Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

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Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by Mattew96 » Mon May 12, 2014 5:01 pm

Just a year ago, I remember that a Wurlitzer 200 around my area would sell for $300-500 in good condition. These days, no less than $1200! Conversely, a Rhodes in poor shape of any age would go for upwards of $800-1000, and nowadays those prices are dropping to the high $500s. What defines the popularity of these instruments? How can the prices fluctuate so much? It almost feels like they're set on a whim... I want a Wurly so much... Should I settle with a now cheaper and still enjoyable Rhodes (assuming condition is decent)? Or should I wait because these things apparently change drastically in a year? I must be missing something.
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon May 12, 2014 5:27 pm

The Wurlitzer sound is much more in vogue in indie rock circles than the Rhodes sound, that's why the price reversals.
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by nvining » Tue May 13, 2014 8:56 pm

Supply and demand for Wurlitzers and Rhodes pianos varies all over the country. Vancouver has always been Rhodes country, so Wurlitzers go for more and have done so ever since I can remember. Rhodes prices around here seem to be at about $1100, which seems a bit rich... I remember buying my first Rhodes for $400.00 eight years ago. :)

I think a lot of this might also do with the fact that a Wurlitzer can be picked up and moved by one person. A Rhodes, with the exception of the 54-key one and maybe the Mark V, usually requires two people to move it and lift it. With gas prices being what they are, it's one more thing you don't necessarily want to have to schlup from gig to gig in a van (or whatever.)

Hammond Organs also seem to have been a victim of gas prices. I've seen B3s - real B3s, not A100s - going for reasonable prices again, which I suspect has a lot to do with nobody wanting to pay the bills for hauling them around.
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by yorgatron » Tue May 13, 2014 10:37 pm

meatballfulton wrote:The Wurlitzer sound is much more in vogue in indie rock circles than the Rhodes sound, that's why the price reversals.
a Wurly sounds better in a typical rock mix, a Rhodes is far more suitable for jazz and R&B music.

also, finding a Rhodes with a decent action is a rare thing, even rarer is if it also sounds good.

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Wed May 14, 2014 2:33 am

I haven't seen a Wurlitzer of any kind go for much less than $700 in a long time. If you see them for those prices, you should buy them. All of them.
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by pflosi » Wed May 14, 2014 8:32 am

Geographical fluctuations are also interesting on these. Rhodes were always relatively cheap in the States. Over here in Europe they've been sitting at well over 1k for a long time already.

I was very very lucky to find mine (MK2 Stage 73) for 1200.- in pristine condition last year, completely in tune, great action... The guy I bought it from was a Jazz teacher and he had this one only at home, he had another one that he took out for gigs (which was in terrible shape). I've been looking for a deal like this for ages.

Personally I prefer the Rhodes sound to the Wurli sound, but I wouldn't mind having a Wurli as well :thumbleft:

Edit for typo
Last edited by pflosi on Wed May 14, 2014 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by mpa1104 » Wed May 14, 2014 10:26 am

I learned Jazz keyboard in a lab full of badly maintained Wurly EPs and I was happy to see the back of them in the end (despite the great lessons!). Haven't played anything else but my own Rhodes since I've had it for the past 16+ years, but have always been conscious of the differences between the two. But I recently heard something that essentially sounded like both when I was invited by an old acquaintance to inspect his Rhodes. He'd come by an 88-note model for a very nice price, and it had a Dyno-My-Piano EQ fitted to it. Now, this thing really surprised me because the "Overtone" control radically altered the timbre, and it was as though you could have vintage Rhodes tone on one turn and then very a bitey Wurly on the other - it was hugely impressive. Anyone else come across those Chuck Monte retrofits?
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Wed May 14, 2014 12:31 pm

Hmmmm... Wurli 200.

I´ll have one, please.

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by tomorrowstops » Wed May 14, 2014 12:43 pm

I've got a Wurli 200 and a Rhodes MKII. No question, Wurlis are MUCH more tempermental than Rhodes'. I've fully restored my Rhodes and am currently working on the Wurli. The Rhodes is such a simple, beautiful mechanical beast! The Wurli is an overbuilt, finicky nightmare.

If you're looking at a $1200+, SERVICED Wurli, then its worth every penny. I've sunk at least 20+ hours and several hundred into mine. If you're looking at a sub-$700, JUST-CAME-OUT-OF-THE-CHURCHES-BASEMENT Wurli, then be prepared to put some money and time into it!

