Rhodes vs. Digital piano

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bill H.
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Re: Rhodes vs. Digital piano

Post by bill H. » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:11 pm

thestreets wrote:I have one of those yamaha 88 key digital pianos that has your standard grand piano, church organ, vibraphone, and harpsichord. However, as of late i have taken particular interest in the rhodes sound and i have been considering buying an actual rhodes off of ebay. Is the authentic rhodes sound worth paying for or is the one i have good enough? In other words, how much better is the real thing than the replica?
No Yamaha digital piano I've played really captures the Rhodes sound in it's entirety. But that's OK by me. I've played a lot of Rhodes pianos, both when they were in production and since, and they all had stiff hard actions and dull muffled sound without external processing. You really owe it to yourself to track one down and decide for yourself, but also be prepared to not be amazed. Do not buy one sight unseen! They are not everyone's cup of tea.... even when they are working right.

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Post by KB Crockett » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:55 am

For a stage Rhodes, you really need to hear it with a direct output from the harp through a dedicated Rhodes preamp with the correct tone controls. That's when the real Rhodes magic happens for me.

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Post by crystalmsc » Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:57 am

gs wrote:The most authentic Rhodes sound I've heard in the digital realm was the software VSTi Mr. Ray.
true, I love it too..it's just so playable and musical.
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Post by goldphinga » Wed Jun 13, 2007 12:54 pm

Some rhodes are duffers for sure and its not worth putting money into ones that are rusted, and really beaten up (unless you have stupid amounts of spare time)but most can sing with a little care and attention. Im a tech and player myself and there are certain things to look for in a rhodes to help ensure you have a good one.

The main thing is the tines/tonebars being in good condition as this is the most important aspect of the sound. Every other part can be replaced fairly easily with new or nos parts, but there are many variations between different years/eras of tines so its important to try and match them as much as possible.

Hammer tips are easy to replace and so is just about everything else but to get the rhodes to sing is a time consuming but ultimately worth it art. There is nothing that can touch a well set up and voiced rhodes. Emulations are useful for convenience but seldom sound anywhere as good as the real thing. Then there is the whole feel, touch and dynamic range of the real rhodes which ive yet to hear nailed by any emulation.
'
My preference is for the pre 75 mk1's with the half wood/plastic hammers (badged 'fender rhodes') but ill def be looking at a mk7 when they finally go on sale in the uk.

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Post by miket156 » Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:57 pm

The characteristics of a Rhodes, as well as a Mini Moog, can never REALLY be duplicated by sample sounds because a sample is a one time snap shot at a particular velocity on an individual instrument. There are enough variables in the sound you will get at different velocities and on different instruments that trying to capture that sound in one moment in time is not possible. The most important aspect of the Rhodes that cannot be duplicated on a sampled instrument is the mechanical aspect of playing one, like an acoustic piano.

For convenience, you can't beat a good rompler. I love the variations of Rhodes I can get out of my Motif ES8. I've A/Bed it a number of times with my 1979 Suitcase Rhodes piano. My Rhodes is in great condition, and was setup by an excellent Rhodes tech some years ago, so its a good example of what a Rhodes from 1979 sounds like in good tune. As good as my Motif Es8 sounds, what's missing (as in any rompler) is the physical connection you get when playing an electro-mechanical instrument. The music listener won't know the difference, but players will.

If you're going to get a Rhodes these days, set it up, tune it, and leave it in the studio to enjoy and record.


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Post by Denms20 » Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:58 pm

Well,
Before I answered this I decided to play both my old Rhodes 73 suitcase which I got basically for free, in bad shape, and every emulator I have through a weighted key action I really like (Korg SP-100).
The emulators I have sound perfect, every note's the same, crystal clear, you can hear the bell like quality on each note the same etc. Then I turned on the rhodes. Some notes ring more than others, the action is sluggish at best, the thing clunks and gives you that bottoming out distorted sound if you lay into it, and it's a little noisy.
For me, it's no contest, give me the real thing anytime. I don't think I've used the emulations other than just now since I got the thing. And to me the emulations are more a caricature of a rhodes than a rhodes.
I have a guitar friend I've done some recordings with who knows what equipment I have, and right after I got the thing another friend wanted me to record hammond on a blues song he did. I sent him the hammond track and an extra track with the rhodes, just for kicks. He used to rhodes solo on the track, and the guitar friend heard it. First words I heard from him were when did you get a rhodes!
I love my rhodes, and wouldn't trade it for any emulator out there. But I would trade it for a real wurly at the drop of a hat.
I did have to do a lot of adjusting and fiddling to get it where it is though, and I have a feeling it's still really rough by a tech's standards.
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Post by MrFrodo » Thu Jun 14, 2007 2:02 am

