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Fender Rhodes characteristics

 
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ChrisDuncan
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 12:57 am    Post subject: Fender Rhodes characteristics Reply with quote

While I've played actual Hammonds back in the day, I never laid hands on a real, live Fender Rhodes of any generation.

I've noticed when playing all of them that no matter how clean the sound may be, there's a dirty, snarly characteristic that leaps out when played at high velocity.

Is this just the nature of the beast, i.e. if you want it to stay pretty, always play with a light to moderate touch, or is it something that's present or not depending on the generation of Rhodes that you're playing?
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Chris Duncan
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Falcon2e
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s very possible that what you’re hearing may represent the actual instrument. Can you tell us the actual program you’re using so we can find out if we are getting the same results? I owed one way back in the 70s and I do remember it having some interesting quirks.
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KK
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chris,

Yep, the Korg EP-1 does a very good job at emulating the three Rhodes generations (I, II and V). Even though you could "modify" a real Rhodes touch and sound, they all had a certain amount of bark when played aggressively, especially the older ones (I). IMHO, the last ones (V) had a better sound, usually cleaner, and that's what you get also in the EP-1 engine.

Things that most don't miss about stock Rhodes are they were heavy to carry and often had a weird touch, sometimes way too heavy. By comparison, the Korg RH3 action is a lot more playable.
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ChrisDuncan
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Falcon2e wrote:
It’s very possible that what you’re hearing may represent the actual instrument. Can you tell us the actual program you’re using so we can find out if we are getting the same results? I owed one way back in the 70s and I do remember it having some interesting quirks.

I notice the barking to some degree or another on every one that I play.

I don't believe it's a problem with the sound, I've heard this growling / distorted sound on many records. The intro to Queen's "You're my best friend" has that characteristic on the low notes, for example, so I assume he's just banging the low notes pretty hard.
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Chris Duncan
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ChrisDuncan
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KK wrote:
Hi Chris,

Yep, the Korg EP-1 does a very good job at emulating the three Rhodes generations (I, II and V). Even though you could "modify" a real Rhodes touch and sound, they all had a certain amount of bark when played aggressively, especially the older ones (I). IMHO, the last ones (V) had a better sound, usually cleaner, and that's what you get also in the EP-1 engine.

Things that most don't miss about stock Rhodes are they were heavy to carry and often had a weird touch, sometimes way too heavy. By comparison, the Korg RH3 action is a lot more playable.

Cool, that's kinda what I figured since I've heard that characteristic so often.

So, to eliminate the bark, my advice to newbie keyboard players (i.e., me) would be "play with more control." Smile
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Chris Duncan
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ChrisDuncan
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Falcon2e wrote:
I owed one way back in the 70s and I do remember...

And isn't the rule if we actually remember the 70s, we weren't really there? Very Happy
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Chris Duncan
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Falcon2e
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisDuncan wrote:
Falcon2e wrote:
I owed one way back in the 70s and I do remember...

And isn't the rule if we actually remember the 70s, we weren't really there? Very Happy


Haha! Exactly, it was an interesting time with a lot of great music being played on turntables and real to real recorders in smoky rooms.
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Hector Space
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lol! As an ancient keyboard player, dating back to the late 70’s when indeed I had a very nice Fender Rhodes Stage 73 from new (1977). It took me a long time to get it setup nicely and yes the bark and bite were and are very desirable features. At the time most gigging musicians couldn’t drag around a real piano and the electronic/electric alternatives were pretty rubbish. For me it was either a Wurly EP200 or a Rhodes. I chose the Rhodes in the end because it was more flexible and had a broader range and was a better allrounder (the wurly always sounds like a toy piano when you play higher notes! But I love the funk and grit you can get from it).

So to get some edge to the Rhodes sound (it was always rather marsh mallowy on BeeGees and many late 70’s recordings) so that it could do some funk and rock and roll (I kid you not!!) you really pushed the pickup heads as close to the tines as possible and angled them a bit to pickup some more harmonics.
Even then you had to whack it to make it bite. I used to get through tines and rubber hammer tips like there was no tomorrow!! 5 night residency.

The action on my Rhodes was awful compared to any real piano, it was very heavy and not at all precise. Years later I bought a wurly and was amazed at how much more refined the action was. Ok it had a shallow key throw and toy piano upper registers but today it’s still the sound I reach for when I’m playing soul and funk.
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ChrisDuncan
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hector Space wrote:
Lol! As an ancient keyboard player, dating back to the late 70’s

Remember, getting old is the point! Very Happy

Hector Space wrote:
I had a very nice Fender Rhodes Stage 73 from new (1977). It took me a long time to get it setup nicely and yes the bark and bite were and are very desirable features. At the time most gigging musicians couldn’t drag around a real piano and the electronic/electric alternatives were pretty rubbish. For me it was either a Wurly EP200 or a Rhodes. I chose the Rhodes in the end because it was more flexible and had a broader range and was a better allrounder (the wurly always sounds like a toy piano when you play higher notes! But I love the funk and grit you can get from it).

