The paint on the lid was much more resilient, and cleaned up very well.) The paint is currently stable - i.e., not peeling - and the wear pattern only shows evidence of this keyboard’s past life.

Restored the mechanical action. In addition to the usual easing and regulation that we perform on the mechanical parts, we replaced all of the reed screws. The original 140a screws were known to break easily, and indeed most of them had cracked washers that crumbled as we removed them. As replacements, we used original “R” screws that we salvaged from a Wurlitzer 200 harp and had been saving for a restoration like this one. The 140a and the 200 used the same size of screw, so this was an exact replacement.

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