Denms20 wrote:Well,
I love my rhodes, and wouldn't trade it for any emulator out there. But I would trade it for a real wurly at the drop of a hat.
Yeah, I know. I messed around a little with the quote. Anyway Denms20, why don't you save up for a Wurlitzer to supplament the Rhodes? I did that for a little while, partly because of Richard Carpenter. [Richard used to perform at the Steinway with one of each on either side; I think it was the Rhodes to his left and the Wurly to his right.] I had to sell both, but I plan to replace them, someday. If either is worth having, both of them are.
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Post by Denms20 » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:01 am

MrFrodo wrote:
Denms20 wrote:Well,
I love my rhodes, and wouldn't trade it for any emulator out there. But I would trade it for a real wurly at the drop of a hat.
Yeah, I know. I messed around a little with the quote. Anyway Denms20, why don't you save up for a Wurlitzer to supplament the Rhodes? I did that for a little while, partly because of Richard Carpenter. [Richard used to perform at the Steinway with one of each on either side; I think it was the Rhodes to his left and the Wurly to his right.] I had to sell both, but I plan to replace them, someday. If either is worth having, both of them are.
It's on my list, actually. I tend to keep my eyes open for this stuff, and if a really good deal comes along, I can usually scrape enough cash up to get them. It's number two on the list, right after a trek percussion for the hammond.
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Post by spookyman » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:05 am

I also have the "real thing".

A stage piano from 1975, with an integrated Vintage Vibe Preamp (pre-serie, without serigraphie). I'm playing it over an old Fender Twin Reverb (mono) or direct in a auto pan pedal (Stereo Pulsar from EHX) for that stereo Suitecase sound.

Like Denis said, not every note sounds the same. I'm playing it on the road since 4 years now, and never had problems. I gave it once to a good Rhodes tech, and he made a total revision on the mechanic. I also played the Nord Stage (and Nord Electro). The sound is really not bad. For someone looking for something light, portable and good sounding, it's the perfect thing to have. But i have the feeling that i can play better on the original device. The look, the feel, the dynamic that comes from the 6L6 in the Twin, that barky sound, it's something unique.

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Post by thestreets » Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:43 pm

I'm reviving my old thread.

Since i figured out how to use my electribe as a realtime effects processor, I have been getting some amazing rhodes sounds. I've been trying a few things but the best result was when I ran my digi piano through the tribe and put a little bit crushing on it. Then I added a bit of reverb and put a high pass filter on it with about half resonance and the filter closed about halfway. Then finally i used the modulation to put some tremelo on it. I had a nice gritty atmospheric rhodes sound.

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Post by BluMunk » Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:25 pm

MrFrodo wrote:, the Rhodes carries an amunt of physical maintanence, but so does an acoustic piano. Go for it.

Since there's still such hot demand for acoustic pianos, even in this day and age, I should hope that the projected New Rhodes will prove to be as big a smash as the old run was in the 70's.
I hope so.

I do know that if I were buying a new 'analog' piano of some sort, I would totally pass on an upright piano in favor of a real live Rhodes.

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Post by tyrannosaurus mark » Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:36 pm

I run my motif through a small tube amp, it sounds pretty nice


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Post by Jazzpunk » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:38 am

As with all vintage instruments, you get what you pay for. I picked up my 1973 MKI for $700 and put another $500 into it getting it professionally restored. Sounds amazing and the action is great.

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Post by thestreets » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:56 am

Um...I can understand why this got moved to buyers guide. But I'm not buying a rhodes, i was merely comparing the sound of the two instruments.

Yeahhhh.....

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Post by gfriden » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:57 am

I bought a MK II about a year ago that's in pristine condition. Beautiful sound. I run it through a Fender Twin Reverb (which has a spring reverb and tremolo). It sounds absolutely beautiful. I can not imagine there's another way to recreat that sound 100% successfully. I'm expecting a MF-103 to arrive later this week. Who says Christmas comes but once a year? :D
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