So to get some edge to the Rhodes sound (it was always rather marsh mallowy on BeeGees and many late 70’s recordings) so that it could do some funk and rock and roll (I kid you not!!) you really pushed the pickup heads as close to the tines as possible and angled them a bit to pickup some more harmonics.
Even then you had to whack it to make it bite. I used to get through tines and rubber hammer tips like there was no tomorrow!! 5 night residency.

The action on my Rhodes was awful compared to any real piano, it was very heavy and not at all precise. Years later I bought a wurly and was amazed at how much more refined the action was. Ok it had a shallow key throw and toy piano upper registers but today it’s still the sound I reach for when I’m playing soul and funk.

One of the things I love about the Kronos 88 is the action. I have a weighted Fatar 88 controller from the 90s in the control room and I used to think it felt pretty good until I got the Korg. But yeah, I would expect EPs to have their own feel, different from both pianos and synths.

As for hauling around heavy keyboards, I sympathize. As a guitarist I had amps and speakers, but I used to play in an what would now be called an Allman Brothers tribute band. You should have seen the stage clear out at the end of the night when it was time to move the B3! I don't gig anymore, and if I did it would be on guitar, so I don't have to worry about moving around weighty keyboards. Even the Kronos ain't exactly light.

It never occurred to me that you could adjust pickup heads on a Rhodes. I figured that bark was part of it's character, but I wanted to be sure since I didn't have a firsthand understanding of the instrument. The growly stuff isn't something I'd usually reach for, but it's cool to know that it's there. And also, relevant to my own tastes, that if I want to keep it in that clean, bell like tone area then I can get it with a light touch.

Always something to learn. Especially with keyboards!
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Chris Duncan
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KK
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisDuncan wrote:
One of the things I love about the Kronos 88 is the action. I have a weighted Fatar 88 controller from the 90s in the control room and I used to think it felt pretty good until I got the Korg.

Totally agree. I have owned quite a few keyboards and I find the Kronos RH3 action very fun to play and especially a very good compromise to play both piano and organ parts.

ChrisDuncan wrote:
You should have seen the stage clear out at the end of the night when it was time to move the B3!

Reminds me when I used to carry my Hammond C3 myself with just another fellow on the other side. Then the Leslie, Mellotron and other synths felt so light. Shocked
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ChrisDuncan
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KK wrote:

Reminds me when I used to carry my Hammond C3 myself with just another fellow on the other side. Then the Leslie, Mellotron and other synths felt so light. Shocked

At one point the keyboard player got drunk at the gig and rolled his van going home. Not a scratch on him, but it broke the legs on the B3. So, he chopped them off flush with the bottom and from that point forward set it on stacked milk crates.

It was marginally easier to maneuver at that point.
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GRISWOLD3
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hah! You guys are killing me. I guess I'm one of those "ancient" players as well. For years I schlepped around a Rhodes MK1, B-3, Clavinet & MiniMoog. Years later we are still trying to emulate those sounds and sometimes too perfectly. It was the impurities, quirkiness, of each of those keyboards that is still difficult to capture. We have gotten pretty close and I certainly don't miss moving (and tuning) the "classic" keyboards at all. However once you've played the real deal for years, you will always feel/ hear the difference in modern synths.

BTW the intro to Queen's "You're my best friend" is definitely NOT a Fender Rhodes. The Wurlitzer electric piano has a similar, but distinctively different flavor than the Rhodes. Both keyboards, however, were very dynamic & were capable of different 'barks' when hit hard. Also, keep in mind that much of the Rhodes and Wurlitzer sound came from running these through (typically) guitar amps. This contributed to a mid-range, over-driven sound.

Cheers,
Larry
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FB Music



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GRISWOLD3 wrote:
Hah! You guys are killing me. I guess I'm one of those "ancient" players as well. For years I schlepped around a Rhodes MK1, B-3, Clavinet & MiniMoog. Years later we are still trying to emulate those sounds and sometimes too perfectly. It was the impurities, quirkiness, of each of those keyboards that is still difficult to capture. We have gotten pretty close and I certainly don't miss moving (and tuning) the "classic" keyboards at all. However once you've played the real deal for years, you will always feel/ hear the difference in modern synths.

BTW the intro to Queen's "You're my best friend" is definitely NOT a Fender Rhodes. The Wurlitzer electric piano has a similar, but distinctively different flavor than the Rhodes. Both keyboards, however, were very dynamic & were capable of different 'barks' when hit hard. Also, keep in mind that much of the Rhodes and Wurlitzer sound came from running these through (typically) guitar amps. This contributed to a mid-range, over-driven sound.

Cheers,
Larry


I believe Queens “You’re my best friend” was played on a Pianet, not a Wurlitzer...
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KK
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Fender Rhodes characteristics Reply with quote

On the Korg Kronos Shop site, there is also two free sampled-based (HD-1) Rhodes libraries (EXs 40 & EXs 41) which offer a rather cleaner sound compared to the EP-1 engine. They are worth a try if you like Rhodes sounds.
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