That all being said, I still prefer the action and over timbre of my Rhodes. Especially with varying adjustments to voicing. The Wurli is a great sound too, but definitely a narrower palette.

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by V301H » Wed May 14, 2014 3:52 pm

Rhodes Piano Bass eBay asking prices have increased dramatically in the last year. A year ago the typical asking price for a common model of Piano Bass was around $700-1000. Last year I got a near mint 1973 for $810 on eBay. Now certain older models are listed in the $2-4K range and less desirable later 70's models are around $1500 or more. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of Piano Basses as there are almost always a few for sale and it isn't an instrument that is widely used. The keyboard player in Norah Jones' band uses one on stage for a song or two but that shouldn't be enough to drive prices up.
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by Mattew96 » Wed May 14, 2014 4:01 pm

Yeah, I must agree with that. I can't find it right now but I was reading an article recently that described a difference in reliability between the 200 and 200A. The mechanics are virtually the same, but there's a better shielded amp board and pickups, the speakers are mounted on the case instead of the amp board, and there is aluminum piping around the AC cable inside the Wurli to prevent hum. Subtle, but significant. I've heard some rhodes cross the Wurlitzer line, but I never figured out how. I always thought it was a clever mix of action, overdrive, and EQ or something. You know, I think I need to step back for a bit. I'm drooling for one of these things. I personally prefer the Wurlitzer, but goddamn I'd love a Rhodes too. Honestly I've been thinking about it, and finding a Mark VII seems to be the safest bet. I have always heard that they are true to the Mark V's legacy, never heard much or really any hate for the new tech.
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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Wed May 14, 2014 4:28 pm

V301H wrote:Rhodes Piano Bass eBay asking prices have increased dramatically in the last year. A year ago the typical asking price for a common model of Piano Bass was around $700-1000. Last year I got a near mint 1973 for $810 on eBay. Now certain older models are listed in the $2-4K range and less desirable later 70's models are around $1500 or more. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of Piano Basses as there are almost always a few for sale and it isn't an instrument that is widely used. The keyboard player in Norah Jones' band uses one on stage for a song or two but that shouldn't be enough to drive prices up.
I guess most people would buy a Piano Bass not because it´s terribly useful but because of the Ray Manzarek connotations -- and a certain "hipster" appeal might also play a role. And, of course, the early silver-sparkly top units have become "collectible".

I recall a Wurlitzer being a bit of a nightmare to tune because of the blobs of solder applied to the tines which you have to file away in order to get the tuning right. There´s also some mechanical bits which can be tricky, and the internal amplification...

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by recordbot » Wed May 14, 2014 4:58 pm

mpa1104 wrote:Anyone else come across those Chuck Monte retrofits?
yes! I'm looking for one now, a friend has one in his studio that he got from Deodato, amazing sound on that thing when it's working. apparently there are repeated issues keeping it working but it's the only case I've heard about so far so who knows, maybe some inexperienced tech wrecked things years back but that does seem unlikely.

If anyone has a Dyno Rhodes they want to let go of hit me up, a local tech was trained by Chuck Monte on installing the Dyno and apparently they made several modifications but voicing the keyboard was part of all of them. Going to go listen to some Deodato right now to keep me motivated on this project.

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by Europanaut » Wed May 14, 2014 5:21 pm

Mattew96 wrote:I've heard some rhodes cross the Wurlitzer line, but I never figured out how. I always thought it was a clever mix of action, overdrive, and EQ or something.
The setup of the tine tone bars has a huge effect on the overtones and "bark" of the Rhodes. You can really get them to lean towards a Wurli tone. Not "the same", but certainly pointed in that direction.

We have the "big four" here in the studio. Rhodes, Wurli, Pianet N, and CP70, but the Rhodes 73 gets used the most. It's been restored (as have all the instruments), set up for a warm classic Rhodes tone, and has the VV backcheck hit installed. Works great, sounds very nice, and is popular with the clientelle.

We had one client, a couple of months ago, who simultaneously recorded Wurli with his left hand, and Rhodes with his right. Another client duplicated her parts, using DI Rhodes on the right side, and Pianet through a gtr amp on the left. They all have such different, but often complimentary tones. Pretty fun!

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Re: Rhodes and Wurlitzer... Why so volatile?

Post by pelican » Thu May 15, 2014 12:27 am

I'd love to get rid of my rhodes. Been trying for months

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